So, I was driving my ’97 SL2, shifting from 1st to 2nd gear when the shifter suddenly went limp in my hands. Unable to put the car back in any gear, I coasted to a stop in a left turn lane. Fortunately, the road was not busy at all and I had two friends in the car who were able to push the car into a parking lot. Also fortunate was the fact that it was maybe a quarter mile from the parking lot to my house so we were not stranded. Upon removing the center console, we discovered that the shifter had become disconnected from the shift linkage.
Now, I’m not a car designer nor am I a mechanical engineer by any means. That said, I think it is bass akwards to have a crucial part of the driving system (the connection between the shifter and the shift linkage) be made of plastic!!! I’m all for plastic dashboards, plastic consoles, plastic whatever, except when it concerns the operability of the vehicle. Why the bleep would Saturn secure such an important connection with a small piece of plastic?
Okay, plastic parts in crucial places is bad enough, but this story gets worse. This piece of plastic perhaps cost 50 cents max. I went to the auto parts store to see if they carried anything like it. Nope, gotta go to the dealership. We get to the dealership, I explain the situation, and the guy tells me that they cannot sell the piece by itself. I have to buy the entire shift linkage for $200 to get this bleepy piece of plastic??? WTF??? To make matters worse, the guy tells me that 5 people had been in before me that day to replace the same piece of plastic, and had all bought the entire package. Fortunately, I’m not that big of an idiot (nor do I have the dough), and I leave ready to jerry rig something fancy.
Well, the car is now home, parked out front, because of twine. Why I had twine in my car is not important; it is important that I used it to tie the shifter to the shift linkage and was able to shift just fine on my way home. I figure I can drill a hole through the ball on the shifter, feed it through the hoop on the shift linkage, and feed a bolt through the newly drilled hole and not think about it breaking again. No worries, I do not intend to drive with just the twine.
Moral of the story is: Saturn sucks. Not only do they make crucial parts out of plastic, but they also make you spend $200 to replace a $.50 piece of plastic.