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Old 11-25-2009, 12:39 AM   #1
Melissa_M
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1999 SL2
Default binding shifter and shift linkage?

My shifter bushing broke recently and I replaced it with the ebay Delrin bushing.
Shifting seemed OK after that, more or less.
Started to have increasing problems since then, though. Mostly with first gear, being difficult to get the shifter into gear much of the time. Occasionally other gears would be difficult. The movement between gears is smooth, though. I put powdered mica down the shift cables and that made it even smoother, but still difficult to do that last bit to get into gears.

It seems/feels almost like something is not lining up, especially since this does not happen on every single shift.

So I checked the new bushing and cable end loop - looks OK.
I cleaned and re-lubed the shift linkages with synthetic grease. Did not seem to help at all.
The cables are secure and the retaining clips are present.

Today it has gotten even worse, and almost every shift and every gear was difficult.

I am not sure how foolproof the install is on the bushing. Maybe I did something wrong.

I wasn't real sure how to lubricate the shift linkages. It didn't seem too complex: I just smeared the grease at every point where the parts rotated. It wasn't real easy, though, what with the usual access problems on the Saturn Looking at the linkages after doing this, I don't know if leaving excess grease all over the linkages could be a problem - i.e. attracting grit. BTW, are there any rubber parts in the shift linkages? This could be important.

I am not sure what else to do.

Melissa_M

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Old 11-25-2009, 12:47 AM   #2
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1998 SC2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

What are you using for trans fluid?

Does it shift smoothly when the engine is off?

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Old 11-25-2009, 01:04 AM   #3
Melissa_M
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1999 SL2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

It is whatever Saturn used, it just says ATF on the invoice (8yrs and 50K+ ago).
I did think about the fluid and it is on my to-do list to change it. But if that was the problem, wouldn't it affect every shift? Until today, not every shift was hard.

I did not check today, but previously the shifts were hard with the engine on or off. I do not understand the logic behind that - why would there be a difference?

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Old 11-25-2009, 01:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
I did not check today, but previously the shifts were hard with the engine on or off. I do not understand the logic behind that - why would there be a difference?

Melissa_M
Whether or not the engine is running and the clutch is engaging/disengaging..

Off, is a totally different situation. most people only report hard shifting when the engine is running (like mine)

Checked the fluid level recently? 50k miles is not that bad actually for manual trans fluid, but it could be changed, and you may see a difference (esp. if you go to synthetic)

...
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:15 AM   #5
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1998 SC2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Hard shifting usually starts with 1st gear. Change the fluid and either use a universal dexron/mercon synthetic or be sure that you DO NOT use a dexron - 6.

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Old 11-25-2009, 11:45 AM   #6
Melissa_M
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1999 SL2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

The tranny fluid level and color are fine.
Since this now happens every shift, I guess I will try to change the fluid now. Off to find an amsoil dealer

What is the size of the washer on the tranny drain plug, so I can pick up a replacement?
Is there a torque spec for the drain plug? I thought there was but I cannot find it now.

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Old 11-25-2009, 12:04 PM   #7
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1998 SC2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

16 to 18ft-lb.

Use a 12mm oil drain plug rubber washer. You can get one at NAPA as its a standard Dorman part. The transmission drain plug bolt is actually 14mm but the 12mm washer will fit and function.

The hard shifting can be the result of teh clutch being sufficiently worn that it is due for replacement.

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Old 11-25-2009, 12:38 PM   #8
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1999 SL2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post

The hard shifting can be the result of teh clutch being sufficiently worn that it is due for replacement.
yeah, I know. I am praying we are not there yet.
Nobody in town stocks the torque drive fluid, either, so I am a few days away from getting that done.

Thanks for the specs, OldNuc, and as always, your helpful advice.

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Old 11-25-2009, 11:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
yeah, I know. I am praying we are not there yet.
Nobody in town stocks the torque drive fluid, either, so I am a few days away from getting that done.

Thanks for the specs, OldNuc, and as always, your helpful advice.

Melissa_M
If you want to know if the fluid is your problem, you could just got to Napa or whatever and get some new fluid to try, dump it in, and if it doesn't change anything, don't sweat getting the Amsoil. (I had Napa brand in mine for a few days when troubleshooting)

...
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1997 SL1 5MT
2000 SW2 5MT
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Old 11-26-2009, 01:20 PM   #10
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1999 SL2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post

The hard shifting can be the result of teh clutch being sufficiently worn that it is due for replacement.
this thought is really bugging me now.
I thought a worn clutch usually exhibited slippage? (It's been a looong time since I had to replace a clutch; can't remember how I knew it was shot)
I *am* only at 60K...

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Old 11-26-2009, 01:49 PM   #11
SLCraig
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
this thought is really bugging me now.
I thought a worn clutch usually exhibited slippage? (It's been a looong time since I had to replace a clutch; can't remember how I knew it was shot)
I *am* only at 60K...

Melissa_M
On the Sattys, the more common clutch symptom is a worn pressure plate, more or less causing hard first gear shifting at first, and potentially getting worse in other gears if left for too long.

...
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1997 SL1 5MT
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Old 11-30-2009, 01:33 PM   #12
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1997 SW2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Sorry to hear that the hard shifting saga continues. Our cars are similar ages and mileages (68K)

A good alternative to Amsoil ATF is Allison/Castrol/BP Transynd. Comes in a 1 gallon jug for $38 in these parts, leaving you some to do swap out the ATF in the power steering pump. Call the parts dept at a local GMC/Allison trunk dealer for availability & price. BTW, the ATF in my power steering pump looked & smelled WAY worse than the 12 year old ATF in my Manual Transmission.

