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Old 04-24-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
genewitch
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1998 SC2
Default got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Hi all, i got a 1998 sc2 last week, and after realizing the prior owner was an idiot, i've been trying to patch up any fluid-based problems (coolant, oil, transmission) before tackling the sensors and expensive stuff.
It's a 5 speed, DOHC with 155,625ish miles on it.
The engine has clicking when there's slight pressure on the accelerator, and sometimes at idle. The PCV valve is completely toast, you can hear it rattling in its socket. There's a few hoses i am sure i will have to replace.
The transmission fights with you to put it in reverse, but i have had this problem on almost every older model manual i've driven.
There is terrible shaking in the car when driving at freeway speeds, but putting the car in neutral doesn't affect the speed or pitch. Also, the shaking comes and goes like a sine wave, fade in, fade out, with about 5 seconds of bone rattling shaking at the peak. I'm assuming it's a tire balance issue, and it's something i am going to get looked at tomorrow or Monday.

there's a warm air intake (the K&N cone ram filter is directly in front of the battery) - with the sensor in the front and the front cam hose near the back. I'm debating moving it down with some piping to get it out from behind the radiator, I know fords like that sort of thing and a couple of the performance guides on this site recommend CAI rather than WAI anyhow.

there's an electrical problem, the battery light comes on when i step on the accelerator, regardless of gear. The lights don't dim, the car starts; but occasionally my panel instruments won't work in the mornings for about 10 minutes. I've read the guides on here about how to check all the connections and will print them and give them to my friendly mechanic to look at when:

ECTS valve, and the transmission temp valve need to be replaced i am almost 100% positive, so those are on order from advance auto, along with NGK Spark Plugs. I'm going to test the wires and get those from a big box store where i have a discount if they test badly. I'm hoping i don't have to replace my coils, but they don't seem very expensive if they are bad, anyhow.

as far as the engine clicking goes, i am going to try the ECTS valve fixes first, since that seems to get rid of it. the way the author described it in the thread i read was "sounded like the timing chain was hitting the side of the head" or something like that... which is pretty much exactly what mine sounds like; although it seems to have cleared up a bit since i got the sludge that the previous owner called oil out of the engine and got some synthetic in there. It used to click whenever you had the pedal down, except if you were really giving it gas, now it just does it around 2k RPM and when light pressure is applied (like driving down a residential street in 2nd gear)

Now for the good stuff: The car looks amazing. it's in top shape. The steering is really responsive and turning radius is a blessing. The car, for lack of a cleaner phrase, has got some tyres on it. The engine seems to love giving you extra HP at around 4,000 RPM, which is really nice for passing 55MPH people on the freeway. Drop to fourth, half accelerate, hit 4k, more gas, pass, fifth gear, merge. It's a LOT of fun, reminds me of driving a 260 or 240 (deuce!) Nissan. The car also seems to get exemplary gas mileage, but the fuel gauge might be throwing me off. I did a bit of late night backroads sprinting last night, 70-90 MPH, and then my daily driving today, and the 112 miles barely took me down a quarter of a tank. We'll see at the pump though. Coming from a 15MPG truck this car is going to save me a TON of money on fuel. The suspension is ace, and the ride is smooth (other than the shaking, of course). there WAS a rough idle, but i think i found the problem: loose A/C compressor bolt, so now it doesn't seem to do that anymore.

I talk a lot, but i've read a lot here too so i hope i'm not completely off base and out of place!

something leafy and i were talking about in another thread i didn't want to hijack... could be answered here i suppose :-) re: O2 sensors (i know at least one needs to be replaced, needed to figure out which one if not both needed it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafy View Post
down stream the code will say bank 1 up stream the code will say bank 0. you have to get the code pulled to know. BUT a bad upstream will hurt performance, while a bad down stream will just make you fail your state emissions inspection.
Does this mean that my service engine light needs to be on or not? it only intermittently comes on because of a battery cable/alternator issue that i haven't tackled yet... I've heard i can go to autozone (or wherever) and borrow a computer to plug into my car to get all the information i need, i might do that tomorrow and see what other sensors need to be replaced.

