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Saturn '96 SL2 Transmission Hard to Shift

I have a '96 Saturn SL2 that is getting progressively harder to shift, (although it was difficult when I first bought it used). First and second are the worst offenders. The clutch fully disengages when the pedal is pushed down (the car rolls easily and doesn’t pull). When I ‘force’ it into gear, it tends to clunk. I tried a ‘spin-down’ test by pressing the clutch in, waiting a few seconds and then shifting easily into reverse. (I have no problems shifting into reverse). I inspected the hydraulic system, and it appears fine. I even pulled out the slave from the transmission, and it appears to be ok also.

1) Is there any way to test the master/slave system without just spending $150 on a new one?

2) I’ve been reading on some of the forums that it could be the clutch itself failing, and that I should replace it all. IF that’s the case wouldn’t my clutch be slipping?

If you don’t know when the last time the transmission oil was changed, I’d start there first. You’ld be surprised how much this can help a hard shifting manual transmission.


New Fluid…

I agree with Tester, start with new fluid unless you know it is relatively new. I would choose a synthetic which includes the prescribed weight.

If that does not do the job, then have someone check the linkage.

linkager gaskets can get pretty hard over time…had similar problem with Integra and lubing and changing shifter gaskets made it like butter…but it sounds like you clutch isn’t completely disengaged. Any difference between shift when engine off or running will give you the answer,…

I would suggest a fluid such as Redline for the tranny as it will help the shifting quite a bit. Is the cylinder for the clutch leaking any fluid at all as if it is definitely replace it but if not then it is fine.

I have the same problem with my 96 Saturn SL2. Before I post the same problem again, just want to check with you how you solved your problem. Did the fluid change do the trick? or did you have to replace some parts?