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Old 02-24-2018, 05:16 PM   #1
jpsuli
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1997 SL2
Dizzy SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Hello All,

Thanks to this forum, my Saturn SL2 97 has been alive for the better part of 3 years since I first started driving but has been in my driveway since the beginning of college due to an issue where I can't get past 30 mph since 3rd and 4th gear is not available.

The issue arose after fixing numerous pulleys on the engine after the steering pump seized while on the highway, thanks AutoZone. It ran fine for about a month or two and then started slipping into 3rd and 4th. The last day I drove it, it took about a minute to get into 3rd and then into 4th when on the highway, with the accompanying smell of burning metal.

It's been awhile, but I believe there was a code for 3rd gear incorrect ratio, but has since disappeared while sitting in the driveway. Tried the O2 sensor out, no go. I think the transmission is KOed but my father believes it could be a bolt on the side of the engine that is loose, at one of the pulleys we replaced.

I'll be heading back home this March and want to fix it while I'm there as I need a car to reliably do 1200 miles every now and then.

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Old 02-24-2018, 09:44 PM   #2
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2001 SL1
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

This is an automatic, right?
Has anyone pulled the transmission dipstick, with a hot engine, in Park with the engine ON?
The fluid should be at the full mark, look bright RED not browninsh, smell sweetish, not burnt.
How many miles on the car, and remembering that the trans fluid and its spin on filter should be changed out at least every 30,000 miles, or it begs for trouble.

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Old 02-24-2018, 10:29 PM   #3
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1995 SC2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
This is an automatic, right?
Has anyone pulled the transmission dipstick, with a hot engine, in Park with the engine ON?
The fluid should be at the full mark, look bright RED not browninsh, smell sweetish, not burnt.
How many miles on the car, and remembering that the trans fluid and its spin on filter should be changed out at least every 30,000 miles, or it begs for trouble.
I concur, this should be performed BEFORE any other troubleshooting has been done.

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"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 02-25-2018, 10:14 AM   #4
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1997 SL2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
This is an automatic, right?
Has anyone pulled the transmission dipstick, with a hot engine, in Park with the engine ON?
The fluid should be at the full mark, look bright RED not browninsh, smell sweetish, not burnt.
How many miles on the car, and remembering that the trans fluid and its spin on filter should be changed out at least every 30,000 miles, or it begs for trouble.
Did this last December when I was back home, it was a reddish pink with a hint of brown. The transmission fluid was changed when I bought the car back in 2015, so it has been in there for 20k-25k miles.

I do not know when the time before it was changed, if at all since an older lady owned it. I do recall 3 years ago that the trans fluid was brown before we changed it.

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Old 02-25-2018, 11:06 AM   #5
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2001 SL1
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Even though you did a change in December, a simple trans fluid and filter change right now may save the day, but I would NOW add in a bottle of that Lucas trans stuff from walmart.

Since you have already seen it brown once, then this trans most likely needs this type of servicing more often than 30K miles....most likely every 20K or less.
It's cheap insurance and may prevent $$$$ issues.

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Old 02-25-2018, 11:16 AM   #6
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1997 SL2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Even though you did a change in December, a simple trans fluid and filter change right now may save the day, but I would NOW add in a bottle of that Lucas trans stuff from walmart.

Since you have already seen it brown once, then this trans most likely needs this type of servicing more often than 30K miles....most likely every 20K or less.
It's cheap insurance and may prevent $$$$ issues.
Some part of me wants to refuse to believe that it could be such a simple fix, but when I see the car next it'll be the first thing I'll do.

I just find it odd though that these symptoms happened after I meddled with the engine.

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Old 03-11-2018, 04:16 PM   #7
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1997 SL2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Finally back in town and had a chance to do some more research after midterms. Looks like I found an issue that may coorelate to the reverse slam and issues with the forward gears. Would anyone like to weigh in if this seems more to be the issue? It's the reverse slam fix by Wolfman (can't post the direct link to his post)

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Old 03-15-2018, 08:22 PM   #8
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1997 SL2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Somewhat of an update:

Looked at the transmission fluid again, it was a beautiful red-pink, not like the brownish kind I thought it would be. Because I had some time this week, I decided to look at the valve body.

