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Old 12-28-2008, 02:17 AM   #1
Frankd1
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Default Something strange happened with my transmission today

I was in stop and go traffic for about 30 minutes today: shift into 1st, move a few feet, stop, repeat.
The engine temperature increased normally to the 3/4 mark and the fan kicked in normally and dropped the temp., however, as the engine temperature increased it became more difficult to shift into 1st gear. I never got above 1st gear in the traffic.

When the traffic finally cleared, the engine temperature was around 3/4 on the gauge, not only was the shift into 1st difficult but shifting into 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th also proved to be harder than normal as I drove off.

After driving for a short distance the temperature decreased to the normal 3/8 mark and the gear shifting started to get easier. Later on the shifting was normal at the normal engine temperature indication, hmmm.....

After describing the above scenario here is what is normal day to day for my car:

Shifts into 1st are generally quite smooth, some days are a little stiffer than others but otherwise pretty good - I'm planning on trying Mobil 1 ATF and possibly a shifter bushing kit to see if I can smoothen it out.

Shifting into the other gears is fine, infact, I can shift quickly between the higher gears with no problems as suggested in other threads to check for worn syncros.

Tranny fluid is 30k old. I went to the dealer to buy it and they gave me Dexron VI which replaced Dexron III.

So..... do you think the increased operating temps in stop and go traffic is having some kind of wierd effect on the syncros or possibly the fluid?

I'm kind of concerned as it was to the point where I had push the shifter quite hard to get into gear.

I don't recall experiencing this in the past because I'm usually not in stop and go and the temps are always around 3/8.
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Old 12-28-2008, 02:23 AM   #2
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

So I am no transmission expert here but everything temperature related is controlled by the ECTS. Have you changed the ECTS to the brass type yet? Also make sure the connector is good.

Synthetic is the preferred fluid in these transmissions.
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Old 12-28-2008, 09:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Do the easy things first.
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Old 12-28-2008, 12:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Check your ECTS and wire connector. If corroded wires are present I would replace. If you have a brass connector in there it usually lasts forever.
Also maybe your fan is intermittently failing. In the how to library are posts on how to check this and I think Richpin has a video on this.

Check your tranny fluid. I always changed mine every 30K miles on the s series cars I had. Go synthetic too.
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Old 12-28-2008, 01:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

The ECTS is the brass one installed about 5 years ago, I will take a look at the connector again though.

This is a manual transmission so I don't think the PCM has anything to do with the shifting. The difficult shifting I was referring to was me having to use extra force to shift into the various gears when the engine temp was higher - around the 3/4 mark on the gauge.

The fan works normally - comes on at 3/4, drops the temp and then shuts off. It also comes on normally with the A/C compressor.
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Old 12-28-2008, 03:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Possibly heat affecting the clutch master/slave cylinders because they're worn out? How many miles on the car? The next time this occurs try pumping the clutch pedal twice or more before shifting and see if shifting is less difficult. If so then the clutch master/slave may be worn out.
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Old 12-28-2008, 03:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

could be the lower viscosity of the dexron IV in the heat of traffic was affecting it,

but to be honest that sounds more like a clutch/hydraulic problem,

might wanna look at the how-to on how to check the fork travel i would start there
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Hmmm.... clutch master/slave problem, I wonder how temperature affects that?

I will check the how-to on the fork travel.

I think the actual clutch is still decent, from what I can tell the grab point seems ok and when in 1st and on level ground with the clutch pedal depressed the car doesn't creep, it doesn't seem to slip or chatter when changing gears either, but I guess those things may not tell the whole story.

Driving around last night after the fact it seemed to shift normally with normal operating temp at 3/8 gauge. I will try getting the temps up to 3/4 again and see what happens.

Question:

The clutch master/slave replacement can be done with out removing the transmission, correct? If it comes to that......

I will report back...
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

A hot transmission will shift poorly. The original Saturn recommendation that Dexron-3 was acceptable does not carry forward to Dexron-4. The original Dexron-3 has a higher viscosity than Dexron-4.

What exactly are you using for transmission fluid?
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

I can't find any correlation between heat and shifting. If the transmission is not moving there is no heat generated or very little if the transmission is in neutral with the clutch out (since the shaft is still spinning). And even when moving there isn't much heat being created because nothing is under pressure unlike an automatic which actually needs the radiator to cool the fluid.

It sounds like because you were in traffic the extended slipping of the clutch to get rolling may have caused the gears to get harder to change because of heat expansion between the system of the clutch. Also there is parasitic drag on the clutch when moving very slow and you disengage the clutch again making shifts a bit more difficult.
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:30 PM   #11
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

OldNuc,

The transmission fluid is Delco Dexron VI (6), I purchased from the dealer - I asked for Dexron III and they said that Dex 6 replaced it and that it was a far supperior ATF.

