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Old 06-03-2011, 10:58 AM   #1
atomictoyguy
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Question 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

I have a 2001 Saturn SL1 1.9L SOHC that has had the problem often described on this forum of Hard Shift and slow to engage reverse. The problem has existed for about two years now. It first started during a time where I couldn't afford to fix it.

My first attempt at correcting it I had the transmission fluid flushed and the filter changed. This of course had no effect on correcting the issue. This was done a little over a year ago.

My second attempt I took the car into a transmission shop and they advised that the problem was too far gone and that the transmission would need to be replaced or rebuild. That replacing the valve body would increase the pressure in the transmission and that it would cause more problems then it would fix. This was done in Febuary, at that time I had them go ahead and replace the intake manifold gasket as it was leaking. Is what they told me likely to be true, should I be considering a replacement transmission due to my neglect of the issue? Or was I fed a line and should I just replace the valve body my self?

Most recently, past couple of weeks the transmission has started an audible "CLUNK" when it engages into gear. It used to just have a slamming shift from 1st to 2nd and slow to engage reverse. I have noticed that the drivers side wheel has some wobble to it, I haven't had a chance to dig in to that, perhaps the clunking is a CV joint or an axle problem? I really would appreciate thoughts or ideas on this?

Regards,
Lucas

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Old 06-04-2011, 07:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Bump? Any one at all have any thoughts on this? Trying to make a decision as to whether or not we should be looking for a new car, or repairing this one...

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Old 06-04-2011, 11:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

The wobble in the wheel probably is not related to the problem Could be tie-rod end, ball joint, wheel bearing, unbalanced tire, but probably not a cv axle.

My 1998 sl2 has done the same exact transmission slam you speak of for the last 55k miles. I believe it is just acceptable for the saturn s-series trannys to do this. I just drive it. as long as its not slipping i would worry about it. When shifting into reverse make sure u feel it lock into gear before releasing the break( just to be easy on it).

As for transmission maintenance GM recommends not flushing saturn transmission. The chemicals used to flush transmissions can also eat up older seals. GM recommends just a fluid and filter change. Personally i never flush transmissions in any vehicle.

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Old 06-05-2011, 09:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Do a search on Wolfman Reverse Slam Cure... there are a few threads around here where this has been discussed in high detail with a procedure that he wrote a few years ago that talks about creating a cure for the transmission issues you are experiencing. To simply avoid this issue is basically turning your back on the car and saying, "It's okay, it's not a big deal really." Unless you have the tools to swap out a transmission, you are playing roulette with your vehicle.

Sorry, but tdabasstim; your post is probably the worst piece of advice I have seen on a forum in a while. I believe it is just acceptable for the saturn s-series trannys to do this. I just drive it. as long as its not slipping i would worry about it. Not trying to downplay your comments, but to simply avoid changing out the Trans fluid and filter is just as bad as not changing your oil and oil filter.

...
Bryan

94 SL2 225K Miles
97 SW2 255K Miles

Garaged
94 SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

Never Forget
94 SC1 340,501 Miles
Original Engine/Auto Trans
02/97-10/08
Gone 03/12


92 SL1
05 VUE
91 SC

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Old 06-05-2011, 09:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Well perhaps it wasn't a flush. I took it to a GM dealer ship to have the tranny fluid and filter changed. I just assumed it would be a flush.

So am I reading that replacing the valve body might still be an option that is viable at this point?

I am still waiting to hear from Special Forces on the cost of a replacement, but I figure it will be cheaper then a new car. Then perhaps we can look for a replacement vehicle when funds are a bit better around here.

I'll check on Wolfman's cure. But I am still concerned about the slamming and that clunk.

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Old 06-05-2011, 10:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

The valve body replacement may be an option. The service on the trans should be just a filter and fluid change. As mentioned; doing a flush has the tendency to loosen up deposits, etc... that may help the trans run properly.

What is the mileage on this car? And did you have the auto trans serviced frequently? I believe the recommended changes are every 60K miles...

...
Bryan

94 SL2 225K Miles
97 SW2 255K Miles

Garaged
94 SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

Never Forget
94 SC1 340,501 Miles
Original Engine/Auto Trans
02/97-10/08
Gone 03/12


92 SL1
05 VUE
91 SC

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Old 06-05-2011, 01:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Check the voltage at your battery as well. A failing alternator will start the gears slamming. With the car idling in park, turn on your headlights, ac, fan to full, defroster, radio. You're basically loading down the electrical system.

Then check the voltage at the battery. It should read 14+volts. If it does not, your alternator is probably heading out.

I picked up a 2000 SL2 last week that had no reverse and was slamming gears. I tightened down the input shaft nut, which fixed reverse, but I still had slamming. The voltage at the battery read 12.59 and so I replaced the alternator with a good one. After, the voltage read 14.4V and the slamming is gone. I had advanceauto test the old alternator and they declared it GOOD. I brought it home and wrote BAD on it with my paint marker and threw it in the pile. It will either be a core return or scrap metal.

I hope this helps.

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Old 06-05-2011, 01:11 PM   #8
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Your input shaft nut is loose. But letting it slam 2nd gear for 2 years may not have been good. Especially if it is now making a new noise.

Do a search here for input shaft nut replacement.

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Old 06-05-2011, 02:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Atomic, If you have a Pull-a-Part type junkyard near you, you will be able to get a JY tranny for less than $200 I think I pay $68 for them here.

If you have done some of your own wrenching over the years you can swap a tranny in a Saturn. There are several tranny swap guides on the internet. All those old horror stories you have heard about how hard it is to swap FWD trannys out is not true for Saturns.

But, the automatic is one heavy piece. I would recommend a transmission jack.

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Old 07-12-2011, 09:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Just thought I would post an update.

I bought a sonnax updated valve body from ebay, after installing it, it is shifting like new again. I did not do anything with the input shaft nut.

Thanks!

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Old 07-12-2011, 07:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Atomic- Thanks for taking the time to update this!!

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Old 07-13-2011, 08:51 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2001 Saturn SL1 - Hard Shift & Clunk for 2yrs

Don't forget to keep your ATF and filter changed. Very easy to do it yourself; similar to an oil change. If you can change your valve body, this would be a piece of cake for you

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction? Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p 102k @ purchase, now 169k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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