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How to Get to Safety after your S series Shifter Bushing Breaks + Repair Options

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How to Get to Safety after your S series Shifter Bushing Breaks + Repair Options

  #1  
Old 06-05-2015, 12:20 PM
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Exclamation How to Get to Safety after your S series Shifter Bushing Breaks + Repair Options

My 95 SC2 shifter bushing final gave out at 234K miles.
I've been waiting since 180K when it went out on my 97 SC2.

Tools to keep in the car at all times:
#2 Phillips Head Screwdriver
Small to medium Flathead Screwdriver (makes life easier)
Small zipties (6)
Your wits about you
_______________

Shifter Bushing Breaks



You've just shifted into whatever gear--STAY CALM AND THINK.

1) Get to a shoulder either by

a)depressing and holding the clutch to coast in neutral
OR
b)taking advantage of whatever gear you're stuck in and feathering the clutch to keep forward momentum if needed to get to safety.

If you're in 3rd 4th or 5th you may burn some clutch doing this, but so be it.

2) Remove the Center Console

a) Empty all your crap out of the center console
b) Using a Flathead screwdriver, pop off the rectangular cover at the back in the cup holder area to expose two Phillips screws
c) Using a flathead screwdriver, gently pry up under the lip of the window/remote mirror switch as needed to release it from the console.
d) Remove the electrical connectors from the switch, being careful not to damage the retaining clips. Remove the switch and set aside
e) Pull up on the front cup holder. DO NOT PULL ON IT -- there is a bulb assembly in the middle on the back. Twist the black portion closest to the to the cupholder counterclockwise to release the assembly w bulb intact. Set the cupholder aside.
f) Unscrew the Phillips Head screws located at the back cupholder and on the left and right sides of the front edge of the center console .
g) Begin to gently remove the console up and away from the floor but DO NOT PULL ON IT -- the lighter is still attached. Remove the electrical connector and the light bulb assembly (as described above). NOW the center console should be free to remove. If I remember correctly, the shifter and its boot are mounted to the shifter assembly, not the console, so the shifter should not prevent you from removing your console.
h) Locate the RIGHT cable end; it will be a plastic loop attached to nothing.
i) Located the ball on the bottom of the shifter. It will likely have remnants of the black plastic broken bushing behind the ball. Remove them.
_______
How to Manually Put Your Car Into 2nd Gear

Now you get to see/learn how shifting a manual tranny works. This is the part that gets you off the shoulder and on your way to somewhere populated and hopefully safer.

a) With all remaining remnants of the old shifter bushing removed, take the loop of the RIGHT shifter cable and fully seat it and HOLD IT over the shifter ball. YOU CAN NOW SHIFT GEARS. WHILE HOLDING THE CABLE LOOP OVER THE SHIFTER BALL with one hand, work the shifter through the gears with the other hand as you would normally do to determine what the correct position is for each gear. The left cable will move as necessary when you change gears. Once you are in 2nd gear, let go of the cable and shifter; the tranny is in gear and you're not changing it.

Many posts exist indicating that you may zip tie the cable end to the shifter. This is true. However, if you cannot open the driver's door to work on this from the side, it is difficult to do from the driver's seat because you can't really see what you're trying to do. This was the case for me. Plus if you are not in a nice area or out in the middle of nowhere, it's faster to put it in gear and go.......

b) Make sure your hazard lights are on and DRIVE AWAY in 2nd gear, remembering that the only way to put and keep it in neutral is to hold the clutch pedal down -- otherwise you're in 2nd and will stall at traffic lights or in heavy traffic.

c) Once you are at a safe location you can try zipties to hold the shift cable end to the shifter, call for a tow, decide to drive home in 2nd gear, etc. Do not have a beer -- you are still likely to be driving.
____________
Repair

Proper Repair: New set of shift cables from GM with redesigned bushing.
Proper Substitute Repair: Obtain used shifter cables from the lowest mileage S Series car you can find.
Unacceptable: DO NOT BUY DORMAN SHIFT CABLES for this car. They are the wrong length and are worse than a used set of OEM cables.

Additional Repair Options/At your Own Risk:
ebay: saturnbushingman sells multiple solutions for this repair.
Various bushing-only options are out there. See below as to why I do NOT recommend these.

You will probably notice that the shift cable end is on an angle. This is indicative of the cable stretching. I believe it is this constant pressure on the bushing from the partially rotated cable end that eventually breaks the bushing.

Therefore, replacing just the bushing will likely not last long as the stress on the new bushing will be the same as on the old bushing.

Some of the bushing-only solutions are now made of stronger plastic; I do not know if they can do the job. Only time and testing will tell.

So with just a few tools and keeping calm, you can get yourself to safety and then decide your next move.
 

Last edited by derf; 06-25-2015 at 12:57 AM.
  #2  
Old 06-05-2015, 04:04 PM
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Hey Derf, excellent article on a very common problem. You are correct in every aspect. I did use the Dorman bushing to get me by until the shifter cables arrived. Factory OEM cables, not the aftermarket one's. That was about 130,000 miles ago, lol! Shifter cables still in the box. I did use a generous amount of white lithium grease on the shifter ball and bushing. No problems as of yet, I have put that little $20.00 bushing to the test! There are several types of bushing out there, but I believe this one is the best one, only if you are unable to get the OEM cables, or money is a issue, as it is with myself included.
Dorman 14043 Help Shift Cable Bushing for Saturn SL and SC Series | eBay
 
  #3  
Old 06-06-2015, 12:51 AM
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Very nice write up.
Sticky material.
 