Edit: Good points added. forgot to brag about the awesome car. don't want to hurt its feelings :-)

Last edited by genewitch; 04-24-2010 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 04-25-2010, 03:58 PM   #2
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1998 SW2
Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genewitch View Post
Hi all, i got a 1998 sc2 last week, and after realizing the prior owner was an idiot, ...
There is terrible shaking in the car when driving at freeway speeds, but putting the car in neutral doesn't affect the speed or pitch. Also, the shaking comes and goes like a sine wave, fade in, fade out, with about 5 seconds of bone rattling shaking at the peak. I'm assuming it's a tire balance issue, and it's something i am going to get looked at tomorrow or Monday.
...
Now for the good stuff: The car looks amazing. it's in top shape. The steering is really responsive and turning radius is a blessing. The car, for lack of a cleaner phrase, has got some tyres on it. The engine seems to love giving you extra HP at around 4,000 RPM, which is really nice for passing 55MPH people on the freeway. Drop to fourth, half accelerate, hit 4k, more gas, pass, fifth gear, merge. It's a LOT of fun, reminds me of driving a 260 or 240 (deuce!) Nissan. The car also seems to get exemplary gas mileage, but the fuel gauge might be throwing me off. I did a bit of late night backroads sprinting last night, 70-90 MPH, and then my daily driving today, and the 112 miles barely took me down a quarter of a tank. We'll see at the pump though. Coming from a 15MPG truck this car is going to save me a TON of money on fuel. The suspension is ace, and the ride is smooth (other than the shaking, of course). ...

Edit: Good points added. forgot to brag about the awesome car. don't want to hurt its feelings :-)
Can't beat plastic for good looks!

My guess is slightly out-of-round tires are hard to balance.

Don't get too cocky on the performance!
I had my doors completely blown off yesterday while merging on the expressway...
A Mitsu-bit-chy jumped me and forced me to completely miff the merge (yaw dam kids!! get off my lawn...! Yaw, I bet he don't get no 37mpg...).
The 'bit-chy took off like insantly from 40 to 90...I think the driver was wearing a pressure suit!
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Old 04-25-2010, 05:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

lmfao! mitsu-bit-chy
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdraft View Post
Can't beat plastic for good looks!

My guess is slightly out-of-round tires are hard to balance.

Don't get too cocky on the performance!
I had my doors completely blown off yesterday while merging on the expressway...
A Mitsu-bit-chy jumped me and forced me to completely miff the merge (yaw dam kids!! get off my lawn...! Yaw, I bet he don't get no 37mpg...).
The 'bit-chy took off like insantly from 40 to 90...I think the driver was wearing a pressure suit!
Oh, i know it's not a racecar, it's just better than having a Tercel.

And i guess i could just replace the tires with used tires somewhere, costco wanted $360 + tax for tires, including a $70 discount... yikes.
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

on the electrical issue check and make sure the tentioner isn't going bad. when mine was going I'd on occasion notice the battery light pop on for a moment but I'd also notice the lights seem to flicker sometimes too.

for the shaking checks the top engine mount if you haven't already to make sure it isn't bad.
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Old 04-26-2010, 02:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genewitch View Post
And i guess i could just replace the tires with used tires somewhere, costco wanted $360 + tax for tires, including a $70 discount... yikes.
I wanted to add that my top engine mount would have passed the "pinkie test" and maybe even the "pencil test", but replacing the mount took care of my shaking. Yours does sound like a tire balancing issue, since there is no change in shaking from D<>N at idle and since the shaking only appears at highway speeds.

Whether or not you can just have the tires balanced is a difficult question. If they are out of balance, it may be because the car was sitting-still for a long time and they may be much older than the tread-bars would indicate. That is to say, you may want to replace them even if the tread-wear bars are well below the tread level.

