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Old 04-12-2009, 10:09 PM   #1
greenfrog
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2002 SL
Default 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

I have a 2002 SL 5-speed with 53K miles. It has been well-maintained and driven gently by a middle-aged couple. No problems until two days ago when we were out of town. The car would not start in the afternoon, after starting several times during the day with no problem. There were no lights on the dash, everything was dead. This seemed odd, as it was a 48 month battery that was only 25 months old. We put on another battery and drove the car home, 225 miles, after dark with headlights on, with no problems whatsoever. The next morning we started the car with no problem, drove one mile from our house and stopped at a stop sign. It would not shift into any gear at all, including reverse. I shut the engine off, then got it into first, started driving, but when I tried to shift into second, it wouldn't shift into second or third or fourth. I stopped again, left the engine running. It finally went into third but it was hard to get it there. I drove the car several miles and had only third and fifth. The only way it will go into reverse is if I shut the engine off. In fact, it shifts through all five gears and reverse just fine with the engine off. It is a super-clean car and I don't want to dump it, but can't justify an expensive transmission repair. Could there possibly be any connection between the battery failure one day and a big transmission problem the next morning? I don't see how! What do I check first? Thanks for any help anyone can offer.
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:39 PM   #2
westwind999
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

I don't think the two are related.

Have you checked your charging system to make sure it's properly recharging the battery.

Your clutch hydraulics may have failed. The clutch may not be releasing when you push on the pedal, not a reason to get rid of the car.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

I haven't checked the charging system yet, but am assuming it is OK since I was able to drive the car with the headlights on for 4 hours with no problems, and the battery I put on was a used one. I checked for a drain on the battery with everything turned off, and it was about 25 milliamps.

We live two hours from the nearest Saturn dealership, and I don't want to have it towed and just start throwing parts at it. I know quite a bit about old Chevrolets but don't know how to proceed with newer cars. This is our third SL and we have always thought they were great little cars.

As for the transmission, how do I change the slave cylinder? And how do you bleed it once you get it installed? Or is there something else I should check or replace first, before the slave cylinder? Also, how do I check the fluid level in the transmission itself?

Thanks again for any help.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfrog View Post
I haven't checked the charging system yet, but am assuming it is OK since I was able to drive the car with the headlights on for 4 hours with no problems, and the battery I put on was a used one. I checked for a drain on the battery with everything turned off, and it was about 25 milliamps.
I would check the ENTIRE Charging System/Electrical: This includes: Spark Plugs/Wires (60K miles), Ignition Coils, Battery, Battery Cables, Alternator, Starter, Crankshaft Position Sensor....What is the status of any of these at all?


Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfrog View Post
We live two hours from the nearest Saturn dealership, and I don't want to have it towed and just start throwing parts at it. I know quite a bit about old Chevrolets but don't know how to proceed with newer cars. This is our third SL and we have always thought they were great little cars.
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfrog View Post
As for the transmission, how do I change the slave cylinder? And how do you bleed it once you get it installed? Or is there something else I should check or replace first, before the slave cylinder? Also, how do I check the fluid level in the transmission itself?

Thanks again for any help.
To check your Manual Trans Fluid...Shine a light down behind the battery. Underneath the Brake Master Cylinder you will see a handle that is angled at 90 degrees. It will probably be Black. It is in fact a red handle in color but the amount of gunk that builds up turns the manual trans dipstick black. Pull up on that handle and then pull it out. It is not very big...maybe a couple of inches in length and has the crosshatches on it to tell you how much trans fluid is in there.
...
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Low miler '02? A little maintenance and she will serve you for many years to come. Many of us on the site have more miles than most folks in North America ever achieve. If you are gonna pitch the car please pitch it my way

I agree, nothing to do with the battery. There really isn't anything electrical going on there. Here is the video on how to check your tranny fluid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrbzSnUAgyk

As a new member, I would suggest you get familiar with this section. These video's have saved me hundreds of dollars. At a bare minimum, no repair shop can blow smoke at you if you are familiar with the system.

from the main, you can find the how-to library.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26

This is a 3rd generation car so it has the sealed-unit hydraulic assist. There is a good replacement procedure in the Haynes Manual with decent pictures. I had my actuator out when I did my clutch and it is a really simple system. Nothing to bleed.

