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Saturn Outlook Transmission Problems

I continue to have problems with the transmission in my 2007 Saturn Outlook. I took it in for the software upgrade which seems to have done no good. When talking with the Service Manager again he stated, "I do not know what to tell you, I am getting complaints from everyone and there is no more fixes."

Does anyone else have this problem and what have you done to fix the problem?


  • Can you be more specific on your problem?

    We just got our '07 XR FWD about 10 days ago, and I may be calling the dealer about ours not shifting into 6th on the highway when the cruise control is on. If it shifts into 5th, which it does a lot, it won't shift back into 6th unless I tap the brake and then resume the cruise.

    Other than this, I am really enjoying the vehicle.
  • cschapercschaper Posts: 5
    I was just wondering if you ever had your problem resolved? I've been having the same problem and I too have had the software upgrade. I notice it doesn't shift into gear when it should and the RPM dial goes all the way up kinda like it gets stuck in gear. Is this the same problem you're having?
  • myshaktimyshakti Posts: 11

    Yes, I am still having the problem you write about even after the upgrade. Not good when driving the roads I do due to hills, curves ,etc. I did receive a phone call recently from my Saturn dealer saying to bring my Outlook in for anothe upgrade. Have you received a second upgrade?
  • cschapercschaper Posts: 5
    Well I just had my upgrade about 2 weeks ago and it just started again like 3 days ago. So I haven't had the second upgrade. I just bought this car 2 months ago.
  • soccer4soccer4 Posts: 1
    We have a 2007 Outlook and have had repeated transmission problems. We have had our car in 5 times for transmission problems, just like what you have mentioned: lulling, hard shifting especially at speeds around 40 -45 mph. The car can't seem to find the right gear. This last time we had our vehicle in the service manage gave us two options. Option 1: do another transmission update and loose around 2 mpg with no guarantees that this will work. Option 2: tear into the transmission and look for a leak. We chose option 1. We have only had our car back for a couple of days and we have noticed that the car does not seem to lull, but we have been experiencing some jerking around the 40-45 mph mark. Our experience has been that about two weeks after the upgrades the car goes back to its original annoying "weird" shifting patterns, So, only time will tell. We are also keeping track of our MPG. With the way gas prices are now we are not very happy about the fact that with this latest update we will probably loose 2mpg.
  • myshaktimyshakti Posts: 11
    I am still having major problems with my Outlook transmission. I am taking it in again this week for the 2nd upgrade but not feeling confident. This will be the third time for taking it in for this problem. I am considering taking action to have Saturn take the car back.
  • don121don121 Posts: 1
    I am having most all of the problems that are noted. I have all the songs and dances provided by the dealer service departments including they don't see anything wrong with the way the transmissions shift (ha-ha). I had them do the first softward update twice thinking it would help. No way. Comes back to normal in about a week or less. I have also dropped to a whopping 14.7 miles per gallon. I've verified it by both methods, car computer and computing miles driven divided by gallons purchased. I also found out original dealer repaired something on the transmission before selling me the car new a few months ago without informing me at time of original purchase. I am definitely looking at taking action with Saturn. My option would be for them either to replace the car or completely replace the transmission and computer with a new one. It is obvious that Saturn knows they have a problem or they wouldn't be putting out the softward updates. Please keep us informed if you find a solution. The transmission surges and down shifting has to be the primary reasons for poor gas mileage. As long as they keep advertising it on TV getting such great mileage, they should be responsible.
  • paynskipaynski Posts: 11
    I've had my '08 Outlook since mid Dec '07. I hate the electronic transmission control system. It's OK around town, but it's horrible on the road when you have to pass someone, or go uphill. When passing, there is a huge 2 second delay before power is applied. First the engine revs up to 5K rpm, then it downshifts depending on pedal position and selects a lower gear. This takes about 2 seconds, but it seems like an eternity when you want to pass or accelerate to maneuver. By the time the power finally comes on, it's too late, and you've lost your opportunity. When going up a hill there are large dead spots in the throttle where nothing happens until you apply more throttle. Then, it does the 2 second delay and downshift routine. I complained to the Saturn dealer service when I had it in for the 1st oil chg, but they said it has the latest software control update, and there's nothing further they can do. The service mgr also said many other owners are complaining about the same issue. My suggestion to anyone considering buying an Outlook: Drive it on the freeway and slam the accelerator to the floor at 35mph, and at 55mph. Then ask yourself if you're willing to live with the hesitation. It doesn't seem so bad until you're in a situation, and you need power NOW, but you have to wait 2 seconds for the engine to rev and the tranny control to figure out what gear to select. Gas mileage is way less than advertised. I get about 14.5 city, 20 hwy. :cry:
  • myshaktimyshakti Posts: 11
    Hello All,

