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Another gearbox malfunction, but only leaking coolant

Another gearbox malfunction, but only leaking coolant

 
Old 08-21-2009, 01:27 AM
  #1  
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Default Gearbox Malfuncton what to do. (read first and last posts)

I just got the dreaded gearbox problem on my 9-3 after a rough downshift at a light. Having read up on it before buying the car, I immediately turned into a parking lot and stopped.

I managed to jack up the front end and coolant is definitely leaking from the line entering the trans, but fluid doesn't seem to be ruined in the transmission, but I can't tell for certain in the dark(ish) as I haven't seen before first hand. After the rough downshift approaching stop and the error light coming on the car behaved normally (for second gear) coming into the parking lot. Also fluid is dripping, not gushing, so I'm wondering if I saved it while the problem was only coolant delivery or if it's truly screwed.

I'm standing in front of it now, so anyone who can help at all quickly would be much appreciated.

2003 9-3 Linear Auto
103k miles
I am the second owner and long off warranty, so new transmission is gonna kill me.

Last edited by ryanlecocq; 08-22-2009 at 04:10 AM.
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Old 08-21-2009, 02:29 AM
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Default *Update*

I got a lift back to me house and got a flashlight, shop towels and basic tools. Transmission fluid is normal, between red and brown. No burnt residue or signs of coolant contamination. Only leaked about an 10cm(4inch) puddle of coolant. Leaking from directly behind fascia looks like transmission in line. Coolant is only barely below normal running.

Did I just get really lucky and blow only a line seal? If anyone has had this please give me good news that this is not transmission death. It sounds like it could be the problem where the coolant leaks on the sensor or it could be that the fluid was just cut off so it started to overheat and slip. I drove a total of about 400m before stopping.

For the record I love this car. I know it's the first Saab designed on Chevy's epsilon platform and the last Saab designed by many Saab engineers (because they all quit after this one). I've replaced the seatbelts, brake controller, complete connection to the foglamps and the stereo and I still love it. If the transmission fails I'll replace it, but I might have to concede that the design of it was 'unfortunate.'
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Old 08-22-2009, 04:05 AM
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Default

Righto, so I went over to a certain other Saab forum and educated myself. The input/output rpm sensors get set off and/or malfunction because of coolant leaking into the transmission via faulty o-rings.

Short version for any others new to this problem: You need to replace the o-rings immediately if the problem has just occurred for the first time and you drove only a short distance afterwards. Change the fluid at this time and replace any corroded parts if you find rust in the fluid. Hopefully your sensors do not need to be replaced as they are not malfunctioning, your transmission was in fact slipping and causing them to perform their intended function.

*If there are excessive metal shavings in the fluid your transmission will run poorly and eventually die.*

If you do need to replace your transmission, Saabsite has the best wholesale deal at $2k US dollars plus $500 deposit refundable on return of dead transmission. DO NOT LET YOUR DEALER TOUCH THE CAR AT ANY POINT DURING THIS. Find some specialty European shop with a reputation for doing good diagnostics and have them install it. Should cost you less than $1k in labor as the job is 7-8 hours.
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:47 AM
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Thank you for this thread! I posted in another thread, but basically my car (2003 9-3) has been very mildly leaking coolant for a while now. I know how to pop the hood and top off the coolant, and get it towed to the shop if the car acts up.

My car has had intermittant problems turning over (crank but no start) for the last 4 weeks, and the dealer replaced the battery and alternator to no avail. Almost 2 weeks ago it died while driving (accelerating up a hill), and I got the gearbox warning. The car wouldn't even idle that day. The next day I could drive it to a local shop, which I did. They got it out of "hobble home mode", but the only problem they've found was the rear tire needing a little air! !!! Several test drives in various conditions, and they can't reproduce the problem!

There was a history code for a camshaft position sensor. I'm going to let them replace that, but then again, the history codes before were for battery (replaced) and alternator (replaced), and the fixes didn't change a thing. Is it possible the coolant leakage might be the ultimate problem?
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:09 AM
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Default more info

To anyone receiving the gearbox malfunction warning, this is the full summary of the dozens of topics on forums and emails to saab shops I've gone over to figure this out:

There are a number of issues which cause this.

1. O-rings in the coolant in lines crack and fail causing coolant to leak into the gearbox, usually destroying it. If you have this problem, you know very quickly. Your coolant will be milky or discolored and the car will not be 'fine' again with any computer reset or sensor replacement.

2. Crappy in/out sensors on top of transmission fail frequently. This happened to me and I found battery leakage had caused it. Needed new battery as well as sensor. Others have reported battery shelf flexing on bumpy road and crushing sensor or sensor being rubbed by plastic cowl. Point is these sensors are crappy and their failure is not related to the coolant problem, no matter what some claim. The 701 error will sometimes occur in coolant contamination because it makes the transmission slip, confusing the in/out sensors.

3. Shift Solenoid electrical (error code 763 followed by letter of solenoid). This problem occurs when the shift solenoid does not conduct properly. It can be fouled by dirty fluid, blocked or damaged by corrosion or just plain dead. You can recognize this because the car will not shift into a specific gear. It will miss it and dance in neutral for a minute before slamming into 2nd or 5th in limp mode. This caused my last bout of Gearbox MalFUNcton and was remedied by a new solenoid which requires removing the pan and also replacing the filter and flushing the fluid. This can be caused by corrosion due to fluid contamination also, leading many to assume it is a symptom of coolant contamination.

4. Torque converter solenoid/electrical. Car only idles or will not go in and out of any gear. You will usually get a 1760s code that says something to the effect of 'solenoid malfunction' 'torque converter electrical'. This means the thing that tells the torque converter to go is not saying anything. So no power is being sent anywhere = no go.

The common codes are these:
701,2 etc. Input/output sensor 'ratio incorrect' 'improper reading' or something to that effect. The sensor that tells the engine how fast the transmission is going or vice versa is not sending the right message. Usually bad sensor.

761-3:Solenoid timing/electrical. A shift solenoid transmits the signal sent by the input sensor to the torque converter telling it which gear to shift into. This does not work, you don't shift into that gear, that simple.

1760s Torque converter solenoid/electrical. see 3.


So basically do a lot of research before you just go out and replace your transmission. Sensors are about $150 each, solenoid will cost you more because you have to get the trans opened up, but still way less than a new transmission.
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