Life left for 1996 Saturn SL with slipping transmission?

My car has a slipping transmission and I’m wondering if its still safe to drive to work that is 2 miles away. The car only has 84,000 miles on it. I have noticed the transmission getting slightly worse - it has not started to rev the engine up a little bit more when shifting gears.

You are on borrowed time. 1 day or more, no one can predict that. There is a good chance that it will fail in the worst possible place so if you can get there using light traffic streets you could do that. But I wouldn’t.

I don’t see why you couldn’t continue driving it until it dies.

But definitely recognize it will die/stop on you one day probably at the worst possible moment. And you you need to have a plan for how to handle that, whether it involves a tow truck, calling your brother in law, or buying a new car.

I wouldn’t put any money into a 1996 Saturn with a failing transmission, myself.

Good luck.

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I was watching my coworker to get “last drops” form his old beaten Dodge Caravan with a slipping transmission. Mileage was around 120K.
From the point he started to pay attention to the slipping gears, to the point I was called to pick him up from the side of the road, it took him 3-4 weeks and probably few hundred miles.
In the final week he needed to rev engine to around 2000-2500 RPMs before the first gear would engage.
He totally ignored my “it will fail in the least convenient moment” lecture :slight_smile:

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For reasons that I will probably never understand, most people seem to envision vehicle breakdowns taking place in their driveway or in some other safe and convenient location. In reality, the OP’s trans is far more likely to totally fail when trying to avoid an 18-wheeler, or when trying to cross RR tracks, or when driving through a dangerous neighborhood.

The amount of money necessary to replace this car will not be any less by waiting until it dies in 1 day, or one week, or… maybe… two weeks. Why arbitrarily wait in order to save no money, while simultaneously putting one’s life in possible jeopardy?

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Just to be clear, is this an automatic or a manual?

Good question.

If it’s a manual, you’re simply due for a clutch job.

If it’s an automatic, start by checking the tranny fluid IAW the owner’s manual instructions. If it’s low, add some. Then monitor it and keep it full. You could get more years out of it.

Post back and let us know.

Yes this is an automatic transmission.

Two miles is not far to walk so no big deal but the end is near. Check the fluid level though and be very gentle on acceleration to avoid slippage. I drove a couple hundred miles once on a slipping transmission and then others never made it out of the parking ramp. You are certainly not going to spend $2000 to fix it though correct? So start shopping.

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Has your car’s transmission received a proper servicing recently? If not, it’s probably worth a try. What that means varies from car to car, but often involves replacing the transmission fluid and transmission filter w/fresh. If the fluid is currently low, just topping it off might help too.

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You never know that driving a car on it’s last legs will not pay off. you never know if your car will be totaled next week. The same thing with proactively replacing batteries. My 2004 PT Cruiser was 7 1/2 years old with the original battery when itgot totaled by an idiot talking on his cell phone and looking one way and driving another.

The insurance company would have not paid me one cent more if I had replaced the battery.

As you know I disagree with your not doing preemptive repairs but I agree with you that I always lost on the deal. Usually tires, parts, clutch, front end, etc. just before the car dies for one reason or another. Still I can’t help it.

My daughters 02 saturn had a transmission issue, got a fluid and filter change, my first suggestion, 6 years later and another 80k miles trans is still good.


I forgot to mention that I was just about to get new tires for that PT Cruiser because they were down to 3 and 4 32nds and it was November. For some unknown reason the price of 2004 PT Cruisers was higher in 2011 than it was in 2010. I was paid exactly half of what I paid for it when new, after 7 1/2 years.

Yes, did you at least check the transmission fluid level? Do you know how? Generally speaking the car has to be driven about 8 miles , stopped, shifted through all the gears and checked with the engine running in park.

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