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Old 12-16-2018, 04:24 PM   #1
b1k3r1d3r
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1998 SW1
Default Difficulty shifting into gear

Hello Everyone,

I have a 1997 SW1 with 247K miles. For some time I have had the "car is hard to shift especially into 1st or reverse while running but, will shift smoothly with the engine off" symptom, but it was manageable. Recently it has become unmanageable.

I have read through the threads and guides on this issue and here is where I'm at:
  • On level ground with the clutch in and engine running there is no tendency for the car to creep forward.
  • Pumping the clutch has no effect on ability to shift into gear.
  • Pedal throw is 6"
  • Clutch wire test is just slightly more than 11mm. Not too confidant in my ability to measure hundredths of a mm.
Some other observations: On hot days, the clutch will occasionally squeak when I push the pedal in. No change in the actual shift performance when it squeaks or doesn't, just something I notice.

When I am at a stop light with the clutch in sometimes the car will idle really rough like the clutch isn't all the way in even though it is. If I can let the car roll forward a little bit sometimes this stops. If I take my foot off the brake though it doesn't act like it wants to creep.

I have developed a technique for shifting into first that has been almost 100% effective until recently. As I am slowing down to stop, I apply a little pressure to the stick towards first gear with the clutch in. As I come to a complete stop if I can stop a little bit abruptly it will go into gear. This has been how I have dealt with the problem for a few years now. And if for some reason that didn't work or I couldn't stop abruptly enough (people close behind me lol) I knew I could get into first if I just turned the car off.

So now it has gotten worse.
  • the stop short trick to get into first doesn't work at all. I always have to turn the car off.
  • It is hard to get out off gear now
  • It is hard to get into 2nd and third and sometimes even 4th
  • It is grinding when I go to put it into 2nd or 3rd.

I changed the transmission fluid to the Amsol recommended here about a year ago. Didn't make a significant difference.
Just recently checked the level of the transmission fluid and it is half way on the hash and nice and red color.
I have checked the fluid in the master clutch cylinder and it is about 1/2" from the top, looks clear brownish, but seems to have to have some floaters in it.

Any help will be greatly appreciated. I love this car and really hope we can keep her going
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Old 12-17-2018, 12:56 AM   #2
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

If the hydraulics check out than it can only be one other thing....

According to the process of elimination, you may need a new clutch, machined flywheel (or buy a new one), pressure plate, and might as well replace the hydraulics and throw out bearing while you are in there.
4
Side note:
My clutch (60k original from 1994) gives me some issues like yours, as it binds a little going into first, and each low gear (1,2,3) takes some effort to put it, and goes in with a firm "click" unlike my brother's who has nearly 190k with butter smooth shifting. But my hydraulics are brand new and check out in the measurement department, so I am in the same, but less severe situation as you are.
I plan to replace my clutch in the spring before it really acts up, and I also do not want it hurting my transmission if it is indeed dragging.
...
1994 Sl2 5spd: 56,576 (Totaled 1/10/2018)
1995 Sl2 5spd Manual Swap: 150,062
1999 Sl2 4spd: 98,8xx
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Old 12-17-2018, 02:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

Checking clutch fluid level won't tell anyone if the master or slave is worn. Personally, with 247k miles on original parts, I think you're looking at all new parts; new hydraulic system, clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing and maybe flywheel. With a well used reliable car, it may be time to put in all those parts for another 247k miles if its worth holding onto. You can always do it piecemeal but revisiting the same repair may not be wise when it's easier to do it all at once. This presumes the engine, starter, body, steering and suspension are holding up with periodic maintenance on worn parts too.
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Old 12-17-2018, 02:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by b1k3r1d3r View Post
Some other observations: On hot days, the clutch will occasionally squeak when I push the pedal in.
the clutch master rod goes through the firewall and ends in a loop that hooks over a short "pin" on the side of the clutch pedal. It is held on by a clip that is identical to the clips that hold the trans cables on at trans case. Sometimes, lubing the clip and pin area helps the squeak.

Other folks have had to inject, via syringe or similar, a little Sil-Glyde under the rod where it goes into the master.

See post 12, here http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=234512

Quote:
.
  • the stop short trick to get into first doesn't work at all. I always have to turn the car off.
  • It is hard to get out off gear now
  • It is hard to get into 2nd and third and sometimes even 4th
  • It is grinding when I go to put it into 2nd or 3rd.
Maybe slop or worn parts? A few threads;
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=115432

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=162209

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=134516

Sometimes for me, wiggling the steering wheel made it easier to shift into first.


