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Transmission Problem

I was driving home, and stopped for a red light. When the light turned green, I started in 1st gear, but when I tried to shift into 2nd gear, I heard a popping and the gear shift moved freely between 1st & 2nd gear locations, and I couldn’t shift at all. The car was still in 1st gear, so I was able to limp the 1/2 mile home and park it on the street, but I can’t shift it out of 1st gear. Although it is a 12 year old car, it only has 46,000 miles on it, so I am shocked to have transmission problems now. Last week, I had an oil change, and the mechanic told me to consider getting a transmission fluid flush at my next oil change (recommended service for 50K miles) and showed me slightly dirty transmission fluid. Could he have caused a leak or something that could have caused this?

Manual Trans . . . Showed You The Dirty Fluid ? ? ? Fluid Flush ? ? ? ?
What Model-Year Is This Saturn ? I Think There’s A Chance You Just Have A broken Shift Cable / Shift Linkage, Rather Than A Transmission Problem.

Model-Year ?


It is a 1999 Saturn SC2, 5 speed manual transmission.

He didn’t do a fluid flush, but showed me the dirty fluid. Recommended fluid flush “soon”, but not immediately.

Based on your description we have to assume that this is a manual transmission. In that case, there is no “flushing” that goes on. Presumably it means a drain and refill which is not a bad idea - but you can just check your owners manual which will tell you what you ought to do with it.

As for the problem, it sounds to me like you just lost a piece of your shift linkage. This should not be any big deal.

Good news!!! Thank you, cigroller and common sense answer!

Cigroller, How Do You Suppose The (Quick Lube ?) Guy Showed Some Dirty Manual Trans Fluid ?


Classic quick lube trickery - not even his/her fluid? Or I suppose if they were being ambitious they could pull a fill plug & get a sample - ?

Trinket, How Car Savvy Are You ? Have A Friend Sit Inside The Car With The Hood Open And Engine Off. While The Friend Shifts Gears, Look On The Driver’s Side Of The Engine Compartment For Something Moving.

See If Something is moving or not and see if it’s connected to anything and if not see where it was connected.


OK, obviously I know next to nothing about cars. Almost fell for a classic “quick lube” scam. I’ll know better next time. But you guys have helped me tremendously today, and I thank you for that. A friend recommended a good local mechanic, and armed with the information you told me, I called him. I told him only what I originally posted here, and he gave me the same response - shift linkage. Cost to repair about $240 including parts and labor. Thanks guys!

I really like this answer. I should have done this before towing the car to the mechanic. Oh, well, I’m just really, really glad it’s not the transmission!!!

If I remember correctly, the shift mechanism on your car is not “linkage” (rods and levers) but 2 cables. I also seem to recall seeing issues with cables/shifter at the console inside the car. If looking around under the hood doesn’t get you anywhere, start opening up the console around the shifter. I’ll bet you find a broken or disconnected cable in there.

You’re Entirely Welcome. I Hope Everybody Is Correct.