On the bottle it says compatible with all GM vehicles with automatic transmissions and it also says that it is for use in ALL vehicles that previously used Dexron III, which I understand as including our saturns with manual transmissions.

I hope its just something that some Mobil 1 ATF will fix.....

fdryer: the car has 162,000miles.
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:37 PM   #12
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

The input shaft continues to turn after disengagement and when you get the clutch hot the drag is worse. the synchronizer has to bring the incoming gear up to the sync speed. If they do not match, then the synchro blocks the shift, by design. Thin oil reduces the rotating to incoming drag that is calculated into the process. Its like a torque converter only with higher losses. The friction material on the synchro cones is supposed to solve this problem but it has probably been worn off for a couple of years now. The heavier oil also drags on the input shaft components and tends to slow them down also.
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:48 PM   #13
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

OldNuc and Special Forces, you bring up some interesting points.

With regards to the valve bodies that you rebuild and sell, are they used only in auto transmissions or is that part of the clutch master/slave system and hydraulics in a manual transmission as well? If it comes to replacing those components I will be looking for a source!

Oldnuc, with regards to a manual tranny shifting poorly when things get hot, is that due to the fluid breaking down?

Would this be a possible replacement of the transmission? Syncros? Hydraulics? I suppose its hard to tell at this point.

Last edited by Frankd1; 12-28-2008 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:50 PM   #14
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frankd1 View Post
OldNuc,

The transmission fluid is Delco Dexron VI (6), I purchased from the dealer - I asked for Dexron III and they said that Dex 6 replaced it and that it was a far supperior ATF.

On the bottle it says compatible with all GM vehicles with automatic transmissions and it also says that it is for use in ALL vehicles that previously used Dexron III, which I understand as including our saturns with manual transmissions.

I hope its just something that some Mobil 1 ATF will fix.....

fdryer: the car has 162,000miles.
Well, This chart does not concur with the dealer. The Dexron-6 is close but but the compatibility charts only show that compatibility in a synthetic.



I think what is happening is what I mentioned above, when you get this petroleum based ATF hot in a worn transmission it will be hard to shift due to the viscosity decrease. I had this problem after the transmission had been on the interstate for several hours at 70 to 75 mph and solved it by changing the AMSOIL ATF to AMSOIL Torque-Drive. The difference is 6.8 to 7.41 cSt at 212F, which is not a bunch but it is a bit more at the hot operating point of 125F to 150F and it does solve the problem. The differential is in the same oil beating the oil at a decent clip. Its not like a regular 4 sped in a rear drive car where there is minimal relative motion between the gears when its in 4th.

I would change the fluid before ripping things apart.

What you experienced is most likely what happens when the oil gets too thin and hot. Nothing wrong with the trans other than its old. the clutch will get hot in traffic from stop and go driving and that will increase the drag on the input shaft and make it harder to slow down with the synchros.

Last edited by OldNuc; 12-28-2008 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 12-28-2008, 07:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

I will start with the simple first and change the fluid, do you think Mobil 1 ATF is a good place to start?

I mainly drive this car on the highway at 60 to 70mph for 2 to 3 hours at a time and I've never noticed an issue with difficult shifts, it was only in the stop and go when the engine temp started to increase towards the 3/4 mark.

The above points do make sense. I hope I haven't ruined the transmission too badly with this Dex 6 the dealer gave me. Its been in there about 30 to 35k.
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Old 12-28-2008, 07:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

I would go to the Mobil-1 ATF to test the theory that its lube related. If it shows an improvement then there are further steps that can be taken. I doubt that you did any permanent damage as thin oil just fouls up shifting under some conditions. The clutch will be fine also. In heavy traffic it is a good idea to sit in neutral if you have to sit. This lets the clutch cool off a bit. If it will not go into 1st usually if you shift to 2nd and then 1st it works. The 1-2 synchro set is the first to fail.

Having the car heat up to the 3/4 mark is a very warm engine compartment. This entire design of blocking synchro transmission has caused vast amounts of grief for owners and there are a precious few solutions. You can go read the whining and crying on the big car performance boards of people trying to get them to shift like the old Muncy boxes.
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Old 12-28-2008, 07:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Ok sounds good I will start with the fluid change!

Anytime I'm sitting in traffic or at a stop light I always put the shift stick into neutral and I make sure my foot is off the clutch pedal as opposed to keeping the pedal fully depressed for no reason.

I guess there is no way to prevent the engine temp from rising to 3/4, the fan kicks in and lowers it so thats the important thing I guess.
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Old 12-28-2008, 07:49 PM   #18
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Default Re: Something strange happened with my transmission today

Sounds like a plan. No, stuck in traffic is stuck in traffic. Not much more you can do. When you fill the trans, normal cold level is the middle of the crosshatch, not the top.
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