Quote:
I have checked the fluid in the master clutch cylinder and it is about 1/2" from the top, looks clear brownish, but seems to have to have some floaters in it.
Probably no relation to your issue, but - - Suction out old fluid with a turkey baster, refill with fresh DOT 3, repeat after a couple of weeks. I don't recall if there was a fill line or not, but on my 3rd gen, I wrapped a paper towel under the reservoir, filled it pretty high, then put the cap back on. a little spilled out but it is full now and that took care of some juddering I felt on takeup
...
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

Thank you all for your thoughtful consideration of my problem. I have been anticipating a clutch job for some time now. I love the car and really love working on it. So I am inclined to pursue the repair. My hesitation has been formed in reading threads where a new clutch (and or hydraulics) didn't fix the problem. I also don't have any issues with the clutch slipping once the car is in gear. But I have also read a fair few where it did fix the problem. And it has truly gotten to the point that something has to be done.

I have read every thread I could find for S series shifting problems, clutch and hydraulic R&R. I have a pretty good idea what I'm in for but am wondering if there are any other recommended service items to do while I'm in there unbolting stuff. I have often wondered about wheel bearings and suspension bushings. Never noticed any issues per se, but at 247K its something I wonder about. Hopefully if it all goes well and she shifts smooth again, I will get an alignment as I have avoided that as I am the only one I have trusted to shift gently and not force the issue for years now.

Thanks again for all the help in this thread and the countless others I have lurked in picking up gems of Saturn wisdom. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out, though with the weather I'm not sure how soon I'll be able to commit to laying on the ground for hours.
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Old 12-18-2018, 09:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

The master and slave cylinder is pretty accessible and can be changed rather quickly. There was a link to one at Rock Auto that was very inexpensive but it doesn't come up through the normal search method. A few members have purchased it an it's proven to work well. I think Waiex191 posted a link somewhere. I'd consider changing it out as a first step since the master rod squeaks anyways when the weather is hot. At minimum it will resolve that issue. If that is not the issue then you can proceed to the clutch.
...
1999 SL2 MT (287,130 km @ 10/2019)
2012 Ford Focus SEL HB MT
2011 Suburban LT

Past Saturns
2001 SL1 MT (438,500 km 11y)
1993 SW2 AT (10y)
2001 LW200 MT (3.5y)
1992 SL2 MT (5y)

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Old 12-18-2018, 10:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=233551

When I bought my '98 the hydraulics were bad. Basically the clutch engaged right off the floor. I bled them and got improvement. Then I put in the new hydraulics and they were about the same as the old ones after bleeding. I have 6000 miles worth of shifts now and the Wagner set is still good.

Hydraulics are cheap and easy, but there may still be other trouble lurking in your clutch.

I would not mess with wheel bearings if they are currently happy. As far as suspension bushings and such, depends on how much you feel like getting into.

If you do replace the clutch I'd recommend the stock Luk clutch. We put a stage 2 in the '99 and it has not been good. Lots of chatter early on and after 10,000 miles it engages at the top of the travel. We will be replacing it sometime.
...
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Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by trottida View Post
The master and slave cylinder is pretty accessible and can be changed rather quickly. There was a link to one at Rock Auto that was very inexpensive but it doesn't come up through the normal search method. A few members have purchased it an it's proven to work well. I think Waiex191 posted a link somewhere. I'd consider changing it out as a first step since the master rod squeaks anyways when the weather is hot. At minimum it will resolve that issue. If that is not the issue then you can proceed to the clutch.
I have the $29 WAGNER clutch hydraulics in mine. Works well, sometimes squeaks but I lubed it up and its fine now.
...
1994 Sl2 5spd: 56,576 (Totaled 1/10/2018)
1995 Sl2 5spd Manual Swap: 150,062
1999 Sl2 4spd: 98,8xx
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by cgg17 View Post
I have the $29 WAGNER clutch hydraulics in mine. Works well, sometimes squeaks but I lubed it up and its fine now.
Well that's discouraging that it squeaks. How long have you had it and how many miles? Is it just when the temperatures are high?

I have one in my Rockauto cart for the sole purpose of eliminating the summer squeak. Other than that it works fine. I have put silicon on the rod but I have yet to inject it into the cylinder housing.
...
1999 SL2 MT (287,130 km @ 10/2019)
2012 Ford Focus SEL HB MT
2011 Suburban LT

Past Saturns
2001 SL1 MT (438,500 km 11y)
1993 SW2 AT (10y)
2001 LW200 MT (3.5y)
1992 SL2 MT (5y)

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Old 12-18-2018, 04:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

I had a squeak in the '99. Lubed the clutch pedal pivot, plus the end of the master where it goes on the pedal. No more squeak and no sylglide in the boot.
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:35 AM   #11
b1k3r1d3r
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1998 SW1
Default Re: Difficulty shifting into gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by trottida View Post
The master and slave cylinder is pretty accessible and can be changed rather quickly. There was a link to one at Rock Auto that was very inexpensive but it doesn't come up through the normal search method. A few members have purchased it an it's proven to work well. I think Waiex191 posted a link somewhere. I'd consider changing it out as a first step since the master rod squeaks anyways when the weather is hot. At minimum it will resolve that issue. If that is not the issue then you can proceed to the clutch.
Hey That's great info! Thanks Waiex191 too! I ordered one up and will let you know how it goes. I expect a clutch will be needed as well but this is an inexpensive easy first step. Thanks again!
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