Saturn - clutch situation

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by woj product, Sep 17, 2003.

  1. woj product

    woj product Guest

    1997 SL2, 5-speed manual - dark blue w/ gray cloth interior, 88,000

    It was purchased from the dealer as a used car w/ 990 miles on it, and
    I got an extended warranty because of that. It went out of warranty a
    while ago, but I still take it to the dealer for maintenance out of
    habit to avoid hassle, to keep the records all in one place, and the
    mechanics have been there since forever (the "new guy" has been there
    4 years).

    I’ve had it paid off for about 2 years now, and the majority of the
    money that has gone into it since then has been routine wear and tear
    - muffler, tires, battery, brakes, oil changes, things like that.
    About the only two things that were "above & beyond" routine were
    having the inside of the doors repainted about two years ago (they
    were starting to get surface rust on them) and recently had to get the
    fuel pump replaced. There was a service bulletin for the fuel pump,
    so that was not as bad financially as it could have been.

    The car still looks good, nice and glossy, not too many shopping cart
    scars. I put better speakers in it, but kept the stock head unit
    (paranoid mindset left over from my days in Milwaukee, where I spent
    almost as much on VW Rabbit auto glass as I did on beer). I’ve never
    smoked in it, and I put heavy rubber winter floor mats in it to keep
    the interior looking ok - I get it washed every now and then, that
    sort of thing. It’s not beat on, but it’s not babied either.

    It runs well, and always has. Some things are annoying - noisy door
    panels, the windows sometimes creak as they are lowered less than all
    the way down, but for the most part it is a nice car. Nothing fancy,
    by any means, but trustworthy.

    The miles that are on it are mostly highway miles, my folks live 300
    miles away, and I make that trip 4 or 5 times a year since I’ve had
    it. I’m in a metro area, so I do my share of "creep and beep" driving
    as well.

    Well, it’s decision time for me. I recently had it in for it’s 90,000
    service, and they mentioned the quill bearing is showing signs of
    leaking. Right now there is no noticeable change in how the car
    feels. They said it’s a matter of time before the clutch becomes
    "contaminated" and will slowly but surely fail. They did not give a
    time estimate, but said it would be about $1700, because the tranny
    needs to come out. So now I’m thinking either,

    A: the car is giving me the courtesy of letting me know way beforehand
    so I can save the money, get the clutch done when it eventually fails
    and benefit from all the maintenance I’ve given it so far - drive it
    trouble free for another 50,000 miles or more after it gets the new
    clutch, or

    B: this is the start of everything else falling apart, and my lovely
    car becoming a hated money pit and the first event marking my eventual
    financial demise. Right during the holidays, just to rub it in.

    I really don’t want to take on payments. Trade in blue book on it is
    about $2800, but there are really no other new cars out there I’m
    dying for. The only one I can think of would be a 2002 L300, maybe.
    I know the interest rate situation is different now than when I first
    bought it in 1997 - but still...payments.

    So my three questions are - #1. ballpark - how much time do I have
    until the clutch goes? #2. Does $1700 seem way too high for a new
    clutch? #3. What would you all do in my situation?

    Opinions, speculation, scorn and good natured ribbing are welcomed and
    woj product, Sep 17, 2003
  2. woj product

    Ratbert Guest

    I can't help you with #1 or #2, but here's another way you can look at
    #3. After how many "new car" payments would you be able to pay for the
    new clutch? 5 or 6 maybe? What would it do to your insurance premiums?
    I know what I'd do. You might also check with a shop that specializes
    in clutches.

    You could just learn to shift without the clutch. :) Try it sometime.
    It's kind of fun.
    Ratbert, Sep 17, 2003
  3. It's not the clutch you are paying for, my dealer quoted me about 600 to
    replace a clutch on a 98 SL2. It's the quill bearing replacement.
    Strangely I had to have that replaced at the 60,000 mile mark, under
    extended 75,000 warranty luckily especially now that I see what they want
    for it. I think it was going a few thousand before that though. They have
    to I believe open up the transmission itself to get in there and fix it. I
    remember specifically on my situation they replaced the clutch only because
    the bearing problem had caused fluid to leak all over the clutch pad and
    basically ruin it. You will know when it's getting bad as far as the
    bearing because you'll let off the gas in gear and get a nasty noise around
    2500 rpm's. I traded the car recently at 120,000 though and it was still
    running fine so if you're happy with the car and not wanting to do payments
    again, I'd say get it fixed and move on.