  #4  
Old 06-06-2015, 01:57 AM
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Just to disclose my hypocrisy, I am using saturnbushingman's Stainless Steel Bushing Replacement for multiple reasons.

1) I used one a while back on my 97 before I knew better
2) It seems like a sound, well thought out design; there is nothing for the lateral stress of the cocked cable end to act upon, as it is situated upright and clamped in position
3) My 95 is 20 years old w almost no clutch left, and I just can't justify spending $$ on new cables.
4) I bought 2 sets when I did the 97 so I had one on the shelf...........

That said, I have had no problems in the 60K mi since installation on the 97.
____________
Alpha, I'm sure you hold the record for that Dorman bushing. I've read that people break them in under 2 weeks -- but that's probably a function of the lateral tension from the cocked endloop + user installation "error". saturnbushingman sells a bushing made out of delrin, a harder plastic, for about the same price as the Dorman.

(No I am not saturnbushingman)
 

Last edited by derf; 06-06-2015 at 02:02 AM.
  #5  
Old 06-06-2015, 12:22 PM
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Thanks for the clarification Derf. When my Dorman bushing goes, and I know it's just a matter of time, the Saturnbushingman's Stainless Steel Bushing does sound like a better option. Replacing the cables is usually not that big of a job, but considering my aftermarket wiring for the stereo, with 4 sets of rca cables, relay boxex and fese boxes that all have to come out to access the cables through the bottom of the dash, I would rather not go there, LOL!


So, is this the bushing you are referring to...


http://www.ebay.com/itm/1991-2002-Sa...4646e5&vxp=mtr


www.saturnfans.com/classifieds/showproduct.php?product=2492


Step #6: "Permanently mount the stainless steel replacement bushing over the ball-end shaft on the shifter with JB-Weld adhesive." ???
 

Last edited by Alpha Centauri; 06-06-2015 at 12:28 PM.
  #6  
Old 06-06-2015, 09:56 PM
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yes indeed. It's a permanent mod. Spacers on either side of the shift cable end are all held on the stainless bushing and secured with an e clip so stiff that if you can get it in without one miss resulting the clip becoming a projectile, you're ahead of the curve. Once it's in it's not going anywhere.

EDIT: For clarification, you JB weld a stainless steel cylinder of the exact length needed over the ball at the end of the shifter. The ball bottoms out in the cylinder, and the end meets the shifter, so by using an appropriate amount of JBWeld as described in the accompanying instructions and vise-gripping it tight overnight, the cylinder becomes the mounting surface for everything. There is an inner spacer with a flat edge to conform to the profile of the inner face of the shifter so as to keep the shifter cable end from getting caught over there. Next goes the shifter cable loop end. Then another spacer, then the e clip. BE SURE you surround the exposed floor work area with a sheet or something similar. The e clip WILL go flying as it is designed to be VERY TIGHT so as not to fall off. You can fish dropped pieces out from under the carpet side edges, but there is a path I am yet to determine that does swallow small objects.
 

Last edited by derf; 06-25-2015 at 01:20 AM.
  #7  
Old 03-18-2016, 03:27 PM
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When the bushing on my 96 SW1 broke I removed the pieces and after finding out the limited and expensive options. I glued the old bushing together and studied it. At work we have a good sized maintenance parts room. I found a gray pvc fitting with the same inside diameter. It had threads on one end to screw into a 1/4 inch fitting and a thick flange with a thinner ridged pipe to clamp a small hose on to. I stuck the thin end in a drill press and took the cordless grinder and ground off the threads. Then took a 1' wide strip of emery cloth and smoothed it down to the same outer diameter of the bushing. Then I cut it to size and installed it with lots of grease and locked it in place with the biggest safety wire in the shop through slots cut in the flange on the end of my Roadkill bushing. All it cost was about .75 cents for a replacement of the part I used and about 1 hour that I stayed after work to rig up the thing. 50K miles and it still shifts like new.
 
  #8  
Old 03-19-2016, 09:57 AM
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Derf. My only question is why the hell you'd wait for them to fail instead of just replacing them as part of preventative maintenance. Makes no sense to me to wait when bad things can happen as a result.
 
  #9  
Old 03-20-2016, 01:59 AM
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I actually did try to break the one of my 95 SC2, figuring if the 97 SC2 went, and the mileages (not equiv to shifts, I know) were evening out, that the one on the 95 would be close to going.




It wasn't.


I really tried to intentionally break it. It was neither brittle nor pliable.


I already had the kit for it.


I checked it once a year (I can pull that center console in under 2 min) and it seemed fine.


It snapped when it did because I was very late to an appointment and was speedshifting very roughly. I only got to third gear and as I slammed it into 3rd I fel the bushing break before the shifter was all the way in so I let the clutch out and luckily popped it the rest of the way in.


Skull,


I always appreciate the creativity that's involved in doing the fix in the manner you did. Most people do not have the creative and mechanical streaks in them to "make it work" in a non-traditional way.


Nice.


I don't suppose you have any pics from production or install?
 
  #10  
Old 03-20-2016, 02:19 AM
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Hi Derf. No pics. Too busy trying to get it fixed. I parked this car for 18 mts when I stupidly bought a Cadillac Eldorado. When the Eldo died from Northstar head disease. I dropped a new battery in the Sat. After cranking for 4 or 5 seconds it fired right up. Those 1.9's are almost as hard to kill as a slant 6. 200K.
 

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