1999 Saturn SL from North America - Comments

2nd May 2008, 20:38

Yup, Same thing here. 1995 SL2. Used zip ties to hold it back together to nurse it home. I'm happy I found this site though. Now I know to look for that part on ebay.

3rd May 2008, 00:45

My son had the same thing happen to his 99 SC. I never thought to try e-bay motors. They have several options to buy the bushing and save about $200 over having to buy the assembly from the Saturn dealership.

Thanks to all that took the time to share your experiences.

22nd May 2008, 12:05

Wow, I almost feel better knowing that I'm not the only one with this problem. Luckily mine broke right after parking the vehicle so I wasn't in any potential danger at the time. I was able to use a few pieces from a roll of duct tape to get it back home and drive around to different auto part outlets. As stated before nobody will have this part unless you check out your local junk yard, always a good choice in my opinion.

2nd Jun 2008, 21:07

This was all very good information, just bought a bushing off of ebay for 19.99!

Mine is a 1996 SL2 with 98,000 miles. Had it towed since it was about 22 miles from the house! Took console off and found the "two" piece bushing. Was going to send my son to Saturn tomorrow, you guys saved him a trip, Thanks! Dickie B.

23rd Jun 2008, 12:48

My son has a 1996 SL1 and I am pretty sure this is the problem. Wish us luck as we try and fix it. We are not particularly mechanical, but this is worth a try. Any advise as we attempt this fix? Thanks!

7th Jul 2008, 09:20

I have a 1999 Saturn SL1. My shifter broke in a Walmart parking lot.

After reading the advice in this topic, I removed the center console and found the plastic bushing broken in two parts.

I ordered a replacement on eBay, but purchased the Improved Saturn Stick Shift Shifter Cable Bushing. Guaranteed for life, and the reviews state it's easy to install with improved shifting.

Thanks for posting this thread. I probably saved $400 at least.

8th Jul 2008, 12:33

Well folks, it's not just the S-Series that has the problem -- the VUE also has a weak spot in the linkage that will cost you +/- $400 to have fixed at the dealer.

A couple of years ago, my wife's SL blew out the bushing and like complete rubes, we threw down the $400 to have it fixed -- mainly because we thought the entire transmission had gone south and was expecting to pretty much total the car and start over -- $400 sounded like a bargain at the time, and I suppose that may be the case for a lot of people when they get the call from the service rep...

Saturn Service Rep: "Hello, Mrs. Smith -- good news! It's not the transmission, just a shifter assembly!"

Mrs. Smith: "Whooo Hooo!!! Put that sucker in!"

Saturn seems more than happy to harvest this cash cow when its manual transmission vehicles reach about 60k miles, and sadly, it's not just the S-Series.

My 2002 VUE 5 speed dropped a bushing last Thursday as I was in the drive thru lane at my bank. Went to pull off and had that nasty "dead stick" feeling as the shifter flopped helplessly in my hand as I went for first. I engaged the handbrake. Jumped out of the car and asked the people behind me in line to clear a path so I could roll back, hopped back in and coasted into a nearby parking spot. After an hour of tearing out the interior of my car, I was able to recover the leftover bits of exploded plastic and wrap a paper clip around the ball of the shifter to secure it to the cable. This gave me 1 thru 4, but no reverse or 5th. Fortunately I had backed into the parking space. I limped it home. By this point it was almost 7pm on July 3rd. I was pretty much dead in the water until parts places opened up after the holiday.

On Saturday, I called Saturn and got the parts department, asked about the bushing and was told I had to get the entire assembly... $198. I said, "No, I just need the bushing -- it's like a $5 piece of plastic." and the parts guy just chuckled a little. "That's not available sir, the entire assembly wears and needs to be replaced as a unit." I said, "Oh, then why didn't anything else in the assembly break or show any wear?" He replies "That's just the way we sell it." In other words, "Why offer a $20 solution when we can tag you for $200?" I also got a sarcastic "Good Luck" when I said I would try to scare a bushing up in a junk yard.

The junk yard option proved fruitless -- they were all closed for the holiday weekend and no one within 100 miles had a manual trans. VUE on the lot when I finally was able to call around on Monday.

I dug around on the Internet, and found the S-Series solution on eBay, and a reference to a similar solution from NAPA, also for the S-Series. My local NAPA had one in stock so I took a shot and snagged it. It doesn't fit the VUE shifter arrangement -- It almost does, if you still have the rubber inserts on the cable ends and the little Teflon cup that fits over the ball, but not quite -- blows apart when you make the move for Reverse, so it's toast. The ball at the end of the VUE shifter is smaller than the S-Series.

In absolute stubbornness not to give Saturn $200 (or 50 gallons of gas), I used a combination of the recovered broken bushing, part of the the S-Series replacement from NAPA, epoxy, JB Weld, and cable ties; I have re-secured the shifter cable and have full use of my VUE. After a one hour local test drive with multiple shifts up and down, I put all the console bits back together and called it a day.

I have the tools and such in the back that I need to fix it if it should decide to let go again, and I guess that's how it will be until Saturn wakes up or someone comes up with a permanent $20 solution for the VUE.

For those that come behind me:

FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE NHTSB -- It is the first step in getting a consumer instigated recall:

http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm

14th Jul 2008, 10:24

If you are looking at this page you should own a Saturn SL series with manual transmission between the year 91 -02, and have a dead or floppy stick shifter. It should feel like there is absolutely no resistance in the shifter and it just flops up and down freely. All the above comments are correct. THE REPAIR IS SIMPLE!!! It took more effort to remove the staple from the directions that came with the part I'm about to list. The part you need is available from NAPA Auto parts, the part number is 620-1411 - Shift Cable Bushing. The part looks pretty cheesy and NAPA must think it's made of gold they charge 19.95. All you have to do to put this part in like me in a Walmart parking lot is a have a phillips head screw driver and a flat head screw driver. Begin by putting both front seats all the way back and reclining the seat all the way back then remove the 2 screws in the rear of the center console, then remove the 2 front side center console panels allowing access to 2 phillips screws. Use your flat head screw driver to remove the cup holder, simply pull up on the center console and remove the connectors for the cup holder lamp and cigar lighter. Then all you have to do is follow the simple directions on the NAPA part. This repair took all of 15 minutes in the parking lot. Good luck!!