I was going to say that you could get a new set for far less than $360, since you aren't putting much weight on the tires, but it may cost that much by the time you pay for four tires and an alignment. Call around. I don't have any experience with used tires. It seems sketchy, but often tire stores sell OLD tires anyway.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

We're going to do a wheel bearing eyeball check at freeway speeds sometime this week.

I've replaced the PCV valve, and run seafoam through the vacuum system. There's seafoam in my gas tank, as well. I'm loathe to put it in my crankcase because i JUST had the oil changed but i may break down and pour it in and just replace the filter for a few weeks to clean it out.

I'm desperately trying to find the how-to for the transmission and cooling system ECTS sensors, i bought the both, but i can't see from the top of the engine compartment where they go. Any links? (searching says "no matches" for "how-to")

As soon as Harbor Freight opens up this morning i am buying a spark plug wrench. I bought the goop to put on the plugs as well. If i have time i'll yank the negative battery post on the engine and clean it with some terminal cleaner i have left over from the SNAFU that was my truck's batteries. The engine mount may need to be replaced, but i noticed after seafoaming the intake that it idles a little smoother. Not to mention tightening the A/C compressor down, that thing was wobbling like an attractive barmaid after a night of beer tips.

thanks for your input, i already enjoy my saturn a lot, if i could just work these few issues out it would be probably in my top two cars i've owned.


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Old 05-04-2010, 12:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Found the guides while searching for something else.
showthread.php?t=37884
Although my air intake looks nothing like that, i can just swing my whole unit up for the duration of the surgery.

got the PCV in, and the spark plugs with added goop. seems a little quieter now, although the engine still rattles a bit with a little acceleration (around 2k RPM)

how tight are the bolts that hold the head on supposed to be? there's 6-11 of them, maybe 2 on the passenger side, two in back, two in front, and three on top (with the spark plugs)...

They seem loose, even by hand tightened standards.

Don't know if i'll get to do the ECTS sensors today, maybe tomorrow morning after its been sitting all night.

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Old 05-04-2010, 01:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Richpin06a's Youtube video channel Includes how to find and replace the ECTS and much more

The How To Library There's a thread (by Wolfman?) that lists all the torque values in the Field Service Manual; hit the link, use the "search this thread" feature. the search feature does not recognize words of 3 or fewer letters

Misc good info at Low Saturn's site:
http://www.differentracing.com/tech_articles/index.html

Oil usage tends to go up over 3k rpm... best to keep a close eye on it when driving in a spirited fashion
(this has me considering re-ringing the pistons and drilling oil drain holes, so I can spend more time in the 4~5k rpm range)
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genewitch View Post
Found the guides while searching for something else.
showthread.php?t=37884
Although my air intake looks nothing like that, i can just swing my whole unit up for the duration of the surgery.
Hmm, your intake should be the same as the one in that thread; maybe you have an aftermarket short-ram or cold air intake? But yeah, pivot it up out of the way is the way to go.

Quote:
how tight are the bolts that hold the head on supposed to be? there's 6-11 of them, maybe 2 on the passenger side, two in back, two in front, and three on top (with the spark plugs)...

They seem loose, even by hand tightened standards.
Those are NOT the head bolts. You can't see the head bolts, they're all under the valve cover. The valve cover bolts take very little torque; 89 in-lb (that's about 7.5 ft-lb), so you need a torque wrench that measures in in-lb. That's little more than finger-tight, but if indeed you can turn them by hand, that's _too_ loose. Different years of DOHC cover had different numbers of bolts, but 11 is in the neighborhood.

Quote:
Don't know if i'll get to do the ECTS sensors today, maybe tomorrow morning after its been sitting all night.
+1; COLD engine. Loosen the reservoir cap once, in case there's any pressure, then re-tighten. Have the new sensor at the ready and shove it in quick (think Indiana Jones with the bag of sand replacing the diamond), and coolant loss should be minimal.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Thanks to everyone that replied. I think i will tackle the ects tomorrow, and possibly the thermostat as well, i've been meaning to do a coolant flush (i have a "leave in for 9 hours of driving" coolant flush that i want to put in) - so i may just drain all the fluid for the ECTS replacement. it depends on how much time i have to devote to the project in the morning.

