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Old 07-10-2006, 09:00 PM   #1
USMarine1171
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1996 SL1
Wrench 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Greetings,

This is my first post and I am looking for some guidance concerning the following:

Currently, I am driving a manual 5 speed SL1. About a week ago the car stopped shifting into 3rd gear. During the two months prior to that it was getting hard to shift the vehicle into first gear. The longer the vehicle has been running the harder it is to shift. Alot of effort is required to get it into gear and once I put enough muscle into the shift knob it pops into gear and then drives smoothly. Also, when the clutch is fully depressed and the car is in gear the vehicle will creep. The creep is barely noticeable, but it creeps. Now back to 3rd gear. If I shift into 3rd without holding it in place it will pop out immediately, but if I hold the shifter forward then I can drive in 3rd.

The vehicle has 158k. At 146k I put in a used engine with about 40k on it and replaced the clutch at that time.

I don't believe it's the clutch seeing how it only has 12k miles on it. From what I've read in the Haynes I was thinking it was the Clutch Hydraulic Assembly. I bought the complete assembly with master and slave cylinders and as I was about to install it this afternoon my neighbor came out and talked to me. He drove it around, called a friend of his to tell him the situation and the friend says it is probably the synchronizers. I was going to take it to the shop tomorrow for an estimate.

So, what should I do? I probably should put the assembly in, but what about 3rd not even getting into gear? It shifts smoothly when the vehicle is off.

Thanks alot for any info and I appreciate the time your taking to respond to the thread.

Take Care.

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Old 07-10-2006, 09:22 PM   #2
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1993 SC2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Have you checked your transmission fluid levels? I had a 91 Chevy Cavalier manual 5 speed that was shifting on its own back to neutral from 5th gear because it was completely out of fluid although by the time I found this out it was too late and the transmission was seized. Your Sl1 could be trying to warn you it is low or COMPLETELY DRY of tranny fluid so check it immediately

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Old 07-10-2006, 09:53 PM   #3
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1996 SL1
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

The manual transmission lubricant level is good.

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Old 07-10-2006, 09:54 PM   #4
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2000 SL2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

You might as well take it into the shop and see what they say. I'm 95% sure it's hydraulics, though, because of the creep. Maybe it got some air in it when the clutch was replaced.

The specific behavior with third might be the shifter cables (especially the bushing, which is prone to break). You can take the center console off and take a look to see if it's cracked.

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Old 07-10-2006, 10:13 PM   #5
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1993 SC2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

The transmission went out on my 93 sc2 at 115,000 miles although my mothers 94 SC2 is on its 2nd engine of which the first engine expired at around 247,000 miles and it still is running good on the original tranny. Im guessing the previous owner/s of my SC2 really abused it before I got it guessing from all the problems i am currently having with it and from the college fraternity sticker that was attached to the rear window when I got it....LOL. It is plausible from the mileage your car has that the transmission may be on its last leg and is ready for a rebuild. I myself would have a transmission shop I trusted look it over before the problem gets worse unless you know alot about transmissions as they are the most complicated and involved part of a car to work on.

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Old 07-11-2006, 05:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

No one's asked a very important question here. How does the car shift with the engine off? If it shifts okay, then your problem is probably the hydraulics. You may have another problem with third. I'm not sure about that.

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Old 07-11-2006, 06:07 AM   #7
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1996 SL1
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

"It shifts smoothly when the vehicle is off."

I'm pretty sure replacing the hydraulics would fix the problem with first and second as far as the muscle required to get it in gear. I am just afraid that the problem with third has to do with the internal parts of the transmission. I will be taking it in this morning to try and get different estimates. Hopefully they say third is something with the cable or pins or whatever is external to the transmission and not something inside the tranny? Hopefully!

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Old 07-11-2006, 12:40 PM   #8
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by USMarine1171
Also, when the clutch is fully depressed and the car is in gear the vehicle will creep. The creep is barely noticeable, but it creeps.
Once again, the first post provides the answer, that seems to get overlooked.

If the engine propels the car AT ALL with the clutch pedal floored, the clutch is NOT fully disengaging. Either the clutch hydraulics are weak/failing, or the fingers on the pressure plate are weak and no longer pushing it fully away from the clutch disc.

Don't look (well, not yet) at the tranny itself, the shifter, the cables, the synchronizers, etc. Look at clutch disengagement. Look, fer shur, at the clutch fluid level.