From what I read, this could be numerous issues but many have said it could be due to the the solenoids in the valve body to go bad. It was only about an hour or two to get the entire valve body out of the car. Testing the solenoids with the casing still on I received a consistent 5.0 reading on every single solenoid. However, once the casing was off almost every single solenoid sat around 4.6-4.5 and the line pressure solenoid, #1, failed at 4.3.

My father mentioned that if you blow into the tip of the solenoid it should be easy to blow into, like a whistle, but the line pressure solenoid was very hard to blow into.

Since there are no places that stock any solenoids for the valve body near me, I will order the part # 21003344 or go to a junkyard near me when I get back from school this summer. I'll also go into checking the input shaft nut too, just to ensure it isn't loose.

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Old 03-15-2018, 08:41 PM   #9
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1995 SC2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsuli View Post
Somewhat of an update:

Looked at the transmission fluid again, it was a beautiful red-pink, not like the brownish kind I thought it would be. Because I had some time this week, I decided to look at the valve body.

From what I read, this could be numerous issues but many have said it could be due to the the solenoids in the valve body to go bad. It was only about an hour or two to get the entire valve body out of the car. Testing the solenoids with the casing still on I received a consistent 5.0 reading on every single solenoid. However, once the casing was off almost every single solenoid sat around 4.6-4.5 and the line pressure solenoid, #1, failed at 4.3.

My father mentioned that if you blow into the tip of the solenoid it should be easy to blow into, like a whistle, but the line pressure solenoid was very hard to blow into.

Since there are no places that stock any solenoids for the valve body near me, I will order the part # 21003344 or go to a junkyard near me when I get back from school this summer. I'll also go into checking the input shaft nut too, just to ensure it isn't loose.
www.kenpartintransmissions.com

Or, contact Special Forces, a member on here.

They both stock solenoids, and can sell rebuilt valve bodies.

Upon reading all the posts, I don't think a valve body is going to do it. I think the transmission is done.

You can check the fuses, which will be in the UHJB fuse box.

Codes for "Incorrect Ratio" are usually a sign of internal clutch slippage, causing the turbine speed sensor to spin out of set parameters in the PCM. PCM detects the fault condition, and disables the gear to prevent further damage to the transmission.

I would pull the valve body and do some pressurized air tests on the clutch packs. This sounds like a clutch issue.

If you need to source parts or a whole transmission, www.car-part.com is helpful for searching the wrecking yards.

I just spent 14 hrs, swapping my engine with a junkyard unit that was listed with 215k miles on it. VIN didn't match the car it came out of, so I have no idea how many miles are actually on it.

If you do wind up needing a whole transmission, just be prepared to use about 2-3 days in total prep time, swap time, and clean-up.

...
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"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 03-16-2018, 06:08 PM   #10
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1997 SL2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
kenpartintransmissions
I assume you were talking about kenpartintransmissionparts? I think the goal here is the check out the valve body and the loosen input shaft issues, and if those are working fine then I suppose I'll need a new transmission.

Whether or not I do that this summer will be debatable. If not, Saturn Ion Redline may be coming up

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Old 03-17-2018, 04:12 AM   #11
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1995 SC2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsuli View Post
I assume you were talking about kenpartintransmissionparts? I think the goal here is the check out the valve body and the loosen input shaft issues, and if those are working fine then I suppose I'll need a new transmission.

Whether or not I do that this summer will be debatable. If not, Saturn Ion Redline may be coming up
Unless you like cracked engine blocks and snapped timing chains, I would suggest buying something other than a Saturn Ion Redline(Rebadged Chevy Cobalt SS, essentially), with its Scrap-O-Tec boat anchor.

If the input shaft nut is loose, you will lose reverse, set a P0732 code for "No 2nd Gear/2nd Gear Incorrect Ratio" and have slamming shifts in all your forward gears.

Reverse is on the same clutch as 2nd gear.

Your problem is linked to only 3rd and 4th gear, which is a different clutch pack assembly.

And there are videos, as well as threads here in the forums, of how to properly repair a loose input shaft nut.

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"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 05-15-2018, 11:52 PM   #12
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1997 SL2
Default Re: SL2 Auto - No 3rd or 4th Gear

This is an update on the issue,

The Line Pressure solenoid was replaced within the transmission and fixed 3rd and 4th gear along with the reverse kickback. The shifts are rough, but I am assuming that's because the car has sat for 3/4 a year.

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