Yes, that’s right. If you have a Vauxhall with the Aisin-Warner AF13/AF20 FWD Automatic gearbox, and are experiencing the flashing “S” indicator fault, your gearbox is being harsh and feels like it’s stuck in 3rd all the time, and generally your automatic isn’t being automatic, you may find help here.
My 1997 Astra 1.6 automatic has been a stunner, but in the colder/wetter days it had a minor sulk. It started fine, but the minute you moved the Selector to Drive or Reverse, the “Sports” indicator on the dashboard starts to flash, and the gearbox computer goes into “limp” mode so you have to change up and down gears by hand as it sits in 3rd if left in Drive. Plus it’s harsh on the changes in this mode. Invariably, it feels like the “Snow” mode is engaged.
It’s been doing this on and off for about 8 months. Usually, a “Switch car off, shift repeatedly from “P” to “1″ and back, restart” cycle clears it. It quickly gets tedious.
You can still drive it fine by hand, but it’s not why I bought an automatic. Sometimes it takes a few miles of manual shifting before the “turn off” cycle works.
Anyway, I’m sat here one bank holiday Monday, and I decide to say “stuff to it” and remove the gearbox selector switch, as it’s usually this that seems to give the problem. Loads of money from Vauxhall, and apparently “not serviceable”.
I’ve seen people remove them and I’ve seen another guide to cleaning and regreasing one..plus the Volvo owner club seem to have a recurring problem with these, and they use very similar gearboxes. Possibly FIAT use it as well (unconfirmed). So, armed with both sites and my Haynes book of inaccuracies (and believe me, for the Astra-F facelift model, it IS inaccurate), I decided the time had come to do a guide from experience.
So, without further ado, lets get the bugger off, shall we?
Removing the selector switch
* 12mm Spanner/Socket
* 13mm Spanner/socket
* Cable tie clippers
* Adjustable wrench
* Flatblade Screwdriver(Broad)
* Switch Cleaner (Maplins is good)
* Nonconductive Grease(again, Maplins is good)
* Flat blade screwdriver (Jewellers), or toothpick or similar
* An old stiff bristled toothbrush
First, open your bonnet and familiarise yourself with the bay. Mine is an X16SZR 8v engine, and the AF13 autobox.
The autobox selector switch is this lump, here:
The selector switch is held in with the marked bolts, that you will be removing (You may also wish to remove the negative off the battery..i did.):
Now, Haynes says to put the box in Neutral. However, it also tells us that the autobox dipstick is in need of removal as it is attached to one of those bolts.
It’s bunk, at least on this engine/box. However, neutral is as good as anything, so do that. Looks like I did mine in Park.
Break out your 13mm Socket or spanner. Then, carefully undo the nut marked “1″ in the pic, and lift that selector link off the pivot. Leaving you with this:
Now, time for the adjustable wrench, i have no idea what size this nut is. Remove (gently) the nut marked “3″. You’ll need to unbend the locking tabs. recover the nut, the lockplate and the rubber washer. Leaving you with this:
Now, disconnect the switch wiring. You may need to cut a cable tie that bundles all the wires together to enable removal. Follow the wires from the switch, and unplug them at their connector by levering the red bit of the connector out sideways to release the plug. it’s also clipped to the bracket..a sod to remove, but keep trying.
Once that’s free, Break out the 12mm socket/spanner and remove the bolts marked “2″. They are stiff, and go with a crack sometimes. Mine did!
Once those are out, use your fingers and gently wiggle, persuade and lift the entire switch upwards to get it off the selector shaft. Remove it from under the bonnet. Leaving you with this:
Now, this is important. Refit all bolts loosely into their locations on the box, so you know where they went. It’s just easier.
OK, it’s out. Now what?
This is where you’ll have to excuse me. I brought the switch indoors to an easy clean place..the bathroom. So, once i’d evicted the cat and grabbed some cardboard, lets see whats what:
One switch upside down.
