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Old 07-21-2011, 11:46 PM   #1
impulse7
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Default Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Guys, I'm really tired of this whole thing. I've read almost every single post about manual transmission/ clutch/ master, slave cylinders and etc. But i really cant figure it out. Who had this problem and could solve it please help me!
My 98 SC1 makes this hard shifting thing when i shift 1st and reverse, and sometimes 2nd too. If I have break pedal depressed or my emergency break on its really hard to shift into 1st, 2nd, reverse. But if I have it in neutral and shift car tries to "jump" or this little shake and gets into gear. But when i drive it there no problem to shift.
So is this my bad clutch or something in transmission?
My clutch pedal seems to have normal travel and grabs like it suppose to be, i think its like 2 inches from the floor.
Also I've changed my slave cylinder and put new fluid in the system, anyway it was due, car has 139k miles and everything is original.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

If the engine is off, do you have any trouble shifting?

Have you done the wire test?
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Old 07-22-2011, 04:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

sounds like the clutch isn't fully disengaging.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:16 AM   #4
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

I had the same problem until I repaired the crankshaft thrust bearing. If your thrust bearing is worn, the crankshaft will move too far forward when the clutch is depressed.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdcart View Post
I had the same problem until I repaired the crankshaft thrust bearing. If your thrust bearing is worn, the crankshaft will move too far forward when the clutch is depressed.
How worn was it?
Was it beyond the service limit?
I ask because I am at 0.007" play (and the Service Limit is 0.0098")

When I rebuilt my trans, the plastic Pads on the Shift Forks were a little bit worn.
The replacement Pads were longer (for more wearing surface)
The plastic Pads on the Shift Forks are the parts that actually move the Syncro to make it 'click' into the next gear.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

I have seen the thrust bearing surface totally gone and the crank running against the main bearing cap to the point the crank is junk. You can check the end float with a yard stick. The pedal was close to the floor but the trans shifted fine.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by impulse7 View Post
If I have break pedal depressed or my emergency break on its really hard to shift into 1st, 2nd, reverse.
I'm having a hard time imagining how depressing the brake pedal could affect shifting. Only thing I can think of would be to look if something is binding down at the brake and clutch pedal, preventing the clutch from fully disengaging.
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

You more than likely just need a new clutch. Its probably the pressure plate.
I had the same problem on my 96 SL2 and after fiddling with hydraulics and fluids and other crap I just bit the bullet and replaced the clutch and never looked back. The pressure plate was shot.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurdueGuy View Post
If the engine is off, do you have any trouble shifting?

Have you done the wire test?
There is no problem shifting with engine off.
I did the wire test and it seems like normal. i dont really remember, but it was like 11.4 mm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue92 View Post
I'm having a hard time imagining how depressing the brake pedal could affect shifting. Only thing I can think of would be to look if something is binding down at the brake and clutch pedal, preventing the clutch from fully disengaging.
Its probably because cars wants to move when I shift, with brakes on car cant do this move thing, and it wont shift.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by impulse7 View Post
There is no problem shifting with engine off.
I did the wire test and it seems like normal. i dont really remember, but it was like 11.4 mm.


Its probably because cars wants to move when I shift, with brakes on car cant do this move thing, and it wont shift.
So you're saying it doesn't like shifting when the car is moving? Yea, if all gears than it sounds like a clutch issue (perhaps internal). Do you notice any drop in RPM when you shift into gear while stopped? Do the RPMs momentarily drop a bit?

If its just one or two gears it could be worn syncos or misalignment of the shifter cables (which I've seen after bushing repairs on these cars, the alignment is pretty sensitive).

-Robert
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

the problem is that it is difficult to shift when the car is not moving. according to his posts, if the car is moving it apparently shifts fine.
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:46 PM   #12
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertGary1 View Post
So you're saying it doesn't like shifting when the car is moving? Yea, if all gears than it sounds like a clutch issue (perhaps internal). Do you notice any drop in RPM when you shift into gear while stopped? Do the RPMs momentarily drop a bit?
-Robert
If its just one or two gears it could be worn syncos or misalignment of the shifter cables (which I've seen after bushing repairs on these cars, the alignment is pretty sensitive).
I did notice a little drop in rpm when I shift. I checked it again, its hard to get into all gears, only when car is not moving. When driving there is no problem shifting. If I hold my clutch for like 20 secs and try to get into gear when is not moving its almost impossible to shift. So according to all posts here, it sounds like clutch, cuz I had my hood open and I've been playing with car shifting and moving a little and stuff I saw this smoke coming out from my bellhousing, or being more accurate clutch... so its going to die soon. I will just let it die and fix it when it does...
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:06 AM   #13
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

No. The problem is the clutch, or possibly the thrust bearing.

