'98 Saturn SC1 5 speed shifting problem


Old 09-05-08, 07:52 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2
'98 Saturn SC1 5 speed shifting problem

I own a '98 SC1 with the 5 speed: Since I bought the car at about 90K miles the shifting has been difficult; the prior owner said it had had the problem for awhile. By shifting slowly & gently I managed to do fine for a couple of years of mostly highway driving though it was still balky at times, most always 1st to 2nd. Now, at about 123K miles, the shift from 1st to 2nd has gotten "balkier", more difficult and finally, the right shifter cable & housing, under the center console and just ahead of the shifter, began bending so as to not allow the inner rod/wire to move. Specifically: when I pull the shifter knob BACK [2nd & 4th gears], which causes the cables to go forward, the right cable flexes to the side, and the inner cable/wire will not move. If I reach with my left hand to pull the cable housing straight, the shift will go through [ pretty dangerous !]. I've had my mechanic replace the original Saturn cables now twice with NAPA after-market cables. The problem persists regardless changing the cables twice.
The clutch does slip some with HARD acceleration. But, with a light foot, I continue to get ~40mpg on the open road and, I can climb very steep hills with no apparent slippage: no rising RPMs while at steady or dropping MPH.
I was told by Saturn dealership it was a clutch problem yet, the mechanic couldn't explain why the clutch would have anything to do with this shifting difficulty.
I believe that the clutch goes all the way out when I use it; I've had no fluid leakage from master/slave cylinder; I have the problem with ALL 5 gears but, it's much worse with 1st going into 2nd.
I'm reluctant to have the dealership do this expensive work without my understanding what's going on. Can anyone help me understand what's happening ?


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Old 09-06-08, 05:00 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Eastern Georgia
Posts: 486
The clutch must disengage completely for the trans to shift properly, if it does not you will have difficulty shifting, especially in the lower gears. As you go up thruogh the gears they are turning faster, and transmitting less torque so they are more easily moved. This sounds like a classic clutch problem to me. Is there alot of freeplay at the top of the clutch pedals travel? There should be no more than an inch. Hydraulic clutches are usually not adjustable, but you might try bleeding it. Excessive freeplay could be the result of wear on a pivot in the clutch housing, or a bent clutch fork. Since you bought it used you do not know what kind of abuse it took before you got it. The clutch is slipping so it will have to be replaced anyway, might as well take it apart and find the other problem as well.
Old 09-06-08, 04:14 PM
crazycory22's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 375
My 92 Ford Ranger did the same exact thing, and we had to have the clutch replaced in it. I realize it's two different manufacturers, but that is the same exact thing my Ranger did.
Old 09-07-08, 11:03 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2
Reply about Saturn SC1 5 speed shifting problem

Thanks for the comments. I'll go out and check how much travel there is before engagement of the clutch to see if it's excessive [more than an inch].

I appreciate you fellows reading and replying.


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