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Old 08-25-2007, 03:28 PM   #1
umgotteswillen
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Default XR Transmission Follies

First: I own an Aura XR
Second: By and large, i like it and think it is the single best sedan that GM (and for that matter the rest of Detroit) has on the road today
Third: I'm not a Honda/Toyota/VW Fanboy
Fourth: I AM a BMW/MB Fanboy and traded in an '04 3 Series for this car
Fifth: I've been hesitant to comment on this for fear of the invariable flaming that a post like this generates , but it's driving me NUTS, so here goes...

The programming of the the automatic transmission in the XR is atrocious, and borderline dangerous. I've almost been rear-ended on 3 separate occasions, and, in another instance broadsided, on uphill climbs b/c of the transmission's stubborn refusal to downshift when the accelerator pedal is depressed. It appears to me that the transmission is almost always running 2 gears too high in most driving conditions and the accelerator's and transmission's response to input is between .25 and .5 second too slow.

In manual mode, this is not an issue, and I find the transmission responds quickly and smoothly to the paddles and accelerator.

A couple of things to note...I have a fairly spirited driving style, I live near the Chesapeake Bay and have noticed that hot, humid days seem to contribute to the phenomenon, and, driving this car in bumper-to-bumper traffic is enough to make me want to take the bus.

Can anyone say with any authority that Saturn/GM recognizes this as an issue and is addressing it?

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Old 08-25-2007, 03:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

Although it's never put me in a a situation like you have described, I find the transmission can use some minor adjustment. The only time that I've noticed what you've described was when going up a incline. Perhaps you should takes yours in for service, as for it lagging to the point of you being rear ended sounds serious enough for a checkup.

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Old 08-25-2007, 04:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

hello,

fyi, had my xr in for some minor warranty work about 2 weeks ago when i inquired as to if there were any updates to the transmission software.

when i picked up the vehicle one tech told me they realize there is some concern to address and that a fix/software update would be available in a couple months.

when i read through my paperwork this is what is stated:

Owner states hesitation on downshift.

Tech confirmed cust complaint, tech called TAC confirmed car needed to be reprogramed 07.07.30.004A
Tech reprogramed car shift points. Works as designed.

When i questioned as to how they were able to update the software during that visit when they initially told me it would be available in 2 months they stated they were able to call Saturn and obtain the codes needed.

hope this helps ya in some manner,

cheers!

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Old 08-25-2007, 05:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

You won't get flamed as long as your first line wasn't "my Saturn is a POS, I don't know why I bought this car!" "I'll never buy another" Those people I don't even believe own the car and are posting fake reports to get people to bypass the Aura while shopping.
There seems to be quite a few people mentioning a delay in downshifting for the XR tranny. I believe Pontiac G6 owners are mentioning it also. I'm sure GM knows and a fix will come.
If you get rear ended it's their fault.

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Old 08-25-2007, 06:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

You do press the gas a bit harder to go up hill right? If this isn't a problem though it sounds like it is, learn where it will downshift( or at least get out of fuel saver mode) when you press the peddle. I know where the point is at, though I can't exactly tell you as it is a feel sort of thing, but it isn't anywhere close to flooring it. Possibly, 1/2-2/3 to full throttle. Most of the time, the car has enough power up hill that I don't need it to get out of fuel saver mode and rev up for more power, but if I need more power, I know how much harder to push the pedal to get the response.

The E46's( the previous gen 3 series) used the Hydra-Matic 5L50( or some other type of it, just to be clear, BMW bought the 5 speed auto from GM). GM needs to fire the Microsoft writters and hire some Apple ones.

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Old 08-25-2007, 08:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

I too am finding the shift points of my XR's transmission to be aggravating. I had met the local Saturn rep at my dealership and had originally asked him if the '07's information center could be udated with the '08's information (tire pressure and instant MPG). He didn't know the answer but, gave me his e-mail and asked that I send him the question so he could forward it. I did so and also asked about the transmission, describing it's unwillingness to downshift and the pain of sitting in traffic with it. I have not received a response on it yet as he told me the guy he needs to talk to is on vacation until after labor day. I'll let you all know what he comes back with.