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Old 07-12-2006, 11:35 AM   #9
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1996 SL1
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

OK, so I took the vehicle in yesterday to a local transmission shop. They said it was most likely the hydraulics. The guy said it would cost $195 to inspect it and that the $195 would go toward any other problem if there was one. I had already purchased the Clutch Hydraulic Assembly, so I figured I would do it myself. I replaced the hydraulics, but the damn thing is still funked up!

My next step was to move on to the cables? What do you all think, good idea or bad? I don't want to be that guy who puts $1,000 into a vehicle and still doesn't fix the problem. But just about anything I do myself is better than paying $1,500 on a new transmission.

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Old 07-12-2006, 11:40 AM   #10
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1996 SL1
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Also, when I removed the battery holder tray, there was a tube that looked to be an overflow that was off. Does anyone know what that tube vents? It is directly under the battery tray.

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Old 07-12-2006, 11:57 AM   #11
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

The cables control the transmission. Your problem is with the clutch. Once again, if the engine is propelling the car with the clutch pedal all the way down, your problem is simply that the clutch isn't fully disengaging. That has nothing to do with the shifter or cables. Once again, if you're sure the hydraulics are installed correctly, you're probably looking at weak fingers on the pressure plate, or possibly a bent clutch fork.

Actually, I think that tube you describe is part of the hydraulic system. This makes me wonder if it's installed properly. But don't take my word for it; I don't have my FSMs handy.

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Old 07-12-2006, 12:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by USMarine1171
Also, when I removed the battery holder tray, there was a tube that looked to be an overflow that was off. Does anyone know what that tube vents? It is directly under the battery tray.
The tube is a vent that goes to the top of the transmission.

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Old 07-12-2006, 12:05 PM   #13
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1996 SL1
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Thanks for the input, I think the next step will be to take it back to the guy who installed the clutch. It was installed in February brand new. I thought I could rule the clutch since it's new but apparently not....that *******! Here is a pic of the hose I'm talking about:

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Old 07-12-2006, 12:26 PM   #14
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Ah, I stand corrected on the tube, then. Dang, this could turn into a finger-pointing standoff, where your clutch guy is gonna claim it's you and your hydraulics installation, and you're claiming it's him and the clutch install. That's one down-side to hydraulic clutches of this design; you can't see, externally, what's moving what (or what's NOT moving what).

Oh, waitaminit. How much have you driven it since the hydraulics install? I recall that it can take some time for it to "settle in" to a good working state. It can feel mushy and ineffective initially; I just don't remember how long it's supposed to take to find its feet, so to speak. Maybe you just need to give it some time to break in.

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Old 07-12-2006, 12:44 PM   #15
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Just pull the loose hose over the bigger hose and stick it on the round thing coming out the top of the transmission. It's right next to it in the photo. Also disconnect the wire to the backup light switch and pull it over the big hose and reconnect it.

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Old 07-12-2006, 01:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

haha I went through the same thing. it sucks.
theres a hole just barely big enough to fit a screw driver in beside the slave cylinder. you can stick something in that to see if the clutch release fork(?) is traveling like it should as far as it should. there are actual specs to how far it should travel. If its not within spec then its an issue with your slave cylinder or master cylinder just maybe the fork but atleast your slave cylinder given that the piston in it would have traveled to far under load and destroyed itself. I think that is a good place to start.
never, ever buy one from a junk yard. I went through 3 before I bought a new one.
I hope I helped some.

but the fact that it popped out of third sometimes would leave me to believe the ring on the syncro has gone bad. not really a big deal, just annoying. Its the actual part that keeps the syncro engaged to the gear as I understand.

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Old 07-12-2006, 03:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

I have driven it with the new hydraulics for about 30 miles.

If I put the screwdriver in like you said, what does it check, the clutch fork?

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Old 07-12-2006, 05:16 PM   #18
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

well, it checks how far the clutch fork is being pressed in by the slave cylinder.
thatll tell you for sure if its the hydraulics or not.

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Old 07-12-2006, 05:37 PM   #19
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by rectifryer
well, it checks how far the clutch fork is being pressed in by the slave cylinder.
thatll tell you for sure if its the hydraulics or not.
Ah, then I stand corrected re. my previous rant. Does the FSM have a procedure for this?

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Old 07-13-2006, 08:58 AM   #20
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1996 SL1
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL1--Problem Shifting and Popping Out of Gear

I already replaced the hydraulics on Tuesday. I have been holding 3rd in gear while driving. It's working for now and I guess it's better than skipping 3rd?

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