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artssvc, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 224
Experience:  I am an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician and shop owner with over 30 years experience.
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Saab 9-3: 2000 Saab 9-3. 129k mi. Clutch feels ok but

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2000 Saab 9-3. 129k mi.

Clutch feels ok but I cannot easily get it into reverse and first gear goes in rough. Feels kind of forced esp into first and between all gears. Happened once a month ago when someone else drove my car - Could not move gearshift. Was ok after that for four weeks until yesterday where I spent 2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic and seemed to kill whatever was left of my clutch (I assume). The clutch pedal is still smooth. Just the stick shift is rough to get into and between gears. Especially hard to get into reverse. Usually turns off car to put in reverse.

**Is this my clutch or another problem?

Odd fact - manual transmission (not clutch) replaced in 2006 at 60kmi or so. been drivign it every day for 10 years.

Aside from clutch problem, any advice on what I should have tested to see if this car can make it to 200K before I dump too much $ into it? Plan to keep it. Just replaced radiator. Needs rims and tires.
It think your problem is in the hydraulic clutch system. The system is made up of the clutch master cylinder and the slave cylinder. By pushing the clutch pedal the master cylinder applies hydraulic pressure to the clutch slave cylinder which in turn moves the clutch fork to release the clutch disc allowing you to shift. If there is a leak internally or externally anywhere in the system you will not build enough hydraulic pressure to fully disengage the clutch. Next time you have this issue try pumping the clutch pedal a few times before you try to shift. If it now shifts easier you certainly have a problem in the hydraulic system.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Pumping seemed to help a bit but the shift was still not smooth. Reverse is still a problem pumping of not - won't to in.

How much does it cost to fix this and what am I buying/fixing exactly?

Can this damage the transmission before it is fixed ?

Can it suddenly just not shift at all?

Does the hydraulic leak symptom make sense in it ecoming a problem after someone else drove my cAr and also from a two hour bumper to bumper?

Any other possibilities?
The clutch slave cylinder is inside the trans axle and would not be a DIY job. The master is external and fed fluid by the brake master cylinder reservoir. Check your fluid level in the brake master and look under the car where the engine and trans come together to look for drips of brake fluid thatwould indicate a leaking slave cylinder. If the leak becomes great enough it will make it impossible to shift with the engine running. Stop and go driving should really not have caused any undo stress on the system for a short period.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Does a leak mean a replacement is needed and if so how expensive is that?


If no leak, or small leak, could a transmission fluid flush and fill help the rough shifting problem?





If the slave cylinder is leaking, there is no way around replacing it. I would start by making sure you have an accurate diagnosis ot the clutch hydraulic problem before you jump into servicing the trans fluid. The trans will need to come out of the car if the slave cylinder is leaking and the fluid can get changed then. If you dont have any external leaks or drips, it is possible for the clutch master cylinder to be leaking internally. When this happens, the fluid just bypasses the seals in the master and doesnt apply enough pressure to fully disengage the cluth. If this is the case you will not see any external leaks and the fluid level will not drop.The clutch slave job is roughly 6 hours of labor and a $175 part. The master would be about 1 1/2 hrs labor and a $100 part.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
, Everything is fine again. Shifting is smooth. Any idea why/how this can happen intermittently like this. Again, the only three days the problem happened was after someone else drive the car and then the two hours of bumper to bumper traffic. Why would the shifting be very difficult following those days but fine the rest of the time?

Took it to Saab dealer and they said everything looks fine. But it was very bad for a few days. Any idea why?
Certainly unusual to have the problem "fix" itself. I guess it's possible that you may have the beginnings of a weak clutch or master that was overstressed by the extreme use for short term. If everything is working good I see no reason to spend money chasing the unknown. Keep on driving it and good luck.