Try shifting into 2, 3, 4, or 5, at a standstill. It will be difficult for those gears, too, because the clutch isn't fully releasing.

I have this exact same problem with my Saturn. Difficult to shift in 1st and reverse because the car is not moving, and you are trying to mate a moving gear (clutch isn't fully releasing) to a non-moving gear. Very difficult at best. Releasing the brake pedal makes it easier because the car starts to roll, and with the secondary gear now turning, it is easier to match to the primary gear (actually gears are always meshed, but the dog clutches are what really do the engaging).

I rebuilt my engine and replaced the thrust bearing (center main bearing), which was worn badly. However, the crank was fine, and with the new thrust surface in place, the clutch still behaves the same. It seems to work much better once the car warms up, and is the hardest to shift when it's really cold outside. I've also tested the crankshaft by trying to pry the crank pulley this way and that, and it doesn't move at all, so thrust surface is still fine. I replaced the hydraulic system, which made little improvement, and the new system tests properly with the wire test, so that leaves the clutch as the culprit.

...Although the thrust bearing could also cause this problem if worn badly enough, because the crankshaft would move forward (with the entire clutch assembly) instead of just the clutch diaphragm, and use up part of the hydraulic piston's travel, leaving not enough travel left for actual clutch release.

The clutch uses a sprung diaphragm to push and pull the pressure plate up against and away from the driven disc. With age, especially if not manufactured properly, this spring loses its temper and doesn't do its job as well. Picture the bottom of an oil can. Depress it and it snaps in. Release and it snaps out. If you were to put a pivot ring just a bit in from the outermost edge, and then let the outermost edge move freely, it'd move in the opposite direction of the center, and if coupled to something, could be used to move that item. If the diaphragm loses its temper or develops cracks, it won't spring quite as well, and the device attached to it won't move as far.

The benefit of this 'new' style clutch, which was developed in the 1930s, is that the pedal actually becomes easier to push as it is pushed in farther making it safer and easier to apply and hold in. The previous style clutch, still in use on some cars, merely uses coil springs to push against the pressure plate, and this style of clutch requires more and more pressure from the pedal as it is depressed further. The diaphragm type spring also has the benefit of applying more pressure on the pressure plate as the clutch wears, as opposed to less pressure by coil springs, which would make the clutch more apt to slip as it ages.

Last edited by td1238; 07-24-2011 at 12:15 AM. Reason: sentence rewording
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:20 AM   #14
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Thats right, when cars warms up it shifts pretty good. Somebody told me, that some parts inside of transmission is going bad, I don't really know what part it is, but it suppose to synchronise those gears when you shift. Especially 1st and reverse cuz ther have the same axle. And when its warm up, rule of physics, it will increase in size and make it easy to shift. Makes sense. Hope I could explain it. :-) I'm not a mechanic, but I'm just trying to fix my car myself so can learn some stuff. Thank for everyone. For help!
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

...But I'm curious, since my clutch grabs well and doesn't slip, if there just wasn't enough travel allowed in the hydraulic system for a worn clutch, since the diaphragm spring tends to grab harder as the clutch wears, which would require more pressure and travel from the hydraulic system.

Still haven't gotten around to it, but I was going to make an adapter to make use of the last 1/2 inch of travel before the clutch pedal arm hits the instrument panel frame. I will report results if and when I do. Been too busy with other cars.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:34 AM   #16
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

if your clutch is still good, I bet something wrong in transmission. Folks in this forum know what I'm talking about. Let me know, if you could make that adapter and how it worked out...
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:17 PM   #17
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

No, there is nothing wrong with the transmission. That is an absolute fact. There is nothing wrong with your transmission, either. The clutch isn't fully releasing. Trust me.

Push the shifter part-way into gear, between the synchro clutch and the actual engagement of the dog teeth. Move it back and forth just slightly until you can get the gear to grind (assuming that the transmission is currently (at the time you are doing this) hard to shift). Hear that grinding sound? The gears should NOT be spinning while the car is standing still and the clutch is disengaged (pedal to the floor). The gears are spinning and grinding because the clutch is not fully disengaging. Something temperature related is causing the clutch to not disengage fully when cold, but to disengage fully when hot.

I rebuilt my entire transmission. There is nothing wrong with the synchros. If your synchro clutches were worn, your gears would grind when engaging. That they are difficult to engage is a built in feature of a properly working synchro-mesh clutch. There are guide dogs (teeth) and a spring (ring) that they must pass (this spring assures initial pressure on the synchro-mesh clutch to get the process going). The dogs are also tapered on the ends. They slide into corresponding slots which also have tapered (pointed) ends. What happens is that if the two halves are not spinning at the same speed, these tapered (pointed) ends kick the dogs off to the side so that they don't match the corresponding slots. That way they can't engage until speeds are matched. Extra force to try to force them into engagement puts more force on the synchro-mesh clutch, which further aids in matching the speeds of both halves of the dog clutch.

