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Old 01-15-2018, 12:05 PM   #1
rocket98
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Default Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Surprise surprise, the valve body in my '98 SL2 has gone out! Showing the classic "slam" symptoms at running temp., and has been since about 60k (at 63k now). Is this normal with such low mileage? I took it to a shop recently and had the fear (mostly) confirmed - "90% certainty," they said. However, I was told that the replacement would require 5+ hours of labor, indicating they would need to drop the entire transmission first. I know the VB can be reached from above, and have seen other Saturn guys swap it themselves from the top without the drop. I am thinking it may just be a lack of familiarity with Saturns on the shop's part, but they're the experts. It just doesn't really seem necessary... Am I missing something?

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Old 01-15-2018, 12:19 PM   #2
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Huh...sounds like they're reading from the same strange book that tells people to remove the front passenger wheel to replace the alternator and do an oil change

Only "big" parts that need to be removed to replace the VB is the battery and battery tray. If a 3rd gen, the PCM/BCM should be able to just be secured on top of the brake master cylinder without fully removing from the car.

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Old 01-15-2018, 03:30 PM   #3
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Gotcha. I figured that couldn't be right. Also, just got to thinking... The VB normally goes out/starts to go at ~70k. Does that apply to replacements, too? I was planning on ordering one remanufactured with the Sonnax upgrade. Is this something I'll need to replace again ~70k down the road?

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Old 01-15-2018, 03:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

There are four Sonnax upgrades, which of those will their VB include?

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Old 01-15-2018, 04:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket98 View Post
Is this normal with such low mileage?
I doubt that VB is very badly worn at only 63k mi. How many times has the fluid/filter been changed? You might only need an LP Solenoid . . .

Resistance Test – Cover On:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tDmBlKn2jI

LP Solenoid R&R:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUSSj_2eHUY

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Old 01-15-2018, 04:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
There are four Sonnax upgrades, which of those will their VB include?
I didn't ask. They were insistent on dropping the entire transmission to change it out - a little over $1400 out-the-door. Theirs would have been brand new then. The Sonnax website only shows two options: the '91-early '92, with the valve on the bottom, and the late '92-later, with the four holes in place of the valve. I haven't heard of any others...

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Old 01-15-2018, 04:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket98 View Post
They were insistent on dropping the entire transmission to change it out - a little over $1400 out-the-door.
You need to wave good-bye to this shop - they obviously don't know squat about the TAAT.

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Old 01-15-2018, 04:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chazberry View Post
I doubt that VB is very badly worn at only 63k mi. How many times has the fluid/filter been changed? You might only need an LP Solenoid . . .
Good question. I bought it at ~59k, but the Carfax showed it had only been driven 1000 miles between 2012 and then (Feb. 2017). You would think old fluid with all the sitting, but it looks clean and has the right consistency like it hasn't been run much. I haven't changed out the filter, so I'll assume original. It is showing all the signs of a bad VB though - the delay and slam. If I push it long enough, in stop-and-go traffic especially, it eventually gets to a point where I completely lose anything above 2nd. Reverse still works at that point, just with the slam. Could the LP solenoid explain all that?

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Old 01-15-2018, 04:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket98 View Post
Could the LP solenoid explain all that?
The fluid/filter are supposed to be changed every 30k mi. If it isn't, that can accelerate VB wear. A bad LP Solenoid will cause harsh shifting. It's very easy to verify by measuring it's resistance. If it measures less than 5 Ohms, it's shot. A new one is about $50 and maybe 2 hrs. labor. Typically worth trying before spending $150+ for a rebuilt VB. Btw - our trusted VB suppliers:

http://centralvalvebodies.com/ Ask for Donnie and mention Saturnfans

Ken Partin on ebay > http://www.ebay.com/usr/kenpartin295...p2047675.l2559

Special Forces by PM > http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...8&postcount=18

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Old 01-15-2018, 05:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket98 View Post
Gotcha. I figured that couldn't be right. Also, just got to thinking... The VB normally goes out/starts to go at ~70k. Does that apply to replacements, too? I was planning on ordering one remanufactured with the Sonnax upgrade. Is this something I'll need to replace again ~70k down the road?
You need to get that car outta that shop ASAP. When my 99 SL2 was wrecked and totaled at close to 220k miles it had the original STILL perfectly functioning VB in it. The difference is I took very good care of it and used only top quality proper fluid in it. BTW in the close to 200k I owned it I only put 2 or 3 new filters in it. I just did drain and fills once I knew I had good clean fluid at all times.
Bottom line do some quick successive changes on it with a good fluid. I use(d) Valvoline Multi-Vehicle Import synthetic. It comes in a blue jug and is reasonably priced. It is also the closest thing to true Dexron III specs you'll find readily available. It is spec'd for Asian vehicles that require DexIII as a replacement (Toyota and Nissan) I started because I had an older Camry and an Infiniti QX (think Nissan Pathfinder) that spec'd it. Plus the Saturn at the time. So I started using it and it worked just great. As well as Mobil 1 at half the price

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Old 01-18-2018, 06:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Thanks for the advice/links. Will outside temperature affect the solenoid readings?

