Piston Slap: Justy-fied Freestylin' Over CVTs, Part V
TTAC commentator Anomaly149 writes:
Sajeev, here’s one for you:
I have a CVT-equipped 2004 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with ~140,000 miles. While you can write a book on the things that are weird with the car (key won’t release from cylinder sometimes unless you push this button inside the steering column, sometimes the neutral safety switch actuator machine-guns when stopped at a stoplight, it eats front sway links like it’s a contest, etc.), so far it’s been reliable and efficient.
The thing I’m worried about is the longevity of that CVT. I’ve read a lot of bad things, and recently the transmission has started “shifting” hard from a stop. Sometimes the vehicle starts moving from a stop with a fairly violent jolt, even if the gas pedal is barely pressed. The problem is very intermittent, but has been getting a little more frequent. The dealer says they find nothing wrong. Is this worth investigating? Do they even make repair parts for these CVTs anymore?
I’d love to keep the car running a bit longer, but the last thing I need is a dead transmission on an hour-long commute.
Wow. You got 140,000 miles out of a VTi transaxle: the centerpiece of terrible ideas leading up to GM’s decision to burn 2 billion to NOT buy Fiat.
No surprise TTAC did the Death Watch thang, but Farago himself couldn’t imagine a world where Fiat dusts off a classic move, VTi and the lawsuit? Repair or rebuilding is out of the question: consider yourself lucky and shop for a new vehicle. Or perform a gearbox swap with a Delta-bodied GM product with a more conventional auto or manual transmission, if you are the “save and restomod” type. I did quite like the Cobalt XFE I tested way back — it was super-cheap fun!
And don’t laugh, an ION Quad Coupe is the AMC Pacer of the last decade: the restomod route isn’t totally stupid, especially if you can cram LS4-FTW into the Delta’s engine bay. A more believable 5-speed automatic swap sounds pretty sweet.
I’d do this in a heartbeat. Parts will be dirt cheap, especially if you buy a complete car on Craigslist. Take out the gearbox, spend a weekend swap, scrap the rest and lose less than a grand on the deal.
Or just sell it now while it runs, telling the new owner about the swap and it’s future as the next AMC Pacer.
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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The dealer says they can find nothing wrong in what, the sense that they all do that right before they die?
Don't look at me, I own a Justy with a CVT. Well alright. Justy is a far different animal then this, but does it have any sort of switch on the accelerator pedal? I would have to dig into a FSM to see how this beast works, and it's amazing it still works without you cracking one open for this long.