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2004 manual transmission Saturn Vue *very* hard to shift


Several weeks ago when it was -2o here, my Saturn Vue was very, very hard to get into gears. All of them. Like so dfficult I had to use two hands and shove it into gear. I chalked it up to being so cold. It’s warmer now, though (in the teens and 20s) and two nights ago I literally couldn’t get it into reverse. I drove 30 minutes after that and I was able to get it into reverse at that point. The next day it seemed to shift more easily. This morning it’s so-so but shiftable. So this problem seems to come and go.

Any ideas as to what’s wrong and if it’s ok to keep driving it?

Thank you.

How does it shift when the engine is NOT running? Is it any easier to move the shift lever?

I’m asking because the problem might be the clutch, and not the transmission.

Um, I think it shifts ok when engine not running but to be honest, not 100% sure. I’m at work and would need to walk a couple blocks to the car to test that out. I can do that and post again tonight.

It has 65,000 miles on it, could it need a new clutch already? I don’t know how long they should last.

Would the issue come and go if it were the clutch? That’s what’s so perplexing to me.

It’a a common cold weather problem which may be helped by synthetic transmission (gear) oil. You have to work with it a little. When you’re about to try to get moving, turn the engine off, shift to first gear and drive around slowly if you have the room and, as you noticed, it will start to work right. You will always have the problem unless the switch of oil does some good.

I’m fairly certain it’s something in the mechanism right under the stick shift. It’s so bad now that I almost can’t get it into first or reverse, and sometimes the other gears as well. I nursed it to the airport parking lot because I had to go out of town for a week, and it’s waiting to hopefully be carefully driven to the mechanic when I get back. It doesn’t matter whether the car is on or off and doesn’t matter how warm it’s been. I also had something in that mechanism snap off a few years ago, and I think this is the same thing, only now of course, it’s out of warranty. Hopefully it won’t need the Saturn dealership, nice as they are…they cost a fortune.

Good chance that you got water in the linkage and it has turned to ice. This can happen on top loader transmissions.