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Saturn SW 98, manual shift, shifting difficulty. Low transm fluid or other issue?


I ve got 98 saturn sw2 manual shift , 220K.
Ive had it for 5 years, almost 90K since purchase.
ive never had the transmission fluid changed or flushed.
I am having issues switching gears. Especially into first and second, especially when whethear is cold, or when car is cold and when the car isnt in motion or movement foward or backwards. Once the car has been on road for 15 minutes, the difficulty changing to first or second form Neutral or downshifting is mostly gone.
The stick shift seems well, it s squeaking slightly since last year. I am able to move the shift stick, but when the problem is present the stick refuses to enter the gear, It feels as if there is a mechanic metal part preventing the shift from entering the gear system lock. I have never forced it and defenetly dont when the problem is present.
iv found a short term solution to stick shift into gear position when the car is in movement before coming to a full stop. it seems the problem is present when the car is not moving and in colder weather.
I dont have a dip to check my transmission level under the hood.
And alot of mechanics are giving me the uncertain answer as to whether they can help ???
are they afraid its another problem and dont want to take the transmission apart in case it is not a fluid issue?
ive shared with you all ive shared with them… LOL

So could the problem be other than low fluid or degraded metal floating in the fluid?


The shift cables are prone to failure, but that doesn’t sound like your problem. Have also replaced a few broken shifters on these models. I think before I got too excited about it I would drain the fluid from the trans and refill with the CORRECT fluid and see what happens.

Pete’s advice sounds good. If the wrong oil (90W) has been added cold shifting can be sluggish. The Saturns used either Dexron or a very light oil that I seem to recall branded SYNCROMESH if my memory is holding out.