Saturn Aura neutral idle

I have a brand new Saturn Aura. An article in our local newspaper was discussing a feature of the Saturn Aura called neutral idle. The article states, that 2 seconds after braking to a stop, with your foot still on the brake pedal, the transmission “goes into neutral”. I tested this feature on my Aura, by manually shifting the transmission into neutral by moving the shift lever into the neutral position. As soon as I did that, I felt the characteristic slight jerk one feels when shifting an automatic transmission into neutral from drive. I suspect that would mean that the transmission was NOT already in neutral as it is supposed to be, if neutral idle is working. Comments please.

If your car has this feature (which I somehow doubt), it will be discussed in the Owner’s Manual. Since you have apparently not yet read this booklet, this should give you added impetus to open up the glove compartment and read the book.

After you get past the 20 or so pages on how to put on your seatbelt, you will actually come to some very valuable information, and I think that you will be amazed at how much is contained in that little, rarely read book.

Great! I post a serious inquiry and all I get is one sarcastic reply from a smart-ass know-it-all. Thanks for nothing VCDdriver.

Actually, my reply was serious. If your car has this feature, it will be discussed in the Owner’s Manual.

Learning to refer to that manual is important, and if I can induce you to open the book and read it, you will learn much about the car that you don’t currently know and you will actually enjoy longer and more economical use of that car.

To quote an ancient Chinese saying, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” It is unfortunate that you want to have a fish handed to you, rather than learning how to catch many fish for yourself.

We needed more proverbs on here, VDCdriver.

Aura bill, I found a few websites that basically say just what the article you read did, including one on GM’s website. Seriously, I’d read the owner’s manual to find more information on how the feature works. VDCdriver gave you a perfectly acceptable answer, by the way.

Well, what do you know? About 20 seconds of “Googling” resulted in the following information:

‘One reason for such mileage is that the automatic, built in Japan by Aisin, includes a “neutral idle” feature that shifts into neutral when the car is stopped but running, thus eliminating the drag on the engine from the torque converter. The gearbox also includes an “automatic throttle kick-down” feature that activates more immediate downshifting when you open the throttle all the way, such as in passing situations.’

I’m not quite sure how the automatic throttle kick-down on that transmission is unique, but then again, this came from an auto columnist who may not be especially savvy in terms of technical knowledge.
And, since the above information did not come from the manufacturer, my advice remains the same–namely to use your Owner’s Manual for information regarding the functioning of your transmission. If it does not appear to be functioning properly, then you need to take the car to the dealership for warranty service.

My 1964 LeSabre has a similar feature, though I’m not sure they billed it as a fuel-saving feature. It has a little switch that, when you’re sitting stopped with the engine idling in gear, reduces the transmission fluid pressure and stops the car from creeping forward.

My guess is that your car probably doesn’t actually go into neutral gear, but does something else to reduce the effort needed to turn the transmission. Another thought is that the only way such a feature could concievably save any gas would be if in addition to disengaging the transmission, it reduces the idle speed considerably. If this is the case, perhaps when you actually select neutral, it goes back to the “default” idle speed, which could be the clunk you feel.

Sorry for my terse reply to your original response VDCdriver, but what aggrevated me, was how you took it upon yourself to immediately assume, even though you had absolutely no way of knowing, that my car probably doesn’t have this feature, and that I had not yet referred to my owners manual. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me though, because judging by hoffmalr’s post he/she was quite willing to go right along with basing assumptions on guesswork. I do agree, that reading the owner’s manual is an invaluable effort, but just because some people don’t, doesn’t mean that no one does. And finally, thank you GreasyJack, for discussing the matter with me, which was what I was hoping to acomplish at this website, rather than have people start pontificating about the value of reading the owner’s manual.

By the way, according to the window sticker the engine and transmission are built in the United States.

If you did, indeed, read the Owner’s Manual, then I congratulate you since far too few people bother to do so. However, there is a bit of an art to getting a response that you want when posting a question. If you have read the manual, it is a good idea to state something along the lines of, “I checked my Owner’s Manual, but it is silent on this matter”.

Yes, I assumed that you did not read the manual, but since a huge percentage of the questions on this board result from not reading the manual and since you did not tell us that you had read the manual, it is not a quantum leap for someone on this board to assume that you didn’t read it.

As to the issue of whether the transmission is built in Japan or not, this may relate to what I mentioned previously–that many “automotive journalists” do not have sufficient knowledge of what they are being paid to write about. For that matter, I read the other day that your car is built in Belgium. If that was true, then it is unlikely that engines and transmissions would be shipped from the US to Belgium in order to be installed in a car that is then shipped to the US. Thus, whoever wrote that the car is made in Belgium is probably also wrong.

Those issues aside, have you determined if the transmission is working as it should?

Yes the transmission is working as it should.

By the way VDCdriver. I have been you the whole while. I don’t have a Saturn Aura, I drive Ford F-150 pickup truck. AND if you knew what you were talking about, you would have found out that the Saturn Aura does not even have neutral idle, the Saturn Astra does. HA!

Have a good life. Live and be well.