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Old 01-18-2018, 07:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Some. but not much. You will get more variation from how sharp your probes are and how hard you push them onto the pins to dig through oxide on the pins. Look more for a difference in the coils, it is rare that all five will fail exactly the same.

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Old 01-18-2018, 10:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chazberry View Post
The fluid/filter are supposed to be changed every 30k mi. If it isn't, that can accelerate VB wear. A bad LP Solenoid will cause harsh shifting. It's very easy to verify by measuring it's resistance. If it measures less than 5 Ohms, it's shot. A new one is about $50 and maybe 2 hrs. labor. Typically worth trying before spending $150+ for a rebuilt VB.
Appreciate the resources. So I measured all five solenoids tonight... All came back at 5.1 - 5.3 (verified with a second multimeter, a couple times). Terminals were all good. Cover gasket looks great, everything internal looks perfect, or at least like in the video. Any other ideas? I plan on swapping out the fluid and filter, but it sounds pretty unlikely that either of those could be causing all this, as the SES comes on occasionally and throws 3rd and 4th gear codes.

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Old 01-18-2018, 11:13 PM   #14
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
Some. but not much. You will get more variation from how sharp your probes are and how hard you push them onto the pins to dig through oxide on the pins. Look more for a difference in the coils, it is rare that all five will fail exactly the same.
All five came back fine. 5.1 - 5.3 (measured with two multimeters, a couple times each). Might just have to replace the whole VB. Unless it could be as simple as a bad filter/fluid... I'm sure it's been a while, so those will both be replaced either way.

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Old 01-18-2018, 11:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by underthehood View Post
You need to get that car outta that shop ASAP. When my 99 SL2 was wrecked and totaled at close to 220k miles it had the original STILL perfectly functioning VB in it. The difference is I took very good care of it and used only top quality proper fluid in it. BTW in the close to 200k I owned it I only put 2 or 3 new filters in it. I just did drain and fills once I knew I had good clean fluid at all times.
Bottom line do some quick successive changes on it with a good fluid. I use(d) Valvoline Multi-Vehicle Import synthetic. It comes in a blue jug and is reasonably priced. It is also the closest thing to true Dexron III specs you'll find readily available. It is spec'd for Asian vehicles that require DexIII as a replacement (Toyota and Nissan) I started because I had an older Camry and an Infiniti QX (think Nissan Pathfinder) that spec'd it. Plus the Saturn at the time. So I started using it and it worked just great. As well as Mobil 1 at half the price
Oh, don't worry. My jaw hit the floor as soon as they told me. It was outta there reeeal quick. The fluid looks perfect though still, bright red and no noticeable contamination. Makes me think that the filter has to be ok too. Maybe the previous owner was just running the wrong fluid?

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Old 01-19-2018, 12:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Have you checked line-pressure with a gauge, done the simple "fuse pull" test on LP and observed what LP is during a harsh shift? Even if the LP solenoid coil is fine there may be another problem in that circuit.

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Old 01-19-2018, 10:54 AM   #17
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket98 View Post
So I measured all five solenoids tonight... All came back at 5.1 - 5.3 (verified with a second multimeter, a couple times). Any other ideas?
These Solenoids can be good electrically, but still have mechanical problems. The LP takes the most abuse being that it is constantly pulse-width-modulated. Some folks have had luck just swapping Solenoids around. If not a fix, it can help with diagnostics. Try swapping the LP and 2rd Gear.

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Old 01-19-2018, 02:52 PM   #18
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
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the Carfax showed it had only been driven 1000 miles between 2012 and then (Feb. 2017).
Does the Carfax show registration and mileage each year for those 5 years?

MI only requires mileage be reported when the title is transferred. So Carfax knows I bought the car in 2008 with 102k miles on the clock. I now have over 201k miles on the car.

If I swapped in the cluster from another 2nd gen with 110k miles on it, as far as Carfax knows, I only put 8k miles on the car since 2008.

I know some states require mileage at the annual registration or for smog, or the car may have been serviced at a dealership that reports to Carfax, so Carfax would have more info and be more accurate in those circumstances

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Old 01-19-2018, 03:44 PM   #19
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chazberry View Post
Try swapping the LP and 2rd Gear.
Are the solenoids all the same? I have a few yellows and a couple reds. The yellows all have the same 8-digit number, and the reds have a different number. I guess it's just a factory or serial number?

Last edited by rocket98; 01-19-2018 at 03:51 PM..

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Old 01-19-2018, 04:43 PM   #20
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Default Re: Valve body replacement - drop transmission?

Quote:
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Are the solenoids all the same? I have a few yellows and a couple reds. The yellows all have the same 8-digit number, and the reds have a different number. I guess it's just a factory or serial number?
Yes - they are all the same. If you were to order a new one from say Amazon, you would order GM # 21003344. The fact that all your colors don't match suggests someone has been in there previously.

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