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Old 08-15-2012, 11:31 AM   #1
randers
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Default 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

Started vehicle went to store. Stopped at intersection and car would not move. Tried all gears and it appears it is not engaging. When try to put into Park a grinding noise is heard. Can turn off motor and put in park but it does not engage. Car moves like it is still in neutral. No previous shifter/trans problems except yesterday had to back up a drieway and car bucked. Anyone have any ideas as to where to start?

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Old 08-15-2012, 12:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

It sounds like you have a broken axle shaft or CV joint. When you put it in gear and try to "drive" the car, does the speedometer respond?

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Old 08-15-2012, 04:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

Tried starting and putting it in gear again. When I give it gas the speedometer moves but the car doesn't budge in any gear There is grinding in every gear. When I place it in park the grinding still continues. If I turn the car off, place it in park and restart in park there is no grinding until I move it into gear. The passenger side axle shaft was just replaced less than 3 weeks ago due to a torn cv boot. How can I check the shaft before replacing? Don't want to tear the front end apart again if there might be bigger issue.

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Old 08-15-2012, 04:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

That's def. a broken shaft/joint. The grinding in gear is probably the broken bits of the joint crunching on each other. The grinding in Park is the Park pawl of the transmission trying to engage. As far as the powertrain is concerned, it's the equivalent of throwing it into Park while the car is moving, because the outputs of the differential are moving even though they're not propelling the car. Because of the broken shaft/joint, the car's brakes are unable to stop this from happening.

To locate the break, have an assistant attempt to "drive" the car while you observe, CAREFULLY, underneath. Have the assistant steer the front wheels to give you better visual access. Observe each axle shaft and the intermediate shaft. If you see one of the shafts turning, then the outer CV joint of that shaft is what has failed. If you see just the inner joint or inner boot on one side turning, then that inner joint has failed. If you see the intermediate shaft turning but not the right axle shaft, then it's probably the right inner joint.

You might also find that one of the shafts, particularly the passenger side, has simply broken in two right in the middle of the shaft. On the passenger side, on cars originally equipped with steel wheels, there was a balancing weight on the shaft. The shape of the weight allowed water to collect in it, causing the shaft to rust and fail right where the weight was mounted.

At the end of the test, to avoid the grinding/clattering when you shift into Park - DON'T shift into Park right away. Shift to neutral and watch the speedometer. When the speedometer drops to zero, THEN shift to Park. That will be better for the transmission; that will avoid the effect of shifting into Park while the differential output is turning. If the speedometer doesn't drop all the way to zero after shifting to neutral and waiting several seconds, just shut off the engine while in neutral. You'll be able to detect that everything has stopped moving; then it will be safe to shift into Park.

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Old 08-15-2012, 05:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

Based on your reply I'm going to start with the drivers side shaft as I have already replaced the passenger side. Replacing the passenger side shaft was fairly simple. Any issues with the drivers side I should be aware of?

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Old 08-15-2012, 05:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by randers View Post
Based on your reply I'm going to start with the drivers side shaft as I have already replaced the passenger side. Replacing the passenger side shaft was fairly simple.
Did you install an aftermarket shaft, or an OEM one from the salvage yard? The aftermarket ones are reputed to be inferior.
Quote:
Any issues with the drivers side I should be aware of?
Since the driver's side shaft goes directly into the transmission, instead of into an intermediate shaft, two things. One, DRAIN the transmission FIRST. Otherwise you'll be draining it anyway in a very messy fashion when you remove the shaft. Also, you have to be careful about the seal where the shaft goes into the transmission. I haven't done it myself, but search this section for "differential seal" or "axle shaft seal" or the like, for more information about precautions to take.

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Old 08-23-2012, 01:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

New development. Just got the car up on jackstands and pulled tires. The new passenger side axle shaft that I recently installed has come off of the mid shaft. I'm assuming this is something I overlooked during assembly but the car ran fine and I had almost 1000 miles on it since the installation. I also replaced the outer tie rod ends and the balljoint assembly during this process. I made certain everything was torqued to spec. Other than the shaft being disengaged from the splines I can't see any other issues. I haven't pulled it apart yet to see if there is any issue with the shaft itself. When I put it back together the manual tells me to push the shaft in until I here it click when it engages the clip on the midshaft. Can anyone think of another issue I might need to look into while I have this apart?

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