    Charles Paluda, Sep 17, 2003
  4. the quill bearing and the throwout bearing different? $1,700 sounded
    steep for a clutch job.
    Jonnie Santos, Sep 17, 2003
  5. woj product

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    Make SURE that you get the correct flywheel machining (or replacement) when
    you get the new clutch disk.

    Saturn has a TSB out about it - they changed the clutch disk for the manual
    SL series cars. That clutch disk change requires the machining of a chamfer
    in the flywheel (or a next-generation flywheel).

    If you don't get the flywheel fixed when you get the New Saturn clutch, it
    (according to their documentation) won't last nearly as long.

    I suspect most third party garages won't know this...
    Kirk Kohnen, Sep 18, 2003
  6. woj product

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Saturn has a TSB out about it - they changed the clutch disk for the manual
    Nor will most 3rd party garages need to since they will get a flywheel from an
    aftermarket supplier that is of the old style..........
    BANDIT2941, Sep 18, 2003
  7. woj product

    Kirk Kohnen Guest


    The problem happens when you use the old flywheel with the new clutch.

    Now, if the 3rd party garages get the OLD clutch, then there is no problem.

    I just wanted folks to be aware that Saturn has a design change (and a TSB)
    that could bite them if they aren't careful.
    Kirk Kohnen, Sep 18, 2003
  8. woj product

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Whups! Replace "flywheel" with "clutch" on my post.......I was thinking clutch
    and typed flywheel..........oh well...............
    BANDIT2941, Sep 18, 2003
  9. how does this apply with one of the aluminum aftermarket flywheels?
    Jonnie Santos, Sep 18, 2003
  10. woj product

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    Warning: Wild Ass Guess Ahead!!!!!

    Jonnie, I would think that if you're using a 2nd generation SATURN clutch,
    then the aluminium aftermarket flywheel would have to be cut similarly.

    However, if you're using an aftermarket clutch with the aftermarket
    flywheel, then you just have to make sure that the manufacturer(s) agree
    that they can be used together.

    And, I'd suspect that if someone spends the time & money getting an
    aftermarket flywheel, they'll also spring for an aftermarket clutch...
    Kirk Kohnen, Sep 19, 2003
  11. Thanks Kirk - saw an aftermarket flywheel/clutch from Twistec earlier
    tonight. I'm not sure how much clutch I have left (no slipping yet), but
    the pedal really has to go to the floor before changing gears. I've got
    almost 83k on my 97SL2.
    Jonnie Santos, Sep 19, 2003
  12. woj product

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Thanks Kirk - saw an aftermarket flywheel/clutch from Twistec earlier
    That doesn't necessarily mean its getting worn out as it is hydraulically
    adjusted. I changed my clutch disk when I did the engine at 157k (basically
    just did the clutch as preventative maintenance while everything was apart) and
    the old disc still had a surprising amount of thickness.....
    BANDIT2941, Sep 19, 2003
  13. woj product

    Lane Guest

    but the pedal really has to go to the floor before changing gears.

    For me, this was an indicator of the clutch master/slave cylinder going out.

    Lane [ l a n e @ p a i r . c o m ]
    Lane, Sep 19, 2003
  14. ....good to hear - thanks!

    Jonnie Santos, Sep 20, 2003
  15. ....I was wondering about that after reading posts about pedal travel -
    thanks Lane.

    Jonnie Santos, Sep 20, 2003
  16. Likewise for me. Got the master cylinder replaced at the Saturn dealer,
    and problem was fixed.

    Mephistopheles Jones, Sep 23, 2003
  17. Sounds like I'll get them to look at it the next time I'm in...
    Jonnie Santos, Sep 23, 2003
  18. Anybody know exactly how long it's supposed to last if you don't get the
    flywheel machined when you use a 2nd-gen clutch disk? I heard about 40K
    miles from a Saturn tech and was wondering if that was really correct
    (since he didn't seem to know much about the TSB and had to go look it

    Brian or Sharon Beuchaw, Oct 16, 2003
  19. woj product

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    The TSB doesn't say HOW much shorter the clutch will last. I suspect the
    message with the TSB is "Hey folks, do it right," rather than "This is how
    bad it will be if you don't do it right."
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 16, 2003
  20. woj product

    Lane Guest

    Lane, Oct 16, 2003
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