What do you suggest regarding Saturn SW2



We have a 1994 Saturn that we purchased new. It has 105,000 miles on it. This car has been a great little car. Doesn’t use oil. We don’t drive our cars hard. It’s been getting louder. We took it in and the mechanic first diagnosed a water pump problem. It was replaced I saw the water pump and it needed replacement it had quite a bit of wobble in it. The car was still pretty noisy and they checked and a couple of the timing belt tensioners were broken. One they were able to get to easily another lots of work to get to. There is a kit for replacing the timing works (new timing chain, tensioners, whatever) that with the kit price would be about $700.00 including installation.

Twice in the past 6 months the car has popped out of gear as it was driven. Since the clutch of the manual transmission has never been replaced our mechanic said it probably needed a new clutch. Most of it’s driving has been in Bloomington, IN which is a small city. But the mechanic isn’t sure that the clutch will take care of the problem of the car popping out of gear.

Blue book value for the car selling to a private party is about $1795. The exterior of the car looks like it did the day coming out of the showroom. The interior is pretty good looking as well.

We are torn by a couple of ways to go. One is to drive the car until the timing chain goes and then junk the car. The other alternative is to spend the $700 on the timing kit and installation. But not put in a new clutch because the cost of that would be somewhere around $700 to $900 and take the price way over the current blue book value.

The question we just don’t have enough information on is the popping out of gear. Does the frequency of popping out of gear become more frequent fairly quickly or is it a slower more gradual process. This car will probably get driven about 50 miles a week from now on.

If you can provide insight about how the degeneration of car jumping out of gear progresses it would be appreciated.

Any other thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you,



The clutch has nothing to do with the car popping out of gear. That porblem is in the gearbox itself, and to fix it, it will have to be removed and disassemled. Possibly another $400. In that case repace the clutch at this time.
I quess that would be the final sentence on this car.


Popping out of gear is probably a worn detent spring. Its a simple repair that does not require removal or disassembly of the transmission.


The clutch is not the problem. If the transmission is popping out of gear it’s a transmission problem, not a clutch problem.

I suggest you drive the car as long as you can , and spend as little money as you can to keep it running. When something major breaks, junk it.

I don’t understand the “tensioner hard to get to” part. So what if it’s hard to get to? You either replace it or you don’t. If the tensioner is bad you move whatever is in the way and you replace the tensioner. This is what mechanics are paid to do.


It depends on your financial situation. You don’t know which way to go so send the car on its way instead. Try to replace it with a well rated car.


Popping out of gear is an internal tranmsission problem that is more than likely related to a worn shift fork or worn synchronizer hub/sleeve/insert assembly.

On an older car this would mean a rebuild since it would involve a transmission tear down.

Just a note. If you have a habit of driving around with your hand resting on the gear shift lever that could be the cause of it jumping out of gear.
The weight of the hand applies pressure to the gear shift lever which can then force the shift fork to wear against the synchronizer sleeve.

Since most driving is in 3/4/5th gear these are usually the ones jumping out of gear due to the weight of the arm being applied much more than 1 or 2.


Since the gear issue has been well addressed I will suggest that with most cars that timing belt should have been replace along with the water pump. That is because most of the labor of replacing either is the same so now you may end up paying twice for that work. They tend to need replacement at the same time. I don’t know if your car falls into this category.

Based on what you wrote, I suggest that your mechanic has made at least two errors in he did not know what caused the jumping out of gear was caused by and did not recommend changing the belt along with the water pump.


Saturns have a timing chain, not a belt.