Having transmission problems with my 2004 Saturn.

Tiny
BOWERS_SHEILA@HOTMAIL.COM
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 SATURN L300
  • 65,000 MILES
Having transmission problems with my 2004 Saturn L300 4 cyn Front Wheel Drive Automatic.
Looking for advice, and information on how best to correct:
Problem:
Under hard acceleration such as trying to get up to speed quickly when, entering highway, during passing or climbing steep grades, the transmission will not shift properly. What normally happens is that the RPM's go up but the car does not go any faster as if the transmission is slipping. It helps somewhat to try to shift it manually by letting your foot off the gas, but not always. Some days seem like the problem is resolving itself, then others it appears worse. Been experiencing for a couple of months. At last oil change, they suggested that I try to have my fuel injection serviced and if that didn't work, then try transmission flush tune up and maybe change my spark plugs. Idid and it seemed to help somewhat, but I don't think that was what the major problem was. Going to take it back in, but wanted to see what I could find out on my own, so that my attempt at fixing the problem will be the most accurate.
ANY help or suggestions would be most appreciated! As most everybody else, I don't really have extra cash to throw out there for unsuccessful repairs! THANKS!
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Monday, April 1st, 2013 AT 3:25 PM

11 Replies

Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
It sounds like the trans is slipping. I suggest a trans shop to road test it and do there pressure tests to confirm a possible issue

Roy
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Monday, April 1st, 2013 AT 3:54 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Before you go that route if you have to let up on the gas for it to shift to the next gear?Does it have a lack of power?Clogged cats or starting to clog can cause shifting issues on those cars.
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Monday, April 1st, 2013 AT 7:20 PM
Tiny
BOWERS_SHEILA@HOTMAIL.COM
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the replies ASEMaster 6371 and saturntech9.
In answer to your post saturntech 9, If I need to get up to speed quickly, ie. Getting on the beltway, etc. It's like my car is in slow motion. The rpms are way up there, but it's not getting up and going. I have tried letting off the gas to get it to shift and that doesn't always help. It is sort of an off and on thing. Some days it seems to be acting fine and then the next day it has issues. On highway driving, it does seem to act up when accelerating past 70, so for example when I was trying to switch lanes to get over the my exit, I needed to speed up a little to get over, but it just wouldn't go any faster and as I accelerated the rpms went way up with again no increase in speed. The car next to me probably thought I wanted to race them! LOL.

At my last oil change, they suggested that I do the fuel injection service first, and then go on the the transmission or spark plugs. The cleaning and additives did seem to help at first but did not resolve the off and on problem. (Also I thought that usually spark plugs lasted a little longer, since I only have 65000 miles). I took it in to a transmission place for diagnostics today and am waiting for their findings. It was crazy too because the drive over to drop it off, my car seemed to be getting the job done entering and exiting from the highway. Just like when you finally drag yourself into see the doctor, and while your sitting their in the examination room, you suddenly feel much better! Also haven't seen any yellow wrenches or other warning lights come on or anything, just poor performance.

Question regarding, transmission fluids, is Dex. III the one that I want? Also, is the transmission service on Saturns straight forward, or are their other differentials? When I get the service done, I want to get it done right, so any helpful advice of what I need to ask for, would be great. I always feel so vulnerable getting my car worked on so I like to get an idea what the standard operating procedure is for whatever I'm going in for and the right questions to ask to at least appear that I have some basic knowledge of the subject. I don't mind paying for service if it is something that my car truly needs. This Saturn has been good to me! Thanks!
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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 AT 5:48 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The fluid gets changed every 50, 00 miles it's dex 3 its pretty basic changing the fluid drop the pan clean it out change the filter etc. Also look for excessive debris metal etc. Make sure you get the hard pan gasket not the kind that folds up.
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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 AT 8:11 PM
Tiny
BOWERS_SHEILA@HOTMAIL.COM
  • MEMBER
I took it into the transmission shop and they test drove it and ran diagnostics, etc. And came up with a code that indicated too rich fuel. (Possible cause. Oxygen sensor? Not 100% sure, but would require more investigation.) During the test drive they noted the sluggish acceleration but feel it is an engine problem as opposed to a transmission one. It is possible that whatever is causing the fuel issues, could have compromised the spark plugs, so they suggested that I take it to my mechanic for a good tune up to see if that would improve my engine's sluggish performance and then I could probably use a transmission flush later on along with replacement of the trans. Hoses which are showing some wear and could be a problem waiting to happen. They were very honest and straightforward and didn't even charge me anything for the diagnostics, and exam. I'll definitely return to them for the transmission flush after I get the fuel issue resolved. Thanks for the information on the Dex, hard pan gasket, etc! I'll keep ya posted.
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 AT 1:32 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
What ever you do don't flush it just replace the fluid and filter. What was the code number you had?That would really help me help you.
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 AT 4:49 AM
Tiny
BOWERS_SHEILA@HOTMAIL.COM
  • MEMBER
The code was code p0172. Thanks!
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 AT 5:18 PM
Tiny
BOWERS_SHEILA@HOTMAIL.COM
  • MEMBER
Saturntech9,

You were absolutely right! Your original call was correct, the cat was clogged, They put a new cat. Converter in and changed the oxygen sensor as well. When I asked about the spark plugs, they said that they should be good until about 100,000.00 miles. My husband is picking the car up today. I can't wait to test drive it and see how it runs now.
Assuming that after the repairs my saturn's performance is improved and the problem is fixed (hope I'm not counting my chicks before they are hatched. Lol) when would you recommend having the transmission fluid changed with new filter. It seems that Saturn discouraged messing with that until absolutely necessary. At the same time, if it would be of benefit in keeping my "06" feeling like a "10" than I would go ahead with that, while the situation is fresh in my mind. I would like to come up with a recommended service guideline beyond the regular oil changes that I can put in my calender, because I am a strong believer in preventative maintenance, but sometimes get sidelined by "never actually getting around to it", so if I write it down, it will get done.

Thanks again for all your guidance and helpful information!
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 AT 8:09 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The fluid and filter gets changed every 50,000 miles so if it hasn't been done its due right now. Also which o2 sensor was replaced?There are four two upstream and two down stream. Also for a code P0174 I wouldn't be replacing a o2 sensor. When they go bad they set a code for the sensor that is failing then you do the diagnosis on it. For that code I would check the fuel pressure also while its idling lightly tap on the mass air flow sensor with a screw driver handle. If it stumbles or dies bad mass air flow sensor. You could also try cleaning the mass air flow sensor with some mass air flow cleaner. The mass air flow sensors on those cars have a high failure rate.I have replaced a lot of them. Also the spark plugs are good for a 100,000 miles. With a 100,000 miles you also need the coolant replaced timing belt replaced and fuel filter replaced.
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Thursday, April 4th, 2013 AT 2:43 AM
Tiny
BOWERS_SHEILA@HOTMAIL.COM
  • MEMBER
Believe it was one of the upstream. Car was taken out for test drive and problems I described were confirmed. Removed 02 sensor (the one right before the cat. Conv.) And test drove it (car drove much better), that's how they deducted the cat. Problem and replaced it. Did scan tests/diag on sensors and determined which one was faulty and replaced it. Car is running great and problem appears to be resolved.

Should I still check the fuel pressure by doing the mass air flow sensor test you described or just go with it for now. Thanks!
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Thursday, April 4th, 2013 AT 9:52 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Let's see if the code comes back first did they clear the codes?Also the correct way to check for a plugged cat is with a back pressure gauge and measure the pressure in the exhaust.
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Thursday, April 4th, 2013 AT 2:19 PM

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