    Just want to let you know that I had a very close call while driving my Saturn Outlook on Father's Day. While traveling on the freeway I went to pass someone and the shifting lagged so much that I thought I was going to be hit from behind from an approaching vehicle. I have had it with this vehicle. I had an appointment scheduled today for what I thought was another upgrade (due to the phone call I received from my dealershhip) but when I got there I was told that there was nothing else they could do for me as I have the most current upgrade, number 0217. I called the President/General Manager of the dealership and all he would say is that he validated the fact that I have brought the car in for the correct upgrade and he would gladly drive the car to validate that it in fact runs like it should. He also stated that he spoke with the "engineer" and has been told that Saturn designed the delayed shifting in order to be able to control the gas mileage so it holds true to what they claim. This is yet another untruth about the vehicle as my gas mileage is terrible. I am now going to the Better Business Bureau to start the process of GM buying the car back. Not only does the vehicle not deliver but now being so doubted and snubbed by the dealership makes me ill. :lemon:
  • cschapercschaper Posts: 5
    Please let me know what happens. I have had the same problem with my car. I went back for the 3rd time and they said they don't feel what I feel so theres nothing they can do! I put my car up for sale but have had no offers. My gas mileage is really bad also. I already started a case with corporate but after I told them the dealer said they didnt feel what I did they said o.k. well call us if theres any change. And that was the end of that. I don't know what to do I hate this car I feel like it's a waste of money!!!
  • hawkeye15hawkeye15 Posts: 9
    I had the Same update #08-07-30-022.(Wasn't available until May 2008) It came with the warning of a possible mpg decrease. We have seen no decrease. I posted on the Acadia forum, too, but this update has completely eliminated any complaints I have had with the transmission. It operates in a completely normal manner. Any of you that were told you already had the most recent updates need to check that they did the bulletin number given above. I see about 14 mpg in very short in town trips around town and 21-22 at 76 mph on the freeway with an awd Enclave. I'd be interested if anyone still has complaints after this update.
  • myshaktimyshakti Posts: 11
    You drive an Enclave, not a Saturn Outook, correct?
  • hawkeye15hawkeye15 Posts: 9
    I drive an Enclave with the same engine and Transmission as the Outlook and Acadia. The TSB has the 2008 Enclave, 2007/8 Acadia, and 2007/8 Outlook listed at the top and didn't come out until the second week of May 2008. #08-07-30-022
  • hawkeye15hawkeye15 Posts: 9
    I was wondering if any of the previous posters went to their dealer to request the TSB# 08-07-30-022 that I posted about, before. They will not do this one and will tell you that you have the most current update unless you complain about the sluggishness and hesitation. Give them the TSB # and don't worry about the warning that it may worsen mpg. MOst of us on the other forums have not seen any decrease. The difference in the drive is night and day. I'd like to hear any of your results.
  • shillelaghshillelagh Posts: 17
    When I drive my 08' Saturn Outlook in the rain or drive it through standing water (6 inches or less) after a hard rain, there is a squealing noise and I lose power steering control. It will last from 30 seconds to a minute. It has been in the dealer's shop 4 days now and they called today to say there is a "fender well" replacement with added splash guards to eliminate water from wetting the belt. I live in central Florida and this time of year it rains every day. Try turning this moose without power steering, I'm glad I don't live in a mountainous area with this thing. Also, they are going to perform the computer upload per Saturn Bulletin TSB #08-07-30-022 regarding hesitation in down-shifting of the transmission.
  • Just got our Outlook XR back after installation of "new and improved" fender well splash guards and installation of a re-program of the shift module per bulletin 08-07-30-022. Drove it in the rain, no loss of power steering control. However, the Bulletin upgrade did not correct the shift hesitation of the transmission. Service Advisor said to send "The Letter" to Saturn (9 months old with 45 days out of service). Soooo, it went out today. I have already received 2 Case #'s regarding the issues with this vehicle without any resolvement. Let's see what they have to say now. Will keep you posted.
  • I hate this car!!!!! The transmission is horrible. Have you had any luck in getting it fixed?
  • I am sure you read my threads. I have fought the fight and lost against GM. I went to arbitration to try and have the car bought back with no success. It is their thought in summary (GMs) that since I keep driving the car it must not be that bad. What am I supposed to do walk everywhere?!

