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Old 08-26-2011, 05:03 PM   #21
td1238
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1999 SL2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Well, as it turns out, for whatever reason, increasing the reservoir valve spring tension makes the valve hold shut, and creates vacuum, which is not helpful to the operation of the system.

At any rate, I got sick of monkeying around with the system, and bought one from NAPA. Turns out that they sell the EXACT SAME system, but for $30 more, and only a year warranty. They both have 'ab' stamped on them, the same part number, and are made in the USA. Definitely buy the AutoZone one because it is cheaper and comes with a lifetime warranty. I'm not sure why NAPA specs the master at 7/8 and AutoZone at 5/8 if they're both the same part number.

On a positive note, however, my clutch is releasing perfectly at halfway, -for now-.
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Old 08-26-2011, 05:37 PM   #22
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1998 SC2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

The slave cylinder is the same part 91-02. The stroke is the same 91-02. Therefore the master cylinder bore is probably also the same. The mounting point of the reservoir is different though, so different part number.

As you discovered they eventually suck air and fail.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:45 PM   #23
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Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

NAPA specs the master diameter at 7/8 through '99, and 5/8 after '99, along with the different physical attributes. AutoZone specs the master diameter at 5/8 through '99 and 7/8 after '99. NAPA and AutoZone sell the exact same part number for up to '99, but spec different master diameters??

Not being a Saturn expert, I do not know why different displacement is specified up to or after '99, but, as it turns out, NAPA's specs are wrong, because the piston measures 5/8 and not 7/8.

As far as sucking in air goes, I installed the AutoZone assembly last year. It shouldn't be sucking in air so soon. What it did is operate perfectly until the weather got a bit colder, and then the clutch started not releasing properly again. I installed the system without modifications, and as I received it in the box, with the slave push rod tied back so that the piston spring couldn't push the piston forward and draw in air.

As far as my brand new NAPA system goes, it was releasing perfectly prior to my last post, but as of now, when I started my car after working today, it was difficult to shift into gear. Then, once the engine warmed up, shifting was perfect. When I got home, I played with the shifter. It was somewhat difficult to select gears (perfect with the engine off, indicating a grabbing clutch). I could make the gears grind, and they'd grind slowly, not at the speed they'd grind if the clutch were fully engaged. I'd then jerk my foot up just a bit and back down, and the grinding would stop, and gear selection would be perfectly easy. Then, after a brief moment, the clutch would start to grab again; not fully, but just barely--enough to make shifting difficult.

....So this brand new system is faulty, too. I cannot think of anything else that would be causing this problem, and it's very annoying to me, as I'm sure it's annoying to all of the other people (such as the original poster of this thread) with this problem.

I have read of others replacing both the driven disc and the pressure plate, with the problem still remaining. My crankshaft has no play.

WHAT THE HELL IS IT!!!???? Geez! I wish I could figure this out.

Maybe I should take both of these hydraulic systems back and buy an OEM one from GM. Probably super expensive, but perhaps it'll work correctly.
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Old 08-27-2011, 12:34 AM   #24
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1999 SL2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Or maybe this is my answer. It doesn't regard an S series, but it may as well. Considering that about 5 people this week alone have posted reports of this problem, it's probably true. Interestingly my friend's '01 clutch releases perfectly after 145k. I wonder why.

http://www.mathdittos2.com/columns/bh/bh041110.html
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:38 AM   #25
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1998 SC2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Has all the same problems of the FORD hydraulic clutch.

I have 167,000 miles on the original part.

A good number of these units come out of the box with air in them.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:04 AM   #26
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1998 SC2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Here is another little fact to chew on. The hydraulics seem to function better when there is a LUK clutch in the car and other brands are iffy at best. Run a couple of searches and you will see it.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:34 AM   #27
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1999 SL2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Perhaps a LUK clutch requires less motion from the slave piston.

My friend's clutch is SUPER easy to release (could possibly be a LUK clutch). It took me a while to get used to when I was driving his car for a few days. On the other hand, my clutch is more difficult to release. At very least this puts more stress on the hydraulic system, stretching the plastic pipes, and requiring more displacement from the master cylinder to assure full release.

My guess.

...So maybe I should buy a LUK clutch. The much cheaper option that I thought of earlier, that I have yet to try, is to saw the push-rod and install a threaded adjustment bushing to allow use of the extra 1/2 inch between the clutch pedal lever and the dash framing.

I was exploring slave cylinders online, and recall that another friend's '01 Jetta had the most perfect acting clutch and shifter. Upon viewing the slave cylinder for this vehicle, I saw that a rubber bellows completely covered the push-rod, and would follow it in its motion. If filled with fluid, this would probably assure that no air would be drawn in, if that is in fact what is causing the problem. This hydraulic system also does not have a vibration damper.

I have also contemplated removing the vibration damper from my hydraulic system all together, if I could jump the two pipes with a non-flexible pipe of sorts, to at least assure better bleeding of the system, whether air was introduced at the factory or upon my use.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:41 AM   #28
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1999 SL2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Regarding that article about the L series with multiple failed hydraulic cylinders, what the dealer said about the slave leaking and ruining the clutch was probably a lie, as where the slave is positioned, the fluid will just run down the side of the bell housing. Furthermore, when the clutch is usually used, the clutch assembly is usually spinning, and would fling off what small amounts of fluid that made their way onto the assembly.

....Which is not at all to say that dealerships of other makes of vehicles don't lie just as badly.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:57 PM   #29
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Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Well, in my insanity, I decided to revisit the AutoZone hydraulic release system. The NAPA system that I just purchased is working alright, but has the exact same symptoms as the AutoZone system when I first purchased it (they are made by the same manufacturer, and are the same part number).

