1998 Other Saturn Models Saturn 5-speed shifter problem

Tiny
STEVE F
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 SATURN
1998 Other Saturn Models 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Manual 123 K miles

I own a '98 SC1 with the 5 speed: Since I bought the car at about 90K miles the shifting has been difficult; the prior owner said it had had the problem for awhile. By shifting slowly & gently I managed to do fine at mostly highway driving though it was still balky at times, most always 1st to 2nd. Now, at about 123K miles, the shift from 1st to 2nd has gotten "balkier", more difficult and finally, the right shifter cable & housing, under the center console and just ahead of the shifter, began bending so as to not allow the inner rod/wire to move. Specifically: when I pull the shifter knob BACK [ into 2nd & 4th gears], which causes the cables to go forward, the right cable housing flexes to the side, and the inner cable/wire will not move. If I reach with my left hand to pull the cable housing straight, the shift will go through normally. I've had my mechanic replace the original Saturn cables now twice with NAPA after-market cables. The problem persists regardless changing the cables twice.
The clutch does slip some but only with HARD acceleration. And, with a light foot, I continue to get ~40mpg on the open road [slightly bettter than EPA guideline] and, I can climb very steep hills with no apparent slippage: no rising RPMs while at steady or dropping MPH.
I was told by Saturn dealership it was a clutch problem yet, the mechanic couldn't explain why the clutch would have anything to do with this shifting difficulty.
I believe that the clutch goes all the way out when I use it; I've had no fluid leakage from master/slave cylinder; I have the problem with ALL 5 gears but, it's much worse with 1st going into 2nd.
I'm reluctant to have the dealership do this expensive work without my understanding what's going on. Can you help me understand what's happening?

Thanks,

SteveF
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Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 AT 5:31 PM

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Tiny
MBARITZ
  • MEMBER
Steve, Did you ever resolve this? I'm looking at buying a 97 SC1 with 88000 miles for my son and the car has the same balkiness in 1st and 2nd (more on the downshift for 2nd) If you double clutch or sometimes fiddle with the shifter, it will go into 1st. I don't want to buy this can and then need a major repair. Any help is appreciated

Thanks,

Marc B
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Friday, September 25th, 2009 AT 9:08 PM

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