Transmission issue


Asked by Mar 26, 2015 at 11:14 AM about the 2009 Saturn VUE XR V6 AWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Without warning transmission went yesterday. In shock. Car
needs tow to GM dealer for investigation, apparently "special
coverage" if it is "clutch wave plate", told to me by GM (I called
them this morning). I am the original owner, 56k miles on this
very well maintained vehicle.  What does this shocked grandma
do? Live in NJ.  Please help!

17 Answers


I hope you are still under warranty.


Warranty expired 4 months ago


Hopefully they will give you some help they should but they don't have to. Insurance companies only see numbers they don't see human beings. No heart no sole.


Like I answered you on another page Flanamom, you are very likely covered and they should give you a loaner for while it is in the shop getting a rebuild. Just wanted to put it here for others so they know too they are covered till 120k with the special coverage. Make sure to bring it to a GM dealer, because I've been hearing if the repair is done outside of that circle, it isn't covered or reimbursed.

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Best Answer Mark helpful

I have 90000 miles on mine and no problems with transmission. Just don't understand why some vehicles have the problem while others don't. I wish I knew if mine will have the same problem.


Did you notice anything at all to indicate there was something wrong with transmission prior to it totally letting go? Ammco told me it usually happens when putting it in gear to backup and the wave plate breaks.


Someone asked the same question to me on a forum, here is my answer: Yes there were, I went on a vacation 10 months before the transmission went(camping gear and basically fully loaded only on the interior, no topper) to the black hills and I noticed rougher shifting after that trip. 2-3 months before it went I noticed a slight vibration in the tranny in 1st and 2nd gear only for one weekend then it ran fine after that weekend other than the rough shifts sporatically once in a while. Then a little over a month before it went I made a stop at the store after driving the car for about 15 highway miles and when I went to backup there was a hesitation and a jerk when it finally went into reverse gear. After that day it would do the hesitation and hard jerk into reverse along with a rough shift into 5th gear only after the transmission had warmed up. 3rd gear also had a slight rougher shift in my case too after it warmed up. Finally I was driving on the highway in traffic and when the car went in search of 3rd gear it was not there, just neutral. Reverse was lost too. I could still drive the car in 1st and 2nd. From my mechanical understanding I believe you are basically stressing this clutch wave plate everytime you hit 3rd., 5th gear and reverse. Yet, I'm guessing you are not stressing it too much when it goes into reverse cause the RPMs are low. Yet, if you are a big city driver you could be shifting into 3rd quite a lot stressing and weakening this wave plate. If you are someone who is on the highway sitting in 6th gear you probably aren't stressing it as much. I'm a highway guy, but again once I got to the black hills, those hills made my transmission work!

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Thanks everyone for the feedback. No Geno, there was no warning, car had been riding fine. I don't have a driveway, park on the street, so find I don't (didn't) use reverse too often to notice. Kartboarder you have been extremely helpful, thank you. Car has been towed to GM dealer in Hanover, NJ for diagnosis, praying for good news that it is the 3-5-r wave plate, which will be covered. Otherwise, can't even think about it, so hoping for the best .


My 2008 Saturn Vue XR shutters in 3rd gear for the last 15,000 miles. I guess it's just a matter of time for the wave plate to break. What really sucks is that I am scared to travel for a long trip, because don't want to be stranded hundreds of miles away from my home. Road trips on hold for now with this vehicle.

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I would feel the same way about a long road trip if I had read this in advance too, Geno. I was planning a road trip to NC next month, glad it didn't happen down there. Also glad it didn't happen with my baby granddaughter in the car, or out on one of our fabulous NJ highways! It happened when I was pulling away from a red light, accelerated into 3rd I guess and just revved, slipped out of D. Then it seemed to gain momentum again and happened again. Got to my destination basically by going down hill, no need for speed, and no dash warning lights either.


Geno as soon as you start noticing the hesitation and jerk going into reverse I would bring it in at that point. My suggestion is as soon as you come home from a drive put the car in park for a moment then click it to reverse and you will feel it that's when you should bring it in. Again only happened when it was warm out like above 50f and after the car would warm up. Many people wouldn't notice it cause when they pull into their garage spot with a warm car they just put it in park and shut the car off till their next trip. Also when I brought it in they drained some fluid and it was dark with metal shavings. You could do this now yourself to see if your close. Heck if it looks obvious you could just bring it in For the repair right away. Sounds like your close though and I would drive it hard just to start wearing it out quickly at this point.


Update: after getting vehicle towed to GM dealer, their diagnosis was "we can't tell it's the 3-5-r wave plate until we take it apart. You looking at ~$1,300-$3,000". I took my vehicle back before they did anything else, and got a 2nd opinion from another GM dealer. Note that the faulty wave plate notification letter from Saturn came after I had dropped car off, coincidentally enough. Went to 2nd dealer with letter in hand and all I said was "got this letter, have concerns, please check vehicle". I did not mention experience with first dealer. A day later got call back, they confirmed problem as 3-5-r wave plate, fixed it, no charge to me! Get a 2nd opinion if you have doubts! Now, I went ~$450 out of pocket for tow and rental car and absolutely want GM to reimburse me. Anybody have an address where I can submit copies of bills along with a letter? Thanks.


You should have all the information you need to contact GM in the owners manual that came with your car. I know there is alot to read thru but it is there. If you don't have that book go to any GM car building site at the very bottom of the page is a contact us link that will give you mailing address's as well as a way to contact them over the net. I don't know how much luck your going to have with a car brand that no longer exists but it worth a shot to get the ball rolling.


Thank you!


It's been 5 months and here's my update - trans fixed by GM dealer no charge to me. I also sent GM the bill for towing ($150) and my rental car ($230). They reimbursed me for towing but not rental car. May press them again for that. Vehicle running fine now, but what a pain in the a** that was!

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I'm happy you resolved your problem, getting it repaired at no cost to you is icing on the cake.

2009 Saturn Hybrid VUE, 94000miles. Lost the transmission the other day. Only goes in reverse. Local shop and neighbor both said transmission replacement (or junking it). Before we take to a shop/dealer/invest in repairs.... I've been searching for similar problems to this, and came upon this thread. It seems we might be covered for this wave plate issue. I called "Saturn" and was told we were not. Any suggestions if there is a work around this/another way to approach to see if there is any way we can get help with this issue from GM? It seems like this car falls within the range of transmission special coverage they've extended. Thank you!!

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