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2002 Saturn SL2 Transmission 3-4 shift issue

My SL2 has 80,000 miles on it, trans fluid was changed by dealer at 30,000. The fluid still looks red and clean is at the proper level. As of last week the shift from third to forth gear (above 50 mph) results in chaotic behavior from the transmission. The car jolts and the transmission slams resulting in the engine revving up and down until I let off the gas and ease the car slowly up to highway speeds. This NEVER happens below 45 mph, everything shifts fine around town. If I lock the shifter in third gear, the problem never occurs. What should I do?

Thank you,


Get a new car. The SL2 is just a Chevy Cavalier. Buy a 98 Corolla or 99 Civic. They will last 5 times longer and cost less to maintain over the long haul.

No, this is not a honda or toyota, it’s a saturn and it shares almost nothing with the chevy cavalier. The cavalier and the saturn are entirely different animals from the ground up. What they do have in common is that they are both pretty poorly made cars.

FYI, my family also has a 2003 honda civic (110,000 miles), by design it goes through catalytic converters every 50,000 miles (on it’s 3rd), oxygen sensors almost as frequently, has needed 5 (yes, FIVE) transmission fluid changes to keep the transmission working properly (it gets rough off the line), has continuous sunroof problems, and currently has a failed A/C compressor clutch (second one!) (in the shop now). The motor also needs semi-regular valve adjustment to keep the valvetrain quiet, which seems quite archaic to me. I don’t think the honda transmission is going to see much life beyond 150,000 miles even with a super maintenance routine.

On the other hand, I own a 96 bmw e36 with 152,000 miles, and its highest price repairs (so far in its life) were a hard-to-reach coolant connector from the head ($230) and a rear wheel bearing ($170). It has less maintenance requirements than the honda, but all of our vehicles receive more fluid changes than average (performed by me). Electronics on the car have been very good as well (has only needed a camshaft position sensor ($70) and a new thermometer display ($15 junkyard). I did update the cooling system components myself as they are known to cause problems. I hope to get 250,000+ miles out of the bmw before a major failure. Oh, and the bmw gets 33mpg+ on the highway, not far behind the civic and it’s a whole lot more fun (and comfortable).

I would appreciate more comments pertaining to the SL2 transmission issue I asked about. This is not supposed to be a general car discussion, is it?