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Join Date: Jun 2009
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1999 Saturn - Manual Transmission Problems?

07/21/2009 5:23 PM

I have a 99 Saturn with 155555 miles on it - Manual transmission (5 speed plus reverse). About a year ago, it started giving me trouble. After alot of stop & go driving in City traffic, it started having trouble getting going in first gear. Kept stalling. Engine seemed to be running well, and RPMs were functioning normally with the clutch depressed. Clutch feels normal, too. Just could not get moving. After being parked for a while (later discovered that short 5 minute rest periods would suffice) the problem seamed to correct itself. Took the car to the dealership (withhold comments please) and they determined that the clutch was fine. The car had a bad temperature and oxygen sensor, both of which should be replaced. Other issues discovered included a bad safety switch that requires the clutch depressed to start the car (never worked) and a rusted through muffler strap. Had the O2 and temp sensors replaced as possible causes. About a month later (September '08) the problem recurred. and has been on and off ever since.

Recently I discovered, while merging onto a highway, and downshifting to 2nd, that I had no power when releasing the clutch again (first major time in true motion). So I just drove it in 2nd with little to power until I was up to about 45/50 mph running about 3500 RPM - very unusual - should have been redlining. So I shifted to 5th and continued. Next time it happened - same day - I simply slipped into neutral, wiggled the gears left and right, back into 1st, and viola - success.

The bottom line - it seams that the gears are possibly getting stuck and and misaligning. I have had an issue with a squeeky clutch pedal for a couple years - which only occurs with alot of use. I think I am actually in 3rd gear, not first, which explains the lack of power. Has anyone ever heard of this occuring?

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#1

Re: Manual Transmission Problems?

07/21/2009 7:38 PM

Yes, be sure your car has worn transmission. Everything may be contributing, from the syncro rings worn (causing troubles in engaging gears) to the trambulator (the part that actually aligns your manual movement in the handle and transmits it to the gear shafts making the correct gear to engages the transmission). I am myself currently driving my small ride with worn 2nd syncro ring, and sometimes the 1st gear stuck and not engaging when stopped. Solution? While I am not able to put it apart and replace worn parts, I usually engage 3rd, 2nd and then 1st when stopped (what causes the gears to align itself and allowing 1st to engage normally - well, when it does not work, I just allow the car to turn the wheels about 1/8 and then it goes easy). Regarding the 2nd, when necessary to engage it from 3rd on climbs, for example, the solution is to sycronize the engine speed by actuating the clutch and accelerating the engine to a speed that allows the gear to work. It's easy neverteless, as I have driven a lot of junk before in my life. My wife complains that she is not able to drive my car, this is the real trouble I face now. Of course, HER car does not show any troubles, and she can drive perfectly. Guess who is in charge of the car maintenance...

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#2

Re: 1999 Saturn - Manual Transmission Problems?

07/22/2009 9:07 PM

I would almost think that your shifter linkage is damage, broken, or worn. You should have two shafts going from the shifter to the transmission. One would control the left and right (12,34,5R) and the other will control the forward and back (135, 24R).

Inspect the linkage for any excess play in any direction. I would hope that is your problem because its cheaper than a transmission.

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#3

Re: 1999 Saturn - Manual Transmission Problems?

07/22/2009 10:50 PM

I too feel you have some worn linkage parts! 35+ years of heavy line work on cars says so to me!

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#4

Re: 1999 Saturn - Manual Transmission Problems?

07/23/2009 12:02 AM

I've had a similar problem on my 2002 Saturn...twice in 200K miles. Both times the problem was fixed by replacing the linkage. Basically it misaligns the shifter with the gears so you can't fully shift in/out of gear. I like my Saturn otherwise, but that particular part was clearly a cost-cutter.

You'll very likely have to replace the linkage and cable, run you about $350 for parts and labor. Take it to someone who can tell you the problem over the phone by your description, not someone who is going to do a "diagnostic" and offer to top off your headlights.

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#5

Re: 1999 Saturn - Manual Transmission Problems?

07/23/2009 2:11 PM

Hello Cain Dogg,

Here is the listing of "Technical Service Bulletins" for 1999 Saturn. Check to see if applicable to your trouble.

Before continuing to pay out $$$ stop into an Auto-Zone and ask for diagnostic check - is free. Take a sample of the transmission fluid to have analyzed, with this information you may write back for substantive guidance from the membership of CR4.

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