Here's the problem...You start to notice difficult shifting, "sticking" while you shift, and possibly cracking/crunching noises. However it still shifts, and does not show any other issues. That is...until...one day...nothing. The shift lever seems to flop around as if it is not doing anything, and you are stuck in whatever gear you are/were in when you started to try to shift.
Somewhere between finishing a string of "sentence enhancers" and trying to drive home in the last gear you had shifted to you begin to wonder...what now?
Your options are:
1) Take it to the dealer or a garage. Fine for Mr. Big Bucks...but he wouldn't be driving a 2005 Saturn VUE.
2) Find the problem and buy parts to fix it.
3) Hack/rebuild it and re install.
I'm going to share #2 and #3, because I've actually ended up doing both.
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Step 1: How to Spend $40...that You Don't Need To.
Ok. I'm going to start with some show and tell about the part I ordered because my first attempt to fix it gave up after a few weeks of outdoor temps below 30 F. When it's cold shifting is harder and I guess epoxy just does not hold up to the torque forces, so it eventually cracked and gave way. Anyway, I figured I'd be better off with a new part.
It is GM part number 1521-2802...315 MT Adjuster ASM-M/Trans. I found it on e-Bay from lots of sellers at the same basic price...around $40. I bought it from Huffines Chevrolet in Roanoke, TX.
So here is a video showing the new part and describing where it goes, how it works, and what breaks.
I also have some photos of the broken part describing what parts of it break, and how the parts fit together.
Step 2: Fix the Original Part and Save $40
So, after spending $40 ordering the new part, I thought I'd take another stab at fixing the original part. Learning from my mistakes, and not having anything to loose I figured the first step was to chip/grind away the remaining epoxy...mainly using a Dremel. Once I got it cleaned up as best I could I started to hatch a plan to use those ever so handy nylon ZIP ties. (Seriously...I carry a pack of these in each of my cars...along with a couple of wire hangers and duct tape) Some pics and a video will help to show you what to do.
First, I drilled 4 slots into the body of the adjuster, and routed the out wide enough for the zip ties to pass through.
Step 3: Insert the Zip Ties Into the Bottom Plate.
Originally there was a U clip that slid into these slots on the bottom plate, trapping the flanges (now broken away) of the center sleeve and holding the parts together. For this fix, we are essentially replacing the U clip with the zip ties.
Step 4: Attach the Bottom Plate
The pictures and notes explain most of this...
IMPORTANT: Find some dense, resilient foam rubber or craft foam sheets...cut a small circle of it to fit the bottom of the ball socket...layers may be needed to fill the space in the plastic sleeve. The material should be moderately firm but should crush to a small fraction of its original thickness, and it should also rebound quickly and firmly to be most effective.
Be sure to have your ball socket cushion glued in place on the bottom of the ball socket before inserting the ball socket into the sleeve.
The ball socket should be open on the top, and the cushion should contact the bottom plate.
Make sure that everything is in place and lined up before cinching the zip ties.
Worst case...you forgot something and you have to cut the zip ties off and start over.
Step 5: Pull the Zip Ties Tight...
Cinch the ties up very tight, and trim them close to the bottom plate...I use a toenail clipper.
Step 6: Ready to Install...
Zip ties last forever...ok a long time...and can take a good deal of twisting an pulling.
As you can see there is plenty of room for the ball joint to slip in to the socket.
Here is a fairly good you tube video showing where to actually install the thing.
This guy has a second video but it really does not give much more information, and he says that he put all of the parts back together AFTER snapping the ball socket onto the ball joint. There is not enough space in there to do that in my opinion (and not enough sentence enhancers either) to do it that way.
Instead I did what this guy suggests...
Install the ASSEMBLED adjuster...slide it on to the threaded white nylon piece at the end of the cable, and snap the clamp down...not much force is required. Then move the ball joint of the shifter to the ball socket in the adjuster. Hold the shifter in place, and pull up on the adjuster snapping them together...again, not much force required. Once they snap together, it would take a bull elephant to pull them back apart.
Good luck, and happy fixing.