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Discussion Starter #1
Is it possible that the clutch could be going already? I realize that having my friend learn to drive a stick on his first new car is a bad idea, but the clutch shouldn't be slipping after 2,000 miles. He's not that bad and his problem when learning was not slipping the clutch enough, so I don't see how its fried already....

So here's the deal. He let me drive the other day, we pull out of a parking lot and he says he wants a show for the rest of our friends back in the lot. I nail it in first while turning, tire smokes (LSD time), no problem. Bounce the limiter twice, bang second... wheels chirp and start to spin... ut oh tach shoots to redline wheels stop spinning and the smell of baked clutch replaces the scent of roasted tires. This is one example, its happened many times before and since.

I've driven LOTS of cars (its my job). I drive fast ones and slow ones. But I've never driven a brand new car (even a beat on one) that had a clutch slipping that soon or like that. I've NEVER hit second gear on any other new car and got nothing but clutch slip. I've also never driven a car with a clutch that's solid, catches low, and holds fine when driving like grandma, but then try to get power to the ground and it gives up. Most dead clutches are dead all the time, not just when shifting hard.

Its like the power and the tire traction is more than the clutch is up to handling. What's the deal? Did he fry it during his 2 weeks of learning (unlikely)? Has anyone else had this problem or do you have an opinions on the stock clutch?
 

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Oh Man!!! 2k on the car and you are bouncing the limiter in first while lighting up the tires?!


I have done some aggresive shifting, but my clutch is just as grippy as when new. Sounds like tehre has been some abuse to the clutch.
 

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Kirtsky said:
Oh Man!!! 2k on the car and you are bouncing the limiter in first while lighting up the tires?!


I have done some aggresive shifting, but my clutch is just as grippy as when new. Sounds like tehre has been some abuse to the clutch.
Yea man, I hammer it alot, it bounces off the limiter once in a while, but never any clutch issues. Is it possible that he glazed the hell outta the clutch plate? Or warped the flywheel pretty bad? It's not a weak tranny or clutch set up by any means.
 

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Kirtsky said:
Oh Man!!! 2k on the car and you are bouncing the limiter in first while lighting up the tires?!


I have done some aggresive shifting, but my clutch is just as grippy as when new. Sounds like tehre has been some abuse to the clutch.
Yeah, imagine someone claiming to have a "sports car" or a "quick car" and actually driving it... Its like the guys with the Vettes, there is not sence to have a decent car if you're not going to use the power that it has.
 

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i can't decide if it's the clutch slipping, or the bad tune, but sometimes i really notice it at the beginning of second gear when getting on it, in that case i actually let up on it. funny thing is it'll rev out but not go anywhere, and we have a hydraullic clutch so even with wear, it should function like new for quite some time.
 

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You said it happened many times before. Yes it is possible on a new clutch to heat it too severely and glaze the flywheel. This reduces the friction capability of the clutch immensely. Repeated occurances of this just adds to the problem exponentially and whadda ya know, a smoked clutch with very little miles on it. If you know what a smoked clutch smells like ane you smelled it, it is time for a trip to the tranny shop. A very expensive lesson to learn, for sure.
 

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Glazed, drive it normally for awhile like 1000 miles... some people pump the clutch going down the road to try to get some bite back in it. I would be cautious about going to a dealer unless theyre real friendly. is this a 04 or 05
 

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Partsspec said:
Glazed, drive it normally for awhile like 1000 miles... some people pump the clutch going down the road to try to get some bite back in it. I would be cautious about going to a dealer unless theyre real friendly. is this a 04 or 05

Agreed.....See what happens when shifting into 3rd doing 30-35mph, then punching it, see if the engine revs up or trys to bog down. If it is reving up, probally clutch. Check your fluid reservoir for your clutch (on the fire wall, Driver side). If it is low, then it is probally clutch wear vs. glazing.

See, the hydraulic clutch is a "closed system", and unless it's leaking, then the reservoir will always read "full" unless the slave cyclinder (part on the tranny/clutch that actually operates the clutch "fork") needs to extend further to take up the wear in the clutch, thus using more fluid.
 

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rip_vw32 said:
Agreed.....See what happens when shifting into 3rd doing 30-35mph, then punching it, see if the engine revs up or trys to bog down. If it is reving up, probally clutch. Check your fluid reservoir for your clutch (on the fire wall, Driver side). If it is low, then it is probally clutch wear vs. glazing.

See, the hydraulic clutch is a "closed system", and unless it's leaking, then the reservoir will always read "full" unless the slave cyclinder (part on the tranny/clutch that actually operates the clutch "fork") needs to extend further to take up the wear in the clutch, thus using more fluid.
Is any of that effected by the fact that our brake fluid is part of the same system? Would the fluid levels go down a bit as the brake pads wear too?
 

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No.....two seperate systems. But same principle. So yes, your master cyclinder would read low (or lower than full) if the pads are wearing down.....

The hydraulic clutch cyclinder is slightly to the left and down of the master cyclinder, as you are looking at the winshield. Looks about the size of a half a can of coke.
 

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rip_vw32 said:
No.....two seperate systems. But same principle. So yes, your master cyclinder would read low (or lower than full) if the pads are wearing down.....

The hydraulic clutch cyclinder is slightly to the left and down of the master cyclinder, as you are looking at the winshield. Looks about the size of a half a can of coke.
But they are connected aren't they? I'm almost positive, I know they have seperate cyls, but they link together.
 

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They cannot, otherwise your clutch would actuate everytime you pressed the brakes or vice versa. On top of the abs would get confused, as it pulses the brakes to keep them from locking up.....
 