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Old 08-25-2007, 08:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

In most instances, this complaint is generated (and not just in Saturns) because the transaxle is programmed for economy / low emissions rather than performance, and to go for economy as much as possible. Want to overide that? Give it at LEAST 80% throttle. In most circumstances, that'll do it.

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Old 08-26-2007, 10:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevy_Rules View Post
The E46's( the previous gen 3 series) used the Hydra-Matic 5L50( or some other type of it, just to be clear, BMW bought the 5 speed auto from GM). GM needs to fire the Microsoft writters and hire some Apple ones.
BMW used ZF manufactured transmissions in the E46 (5HP19) They've been using ZF since the E30 (1983)

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Old 08-26-2007, 12:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsky View Post
BMW used ZF manufactured transmissions in the E46 (5HP19) They've been using ZF since the E30 (1983)
They used the hydra-matic in the previous gen( that is what I read somewhere lol). They're using the 6L50 in the 328i/xi and a ZF in the 335i/xi. Which I am 100% certain on.

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Old 08-26-2007, 02:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

I agree 100%, same issue here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by umgotteswillen View Post
The programming of the the automatic transmission in the XR is atrocious, and borderline dangerous. I've almost been rear-ended on 3 separate occasions, and, in another instance broadsided, on uphill climbs b/c of the transmission's stubborn refusal to downshift when the accelerator pedal is depressed. It appears to me that the transmission is almost always running 2 gears too high in most driving conditions and the accelerator's and transmission's response to input is between .25 and .5 second too slow.

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Old 08-26-2007, 03:17 PM   #11
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Checkered Flag Re: XR Transmission Follies

Wow, this post hit me smack dab between the eyes! I have a 2 week-old XR and I started noticing this unwillingness to downshift when I hit this steep climb just before I get onto RT-23. My 06 VW Passat 2.0T felt a lot more sprightly going up the same hill.

I went back to the dealership and the salesman who sold me my XR loaned me his XR (with 6K miles on it) to confirm my findings. While his XR's engine felt a little tighter (obviously mine is still breaking in), it performed the same downshift hesitancy. Conclusion: this is a characteristic of the car - even the salesman agreed.

So, here I am think I'm being overcritical and - wham - this post appears. Almost certainly, the shift points have to be modified to generate more torque earlier. We should keep this thread going until we get some concrete response from Saturn.

Question: I had a tank full of regular instead of mid-grade. I wonder if that accentuated the issue. Your thoughts, forum?

Aside from that, I love that car.

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Old 08-26-2007, 04:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

SteelerXR, I don't think it's a fuel quality issue because when I shift it manually the shifts are crisp and there's plenty of torque in the low end. Furthermore, once the transmission decides to downshift, it generates a boatload of torque--almost enough to have you hang on to the wheel.

Are there any Saturn people here that have driven a pre-production '08? If so, has the issue been addressed?

Let's put the save the BMW transmission discussion for an e46 forum. For the record, mine had a 5 speed Getrag manual, thus I have no point of reference on how their automatics behave.

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Old 08-26-2007, 05:10 PM   #13
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

No, not fuel quality but octane variance. Agreed the torque is there when the downshift occurs however, I think that the ratios should be shorter between 1 to 4.

Question: Does the Aura have an adaptive transmission? I mean, does it take time to learn the driver's individual pattern?

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Old 08-26-2007, 05:52 PM   #14
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

The XR does have an adaptive transmission. It took about a 1000 miles and ours became very, very smooth. However, what you are describing is something totally different. I did notice that the transmission became more willing to downshift over time, over miles.

My XR is a 2007 which was built before the January 07, deadline. On my first oil change I am going to inquire about the TSP, even though for the most part I am happy. Hope you have good luck in getting a resolution in your favor.

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Old 08-26-2007, 06:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

I noticed the same problem. Very annoying on the highway when trying to pass on a slight uphill.

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Old 08-27-2007, 11:22 AM   #16
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

I think my XR tranny has gotten better with time but the uphill situation is still mildly annoying for me. My complaint is that the throttle position is so different to initiate upshifts when going up a fairly steep grade compared to general driving. You have to remember to give it the extra pedal for the upshift. Fortunately the 3.6 has good torque and it's never been a safety problem for me. I would appreciate new programming if it fixes the problem.

