Did the pressure plate die?

wilmath

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Aug 25, 2022
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Make
Saturn
Model
sl 2
Year
1998
Miles
300,000
Engine
4 cylinder
I have a 1998 Saturn Sl2 with a 5 speed manual transmission. A few weeks ago it suddenly became very difficult
to get it into gear especially when parked. I thought it might be the hydraulic clutch linkage so I filled the resevoir
but the problem continued.

I got a new hydraulic clutch that was a sealed unit so I wouldn't have to worry about bleeding it but the problem
didn't change. I called up the linkage tech guy and he said to bleed it by removing the slave cylinder and pumping
it. I did that but the problem continued.

Now there is no clutch, however, the clutch doesn't slip. I can start the car in first gear and it will buck while it starts and then takes off.
and then change gears while in motion without the clutch.

Could this be the pressure plate or the throwout bearing? I don't hear any grinding noise like a bad bearing.
Thanks
Rick
 

billr

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Have you heard of the "wire test" for checking the travel of the clutch fork on an S-series? I don't like to turn away new folks here, but there is a lot of discussion and pictures of clutch checking at <saturnfans.com> You may want to post there; use the "S-series tech" forum.
 

grcauto

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You need to get the system to pump.
You say...
"I thought it might be the hydraulic clutch linkage so I filled the reservoir but the problem continued."
So was the reservoir empty?
If so, you will need to get the air out and probably need to replace the slave as well.
 

billr

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It is easy to determine if the clutch hydraulics are good/bad on an S-series Saturn. That "wire test" I mentioned is a depth-gauge type measurement to tell how far the fork is travelling. If the travel is incorrect, then you go after the hydraulics. If travel is correct, then you must go into the bell-housing. It is that simple.

I will explain the wire-test in detail here, if anybody (including OP) is interested...
 

wilmath

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Billr, I am interested! I have done quite a few clutch repair jobs but this problem is unusual. The clutch
is not slipping but I can't get the car into gear with the motor running. I don't want to tear apart the clutch
and then find out it is something else.
 

billr

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Yeah, I did some searching and found a lot of mentioning of the wire-test, but no definition!

Slightly to the right of the clutch slave cylinder, toward the rear of the car, is a small hole in the bell-housing casting. I'm guessing a hole in the 1/16" to 1/8" diameter range. Poke a stiff wire into that hole, parallel to the slave bore axis, until the wire stops against the throw-out fork. Mark how far the wire has gone in. Then repeat that measurement as somebody hold the clutch pedal to the floor. The difference between those two "pedal up/down" measurements should be 7/16" minimum, with typical being more like 1/2" to 5/8".

If it becomes necessary, bleeding this system is best done by removing the master/tubing/slave assembly and holding it with the master up in the air and the slave rolled round a bit to get the air bubbles out of the slave and then through that loop in the line. It is not uncommon for new units to require such bleeding because of how they were positioned during storage or shipping.
 

grcauto

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He needs to get it to pump. After it gets working he can check travel but it needs to pump and not have air before you can do that.
 

billr

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It may be pumping, that is what the wire-test easily determines.
 
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