When you say "finger tight" you mean like with the ratchet on the bolt, one finger's worth of torque? I assume if it is too loose or too tight i'll have to replace the valve cover seal sooner... That's bad.

Thanks for the how-to links. I'll have to go back in and check all the torques and stuff tomorrow too.

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Old 05-05-2010, 02:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

a few things:
1) where is the transmission dipstick? i read under the master cylinder but the only thing there is this muffin sized thing with a thin tube going somewhere down to the engine, and a larger tube going through the firewall. there's a tube that i saw that i moved when i replaced the ECTS today, but it didn't look like a dipstick and i couldn't get the plastic bit off the top, it felt like one of those child proof "push and spin" medicine bottle tops.

2) where is the tensioner for the belt? all the pulleys and stuff i saw on my belt loop were connected to pumps or the engine, clockwise from power steering it was like PS, motor, a/c, Motor (crank?), alternator. the top motor thing was smooth and the back of the belt was against it. Is it possible my tensioner fell off? It'd make a good story. The belt doesn't feel that loose, i can barely push it down... it's not as tight as the non-serpentine belts on my truck, but it did not seem overly slack.

3) After driving for a while, it gets really hard to shift. Like, easy to shift to get to the freeway (5-10 minutes) freeway drive for 30 minutes, exit freeway, and then getting it into first is a struggle, and second wants to miss (it grinds if you don't ease it in just right). Third is a little harder than it is when you first start it, 4th and 5th are normal. Reverse is as finicky as 2nd is.

4) the rattling sound has diminished slightly, and has less RPM range than before it seems, but it is still there - in neutral clutch in/out, in gear, 1800-2400ish RPM. It doesn't sound like a diesel to me, really. I'm going to try to take off the front O2 sensor and see if i can still hear it, although that might be hard.

anyhow, thanks for reading and for all of your input - i spent a while reading various threads about the rattling/clicking sounds and have been working through the checklists and got hung up on the tensioner :-)
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:53 PM   #13
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Regarding the shifting issues: i think it has something to do with the clutch. If i am on level ground and let go of the brake with the stick in neutral and the clutch depressed, and try and go into first, when i first hit resistance the car very slightly but noticeably moves forward.

I read on another thread about rough shifting from first to second might have a cure by popping the clutch in first with ebrake and standing on the brake pedal, i did that and it made the problem much less noticeable.

I really wish there were a clutch adjustment cable on these, it's exactly the same problem that i had on a volkswagon jetta getting into fifth gear, we tightened the clutch cable a smidge so the "sweet" spot was higher up on the release of the pedal, problem solved.

You know how sometimes when you want to go in reverse and your foot is on the brake, and the shifter doesn't want to cooperate? that's what i'm getting in first.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:51 PM   #14
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Because I'm getting a little forgetful... the 1998 Saturn Field Service Manual (FSM) http://www.megaupload.com/?d=U91G8H74
it's around 200mb so probably not somethin you want to try on dialup

Dipstick goes into the tranmsision case - it's a red flip up handle probably covered in black oil/dirt, so it's hard to spot. Attached is Melissa_M's photo of a clean one. It's about a foot (?) forward of the firewall - check from the back of the battery down, then in toward the engine.

Tensioner - check the richipin video for changing the serpentine belt. Also check under the hood latch for the diagram that shows belt routing

There's a how to for checking the clutch hydraulics in the how to library, written by barnowl. Richpin also has a video for the paper clip hysdraulic testing; richpin also has a how to for replacing some of the brake fluid in the clutch cylinders by removing with a turkey baster.

