Exactly one day after submitting my final car payment for my 2004 Saturn Vue, the cars transmission totally and without any prior warning seized and failed. While braking as I approached a red light, 2 check engine lights appeared accompanied by a dramatic loss of power. The car limped along at less than 20mph. After letting the car sit for awhile, I restarted the engine; only 1 light appeared but as soon as I began to drive the car, the 2nd light appeared again accompanied by the sudden loss of power. The car which has performed flawlessly throughout the years has been well maintained & has 140,000 miles.In researching online, I’ve come to learn that this has been a common problem w/ Saturn’s. My local mechanic has advised against attempting a rebuild & has been unable to locate a replacement trans for under 5K. So, now I am the proud owner of a fully paid, well maintained dead Saturn! Help! Advice??? Of course, the ‘very helpful’ local GM dealership is offering $5K towards the purchase of a new vehicle…am not feeling the love or trust for GM right now. Any ideas as to what has happened w/ the trans other than a curse on the head of my Saturn by some evil n’eer do well…
“Well maintained” can mean a lot of different things. For instance, how many times was the transmission serviced over that 140K miles and by what method(s)? A transmission failure at 140K miles - especially if it hasn’t been serviced regularly isn’t a Saturn problem - its just what happens to a transmission that wasn’t well cared for. Well cared for would mean a pan drop & new filter every 3yrs/30K miles. Even then 140K is not an odd failure interval. Automatic transmissions are actually wear & tear items. They cannot last forever.
That said, did anyone actually diagnose the transmission? Those warning lights mean that error codes have been stored. Find out what the error codes are (format: “P1234”) and post them.
Have had my Saturn serviced regularly for all preventative maintenance as recomended- specific transmision related servicings… I know this will sound hairbrained but cannot answer as all service records are in the hands of the mechanic currently working on the car. Throughout the life of the car, all maintenance had always been provided by the local Saturn dealership. Perhaps, I was too trusting but believed that any necessary servicing was being properly handled. And as stated earlier, the car has run flawlessly—absolutley no indications of trouble, or diminished operation. I understand that the trans is a wear & tear item given to repair isssues-- but to fail suddenly, that seems a bit difficult to accept. My previous Saturn a '92 SL2 had 238,000 miles on it and was still going strong when I upgraded to the Vue…not a transmission woe at all. The diagnostic codes that registerd for the Vue are as follow: P0172, P0701, P0700, P1882. Any insight is appreciated.
This thing has a CVT (continuously variable transmission) doesn’t it? In that case my already stretched guessing ability goes beyond the breaking point.
Your check engine light must have been on already - b/c it would be a very strange coincidence to suddenly end up with a P0172 code at the same time as the others. They’re completely different kinds of problems. But the P0172 is the least of your problems.
Both P0700 and P0701 refer to transmission control issues which are not necessarily killers. You can get stuff like this from a chafed wire (though it can obviously be worse than that). As far as I know the P1882 is about a speed ratio problem - that the transmission and its output shaft aren’t registering the same speed. As near as I can tell a common reason for this is a slipping belt (if its a CVT) - and that is bad. That is new transmission time. But even so, those speed signals still have to be registered by sensors and sent via wires. Those could be bad and are not disasters.
If the only person who has looked at it is your local mechanic then you might consider running it by someone else. The typical mechanic is not well versed in transmissions of any kind and this is especially so with CVTs (still guessing there). Normally I’d say take it to a dedicated transmission specialty shop for a full evaluation. But CVTs are relatively pretty uncommon and even a lot of transmission shops might not want to deal with them. So you might spend some time on the phone to see if any of the local shops in your area are well versed in the CVTs
From what I can determine, the trans is a VTI, a self contained unit. This entire episode truly is difficult to believe~but as previously stated, the car was driving normally w/out any indication of diminished capacity, when suddenly the ‘check engine light’ appeared, along w/ the ‘decreased power’ light, followed by the marked loss of power. My mechanic believed that the car for whatever reason went into a limp mode. He has had experience in dealing w/ that scenario w/ other vehicles but he too remains puzzled by the ‘sudden’ death.He has replaced the speed sensors which did not impact the trans’ operation- it remains unable to advance beyond 1st gear.
Thank you for your advice- this is a frustrating situation. As a sidebar ( and addt’l indication that this could be a common Saturn ailment…)in making inquiries w/ a few junkyards in search of a replacement trans, when asking about a’part’ for a 2004 Vue, the response was" You’re not looking for a transmision are you?" Have reached out to Saturns ‘customer service’ team and am awaiting a response. Again, thanks!
Can you get a confirmation on the transmission type?
The Vue went through a ridiculous number of powertrain changes… In 02-03, it used a GM V6 and Aisin (Toyota) transmission… then it changed to a Honda engine and transmission that it used until 2008… The four cylinders used a GM engine and GM/Fiat CVT.
GM extended the warranties on the CVT for high failure rates for 5 years / 75k. Unfortunately, the Honda one they used on the V6 was also a dog… but evidently no extended warranties are out on that one…
Well I’ve looked through all the paperwork that I have and the only info re: the trans is that it is a VTi. The car is an automatic/ 4cyl. AWD vehicle. By the way, heard back from the consumer friendly folks at GM~ and due to the mileage, well, Merry Christmas Baby- its all on me. Will follow up w/ the Director of Customer Relations…who knows if wishin could make it so, maybe some satisfaction. Ironically in todays mail "this loyal Saturn customer’ received a voucher for $1,000. towards a new GM vehicle!!!Just have to wonder…
There are plenty of things in there that can let go all of a sudden - and thus give instant death. And those trannys apparently were a nightmare (as evidenced by the class action suits).
Check out this website: http://freddiestransmissions.com./
If you go to the CVT section, then to the link for the Saturn it has lots of pics of a teardown of one of them. It won’t cheer you up but I found it all to be really informative.