See that? in the upside down shot, there are 6 philips screws holding this switch together. Remember – “non serviceable”. More like “want your money”.
Remove the 6 screws. You *may* have to bend the bracket at the wiring end to enable you to split the switch open..it seems to clamp it shut. Bit of a bugger, but done carefully it won’t hurt.
Now CAREFULLY open up the switch. The selector “arm” inside has 3 spring loaded contacts..don’t lose them! Mine were gummed in place.
There we go, all opened. Note the seemingly tiny amount of yellowed grease in there! Those copper strips are your gearbox contacts..it’s a simple unit.
Some closeups of the manky grease and muck in there:
You can just see the rubber switch gasket stuck to the base..remove it carefully and put it to the side
That groove is where the gasket should sit on reassembly.
Now, break out an old cloth and some switch cleaner, and get all that old grease out. The grease seems to carbonise and solidify between the copper strip contacts, so you may need to use that jewellers flat blade and the toothbrush along with the switch cleaner to dig it all out of there.
To clean the “arm”, I gently removed the copper contacts and toothbrushed the rest using lots of switch cleaner, followed by a wipe down with the rag. Don’t snag the springs in the process!
It may not be needed, but after it was cleaned up, I gently polished up the copper strips and the arm contacts with some fine sandpaper, which we keep in the loo. (doesn’t everyone?)
One degunked, scraped and scrubbed switch contact set, after polishing with sandpaper. Nice and clean!
One degunked, scraped and scrubbed switch arm, after polishing with sandpaper. Nice and clean too!
Once cleaned to your satisfaction, break out the lube and lube it all back up! It needs to be high temperature, nonconducting grease..this stuff from maplin is like silicone sealer..thick, sticky, slippery, and should be fine.
I used my fingers to lube up the contact strip..spreading loads on and pushing it into all the valleys between the contacts, and smearing it over the copper. On the top half of the switch, I put 4 large blobs of it and spread it about evenly to cover the whole inner surface.
I also used my fingers to lube up the contact arm..the grease holds those copper bits in place when you reassemble the switch.
Once everything is greased up to your satisfaction, push the arm back into the switch housing, refit the gasket to the groove in the top cover (i used a dab of grease to hold it there) then manipulate the top cover back into place, making sure the arm, contacts and gasket stay put.
Now refit and tighten up the screws again.
There you go, switch done. Now refit to the car in the reverse way you removed it. You may need to move the switch positioning bit around using your fingers to get it to slide over the spindle on the box, but it’s easy. Make sure you bolt it up with the bolts in their original place or as close as you can to that. I used the dirt to see where the bolts had sat before!
Once back on, tighten up the bolts and reconnect the wiring. If the selector lever isn’t in the right position for refitting on the switch, move the selector in the car until it is, and refit.
Post installation operation check
Now this is important.
* Reconnect the battery, if disconnected
* Handbrake firmly on.
* Put the selector in Park
* Turn the key to position 2, but DO NOT start the engine.
* Move the selector slowly through all gears..does the flashing “S” light come on? If it does, the switch may not be your issue. Mine doesn’t anymore. Hurrah!
* Now put the selector into reverse.
* Get out and check your reversing lights have come on.
* Shift to any other gear/neutral/park
* Get out and check your reversing lights have gone off.
* Check again, to be sure.
* Stick it into park, and start it up
* Check you can also start it in neutral, but not in any other gear (pick somewhere with space!)
* With the engine running, try shifting through from P to 1 and back a few times – should be no fault light.
All good? Hopefully so. If so, congratulations..you should now have some respite from the “S” of doom..we’ll see how it goes on cold mornings! Fingers crossed.
Note:When you took the upper section of the switch off during disassembly, did you see the small “blocked off” tube hidden in the wiring channel, and the small hole inside the switch that it leads to?
I do wonder if this is a “grease” point, where more grease can be injected into the switch without need for removal..
Or, it could just be a breather..but why a switch should need one, i don’t know.
If this guide was useful to you, please consider donating towards the costs of hosting this page: