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Old 06-18-2019, 07:04 PM   #1
MiSaturn
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Default Nifty Shifty

Experiencing a case of shifter arthritis in my '02 SL 5spd. Reading previous posts has lead me to do the normal stuff - examine cables (good), clean (done) and lube with a "dry" spray with teflon. Not much difference.

Issue started about 3 weeks ago, and really seemed to come out of nowhere. The front/back motion of the shifter is fine, but the lateral movement to get 1st and 5th have become difficult to engage.

Even rattling shifter side to side in neurtal seems much stiffer than normal. Big question is there something I'm missing that controls or limits the side to side motion of the shifter that I should be looking into?

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Old 06-18-2019, 07:56 PM   #2
Ricketts
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Mine seemed to come out of nowhere also, a couple of years ago. I disconnected the cables at the transmission end and confirmed the stiffness was right inside the cable. I cleaned the visible end of the cable (the rubber boot had long ago disappeared with the previous owner), and tried dry graphite with no change.

I ended up just replacing the cables

...
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:45 PM   #3
macbox
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

They tend to gum up after the boot on the transmission end disintegrates with age. When this happened on one of my old cars, I removed the cables from the car and held them in a vise with with the shifter end of the cable facing up, then used a small funnel and some saran and heavy tape to funnel the brake cleaner into the cable end to wash brake cleaner through the cables to remove the junk inside the cables. This helped them move freely. OldNuc recommends using only powdered mica and nothing else to lube the cables, and finding a marine supply/boat store where a suitable replacement bellows can be sourced from.

It really takes a bit of washing brake clean and/or acetone through the cables until they are clean. Cables can also bind up on either end.

...
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Old 06-19-2019, 11:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Quote:
Originally Posted by macbox View Post
They tend to gum up after the boot on the transmission end disintegrates with age. When this happened on one of my old cars, I removed the cables from the car and held them in a vise with with the shifter end of the cable facing up, then used a small funnel and some saran and heavy tape to funnel the brake cleaner into the cable end to wash brake cleaner through the cables to remove the junk inside the cables. This helped them move freely. OldNuc recommends using only powdered mica and nothing else to lube the cables, and finding a marine supply/boat store where a suitable replacement bellows can be sourced from.

It really takes a bit of washing brake clean and/or acetone through the cables until they are clean. Cables can also bind up on either end.
Did you replace yours with a marine bellows? I looked into it and was not able to find a suitable bellows.
I use a bike inner tube and it is extremely difficult to install over the cable end.

MiSaturn, what exactly did you lube? There are the end loops, cable/sheath, and linkages.

...
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Old 06-20-2019, 09:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
Did you replace yours with a marine bellows? I looked into it and was not able to find a suitable bellows.
I use a bike inner tube and it is extremely difficult to install over the cable end.

MiSaturn, what exactly did you lube? There are the end loops, cable/sheath, and linkages.
I use 1 1/2 inch bIcycle tube. Goes on easy. Secure with strip ties. Lasts for years.

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Old 06-20-2019, 10:50 PM   #6
MiSaturn
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
Did you replace yours with a marine bellows? I looked into it and was not able to find a suitable bellows.
I use a bike inner tube and it is extremely difficult to install over the cable end.

MiSaturn, what exactly did you lube? There are the end loops, cable/sheath, and linkages.
I lubed anything and everything that moved... . I tried to squirt into the ends of the cables (with limited success), on and around the shifter ball, and all parts of the linkage. Was very disappointed with the results

HOWEVER, later the next day... .

On my way to work, I felt the shifter suddenly become much looser than it had been. The neutral position was much less bound up, and could engage most gears I had previously had problems with. As I drove, it seemed to get better and better.

Can only assume the "dry" lube got to whatever portion of the cable that was having an issue. I will be cleaning the exterior portion of the linkage this weekend and relubing as needed.

BTW, does anyone know what the GM approved lubricant was for this application?

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Old 06-22-2019, 11:10 AM   #7
Signmaster
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Quote:
Originally Posted by macbox View Post
They tend to gum up after the boot on the transmission end disintegrates with age. When this happened on one of my old cars, I removed the cables from the car and held them in a vise with with the shifter end of the cable facing up, then used a small funnel and some saran and heavy tape to funnel the brake cleaner into the cable end to wash brake cleaner through the cables to remove the junk inside the cables. This helped them move freely. OldNuc recommends using only powdered mica and nothing else to lube the cables, and finding a marine supply/boat store where a suitable replacement bellows can be sourced from.

It really takes a bit of washing brake clean and/or acetone through the cables until they are clean. Cables can also bind up on either end.
I've saved a lot of car and bike cables using this method. Rather than take them out, I often use a similar approach but just tie one side up higher and let gravity help with the work. Done right, you can rig a bag with enough fluid so that one end is always soaked in fluid. Then move the cable back and forth from the other end and let it work through.

On the Satty, my boot has been gone for years. Nothing but wiping it down and keeping it lubed with WD40 to protect some from water intrusion. A lot more rain than dust here, so it's worked fine with the original cables.

...
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Old 06-22-2019, 03:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
Did you replace yours with a marine bellows? I looked into it and was not able to find a suitable bellows.
I use a bike inner tube and it is extremely difficult to install over the cable end.

I actually used bicycle inner tube as bellows, and it fell apart after time and contributed to the gumming up of the cables as it got older and was rubbing up against the cable, so I no longer use the bike tube and just run the cables without protection.

I started looking for marine bellows online, but could not find anything that would work. The next idea is to find another car manufacturer that makes a similar replacement part that may suffice as a substitute for the Saturn unit.

...
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:03 AM   #9
MiSaturn
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

Contacted lubricant maker CRC to see what shifter cable lube recommendations they had... . Primary suggestion was silicone spray, not the dry lube with Teflon I actually used. Silicone flows well, is dirt resistant, so recommendation makes sense.

Think my issue had more to do with getting things cleaned out vs. need for additional lube.

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Old 06-25-2019, 08:23 AM   #10
MiSaturn
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

This latest repair highlighted what a little effort can do to make a nearly undriveable Saturn into running shape. Thought I had some major tranny linkage issue, was on verge of parking it. $8 in Brakleen and CRC lube and it shifts as smooth as it did 330,000 miles ago.

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Old 06-29-2019, 03:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Nifty Shifty

This is something I hadn't even thought of. But my 02 is probably going to be having this problem sooner rather than later.

Where do I find these bellows and cable ends?

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