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Saturn SL Series I have a saturn sl 2002 manual transmission.

Resolved Question:

I have a saturn sl 2002 manual transmission. We had a snow storm last week and I noticed yellow fluid under my car two days in a row. Then I started having trouble shifting the gears. Sometimes the car shifts just fine, other times I have to force it into gear. 1st gear and 4th gear seem to be the worst.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Saturn
Expert:  MPMoore replied 5 years ago.

Does your clutch pedal feel different?


When you put the car in first gear when the car is not moving, do the gears make a grinding noise or is it just hard to get in to gear?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The clutch doesn't feel different. There is no grinding noise, just hard to get into gear.
Expert:  MPMoore replied 5 years ago.

There can be 2 issues, you are leaking clutch fluid or trans fluid. You need to do a few fluid level checks. First check the clutch fluid level. The clutch fluid reservoir is next to the brake fluid reservoir. Make sure the fluid is full. There should be a fill level line on the reservoir.




Checking Hydraulic Clutch Fluid Level

To check the fluid, remove the cap and diaphragm. The fluid level of the hydraulic clutch system should be within 1.22-1.34 in (21-34 mm) of the top of the reservoir. Fluid should be added if the fluid level is below this specification.

Replace the diaphragm and cap.

What to Use:

Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: B3







Hydraulic Clutch

The hydraulic clutch system is filled with DOT 3 hydraulic brake fluid (Saturn P/N 21013073) and self-adjusts to compensate for clutch wear.

It is not necessary to regularly check clutch fluid unless you suspect there is a leak in the system. A fluid loss in the system could indicate an external leak. Adding fluid to "top off" your hydraulic clutch system won't help if there is an external leak. Have the system inspected and repaired at your Saturn retail service facility




If this fluid level is normal, then the transmission fluid level needs to be checked.



Manual Transaxle Fluid

When to Check:

A good time to have the manual transaxle fluid checked is when the engine oil is changed. A transaxle leak is the only reason for fluid loss. If a leak occurs, take the vehicle to your retailer's service department and have it repaired as soon as possible. The manual transaxle fluid does not require changing.

How to Check:

Because this operation by be difficult, you may choose to have this done at a Saturn retail service facility. If you do it yourself, be sure to follow all the instructions here, or you could get a false reading on the dipstick.

Check the fluid level only when the engine is off and the vehicle is parked on a level surface. Allow sufficient time for the transaxle case to cool.

Then, follow these steps:

Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: B3







  1. The manual transaxle dipstick is designated with a red handle and is located below the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) and battery assembly.
  2. Clean and brush the area surrounding the dipstick handle to prevent debris or contamination from entering the transaxle. Next, flip the handle up, pull out the dipstick and wipe it with a clean rag or paper towel.
  3. Push it back in all the way and remove it.
  4. Check the fluid level on the dipstick. It must be in the cross-hatched area on the dipstick. Note: Fluid may appear at the bottom of the dipstick even when the fluid level is several pints low.
  5. If the fluid level is in the cross-hatched area, push the dipstick back in all the way. Then, flip the handle down to lock the dipstick in place. If the fluid level is low, add more fluid as described in the stops that follow.

How to Add Fluid:


Only use Saturn transaxle fluid (P/N 21005856). DEXRON®-III may be substituted if Saturn transaxle fluid is not available.

  1. Remove the dipstick by pulling the dipstick out.
  2. Using a long neck funnel, add fluid at the dipstick hole.

    Add only enough fluid to bring the fluid level up into the middle of the cross-hatched area on the dipstick.

  3. Push the dipstick back on all the way.

What to Use:


Add only enough Saturn transaxle fluid (P/N 21005856) to bring the fluid level up into the middle of the cross-hatched area on the dipstick. DEXRON®-III may be substituted if Saturn transaxle fluid is not available. It doesn't take much, usually less than a pint. Do not overfill the transaxle.

Manual Transaxle Fluid Replacement


No maintenance is required for the transaxle fluid. However, it you are servicing your transaxle, follow the procedure below for changing the transaxle fluid:



Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: B3





Note: An automatic transaxle is depicted in this photograph. The manual transaxle plug location is similar to that of the Automatic transaxle.

  1. Place a suitable container, large enough to hold 2.6 US Qt. (2.5 L), under the drain plug and remove the drain plug.
  2. Allow the old fluid to completely drain from the transaxle and then reinstall the drain plug.

    Tighten the drain plug to 30 N·m (22 lb ft).

  3. Remove the dipstick, and using a long neck funnel, refill the transaxle with Saturn transaxle fluid (P/N 21005856). DEXRON®-III may be substituted if Saturn transaxle fluid is not available.
  4. Check the fluid level to make sure it is in the middle of the cross-hatched area on the dipstick.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
When taking the car in for repair what should I ask the repair shop to check/do? I am in a new area and I don't have a place I can trust yet. So, I want to be sure to be asking for the right thing. Thanks!
Expert:  MPMoore replied 5 years ago.
Ask them to check for a leak, tell them what you are having trouble with. After they look over the car and if or when they find whats leaking, ask them to show you the leak and then ask them what will the leak cause and why its leaking. If something does not sound right, then you can take it out of that shop. You should be able to get a free inspection since they are looking for a leak not having to do any diagnosis such as a computer check. If you are not sure where to take it, do not just look in the phone book, get there address and look at the shop from the street. If it looks like a hole in the wall, go somewhere else. You really can not judge a book by its cover, but all good shops are clean, but not all clean shops are good. You can find a nice shop near by, then check with the better business bural. They may also have a list of shops that are part of the BBB, these shops take good care of you and do not want to loose the BBB status.
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