It's a closed sealed system, but if someone mucked with it, the level or quality of the fluid may be off. When going into 1st is hard, try a quick pump or two of the clutch pedal before trying to shift into 1st - if that helps, points to hydraulic issue.

Replacing the shifter bushing (saturnbushingman on ebay has Delrin for $20, stainless for $30) may help smooth out some it also.
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:13 PM   #15
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genewitch View Post
Regarding the shifting issues: i think it has something to do with the clutch. If i am on level ground and let go of the brake with the stick in neutral and the clutch depressed, and try and go into first, when i first hit resistance the car very slightly but noticeably moves forward.
Textbook definition of a clutch not fully DISengaging; car fails the "creep" test. It's one of two things. Either the hydraulics are failing (or have air in the system), or the fingers on the pressure plate are weak and no longer pulling it away from the clutch disc. You can narrow that down yourself. If it's the former, it'll show up as the clutch fork not moving far enough. If it's the latter, the fork moves as far as it should, but the fingers don't respond. Another "quickie" test you can do: Pump the clutch several times, then hold it down and try to shift. If that makes it easier, that _usually_ means it's the clutch hydraulics at fault.

Here's a How-To on the diagnosis: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94634 .

Yeah, adjustable cable-operated clutches may seem to be desirable, but it's all a trade-off. Hydraulic clutch actuators are self-adjusting; the fluid goes up or down (depending on design) to accomodate clutch wear, so the only reason you "miss" the ability to adjust it is that you've never had to. Yeah, the hydraulics do eventually wear out (or get contaminated, or get air that can't be bled out or whatever), but cables and linkages fail, too. I had a clutch cable break in downtown Ann Arbor on an Omni; had to retrace my steps to find the clip that holds the cable, that fell into the street at the point the cable snapped. My wife broke a pivot mounting on the linkage-operated clutch on her F150 many years ago. And the hydraulics on both her F250s took a powder. So no one design is immune to failure. But hydraulic systems are, generally, easier on the leg muscle, self-adjusting and more robust in cold weather.
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:15 PM   #16
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genewitch View Post
Regarding the shifting issues: i think it has something to do with the clutch. If i am on level ground and let go of the brake with the stick in neutral and the clutch depressed, and try and go into first, when i first hit resistance the car very slightly but noticeably moves forward.
Textbook definition of a clutch not fully DISengaging; car fails the "creep" test. It's one of two things. Either the hydraulics are failing (or have air in the system), or the fingers on the pressure plate are weak and no longer pulling it away from the clutch disc. You can narrow that down yourself. If it's the former, it'll show up as the clutch fork not moving far enough. If it's the latter, the fork moves as far as it should, but the fingers don't respond. Another "quickie" test you can do: Pump the clutch several times, then hold it down and try to shift. If that makes it easier, that _usually_ means it's the clutch hydraulics at fault.

Here's a How-To on the diagnosis: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94634 .

Yeah, adjustable cable-operated clutches may seem to be desirable, but it's all a trade-off. Hydraulic clutch actuators are self-adjusting; the fluid goes up or down (depending on design) to accomodate clutch wear, so the only reason you "miss" the ability to adjust it is that you've never had to. Yeah, the hydraulics do eventually wear out (or get contaminated, or get air that can't be bled out or whatever), but cables and linkages fail, too. I had a clutch cable break in downtown Ann Arbor on an Omni; had to retrace my steps to find the clip that holds the cable, that fell into the street at the point the cable snapped. My wife broke a pivot mounting on the linkage-operated clutch on her F150 many years ago. And the hydraulics on both her F250s took a powder. So no one design is immune to failure. But hydraulic systems are, generally, easier on the leg muscle, self-adjusting and more robust in cold weather.

Edit: I suppose one advantage to hydraulics is that, although they do sometimes fail catastrophically, similar to a cable snapping, sometimes they just get weak gradually, so at least you have some marginal clutch action and can limp the car around, which appears to be happening in your case.
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:01 AM   #17
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Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

I tried the pumping thing, it doesn't affect it at all.

