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Old 01-09-2021, 04:08 AM   #1
StephenB
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2004 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
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Wrench Saturn Stuck in 3rd Gear

Hello friends, I recently joined this website because I need some help with my car. I have a 2004 Saturn L300 V6, Automatic, that my dad was using temporarily. One day he said he heard a “pop” and then it basically was rendered useless. What happens is that when i’m in park, it says it’s in 3rd gear. If i select any of the other gears, it says it’s in 3rd. It’ll only rev up to 2,000 rpm’s when in neutral or park. After it heats up for about 10-20 minutes then it starts to surge forward slowly. It’ll go forward like one foot, then stop, go forward, then stop repeatedly. I replaced the TCM with a used one with no luck. I checked my fuses to find none were blown. I replaced the neutral safety switch, with no luck. I can change gears but the light stays on 3rd and won’t move. I’ve searched and searched on these forums to find a possible fix but i either didn’t understand or tried the possible fixes. It has around 125,000 miles and drove fine for about 4 months since i owned the car, then all of a sudden, something went wrong. Also replaced the Cat, spark plugs, and ignition coil packs. I just step on the gas and floor it, and the car won’t do much. I’ll mostly sit idle and won’t rev much or at all. If anyone could help me, i’d appreciate it. I’m not the most savvy when it comes to the technological side of things but i tend to try to repair things myself before i spend the money to go to a mechanic that’ll only guess. (Which is what is happening lol) Thanks!

Last edited by StephenB; 01-09-2021 at 04:10 AM. Reason: Adding details
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:07 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Saturn Stuck in 3rd Gear

The transmission selector lever in the console acts on a shift cable that connects to a movable selector unit on top of the transmission. Using the help of someone, get them to watch the selector unit on top of the transmission, whilst you move the gear selector inside the car. If that unit selector lever is not moving, then it looks like the problem may be between the gear selector on the console and the selector unit on top of the transmission.

The unit on top of the transmission is triangular in shape and made of plastic. I has a movable arm to which the shift cable connects by a ball & socket. The ball & socket pop from one another and the selector unit can be removed from the tranny top, but note its orientation.

Couple of years ago, I had to work on my son's L300 transmission to swap solenoids. I had to remove his selector unit to get access to a bell housing bolt. The ball & socket were not exactly moving freely after sitting there for 17 years. I cleaned it up and greased it. When I came to restart the car for the first time, I couldn't even get it to start. I was thinking what the hell have I done. Then the light bulb moment. I had forgotten to reconnect the ball and socket. So although I was moving the inside selector, nothing was happening at the tranny end. Once reconnected, everything worked fine.

I'm not suggesting this is your problem, but if you are going to investigate, know how the gears are selected and work forward from thr gear selector inside the car to where it connects to the transmission. If everything is found to be fine, then the problem is most likely inside the transmission.

Good luck
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Old 01-09-2021, 09:45 PM   #3
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
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Default Re: Saturn Stuck in 3rd Gear

I think the 4t45 defaults to 3rd gear when there is no power to the transmission. Try manual low and reverse. Manual low should give first gear and reverse should work if the transmission is mechanically sound. Drive will be third gear.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:58 PM   #4
StephenB
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Default Re: Saturn Stuck in 3rd Gear

How would i do this? Just by putting the selector in 1st and reverse? When i tried those, i gave it gas but it doesn’t budge. It moves slowly by its own power but if i try to give any sort of gas in any gear, it won’t do anything.
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Old 01-10-2021, 02:01 AM   #5
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Saturn Stuck in 3rd Gear

How is your car telling you its in 3rd gear?

1-If you can jack up each side of the front end, look for a broken half shaft. Front wheel drive uses two half shafts with flexible joints to allow up/down suspension while driving each wheel. When one driveshaft snaps, the xmission is disabled and cannot move the vehicle.

2-Is the check engine light on? If on, borrow a reader to decode any errors.
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Old 01-10-2021, 02:29 AM   #6
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Default Re: Saturn Stuck in 3rd Gear

The light on the get selector stays on “3”, even though i’ll be in park or neutral or whatever else.

I’ll check the shaft thingy out some time during the week as it’s at my dads house. Any idea on where exactly it’s located under the car and what it looks like? Sorry, i’m just not sure what to look for. Thanks for the help

And when it’s stuck in 3rd, it doesn’t let me scan for codes. When it fixed itself for one day, i was magically able to scan for codes. So i’m not sure why it does that.
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