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Old 08-01-2019, 08:17 PM   #1
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Stokester is on a distinguished road
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Yorktown VA
Posts: 8

1995 SL1
Default 2003 Ion Clutch Experience

There does not appear to be much traffic on this section of the forum but I’ve got a bit to add for those who need to replace a clutch in a Saturn Ion.

My daughter’s 2003 Ion Quad Coupe with 180K+ miles displayed all the signs of a bad clutch master or slave cylinder; that is no clutch release. There was no sign of any fluid leakage so I replaced the clutch master cylinder and was able to get some clutch action after much bleeding. Thinking this was the answer I was ready to return it until a couple hours later when once again there was no clutch. This time there was fluid leakage from the transmission bell housing area meaning it was leaking from the slave cylinder and it was time for a new clutch.

While I still have some discount with the Chevy shop from my time working there, the LuK kit is the best deal with all the needed components; pressure plate, clutch disk, slave cylinder and clutch alignment tool. This IS the OEM supplier with LuK clutch disk, pressure plate and Valeo slave cylinder with alignment tool. I found RockAuto the best deal.

I reviewed the Haynes manual and reviewed this site and YouTube for any hints. There is some good and not-as-good instruction.

What I found…
- bleeding the clutch master cylinder is NOT easy to do because of the need to pull back the line from the bleeder
— gravity bleeding only works so far
— my experience using a vacuum bleeder caused air to be brought into the system from the line connection
— I needed to use a pressure bleeder
- a YouTube video on how to do this has some shortcomings
— if you want to do this in your driveway you must have
- an engine cradle or engine hoist
- tools to remove the axles and reinstall them using the proper torque
— While not easy it is pretty straightforward to remove the transmission (don’t necessarily have to do it in this order)
- support the vehicle with jack stands under the body pinch weld
- ensure wheels are straight with steering wheel centered
- remove the wheels
- support the engine with a hoist or cradle
- remove the underhood fusebox and ECM
- disconnect the electrical and shifter connections from transmission
- drain the transmission
- remove the axle nuts
- remove the caliper bracket bolts and hang the caliper on the spring
- remove the strut to steering knuckle bolts
- remove the tie rod ends from steering knuckle
- pull the axles from the knuckle
- use tape to secure steering wheel to stalks
- remove intermediate shaft from steering gear
- support radiator to engine (I used cable ties)
- remove wheelhouse liners and underbody plastic (screws and pushpins)
- remove radiator support bracket bolts
- ensure engine is supported by cradle or hoist
- loosen subframe bolts
- remove front and rear engine mounts
- remove transmission mount to body bolts
- support subframe and loosen bolts to remove
- lower subframe ensuring intermediate shaft separates from steering gear
- remove subframe from vehicle
- Now it is time to remove the transmission
- support the transmission with a jack
- remove transmission to engine bolts
- lower engine support to lower transmission allowing it to slide to L out of engine

Now it is time to install the new pressure plate, clutch disc and slave cylinder
- be sure to use the clutch alignment tool to ensure the disc is properly aligned
- be sure to use a torque wrench to install the pressure plate and slave cylinder

Reinstallation is basically the reverse of the removal. I had quite a time wrestling the transmission back into the engine but it eventually slid in.

Torque values are important
- I use a torque wrench and thread locker whenever it is part of reassembly and recommend you do as well.

I typed this up from memory, if you find any omissions please add to the topic.


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