I also had the same problem of 1st gear shifts, which in my case I narrowed down to the left-hand cable/tower shifter assembly. The left hand cable seems to select the side-to-side gates of the shift pattern.

There was a lot of gritty, greasy dirt on the under-hood shift linkage. I thoroughly scrubbed the linkages with Simple Green (benign degreaser/cleaner) & a toothbrush, followed by a few blasts with the hose, then a rag with Simple Green. In my case, that seems to have cured the balkiness that made it hard to get the shifter into 1st.

I then lubed my under-the-hood linkages with a lightweight teflon grease, but Old Nuc (subsequently) recommended leaving them dry & powdered with Mica.

Like you, I hope this isn't a sign of impending clutch/pressure plate work. Given that I've driven several other automobiles to the 200K mark without clutch work, this would be a real expensive bummer.

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Old 11-30-2009, 01:43 PM   #13
Melissa_M
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1999 SL2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hholbein View Post

I then lubed my under-the-hood linkages with a lightweight teflon grease, but Old Nuc (subsequently) recommended leaving them dry & powdered with Mica.

Like you, I hope this isn't a sign of impending clutch/pressure plate work. Given that I've driven several other automobiles to the 200K mark without clutch work, this would be a real expensive bummer.
I had been wondering about using mica. I may try that, too. That could be my problem because I just added more grease and a few days later the shifts got harder.

Yeah, I haven't done a clutch for many years so I can't remember, but I'd like to think they'd go to 100K +

Melissa_M

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Old 11-30-2009, 01:46 PM   #14
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Grease is absolutely not good.

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Old 11-30-2009, 02:03 PM   #15
Melissa_M
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1999 SL2
Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Grease is absolutely not good.
Oops. Thanks for the confirm. Breaking out the Simple Green now!
Doesn't the mica wash out, though?

As with the shift cables, now I am wondering how I'm actually going to get the powder on all those pivot points

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Old 12-02-2009, 12:40 AM   #16
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
Oops. Thanks for the confirm. Breaking out the Simple Green now!
Doesn't the mica wash out, though?

As with the shift cables, now I am wondering how I'm actually going to get the powder on all those pivot points

Melissa_M
Just don't use a dry substance like mica AND a wet substance, or you end up with mud in the cables.

Regardless of what you use, you can actually use a regular vacuum cleaner on most cables to pull lube into the cable. Works like a charm.

Both lubes have limitations. Dry lubes will not continue recoating a cable and as they shed you use lubrication. Wet lubes are the same as they evaporate. Greases will recoat the cable as it moves through them, but will attract and hold some dirt on the outer surface. If you use grease use enough to keep the dirt on the "skin" and away from the moving parts, and a little more mess when you clean it up to replenish it.

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Old 12-02-2009, 01:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Powdered mica has a very long service life. Just dust a very small amount on the pivot points and the ball in the inside selector and suck some down the cables.

If you have to you can clean out the cables by disconnecting at he transmission and squirting CRC Electrical Connection cleaner down the cable with a inside vacuum cleaner assist. Use a shop vac and keep in mind that the CRC is combustible.

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Old 12-02-2009, 12:12 PM   #18
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

Well crap, nothing is easy.
I put mica down the cables from inside. It wasn't easy, but I used a low tech straw method to blow the mica down since I don't have a shop vac.

I had put a little grease on the shift linkages (not easy to get to), but they didn't seem better so I put a lot more on. Then the shifting got bad.

So I cleaned that off with Simple Green and water and repeated several times. I don't know how much it takes to remove that grease. Maybe I should have used a different cleaner.
Then I let it dry and did the powdered mica on shift linkages. Found a very small straw that could hold a small amount of mica and that seemed to work well, not that it's easy to get down there. Small hands occasionally help

Then I did my transmission fluid, and dripped a little ATF on the top shift linkage. So between that and the possibility of grease residue left on those linkages with the mica on top, I wonder if I should clean them up. Again.

Meanwhile, I have driven it. I think the new ATF and/or mica helped. Still feels like some shifts are rougher than others.


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Old 12-02-2009, 12:55 PM   #19
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Default Re: binding shifter and shift linkage?

The levers on the top of the transmission should be lubricant free. Just blast them off with brake cleaner. the rubber bellows on each shift cable should be in place and the cable underneath can have a bit of mica dusted onto it.

If the interior tower has been greased cleaning it is a job as the plastic does not play well with any solvent that is commonly available.

The reason for using mica instead of graphite is that mica will not clump up and as its a rock it will embed into the plastic and not go away. Graphite is soft and will eventually become goo.

A bit of grease in the mica is not the end of the world.

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Old 12-02-2009, 02:56 PM   #20
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Default Cool, had wondered about degreasing top of shifter tower under hood

I'm glad this thread came up since I had been thinking more and more about degreasing the top of the shifter linkages, in the engine bay, with (what else?) brake cleaner spray. I'm going to do that this weekend.

I realized that one reason why having excellent shifting is worth it is because shifting is an integral part of the driving experience. So everything we do for clean linkages and smooth, nice gear shifts is paid back handsomely in driving satisfaction every time we start from a stop sign. I still enjoy the difference in feeling I get from the Delrin bushing.

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