    If you want to know more, please let me know. I would love to see a Class Action filed or a huge revolt as this car is not what they claim it is!

  • paynskipaynski Posts: 11
    I actually like most things about the car, but I totally agree with you that the transmission control is HORRIBLE! What's pathetic, is that mechanically, the transmission is fine. It's the "brain dead" computer that controls it that's the problem. I think it suffers from inadequate CPU horsepower. The shifting algorithym is far to complex for the tiny computer they chose to control it. If they simplified the algorithym, it could be improved significantly by just updating the software. I hope they come out with a worthy update soon. I'd give up 1-2 mpg just to have it drive like a good old reliable, hydraulic controlled, automatic transmission.
  • I'm having an arbitration hearing tomorrow regarding repurchase of my 08' Outlook XR. What do they expect a person to do, ride a bicycle? Ours has had the engine rebuilt (4k miles), replacement airbag sensors, new wheel well inserts, leaking sunroof and a vibration after the engine rebuild that they say is my imagination. 55 days out of service :lemon: . Tomorrow, I hope GM doesn't want me to just drive it and see what happens next :confuse: . I'll post later to let you know how it went. I'm sorry your arbitration didn't go well. However, I really know what you're going through.
  • Hi,

    Are you located in California?

    The arbitrator did drive me my car and of course the transmission basically worked okay. The unfortunate thing is that my car has never been "out of service". I guess I should have refused to drive it until GM came up with a fix. I could have done somethings better had I known more about the process.

    The really frustrating fact is that GM knows there is a problem but can fall back on the following term. "It is the way the vehicle has been engineered."

    I wish you the best in your hearing.

  • I'm located in Tampa, Florida.
    The BBB informed me that the arbitrator is a Lawyer and the GM representative will be present via telephone, joy joy!
    I did not know that other owners were having such problems until I started reading the Edmund's Forums. I was surprised that GM was trying to cover up the problems so blatantly. That's when I started keeping a logbook on my vehicle. In your state, do you have the option of filing for arbitration with the State Attorney's Office? Here in Florida, if I'm dissatisfied with the BBB's decision, I can file with the State Board of Consumer's Affairs. They will then forward the claim to the State Attorney's Office for arbitration. After that, if you're still dissatisfied, you can get an attorney and sue the manufacturer. If the Judge rules in your favor, the manufacturer has to pay all your attorney's fees. Good Huh?