I really want my clutch to work perfectly! I really do! Not just alright. Perfect!

Anyway, so a few days ago I suspected that the reservoir check valve, which is attached to the master piston, is leaking, and that the spring could use an increase in tension. Well, when I increased the tension and put the piston back together, the clutch behaved even worse, and when I disassembled the slave cylinder and stuck my thumb in there, I felt vacuum even when the master piston was in the fully released position, which is supposed to open the reservoir check valve.

I thought that increasing the tension caused the problem, but I was wrong. Today I disassembled the master cylinder, and the check valve, with its double strength spring, is holding in its open position just as it should (it is attached to a long rod that is pulled back by the piston when the piston is in the fully released position, which opens the reservoir check valve to allow fluid in or out as necessary). Turns out that somewhere during disassembly or assembly I distorted and bent the circular retaining spring that keeps the piston in place when everything is assembled (right at the opening of the master cylinder). The spring retainer became wavy, and was preventing the piston from returning to its fully released position!! Nice!

So I straightened out the spring well and thoroughly bled the system, and guess what!?!?!?!?!?!??!??!????

My clutch works P*E*R*F*E*C*T*L*Y!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!

It releases absolutely perfectly every time in exactly the same way over and over and over again! I can hold it down and move the shifter around, and it doesn't start to grab or anything. I drove it all over town, and the transmission shifted like butter! It has never shifted so well! The clutch grabs at about mid-way repeatedly, not sometimes mid-way and sometimes near the floor. It's always at mid-way!

On a side note, in my transmission rebuilding ventures last year I changed out the synchros from the paper lined to all-bronze, per poor advice that I should definitely change the synchros when I rebuild the transmission (they actually were in perfect condition). Well, the bronze synchros don't grab as well as the paper lined ones did, and with the clutch grabbing all the time, I could never shift down into 3rd at 50mph+ without it grinding. Now it doesn't grind!

Well, I still have to wait until cold weather returns to be sure, but if the clutch winds up working perfectly, then the problem is in fact due to a weak (under-spec'd) reservoir check valve spring. Some of the symptoms I experienced definitely pointed to this, such as holding the clutch down and having perfect release at first, and then having the clutch start to grab just barely. A weak spring would also allow fluid to be pushed back into the reservoir upon hard application, which would also cause the clutch to not release properly.

Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed!!! I will report back in the following days and weeks, and when cold weather comes, and if this works, then everyone just needs to change this spring, which isn't too difficult.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:35 AM   #30
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Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Well, this morning, when it was cooler out (in the 60s), the clutch was slightly grabby, making it somewhat difficult to select gears for the first brief moment when the car was started. Normally at this time it is very difficult to select gears, and 1st must be forced.

After a brief moment, however, the clutch went back to releasing perfectly, and remained perfect throughout the day, which it normally does not (prior to this repair). Normally it will be somewhat grabby after parking, or after a long run, or just whenever it feels like. Also, it will do the release and start to grab thing again, which it did not do at all today, so the increased spring tension on the reservoir check valve seems to be helping.

I am considering changing the spring to one with higher tension still, though there are limits, since the parts are plastic. I do not know if this will help further, as the clutch now releases fully, and stays released, indicating that the check valve is sealing properly, but I want to see if it will further help cold shifting.

If the master cylinder is turned vertically, it is not necessary to bleed the system every time the piston is removed, as when it is removed, the cylinder is filled to the brim with fluid, and then the piston is put back into place. It was only necessary for me to bleed the system before because I introduced air by other means. If replacement of this spring proves to be the successful answer to the common clutch problem, I will explain how to disassemble the master cylinder without upsetting the rest of the system.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:45 AM   #31
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Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

Though I am sure that the increased check valve spring tension has cured the erratic hot clutch releasing (and re-grabbing), I am curious to know if perhaps what is happening that is causing poor cold shifting is that vacuum is forming in the reservoir. It would be interesting to remove the reservoir cover (which contains a diaphragm) in the coldest weather, and see if the clutch behaves any differently, though I seem to remember trying this once before. Eh, well, twice can't hurt.

The diaphragm has folds in it, allowing it to expand and contract with internal pressure changes, but it is possible that its tension might be enough to cause some hydraulic difficulty.

Eh, perhaps I am going nowhere with this, but it has sparked a thought that I must pursue.

I was thinking before that air bubbles in the system were causing the trouble, but this would have the opposite effect, as air bubbles in the lines would push the fluid out as they expanded from heat, which would make the clutch not release effectively when the lines were hot. In reality, however, the clutch isn't fully releasing when the lines are cold.

Many ways we could go with this, really. Too much diaphragm tension might cause air or vacuum bubbles in the fluid when the fluid contracted from the cold.

So many possibilities. I will stick to the spring idea for now and go from there.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:35 PM   #32
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1999 SL2
Default Re: shifter bad behaviour depending on AC being on or off (SL 98)

So today when I started the car, the shifter was once again difficult to shift, though again for a period of time much briefer than before. While it was difficult to shift, I observed action of the clutch. Once again, if I applied the clutch really quickly, the clutch would pretty much fully release, and then soon after it'd start to grab.

...So my theory is that the increase in reservoir check valve spring tension did improve matters, as the clutch now always fully releases when warm, but evidently, for whatever reason, the clutch requires more fluid when cold, and the reservoir check valve is still leaking somewhat, allowing for not enough fluid displacement for cold clutch release.

I am going to increase the spring tension further, but not today, as I have to drive to Madison, and don't want any issues with the clutch for that.
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