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The way I learned to "test" a clutch was put it in your top gear while stopped, and slowly let the clutch out while mildly accelerating. You should be able to hear/feel any clutch "chatter" or slippage or throwout-bearing noise, and the engine won't die as fast becuase the clutch is slipping.

Now, granted I learned this about 37-38 years ago when I first started driving, but things shouldn't have changed that much!
 

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jmichna said:
The way I learned to "test" a clutch was put it in your top gear while stopped, and slowly let the clutch out while mildly accelerating. You should be able to hear/feel any clutch "chatter" or slippage or throwout-bearing noise, and the engine won't die as fast becuase the clutch is slipping.

Now, granted I learned this about 37-38 years ago when I first started driving, but things shouldn't have changed that much!

Exactly the same way I learned, that's why I suggested 3rd at 30mph. We know the car can do it, it'll buck and want to die, but it'll do it. And if it doesn't slow down the engine, bad clutch or glazed fly wheel. However to determine if the clutch is worn on a hydraulic system you only have to look at the reservoir
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the help. He should be coming over today so we'll take a look at the fluid level and try the 3rd gear thing.

i can't decide if it's the clutch slipping, or the bad tune, but sometimes i really notice it at the beginning of second gear when getting on it, in that case i actually let up on it. funny thing is it'll rev out but not go anywhere,
That's exactly what his car does. Probably 1 in 3 times that I've hit second hard, it will slip instead of chirping the tires.

Like I said before, him learning manual on a brand new car was a bad idea. But I still find it hard to believe that the clutch would be baked after only 2 weeks of newbie use.... Also as I said before, I've pounded the snot out of other new FWD cars with similar power (Corolla XRS, Celica GT-S, and the new Maxima to name a few) and those clutches just get grabby, they never slip.
 

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planetSlowCar1 said:
Thanks for the help. He should be coming over today so we'll take a look at the fluid level and try the 3rd gear thing.


That's exactly what his car does. Probably 1 in 3 times that I've hit second hard, it will slip instead of chirping the tires.

Like I said before, him learning manual on a brand new car was a bad idea. But I still find it hard to believe that the clutch would be baked after only 2 weeks of newbie use.... Also as I said before, I've pounded the snot out of other new FWD cars with similar power (Corolla XRS, Celica GT-S, and the new Maxima to name a few) and those clutches just get grabby, they never slip.
If he's driving it right! You're right though, it SHOULD. I leaned stick in a '76 TransAm with an aluminum Muncie 4 spd. One of the stoutest trannys out there, when the engine got swapped, the clutch was almost completely shot, and I had only driven it about 3,000 miles.
 

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Clutch slippage issues

Had a similar experience with my 04 RL going into second gear on a regular basis. I am 48 years old and have owned over 40 cars (many were stick shift!), so it's probably not the driver's fault, despite what you may hear from some folks posting. The clutch on mine would slip then finally engage and there was virtually no mileage on the car (less than 2K miles). It also became progressively harder to push in the clutch pedal to disengage the clutch and had virtually no feel. It felt like a switch (clutch on, clutch off). TAC tried to cure the problem with the tech at the dealer, then sent a Saturn engineer from Tennessee to evaluate my car. He found the fluid had become contaminated due to overheating.

According to the Saturn engineer, it seems in stop and go applications or repeated launches, the fluid will overheat and breakdown losing its ability to force the slave cylinder to disengage and engage properly. I also had braking issues first and after three repairs to them, led to the clutch problems. They attempted one last time to flush the system and refill and bleed both brakes and clutch. While it was a bit better, it still slipped when going to second.

The brake and clutch system are interconnected as they share the same resevior. Burn the fluid in one system and it affects the other. Don't know if this is your problem, but it sure sounds the same as mine. By the way, Saturn's cure (after a long drawn out fight for over twp months and 2K more miles) was to give me a new 05 RL for $1500. Can't say they'll do the same for you, but you need to go to the dealer and at least try to get them to fix it. Wish you the best.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
^That sounds frighteningly (sp?) similar. After a few weeks of not driving it, I got in the other day to pull it into my garage and actually stalled it going downhill :eek: because of the exact on/off clutch, waaay low engage/disengage point, and zero feel that you discribed. It seems to have gotten worse since I drove it last.

A question for you: Was your car a demo or swap car? This car had 155 miles on it when my friend got it, he never asked if it was from demos or a swap. He figured it didn't matter because saturn won't lower the price anyway. I wonder if having people pound on it during demos or even worse on a swap (when no one is looking over your shoulder, I know all about how that works) the car was beat on and the fluid got cooked?

Not to get off topic but... What made you get the RL? I think its really cool when I see older (note the ER ;) ) guys driving sport compacts. In fact at the last pizza shop cruise night (read: old guys car show) some of the mopar guys showed up in SRT-4s which was suprising and also a nice change, espcially considering that they never used to allow compacts at those shows (and actually refused to let me enter my car one time, inspite of the fact that some old fart brought a '60s mustang that was rusted to peices and they let him in, but that's another story... :rolleyes: ).
 

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Clutch crap!

My original 04 RL was a dealer's demo with 551 miles on it at time of purchase. Since it was built on June 23rd, it was probably the car the sales guys took home at night. The front seat was scratched to crap and they replaced that right away. As for why, I was replacing a 2002 Z28 Camaro with a car that was fast, but got good gas mileage. I saw the RL at the Miami Car Show and fell in love with its great looks, ability to actually use the back seat and overall roominess. The speed was the clincher, as the SRT4 looks like a little bump to me, though, a fast little bump.

Hope you get your clutch issues dealt with soon.
 
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