    Well it's late and I still have some work to do. Thanks for your support. J.
  • Maybe you should try what I do. I too love the size, performance and features of this vehicle. I use the manual shifting option and leave it in 4th or 5th gear for cruising around town at that 45 mph range. Much better performance. It must be the 6th gear and desire for the gas mileage rating that causes the "hesitation". The 6th is basically an overdrive, and I use it for highway speeds 65+. Give this a try and see if you get better performance. I have 5K on my 2008 so far and am planning on keeping this for quite awhile. Let me know. ALso if you manually shift it using the buttons, it is a completely different vehicle.
  • Hello Saturn Owners,

    On Oct. 08/08, we had our Arbitration Hearing regarding our Saturn Outlook and their decision was in our favor. The GM Representative acted like a jerk. He tried to make it look as though we didn't know what we were talking about and if it's not in print in the GM manuel or shop work order he would not consider it as fact. I had everything in document and cronological order. I even had copies of GM's technical bulletins regarding the transmission, fender well splash guards, power steering pump and engine cylinder head problems. The arbitrator took the vehicle on a 20 mile test drive and found out herself about the vibration, transmission lag and excessive steering noise. The Arbitrator found 9 out of 12 items to be significant defects and has awarded us our down payment, costs for tax, tag, title, registration, service contract AND our 10 monthly payments back. All total: $12,000.00 How about those apples !!!!!!!!!! A GM Rep. called this afternoon to confirm our information to set the closing date for the repurchase which will be sometime next week. I'll post the final results.
  • How can you tell what gear it's in? It doesn't tell you anywhere.
  • Look at the tachometer. If it's over 2100 rpm, slap the gear shift into Low and punch the up + button on the shifter's left side. That's what I do.
  • wlbrown9wlbrown9 Posts: 867
    When you pull it down into the first position and use the buttons to shift up or down, the current gear is show to the right of the normal P R N D L indicator, IIRC. I have used it a few times but normally just use D.

    I did find that on my 20 mile route to the golf course that if I control the speed instead of using cruise control I can up my MPG by about 2. Driving with the average MPG display I can really see the difference in gaining a little speed downhill and letting it bleed off uphill, vs the cruise having to maintain the constant speed especially uphill.

    Recently took a 1300+ mile trip from Memphis to Gulf Coast and back. Reset MPG display leaving Memphis on 78 toward Birmingham. Disappointed in averaging less than 20 mpg on that hilly leg (using cruise). Not really bad for the complete hwy portion of the trip getting right around 21 MPG for the 1200 miles or so. I now think I could up that to around 23 MPG or more by keeping it from downshifting as much uphill and gaining speed for the next hill while going down. BUT that would defeat the ease of cruising with cruise, so I doubt I would do that for a complete trip. Love the 2008 Outlook XR so far :-)

  • Believe it or not, but we have a few hills here in Florida. I kick off the cruise control when I'm approaching a hill because of that very problem of the Outlook's sensitivity to an incline. I'll hit resume after the top. It will give you +2 or +3 more miles per gallon. It's a very nice car but it does have some quirks. If you've read my threads you know that mine is just a lemon :lemon: . I've got a brand spanking new Toyota Highlander Limited sitting in my garage. The Outlook XR goes back to GM Saturn next Tuesday.
  • We have a 2007 Saturn Outlook with only 14k miles on it and we have had nothing but problems with it. I would never by another Saturn nor recommend it to anyone. We have had pretty much all of the same problems as other folks (recalls for leaky sunroofs, recalls for wipers that "don't work with snow/ice build-up") and other problems. We just got it back after not having it for 3 weeks, as the dealership had to try to diagnose a transmission problem (wouldn't shift into drive). They took it apart and had to replace a "spider gear" that they said was not faulty, but put into the car incorrectly during manufacturing. Then the heated washer fluid wouldn't work, and the dealer told me I didn't have that feature--another trip back and it was fixed (loose connection). Now we are on vacation, 200 miles from home, and the exhaust is loud as hell. I will never buy another saturn..they are a "different kind of car alright"....pieces of crap. I have a 2001 Ford Supercrew with 120k miles on it and it's more reliable than the outlook.
  • I am sorry to read about your problems. Be more diligent than I was about the documentation and maybe you can GM to buy it back through the Lemon Law. I tried but was unsuccessful due to not enough documentation and that the car was not out of service long enough. I was told in arbitration, "Well, you drive the car so it must run okay," What do they expect me to do?! The vehicle has lost so much value in this economy that I cannot sell it either! Best of luck to you!
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