It bolts into the driver's side of the tranny below the airbox. It is held in by 2 bolts and I think a bracket. You can see 2 flexible hydrulic lines coming out of it. They run under the battery tray back up to a thingey right next to the brake master cylinder.

If you do end up needing one, rockauto has a complete replacement for 90-100 bucks. Follow this link and the pasted steps down the tree. Your local part shop will likely be able to get this also.

http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/raframecatalog.php

SL SERIES
1.9L 116cid L4 FI (7) Find Category
Clutch
Clutch Kit
Clutch Master Cylinder
Clutch Master and Slave Cylinder Assembly


Definatly follow the above advice regarding the fluid 1st. Let us know how it goes.

Good luck.
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:07 AM   #6
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Thanks to all who have replied. So far, I have checked the fluid level in the transmission and it was fine. I did the clutch test with the engine running, and the car didn't start to creep until after about 15 seconds. Pumping the clutch had no effect on making the car any easier to shift. I am going to order the hydraulics replacement parts and hope I can find someone trustworthy to replace it, as I don't have access to a lift. Velleguy73, thanks for the link to rockauto and the reference to the how-to library. This is a great forum.
I haven't started addressing the electrical problem yet, will wait to see if I can get the transmission fixed first. Can't believe my bad luck in having back-to-back unrelated problems one day apart. But I guess I was due for it, as we have done well with our three SL's until now.
Thanks again, and I will report back on my success or lack of success in getting the transmission fixed.
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Old 04-14-2009, 11:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfrog View Post
I am going to order the hydraulics replacement parts and hope I can find someone trustworthy to replace it, as I don't have access to a lift.
This job isn't going to require access to a lift. To access all the parts and the hydraulic routing, you will have to pull out the aircleaner, the battery, and the battery tray. If you look at the picture on rockauto, you can get the gist of the size of this. The lines run from the front of the transmission to the extra thingey next to the Brake mastercylinder on the firewall. There's a good procedure in the haynes manual from your local parts store.

One more thing, I believe you can check the fluid level of the hydraulic clutch. It's been a while. There should be a cap right next to the master cylinder listed for it. That should be topped off to the correct level.

Orange you glad you found this forum?
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Old 04-14-2009, 12:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Don't throw any parts at it yet. Yeesh; FIFTY hours this thread has been up, and NOBODY posted this: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94634 ? Whisky Tango Foxtrot?

Seriously, BarnOwl's excellent How-To will probably nail down your shifting issue, with zero initial expense. The "preliminaries" (checking tranny fluid, checking clutch fluid, fluid types, etc.) are in your owner's manual.

Ditto v-73; a 2002 with those miles is barely broken in. That said, it's past the age that it's worthwhile going to the dealer, except for certain parts. Esp. in this case, the service can be done by any reputable local mechanic (or by you, if you choose).
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:39 PM   #9
velleguy73
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Yeesh; FIFTY hours this thread has been up, and NOBODY posted this: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94634 ? Whisky Tango Foxtrot?
Fifty hours and you hadn't chimed in yet? I was wondering of you went on Easter vacation or something. The rest of us 's were trying to cover this durring your.

Awesome how-to. Definatly follow the procedure 1st. The picture in the link is of the tranny connection of the hydraulic cylinder above.
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2002 SL 5-speed transmission problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Don't throw any parts at it yet. Yeesh; FIFTY hours this thread has been up, and NOBODY posted this: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94634 ? Whisky Tango Foxtrot?

Seriously, BarnOwl's excellent How-To will probably nail down your shifting issue, with zero initial expense. The "preliminaries" (checking tranny fluid, checking clutch fluid, fluid types, etc.) are in your owner's manual.

Ditto v-73; a 2002 with those miles is barely broken in. That said, it's past the age that it's worthwhile going to the dealer, except for certain parts. Esp. in this case, the service can be done by any reputable local mechanic (or by you, if you choose).
++++1. Check the hydraulics first. A new one is around 125 bucks.
Richpin has a video to match Barnowl's how-to steps
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