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Old 02-06-2014, 08:21 PM   #1
feliciacat
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2002 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
1998 SL2
Default 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

I have been through the forums on this and I am still at a loss.

1. Will not shift out of neutral
2. Initially had a limp shifter and a broken bushing. (I dare you to say that without a smirk lol)
3. Replaced bushing, shifter no longer limp but car still stuck in neutral
4. Checked shifter cables, they were connected no fraying
5. Bottom cable moves lever on transmission control lever tower OK
6. Top lever on transmission control lever tower seemed jammed so I disconnected the cable and the cable moves freely when disconnected but the lever only moves a little bit.

I am wondering if this is likely the transmission control lever tower on the transmission or if it could be something else like the clutch. How can I test this?

Also wondering what the devil that part is commonly called. I think it is part number 21005866 and I have seen it called a shifter cable tower a transmission control tower, a transmission control lever housing, transmission control lever tower

Any guidance is much appreciated.

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Old 02-07-2014, 03:11 PM   #2
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1998 SL2
1997 SL2
Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

part number comes up as 'HOUSING KIT. Transmission Control Lever"
http://parts.nalleygmc.com/showAssem...ssembly=404963

When you say
Quote:
Top lever on transmission control lever tower seemed jammed so I disconnected the cable and the cable moves freely when disconnected but the lever only moves a little bit
Does that mean the shift lever in the car is only moving a little bit, or the lever on the shift tower, on top of the transmission under the hood?

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Old 02-07-2014, 03:34 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post

When you say
Does that mean the shift lever in the car is only moving a little bit, or the lever on the shift tower, on top of the transmission under the hood?
It's the lever on top of the transmission.

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Old 02-07-2014, 07:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

My neighbor works on cars and I have him stumped now too
He suggested loose shifter cables so I checked this.

I put the shifter into reverse and first and it did move the shifter lever at the transmission end. Yet car can still be rolled freely back and forth like in neutral for both positions.

I manually moved the lever attached to the transmission. Car still behaved as in neutral rolling freely back and forth.

So basically gear selector lever on the transmission is shifting but the car transmission itself is not.

I think something seized somewhere to cause the shifter linkage to break, the snapping zip ties seems like a response to recoil or excessive tension along the cable. No clue as to what is stuck.

Also tried my code reader but no codes. However, it is just an actron DIY version and I have had it fail to report codes autozone showed with my L300.

As for the clutch, the clutch pedal feels normal, i.e. it has the right amount of resistance.

Is there anyway to see if the clutch plate is stuck?

Can anyone help with suggestions on other things to test?

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Old 02-07-2014, 08:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

I gotta admit, I've never worked with one of these (Saturn) manual transmissions; just looking at pictures. However, there is repeated mention of the shift lever, but aren't there two of them? If so, what's the other one doing, is it moving? Point is, if there are two levers, then they probably have to be moved in the right combinations. Some permutations would give proper gears, some would give no gear connection, and some would lock the trans so that neither input or output could be turned. So... two levers or really just one?

Edit: Okay, I looked through the thread again, saw the IPB of the shift cover; definitely two shift levers and forks. You need to remove both shift cables and fuss with those two levers, see whether you can "unjam" the one by getting the other in another position. It looks like that shift cover comes off pretty easily, I would pull that off and inspect things in there if you don't get it resolved by fussing with the levers.

Edit2: three forks...

Last edited by billr; 02-07-2014 at 09:09 PM..

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:22 PM   #6
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

If you have wiggled the external levers at the trans and it is still locked then clean the top and remove the lever housing, 4 bolts then you can see the 3 selector forks. Set them all to neutral. The selector on the LEFT in this picture is in Neutral verify all forks are in neutral. It is entirely possible your selector mechanism has worn out, that is the part with the levers.

http://www.differentracing.com/tech_...ft_housing.jpg

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Two levers connecting to the shifter tower on the transmission. Excuse my lack of technical terms here.
From watching this in action as the shifter was moved for me. The top lever on the transmission connects to the cable inside the car where the bushing(passenger side) was busted. This connects to a lever on top of the shifter tower on the transmission that pulls out a piston to provide clearance for the bottom cable to pull another lever that shifts gears. All that seems to be moving freely, moves manually and with the shifter.

It seems the bottom lever is the one mainly responsible for changing gears and that moves well both manually and with the shifter.

I suspect(hope) the transmission itself is OK since the levers connected to it appear to be move correctly.

I am leaning to clutch issues now since apparently the clutch can be FUBAR even if the clutch hydraulics appear OK.

Unfortunately if the clutch needs replacing I will have to take it in. Cannot really replace a clutch in an apartment parking lot, too much risk of being the one girl who dropped a car on her head

Just wondering if there is anything else I can try first. If something is just jammed what would it be and is there any trick to unstick it?

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

The clutch usually only causes shifting problems when the engine is running. Rock the car back-and-forth (forward-reverse) a little (engine off, of course!) and try moving the shift levers again. If one is still stuck, then you should really pull off that shift cover and start inspecting for broken or worn parts. Wow, there is a dip-stick on those manual transmissions??? I guess I will check the fluid level in my '94...

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Set them all to neutral. The selector on the LEFT in this picture is in Neutral verify all forks are in neutral.
Thank you so much, I was thinking I should try that but worried about screwing up alignments with the selector components.

Just to clarify, for neutral does this mean I want all 3 forks in the middle?

Also, when I look at the part, how can I tell if it's busted?
Will it be obvious when I work the levers?

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

I guessing that yes, those slots will all line up in the center in neutral. As for what to inspect for, start by taking off the cover; it may be real obvious, and you can post pictures for further questions.

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Thank you, for clarifying that. I tried shifting with the engine off and could push the car back and forth pretty easily from both 1st and reverse gears so does not look like the clutch.

I will check out the housing next and see where that takes me.

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:55 PM   #12
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Yes, each one has 3 positions and when all centered like the left one in the picture that is neutral and the 2 gear lockout is in that shift control housing you will be taking off. Clean the top before removing as dirt is not good for transmissions.

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Will do thanks.

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Old 02-07-2014, 09:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Looks pretty easy to do, let's hope that if there is anything bad, it is on the cover parts!

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Old 02-07-2014, 10:21 PM   #15
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

That is where it should be as if it is in the gearbox then it is toast.

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Old 02-08-2014, 07:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Quick Question

Is there anything besides the four corner bolts holding the housing in place?

I disconnected the reverse light switch from the housing and unscrewed the four corner bolts.

However the bloody housing is really stuck fast and I wanted to check before applying more muscle to it. The battery tray had a hidden bolt so I am playing it a little cautious.

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Old 02-08-2014, 08:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Just the 4 bolts, probably stuck on the paper gasket. Being stuck may be leading to an explanation as to why it is locked up.

There is a hollow locating dowel and that will hang it up if not lifted straight up.

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Old 02-08-2014, 08:27 PM   #18
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Thank you for confirming and for the heads up on the dowel. The bolts were ridiculously tight so I may need to recruit a little man power for this lol.

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Old 02-08-2014, 08:41 PM   #19
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

Block of wood against the bottom of the lever extension and suitable small bludgeon to whack it with.

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Old 02-08-2014, 09:43 PM   #20
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Default Re: 1998 SL2 Manual Stuck in Neutral

If you do need a new shifter control tower housing (the thing bolted on with four bolts onto the top of the transmission), I have an extra I'll send to you for just the cost of shipping.

Figure out what's wrong, and if it is that, just PM me. I can have it shipped quickly.

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