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Check gearbox light

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NG 900s Vert, auto trans 63k miles. I have an intermittent check gearbox light came on and trans felt like it was slipping a bit. Turned car off as per owners manual and it ran fine for a while. Came on again and moderate slipping again. Checked the auto trans fluid and found it to be low. Topped it off and it ran fine for several days. Yesterday the light came on and trans felt like it was slipping again. Reverse is not a problem however when shifting into reverse I felt a hard clunk into gear. (this only happens when check gear box light is on and drive feels like it's slipping. Haven't had a chance to check it yet. Owners manual states 60 k miles is time for trans fluid change. Will do that first and go from there. The car is an OBD 1 so I can't read any codes. Any thoughts and or prior experiences?
Thanks again to all.
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ATF change will be a good investment.
Some of the ATF specs have changed since our cars were released, as we have access to better-quality fluids.
Not 100% sure about NG900 but I think you'll need around 12 litres if you do the drain and refill method.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ATF change will be a good investment.
Some of the ATF specs have changed since our cars were released, as we have access to better-quality fluids.
Not 100% sure about NG900 but I think you'll need around 12 litres if you do the drain and refill method.
I have the Haynes manual and the owners manual. I'll verify the fluid quantities. I agree an ATF change is a good start. Always start with the simplest and work up from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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*tip with the Online WIS - the little arrow icons will link to a picture.
There is a download version of the WIS in the forums here that's a little more user-friendly.
Haynes is a start but most here will refer you to the WIS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
ATF change will be a good investment.
Some of the ATF specs have changed since our cars were released, as we have access to better-quality fluids.
Not 100% sure about NG900 but I think you'll need around 12 litres if you do the drain and refill method.
So the check gearbox light stayed off for a couple of days with short trips. (have not had the chance to to the fluid change) today it came on after about 10 miles and then cycled off and on with slow acceleration. Fluid change tomorrow and go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So the check gearbox light stayed off for a couple of days with short trips. (have not had the chance to to the fluid change) today it came on after about 10 miles and then cycled off and on with slow acceleration. Fluid change tomorrow and go from there.
Ok. Feeling an auto trans issue brewing. Drained tranny and replaced 3.5 quarts of fluid. The stuff that came out was black. Drove car, light was out, car went into gear no problem. Accelerated as per normal. After about 8 to 10 miles gearbox light started cycling on and off with limping acceleration. When this happens, i also get hard shifting from park into reverse. Car limps in drive. Shut down and reset works but soon back to previous scenario. Have you experienced this? How did you rectify?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok. Feeling an auto trans issue brewing. Drained tranny and replaced 3.5 quarts of fluid. The stuff that came out was black. Drove car, light was out, car went into gear no problem. Accelerated as per normal. After about 8 to 10 miles gearbox light started cycling on and off with limping acceleration. When this happens, i also get hard shifting from park into reverse. Car limps in drive. Shut down and reset works but soon back to previous scenario. Have you experienced this? How did you rectify?
As an addendum: upon cold startup, all functions as designed. Shifts into gear, accelerates normally, no sluggishness. The problem seems to manifest itself after car has operated at normal temps for about 15 to 20 minutes or miles.
 

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If you're pursuing a fluid change as a potential cure to your issues, you need to repeat this process several times. There is something like 8 or 9 qts of fluid in the transmission. Each "drain" only gets about 1/3rd of the fluid out. You need to drain/drive/drain/drive several times to get the majority of the fluid out.

Generally speaking, old ATF is going to be very dark. It will be heat cycled and full of clutch parts. The important factor is its viscosity and smell. If it runs like water and smells burnt, it's toasted. Whether that's a byproduct of a mechanical issue or just being way too old is tough to be certain, but generally baked fluid will be associated with a mechanical issue.

If you're one drain in, you might as well complete the ritual. That's my $0.02.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If you're pursuing a fluid change as a potential cure to your issues, you need to repeat this process several times. There is something like 8 or 9 qts of fluid in the transmission. Each "drain" only gets about 1/3rd of the fluid out. You need to drain/drive/drain/drive several times to get the majority of the fluid out.

Generally speaking, old ATF is going to be very dark. It will be heat cycled and full of clutch parts. The important factor is its viscosity and smell. If it runs like water and smells burnt, it's toasted. Whether that's a byproduct of a mechanical issue or just being way too old is tough to be certain, but generally baked fluid will be associated with a mechanical issue.

If you're one drain in, you might as well complete the ritual. That's my $0.02.
Yes, I have read about only 3.4 quarts comes out. It was dark, but i did not get a burnt odor. In trouble shooting I always start with the simplest and easiest possibilities. I just might roll the dice and do a flush/change rather than do 3 or 4 separate drain and fill cycles.The car only has 63k miles. I suspect that the AT fluid was the original and more tired than anything else.
 

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Yeah, you can totally do that... It's just not super convenient. Put the car into the air, disconnect the return, run the car for a second and it will pump a bunch of fluid out, stop the car, add fluid, rinse & repeat until it comes out fairly clean.

On the Volvos it's very easy because the oil cooler is very accessible in the engine bay... On the 9-3 not so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am not an automatic transmission guy, but didn't some folks figure out a way to disconnect the pipe from the cooler and use it to pump all the fluid out?
I was on the bubble, regarding tranny. The car was so nice and definitely in my price point. I couldn't pass it up. I live in the NYC area and my days of driving stick exclusively have pretty much passed. Unless I get an E type long nosed Jag! Lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yeah, you can totally do that... It's just not super convenient. Put the car into the air, disconnect the return, run the car for a second and it will pump a bunch of fluid out, stop the car, add fluid, rinse & repeat until it comes out fairly clean.

On the Volvos it's very easy because the oil cooler is very accessible in the engine bay... On the 9-3 not so much.
I was considering having the job done. No worries then about disposing 2 or 3 gallons of tranny fluid.
 

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Make sure if you do that it's a qualified shop. "Power flushes" are (were?) popular and they are bad news for most transmissions, including these. A good shop will have a machine that meters fluid as it comes out and puts exactly that amount back in. Those machines are pricey, so you may need to hunt around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The Plot thickens: After several days of short trips and no check gearbox light. I was out running errands today. As long as the engine was cold everything was fine, the car went into gear and responded to throttle inputs as it has for the last 7,000 miles that I have had it.. After my second or third stop of the day and the reaching normal operating temp, the check gearbox light came on. It cycled on and off a few times. When this happens, the car will hard shift into reverse with reverse engaging strong and solid. When I shift into drive, the car gives little sense of engaging in gear and accelerates slowly as if it's starting out in second gear. (Almost like limp mode) after several attempts at shutting off the car and allowing it to reset, there was no change. I have put the car to bed for tonight and tomorrow and see if it does the same when cold and then hot. I am beginning to wonder if the transmission fluid cooler may be partially clogged and then the fluid is overheating?
Anyway thanks for reading.
 
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