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Old 02-17-2009, 12:57 PM   #1
Glenn B
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Default 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

Hi everyone. I can usually find the answers to my questions by searching this forum but I have few questions I was wondering if I could get some input.

Here is the history…We purchased our third Saturn last fall for my college boy. It is a 2001 SC2 DOHC automatic. Has about 90K on it. I don’t know when the trany fluid was changed but I plan to change the filter and fluid when the weather gets a little better. The fluid looks really clean and red. Other than that I have gone through the car and tuned it up. It was very well taken care of.

My problem is when the car has been sitting overnight (cold weather drops down to 10-20°F lately), & we start it the next morning (let it warm up for 5 minutes or so) then drive it away, it drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear. All the rest of the gears are fine. And we have no reverse slam or anything like that. And as soon as the car warms up the problem goes away. There are absolutely no codes being posted and no SES light. So after reading all the posts on this subject I have come up with a plan I listed bellow.

If anyone has experienced this and has their fix to share, please give me your feedback. Any shortcuts or suggestions would be appreciated.

1) Check for proper voltage at alternator & battery. Also check DC signal for noisy diodes with scope.
2) Check good old ECTS and wiring
3) Check transmission valve body connector and wiring
4) Measure impedance of solenoids at connector (does anyone have a wiring diagram or pin outs on this?
5) Check and clean out all 5 solenoids (I read sometimes they get dirty and gummed up).
6) Replace entire valve body as a last resort.

My last question is what about Resetting Adaptive Parameters? Should that be done before hand? I read one post that said that that’s all he did and it fixed his hard shift problem. Is this something a DIY could do? All I have is a code reader/eraser.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

Check everything you listed as well as the transmission fuses in the underhood fuse box. Every once in a while you can get away with replacing just a solenoid, but you spend $60 for the solenoid at the dealership, you can buy a reman valvebody with the sonnax kit and 5 solenoids for like $200. It fixes the original problem with the valvebody and will last the rest of the cars life if properly maintained.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...+solenoid+test

Go to post 15 that will give you the diagram of the pins to test the solenoids.
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Old 02-24-2009, 03:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

Thanks for your input. Although this cold weather and the lack of severity is keeping me from diving into this problem, I will keep this thread posted of my progress towards the root cause. I don't want the harsh shift when cold symptom to become worse. So far we still have the symptom & this is what I have done...

1) Checked fuses mentioned
2) Cleaned and secured battery and alternator connections
3) Brought home scope from work and signal looks clean
4) Checked for codes. Still none

Smelling like a valve body to me.
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Old 09-02-2009, 04:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

So I finally got around to replacing the VB on the SC2 (automatic). I did the adaptive relearn procedure and all is well, knock on wood. Shifts real smooth now.

I did notice a buzzing solinoid sound when in manual 2nd gear only. Others have posted & experience this in drive and reverse, etc. I asked the mechanic who supplied me with the VB so I will let you know what he says. So far in searching this forum I have found these answers...

UNDERTHEHOOD said this in a thread…

The buzzing is quite normal. If you listen carefully to any electronically controlled trans you will hear this some more than others. You should hear an earlier model Chrysler 41te (a604) with the old style solenoid pack (especially one that lost the cover).


SSICARMAN said this in a thread…

If the transmission is operating normally and the noise can't be heard over normal driving or radio levels--not neccesarily your level but normal you can hear people talking to you in your car levels--then I wuolld nbot worry about it unless it changes. The later S-series cars had louder shift solenoids.

DRB said this in a thread…

It is soo normal for the taat to make strange sounds,listen to all ranges,you should be able to hear the actuators operating if you listen .
Different kind of car ,different kind of transaxle,different kind ...well you know! gee whiz. though the concept is history ect.(rethink American )

WOFMAN said in a thread that it may be low voltage or something current limiting.
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

The pressure control solenoid is Pulse Width Modulated to control pressure. If its sticking you will have these kinds of shifts also.

Pressure regulator sticking will produce harsh shifts.


Try a universal full synthetic ATF

Last edited by OldNuc; 09-02-2009 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

So this mechanic told me that the buzzing sound I hear pretty normal. The solenoids are pulse-width-modulated & they open and close really fast multiple times a second. Some maybe quieter than others. As i said, with the new VB it sifts very smooth, so I'm not too concerned about the faint buzzing in 2nd only. But it's interesting to read that others get it in different gears. With and without shifting issues.
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: 2001 SC2 Drops hard or harshly into 2nd gear from cold start

The pressure control solenoid is the one that makes all the noise.

There is also a mechanical pressure control valve. If the mechanical valve sticks you can get hard shifts.
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