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Old 08-27-2007, 12:12 PM   #17
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Question Re: XR Transmission Follies

Quote:
Originally Posted by xjakdanylx View Post
Owner states hesitation on downshift.

Tech confirmed cust complaint, tech called TAC confirmed car needed to be reprogramed 07.07.30.004A
Tech reprogramed car shift points. Works as designed.

When i questioned as to how they were able to update the software during that visit when they initially told me it would be available in 2 months they stated they were able to call Saturn and obtain the codes needed.

hope this helps ya in some manner,

cheers!
One of either two things happened here:

1. The tech re-applied the standard software to ensure that the stock settings were 'working as designated'.

2. There really is a TSB out there for this 'folly' and not all dealers are aware of them (in your case, you prompted the tech to call the Technical Assistance Center and he was indeed able to get the program).

Normally, software is made available on a CD so it takes a while for the dealer to get it in the post (unless the dealer downloaded the software and burned it to a CD).

One thing you forgot to expand upon: did the software update work? This is a pet subject of mine because the odyssey I had to go through to get VW to fix a transmission issue on my Passat.

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Old 08-27-2007, 12:24 PM   #18
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

Look at what I found at:

This is a NHTSA complaint to the Office of Defect Investigation.

CONSUMER COMPLAINT: ODI Case Number: 10199157

Component: POWER TRAIN

Details: 2007 SATURN AURA WITH A SLIGHT GRADE PROBLEM CUSTOMER STATED THAT WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY THE CAR WOULD START TO STUMBLE AND WOULD NOT DOWNSHIFT AS SOON AS IT SHOULD**CC THE CONSUMER STATED WHILE DRIVING THE VEHICLE WHILE IN CRUISE CONTROL EVERYTIME THE VEHICLE APPROACHED A SLIGHT GRADE IN THE HIGHWAY THE CAR WOULD STUMBLE AND NOT DOWNSHIFT LIKE THE VEHICLE WAS SUPPOSED TO, THE CONSUMER TOOK THE VEHICLE TO THE DEALER AND THE DEALER INFORMED HIM THEY COULDN'T FIND ANYTHING WRONG. IT WAS NOT UNTIL THE VEHICLE WAS TEST DRIVEN BY A MECHANIC THAT THE MECHANIC STATED HE WOULD TAKE THE VEHICLE TO SEE IF THERE WAS A CALIBRATION FIX OR RECALL. THE CONSUMER STATED THE MECHANIC INFORMED HIM THERE WAS NOT A FIX BUT TO WAIT TO SEE IF GM WOULD DISTRIBUTE A RECALL FOR THIS VEHICLE. *TR

Occurrences: 3 Injuries: 0
Fail Date: 03/09/2007 Deaths: 0
Date added to datbase: 8/6/200
7

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Old 08-27-2007, 03:56 PM   #19
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Arrow Re: XR Transmission Follies

One thing you forgot to expand upon: did the software update work? This is a pet subject of mine because the odyssey I had to go through to get VW to fix a transmission issue on my Passat

sorry for the lack of results.

the service manager did make me aware that the reason for the lack of downshifts was due to the fact that it was designed for max MPG.

he did tell me that gas milage may go down due to this upgrade.

the car does seem much better in all around driving.
shift points seem more the norm now.

as far as how they did they upgrade or what software they did it with i can not confirm.
they did tell me the software upgrade was not to be available for 2 months.
said they obtained what they needed from Saturn to do mine earlier.
could be b/s. not sure. they did do something which improved it, i can say that for sure.

note: milage is still good. took a 3hr trip. reset DIC to gather an idea on MPG on the hwy.


DIC registered 29 mpg over 3 hours all hwy.
note that i did drive it strictly to see what i could get for milage. lots of coasting......

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Old 08-27-2007, 05:56 PM   #20
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Default Re: XR Transmission Follies

The comment about the gearing being configured for economy is probably close to the truth however, the Aura is not alone in this design.

xjakdanylx, can you quote the repair order number and the dealer that performed the fix? Do you have any more details of the fix (as far as code numbers and the like)?

There are no TSBs out for this fix. I will try to research this one for the forum.

Does any know the method of resetting the adaptive transmission settings?

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