Revs high between gears when shifting



1999 SL1 5-sp. When I’m shifting, the engine rpms actually revs a little higher between gears, instead of dropping. When I am at a standstill, it idles normally. I’ve been told everything from a clutch to a vaccum leak. Help!


If the engine is revving while the clutch is disengaged (during the shift) it’s not the clutch.

It could be a sticky throttle cable holding the throttle open momentarily when you take your foot off the gas.

Or it could be a vacuum leak or any number of other things.

Who’s giving you these opinions? Has a mechanic looked at the car, or are people just guessing?


Thank you for the reply. It revs around 20k with the clutch disengaged. Once warmed up, it will idle normally around 8k, but revs 20k or higher when shifting. I’m reading alot about the throttle body needing cleaning, and replacing a gasket. Is this part on the 1999 Saturn SL1? When I go to parts online (NAPA, autozone), I can not find a throttle body gasket? And if I clean it, should I used carburator cleaner or something else? Any merit to disconnecting the battery fora short period? (And the opinions are of speculation)


Unless this is a secret new Formula One car, it doesn’t get anywhere near that many RPMs. Please check your tachometer again.


Jeff–Unless you have an extraordinarily different engine from all other Saturns, it idles at ~800 RPMs, not 8,000 RPMs. And, it is likely that you are seeing the tach register 2,000 RPMs between shifts, not 20,000 RPMs.

As mcparadise suggested, the problem could be as simple as a throttle cable that needs to be lubed. Or, it could be a vacuum leak. Or, perhaps the Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF) is gunked up. However, the clutch is not the problem.


I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that his tach is in X100 instead of the usual X1000… so when he sees “8” he’s thinking 8000 and when he sees “20” he’s thinking 20000.


With the car stopped and engine idling in neutral, give the throttle a short tap.
If the engine speed jumps up and takes its time falling back down then the throttle is “lazy”.
Get a helper to tap the pedal while you look at the linkage under the hood.
Does it snap back in place when the pedal is released?


OK, hanging my head in shame about the rpm thing. But back to my other questions. I’m reading alot about the throttle body needing cleaning, and replacing a gasket. Is this part on the 1999 Saturn SL1? When I go to parts online (NAPA, autozone), I can not find a throttle body gasket? And if I clean it, should I used carburator cleaner or something else? Any merit to disconnecting the battery fora short period?


You may be able to clean the throttle body well without removing it. Get some sensor-safe throttle body cleaner and clean the throttle body with the throttle flap open. Then, spray down the linkage and work the solvent in by opening and closing the throttle until smooth. You will need to remove the IAC to clean it out. Disconnecting the battery is OK, but not really necessary. Resetting the ECM probably will not help much. Just don’t start the car until everything is back in place.


Is the flairing RPM a sudden, new issue, or one that has crept up from just noticeable to alarming? Many manual shifts incorporate a throttle control to keep RPMs up on shifts to facilitate a softer re-engagement of the clutch. When shifted quickly the slight elevation is RPMs is not noticed. Without the increased RPMs releasing the clutch actually slows the car monentarily. Dash pots were common on carburetors for years. Now, the computer uses the idle air control.


As BK said you can likely clean without removal. But if you do want to remove it, these kinds of gaskets do seem to be less than common parts. I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t easily find one. The last time I pulled my TB (on an Escort) I just cut a new one from Karropak - its easy and not very time consuming.


This is actually normal for a Saturn. A lot of other cars do this as well. It will typically hold an elevated RPM for about a second and a half, then drop to normal. Most of the time you complete the shift before it drops.

If you feather the clutch just a little as you let it out, you can use this feature to make your shifts almost imperceptible. I do this with mine and it shifts smoother than an automatic. This is especially true if you do your upshifts at around 2200 rpm. Using a hard throttle in 3rd and 4th will yield very good gas mileage as well. You can’t use a hard throttle in 1st and 2nd because the gears are too low and you will way overshoot the 2200 rpm mark if you do.


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