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  #1  
Old 13th January 2011
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Default 9-3 Shifter in cold weather

I have a 2004 Saab 9-3 Linear with a 5-speed standard transmission.
As the weather has gotten cold I've had issues with my shifter.
It has only happened twice but both times it was below freezing out.
Here is what the problem is as best I can describe it:

The shifter (on a normal day) will sit on the horizontal axis and you can jiggle it back and forth with little to no resistance to get to any of the 5 gears.
On days when it is below freezing, I can get 1 & 2 with no problem, but then to move over to the 3 & 4 "column" i have to really push the shifter over pretty hard. Same with getting it over to the 5th and Reverse "column".
Once the car has been running for a minute or two, the problem goes away and the shifter works as normal for the rest of the time.

I was told it was my transmission fluid getting too thick. But I was also told it was more likely something to do with the linkage between the shifter and the transmission.

Has anyone experienced anything like this? If so, what were your conclusions and the suggested method of fixing the problem?

Thanks in advance!!

R.
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  #2  
Old 13th January 2011
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tranny fluid is cold if it goes away when warm, transmission fluid is VERY thick, so when it gets cold, it's like molasses.
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  #3  
Old 13th January 2011
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So a transmission fluid flush/replacement would not fix this right?
i just have to live with it?

How do people up north live with that then?
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  #4  
Old 13th January 2011
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No idea if this applies to the 5spd, but I had somewhat similar issues with shifting into 2nd gear in cold weather in my 6spd '08.

I complained about this at each of the first two services, at the third service the Saab Dealer found a new TSB that applied. The fix was to drain the gearbox fluid, and refill it with slightly less fluid. I believe the new spec is 2.0l, vs. 2.2l in the original. Has made the problem 100% better.

TSB is #471-2688.

-Kevin
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  #5  
Old 13th January 2011
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i JUST had my transmission flushed on mine, less than 4,000 miles ago, and still have this issue when cold.. you just get used to it
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  #6  
Old 13th January 2011
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Ok. Thanks. i'll stop worrying about it then.
At least I live in Texas where it only should happen once or twice a year :-)
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  #7  
Old 14th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinr1916 View Post
I had somewhat similar issues with shifting into 2nd gear in cold weather in my 6spd '08. I believe the new spec is 2.0l, vs. 2.2l in the original.
The 6spd behaves exactly the same way. When cold, shifting is hard.
According to WIS, the 6spd gearbox oil capacity is 2.4lt.
Did they put in less oil than that? Is it possible to verify this with them? It would be very useful to know.

6 months ago I had asked Saab Europe, Saab UK, GM Europe and local Saab dealer.
All of them replied to me that there was no new spec or any official bulletin for less oil capacity in Saab's.
There was only a bulletin for less oil in Opel's (from 3lt to 2.4lt).

Last edited by chris_de_ze; 15th January 2011 at 01:24 AM.
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  #8  
Old 14th January 2011
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i agree it is normal same issue on my 6spd anyone hear noise when moving their shifter around that they didnt hear when it was warm?
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  #9  
Old 14th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfdphoto View Post
I have a 2004 Saab 9-3 Linear with a 5-speed standard transmission.
As the weather has gotten cold I've had issues with my shifter.
It has only happened twice but both times it was below freezing out.
I live in northern, Ohio near Lake Erie but have no such issue with my 04 Arc 5-speed. Could it be that someone put a non-synthetic oil in there? Mine is the smoothest shifter I've ever had, whether 10 degrees or 90 degrees.
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  #10  
Old 14th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saabyurk View Post
Mine is the smoothest shifter I've ever had, whether 10 degrees or 90 degrees.
wow, that is amazing. what other cars have you owned? coming from VW, the 93 shifter is decades behind.
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  #11  
Old 14th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awjones View Post
wow, that is amazing. what other cars have you owned? coming from VW, the 93 shifter is decades behind.

+1, the shifter is smooth most of the time, but i still prefer the shifter on my 93 cherokee, for a truck, not even funny how buttery that shifter is.
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  #12  
Old 15th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awjones View Post
wow, that is amazing. what other cars have you owned? coming from VW, the 93 shifter is decades behind.
Okay, you got me on that. Mostly older Saabs and American clunk-shifts, but I did have a VW Rabbit which was terrible. Never a BMW, etc.
But, my 9-3 is really smooth. 1st to 2nd I use the back side of my thumb around the shifter, 2nd to 3rd a flip with the back of my fingers, 3rd to 4th a flip with my middle finger (not like it sounds), and 4th to 5th a push forward and to the right with the back of my hand, even when it's cold.
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Old 15th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awjones View Post
wow, that is amazing. what other cars have you owned? coming from VW, the 93 shifter is decades behind.
and crap ... I just remembered one smoother shifter. Had a 71 Volvo 144 with over 400,000 miles and the long shifter. I could row through all 4 gears with the tip of my finger on top of the shifter. Not fast, but smooth.
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  #14  
Old 15th January 2011
kevinr1916 kevinr1916 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_de_ze View Post
The 6spd behaves exactly the same way. When cold, shifting is hard.
According to WIS, the 6spd gearbox oil capacity is 2.4lt.
Did they put in less oil than that? Is it possible to verify this with them? It would be very useful to know.

6 months ago I had asked Saab Europe, Saab UK, GM Europe and local Saab dealer.
All of them replied to me that there was no new spec or any official bulletin for less oil capacity in Saab's.
There was only a bulletin for less oil in Opel's (from 3lt to 2.4lt).
This was in November - I gave the TSB# in my post, see if your dealer can find it. I am remembering the service writer saying 2.2l, now 2.0l, but this was two months ago, and service writers are generaly idiots.

All I can say is that on my car the situation is much improved. It's now no worse when cold than any other car I have had, and I live in a place where it is well below freezing for a good chunk of the year.

-Kevin
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  #15  
Old 15th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saabyurk View Post
and crap ... I just remembered one smoother shifter. Had a 71 Volvo 144 with over 400,000 miles and the long shifter. I could row through all 4 gears with the tip of my finger on top of the shifter. Not fast, but smooth.
You can hardly compare a shifter that comes directly out of the top of the transmission on a RWD car with a FWD car with a few feet of linkage in the way. The shifter on my Alfa Spider is delightful too. The shifter on my Alfa GTV-6 operates on much the same principles as a OUJI board though - the transmission is in the trunk, and the shift bushings are worn out. Makes the 9-3 seem like utter perfection!

-Kevin
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  #16  
Old 15th January 2011
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I live outside Philly. Its been below freezing here since early December. I've never had an issue like what you describe.

I do think in general the shifter/linkage makes for choppy shifting compared to my previous ride - 2002 VW GTI-VR6.
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  #17  
Old 15th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saabyurk View Post
Okay, you got me on that. Mostly older Saabs and American clunk-shifts, but I did have a VW Rabbit which was terrible. Never a BMW, etc.
But, my 9-3 is really smooth. 1st to 2nd I use the back side of my thumb around the shifter, 2nd to 3rd a flip with the back of my fingers, 3rd to 4th a flip with my middle finger (not like it sounds), and 4th to 5th a push forward and to the right with the back of my hand, even when it's cold.

ya that is mostly true of mine too, very easy to shift but feels very notchy though. the first 6 months of owning the car, the 1-2 shifts were very difficult.
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