Manual Transmission problem



Hi everybody,

Hoping y’all can help me to know what sort of trouble my car’s in, so I don’t get ripped off at the mechanic and so I know whether I need to look for a new car…

I have a '96 Saturn SL with a manual transmission and ~130,000 miles. Today, it started having major troubles… sometimes, when I shift gears, it won’t disengage from the gear it’s in and the stick will become loose and totally useless… engaging the clutch will put it into neutral, but I can’t access any gear other than the one I’m in… when I pull back on the clutch, the gear will re-engage. After fiddling around for a while, everything will start working again seemingly normally.

So… is it toast? Should I go donate it and start looking for a new ride? Any ideas what might be wrong and how much it’ll cost? Any advice for a good shop nearby downtown San Diego?

All help will be greatly appreciated.




I would hope for a linkage problem!


I would guess it is most likely a linkage problem and that should not be expensive, but from here it is not possible to tell.


Most FWD stick shift cars use a complex monkey-motion shift linkage comprised of rods, shafts, pivots, bellcranks, cables, pins, washers and clips. Chances are, you will find the problem in this area…


Thanks to all who responded.

I took the car in today and it turns out that the problem was a bad clutch cable. The replaced the cable and the problem is gone. Cost a little over $400… and this is relatively expensive shop that is just very conveniently located for me and seems like an honest place.

Again, thanks all.