What you are doing when you force your transmission into gear is you are forcing the driven disc of the clutch (the one you disengage with the pedal, not the synchro-mesh clutches within the transmission) to come to a stop, even though the pressure plate and flywheel are still trying to make it spin because they aren't fully releasing it.

If your synchro-mesh clutches weren't working properly, the dog clutches would merely grind and crunch, and it'd be almost impossible to get the transmission into gear.

Also, another problem I thought of before I rebuilt my transmission (diff pin failure--completely unrelated to the hard shifting problem) is that perhaps the input shaft bearings were worn, causing wobble of the input shaft and driven disc, allowing it to strike the pressure plate even while the pressure plate was drawn away. Well, upon examination and replacement of the input shaft bearing, there was no wear, and there was no difference in input shaft stiffness with the new bearing in place.

Also, as I said before, I replaced my crank thrust bearing with no improvement in clutch action, even though the crank cannot be pried back and forth. You can try prying the crank with a pry bar on the crank pulley (be gentle). See if there is any significant play. ...And also, as I said before, I replaced my hydraulics, as you have as well.

The problem is in your clutch. Not the transmission. Not the hydraulics. ...And not likely in the engine.

Last edited by td1238; 07-24-2011 at 08:21 PM. Reason: word change
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:37 PM   #18
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by td1238 View Post
The problem is in your clutch. Not the transmission. Not the hydraulics. ...And not likely in the engine.
It's true.. Most people don't want to live with this fact, but its the simple truth.
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Old 07-24-2011, 08:47 PM   #19
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by td1238 View Post
Something temperature related is causing the clutch to not disengage fully when cold, but to disengage fully when hot.
The problem is in your clutch. Not the transmission. Not the hydraulics. ...And not likely in the engine.
Clutch slips more when hot. More slip = more like disengaging.

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If it moves right away its the clutch/pressure plate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by impulse7
I did the wire test and it seems like normal. i dont really remember, but it was like 11.4 mm.
Quote:
Originally Posted by barnowl
If the pedal travel checks out, there's a small access hole next to the slave cylinder (see pic below). Stick a piece of stiff wire in that hole till it touches the fork and mark the wire where it goes into the hole. Do the same thing with the clutch pushed all the way in. The distance between the marks should not be less than 11.18 mm (0.44 in). If the distance is too small, it's the hydraulics. Otherwise, your looking at a damaged fork or pressure plate.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:23 AM   #20
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Default Re: Once again, hard to shift manual transmission

Quote:
Originally Posted by impulse7 View Post
Let me know, if you could make that adapter and how it worked out...
I haven't been thinking too much about my clutch lately because it's been so warm out and has been shifting very nicely (even when the car is first started). However, I should make that adapter, or better yet replace my clutch, but I really don't want to, because the driven disc, from inspection, seems to have a lot of wear left on it (even after 222,222 miles).

...But basically the idea for my adapter was a small plastic or metal cylinder (or even wood, but end-grain must be perpendicular to movement, or it will split) with a screw on one end that'd engage in the clutch master cylinder piston socket, and a socket on the other end to receive the push-rod that's connected to the pedal. This cylinder must be smaller in diameter than the metal retainer that stops the master piston at the end of its travel, so that it may pass this metal retainer. This adapter would be just shorter than the length of the distance between the clutch pedal arm and the instrument panel frame when the clutch pedal is at rest, to use up this remaining slack. The pedal arm must still not touch the frame, so that the piston may come to a complete rest, allowing fluid to return to the reservoir, and it might be wise to put a thin piece of rubber on the panel frame to prevent metal-to-metal contact. It must also be ascertained that this increased travel of the master piston does not cause the slave piston to over-reach the end of its travel, or else you will have a blown cylinder.

I do not know if this would solve the problem of the clutch not fully releasing, but I figured that it would be worth a try, since the clutch otherwise seems to have plenty of wear left in it, and grabs very well (does not slip what-so-ever), and the diaphragm spring fingers are all in good shape, even, and not broken.

I am curious to know if there actually is a fault in the pressure plate (crack or loss of temper), or if Saturn merely did not allow enough travel in their hydraulic release system to actuate a worn clutch, because, as I said before, a diaphragm spring will actually apply more pressure to the pressure plate as the clutch wears, due to the over-center properties of the spring.

Well, building the adapter and/or removing the pressure plate for inspection is the only way to tell for sure. I have a feeling that the diaphragm spring has not lost much of its temper, because my clutch grabs just fine, and a weak spring would lead to a slipping clutch.

Last edited by td1238; 07-25-2011 at 12:26 AM. Reason: Word add
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