Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Is my Saturn from Saturn?

I think my 2001 Saturn SL2 is possessed! An alien maybe? I can’t figure out what’s wrong with the clutch? Please someone help me. OK, so here’s the problem. I am a very seasoned manual driver. But recently my manual car has been acting like I am a new clutch driver. It does it to my husband too. Anyway, when we let up off the clutch it starts jerking and we have to rev up the engine and push the clutch in to “start over again” and then it will go, but then you put it into second gear and it does the same thing, kinda like it isn’t getting enough gas… Maybe? Well some days it does it and some days it don’t. Bi-polar? My husband has named her Chrissy since she is moody and fragile. So please give me some ideas of what might be happening!

It sounds lke the slave cylinder for the clutch or the master cylinder for the clutch is allowing fluid to pass by the seals.

But first…find the fluid canister for the master and check the level. It should be located under the hood nearest the drivers side of the firewall. Check to be sure it’s not low.


Maybe the car has a small orifice in the clutch line to soften the clutch apply. This would not allow you to “dump” the clutch to spin the tires. There is a rev limiter, too when the clutch is depressed of 4100 rpm if I remember correctly. That orifice might be clogged or junk is floating around in there causing erratic action. The master and salve cylinders may be going bad, too. Change the slave (it is easy=cheap), flush the system and see if that fixes it. You may want to change the master at the same time. Don’t wait, you don’t want to wreck an expensive clutch with a cheap cylinder.

Sounds like an engine performance problem, a misfire. Has the check engine light come on when this problem occurs?

Yes our service engine light has been on. Auto zone ran the codes and it was the egr valve.

Well that changes things… Fix the EGR valve first.

What exactly is the code? There are different EGR codes and they mean different things, just replacing the EGR may not fix the issue depending on the code.

This will probably not solve the clutch issue though. The master/slave and line are sold as a single unit and are replaced all at once, but it is easy to replace them. Unbolt the slave, disconnect the pushrod from the clutch pedal and then turn the master 1/8 th turn CCW and remove.

But the bad news is that the issue might be the dual mass flywheel, but if you get used to it, you can make it smooth again.

One last thing, remove the cap off the master and see if the fluid level is really high. If it is, remove a little. Then plan on replacing the clutch assembly in the near future.