I'll read the rest of the articles in the morning, doing the repairwork these past few mornings threw off my schedule really badly, been up 27 hours now :-/

thanks for the manual link.
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:22 AM   #18
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edit time limit :-(

Yeah, it rolls immediately and pumping doesn't help, per the diagnostic. I have to do the measurements i guess, i'll post back with updates about that clutch issue as i try things out.

re: the tensioner... oh, so it's hiding under the belt. Should i just replace it and the belt and see if that gets rid of my battery light/freaking out dashboard systems? ...That really freaked me out on the freeway - not to mention the odometer doesn't roll when the dashboard is busy freaking out.

Just an FYI: a lot of the image links don't work for some reason, so it's hard to follow some threads.

If the measurements come out fine or not, should i take it to Aamco? it sounds like they could check the "fingers" and springs and whatever else makes the magical clutch and flywheel operate.

I don't need a car but my girlfriend needs it for a daily driver, otherwise i'd already be considering doing a teardown and rebuild of the motor and transmission. or at least getting a rebuilt one to throw in.

once again, thank you so much for taking your time to help me.
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:46 AM   #19
madpogue
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1996 SW2
Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Aamco is a very expensive place to take an automatic transmission. I could just imagine how deep they'd make you bend over to work on a manual. No, a reputable local "word of mouth" mechanic is your best bet for a clutch job, if you can't DIY. And there's no "magic"; the "wire" test in the How-To will tell you whether it's the hydraulics or the pressure plate fingers. If it's the pressure plate, you simply need a new clutch kit. To be honest, I'd bet a nickel and an old ECTS that Aamco wouldn't even know how to do the above-mentioned test.

Elephant in the room - have you checked the clutch fluid level?

Oh, yuh, sorry about the pics. This site was moved to a new server recently, and the photo section didn't survive the move. They're still out there on the old server, evidently, but believe it or not, this ENTIRE site is administered by one guy, Charlie, and he and his wife just had twins (no, they did NOT name them Ion and Vue), so he's been, er, indisposed of late.
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:13 AM   #20
genewitch
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1998 SC2
Default Re: got a 1998 SC2 - some issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Aamco is a very expensive place to take an automatic transmission. I could just imagine how deep they'd make you bend over to work on a manual. No, a reputable local "word of mouth" mechanic is your best bet for a clutch job, if you can't DIY.
The only mechanic i know wanted $1100 to replace ball joints on my truck (and i think that was just for lower!) - although he didn't charge me to pop my calipers off and do an inspection. The hydraulic portion looks really simple to replace, but the part is $130 from advance. then again so is a clutch kit ... :-/
Quote:
Elephant in the room - have you checked the clutch fluid level?
no, does the manual linked earlier show how? I'm going to be digging around in the engine compartment for hours tomorrow cleaning EGR valves and trying to get the stupid negative engine/transmission/frame bolts loose to clean them - i'll check all the fluids myself. if anything is astray, i am going to complain loudly to the place i had the oil done at (they do a heavy inspection on first time services, worth the extra $20 to have them check everything and top off fluids... IF they did it!)
Quote:
Oh, yuh, sorry about the pics. This site was moved to a new server recently, and the photo section didn't survive the move. They're still out there on the old server, evidently, but believe it or not, this ENTIRE site is administered by one guy, Charlie, and he and his wife just had twins (no, they did NOT name them Ion and Vue), so he's been, er, indisposed of late.
Did they name them Vaughn and Issac? :-)


I suppose i should say i'm not terribly shy of doing repairs. Some stuff is a huge pain, like water pumps on ford F250 turbodiesels, where i just take it someplace and deal with the lighter wallet, but pretty much everything else i've done except a rebuild of any part.

The hub/bearing how-to was pretty interesting to look at, but i think - unless it's a death trap if the bearing is bad - that i'll replace the tires first. They look like crap and i can get used michellens for half new prices (i think).
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