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Old 10-11-2017, 08:33 AM   #1
RedRocketZ28
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2002 SL2
Default 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

Hello all, I am new here so bare with me.

About two months ago I picked up an automatic 2002 SL2 with 154k miles on it. I know the previous owner and it has been very well taken care of. However, as of lately I have started to notice some odd transmission behavior. I have read numerous threads revolving around certain issues but didn't necessarily find exactly what I am looking for.

Anyway, as it's gotten a little colder out in the mornings (40's), these transmission issues have shown up. This morning when I left for work, I put it in reverse and backed out of my driveway. I put the car in Drive and hit the throttle and the RPM's shot up. I'm thinking great, the trans is hurt. I put it back in reverse and it went in, put it back in drive and the same thing. This time I gave it more gas and the car started to move. Well it seems to have started out in second gear instead of first. I got to the end of my street, came to a complete stop, and pulled out onto the highway and it started in second again. My commute is 25 minutes to work and I didn't get a chance to make a complete stop again until after I had been driving for 20 minutes. The trans then shifted like normal for the rest of the way.

I had come across a thread where member "Special Forces" makes a comment about the transmission starting out in second gear when the engine is cold. This morning is the coldest morning we have had since I have owned the car. Is it true the trans will start in second gear when the engine is below a certain temp?

Next issue I have is that there is a 2-3 shift flare when the trans is cold. I have read about others with this issue and it seems to be common but not sure if it's actually normal. It only does it once on a cold morning then shifts as normal. I take it easy on the thing until it warms up.

A little more information to note. It does seem to take a couple of seconds to engage reverse in the morning. It does not slam or bump into reverse and once it goes in it works as normal. Once the trans is warm it does not have the same delay as it does when cold.

I have not done any maintenance to the vehicle since I have bought it. The previous owner had recently replaced the brake pads, battery, did an oil change and had the starter replaced at a dealer.

I own a 800+ RWHP Camaro (hence the username) and know my way around vehicles. I have done everything on a vehicle short of rebuilding a transmission. If it would be wise to change the valve body in the transmission I can certainly tackle that, but figured it might be good to start with a simple fluid/filter change to see what happens.

Thanks for all the help and I look forward to my time here.

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Old 10-11-2017, 08:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

Yes, start with the fluid/filter change; be sure to use Dex3, not Dex6.

I don't think the trans ever is supposed to bypass 1st gear, except if there are massive electrical faults. Then, it has only 4th and R, controlled entirely by the manual valve in the trans. I could be wrong there, maybe it is only 2nd and R...

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Old 10-11-2017, 09:05 AM   #3
Claybury
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Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

A good start would be to check the solenoid resistances. This can be done at the valve body connector or between the fuse box and ECM connector.

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Old 10-11-2017, 11:59 AM   #4
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRocketZ28 View Post
Next issue I have is that there is a 2-3 shift flare when the trans is cold. I have read about others with this issue and it seems to be common but not sure if it's actually normal. It only does it once on a cold morning then shifts as normal. I take it easy on the thing until it warms up.
Yes, this is normal. The torque converter clutch (TCC) kicks in between 2nd and 3rd gear by design. When this occurs you'll see the RPMs drop slightly and then continue rising. Most cars are different in that it kicks in after the highest gear, which is why most people, including myself, think there's some sort of problem. But no, all Saturns do that. I've had 3 Saturn automatics and they all did that.

As for the rest of your problems, I would start with checking the fluid level. If the level is too low it would cause strange shifting and gear engagement issues. OldNuc has the proper procedure in his "Profile Pictures".

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Old 10-11-2017, 02:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

It may be common, although I have never experienced it with my TAAT, and nothing to worry about; but I would hardly call it "normal". They don't all do it.

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Old 10-11-2017, 02:47 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

^^ Agreed, and second the motion check trans fluid level, smell, color/condition...especially since the trans filter replacement history might be unknown

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Old 10-11-2017, 03:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

some troubleshooting done here.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=211771

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Old 10-12-2017, 07:10 AM   #8
RedRocketZ28
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 2002 SL2 auto transmission issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachands View Post
Yes, this is normal. The torque converter clutch (TCC) kicks in between 2nd and 3rd gear by design. When this occurs you'll see the RPMs drop slightly and then continue rising. Most cars are different in that it kicks in after the highest gear, which is why most people, including myself, think there's some sort of problem. But no, all Saturns do that. I've had 3 Saturn automatics and they all did that.

As for the rest of your problems, I would start with checking the fluid level. If the level is too low it would cause strange shifting and gear engagement issues. OldNuc has the proper procedure in his "Profile Pictures".
Sorry, I don't think I explained it very well. The flare I am getting actually is more of a slip and the RPM's increase. I researched what you are describing as soon as I drove the car because it didn't seem normal. I have gotten used to the 1-2 shift, then the converter locking up.

I checked the fluid level last night and it was spot on, and a decent color, but did have a bit of a funky smell to it. I picked up a new filter and some Dex III fluid to throw in it this weekend along with some Prolong. We will see what happens. If I can get this thing to last for a year I will be happy. As long as it's on the road then my Silverado 1500HD with 56k miles on it can stay in the garage until called upon.

On another note, I changed the plugs last night and two of them were dripping with oil. The plugs looked horrible and the gaps were quite a bit larger than the fresh ones. Not sure how the thing ran so well before.

Thanks everyone for the help. I will get the trans fluid and filter changed out this weekend and report back.

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