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auxmike 07-03-2004 10:49 PM

Changing the ECTS Coolant Temp Sensor (with pictures)
This is how I changed my coolant temp sensor in a 1995 SL2 Twin Cam with auto tranny and ABS.
I bought the sensor from a Saturn dealer,this way I got the special threadlocker on it already to install.I would not buy an aftermarket version of this part because of this.

DISCLAIMER!:I just took pictures of what I did one day.
I don't suggest you actually try this at home yourself.Hire a real mechanic.I am not responsible if you try this and get hurt or ruin your car doing this!

First I made sure the car is DEAD COLD!You can't do this with hot antifreeze,it will burn a guy badly!

If I have an older Saturn I would notice two stickers on the black metal front frame.I don't bang stuff there!

Ice cold engine off , I opened the hood.
I unclip the 4 airbox clips by the radiator end of the intake.

I Squeezed together the two prongs of the spring clip that holds the intake to the throttle body.
It locked open to allow removal from the throttle body.That clip stays on,BTW.
I removed the breather hose from the valve cover.Then remove the plastic intake.
I Found the ECTS under the EGR valve.Some cars have two sensors,it's the lower back one I could not even see.I had to feel for the two "high" spots on the connector bell and squeez/pull to get it off.See below later on details how this is done.

auxmike 07-03-2004 10:50 PM

After I got the connector off,this is how it looked in the car.I could'n't see this so I stuffed the camera in there.
I used a 13mm deep socket to unscrew the old sensor,1/4 inch drive preferred.I didn't unscrew it all the way though!

I quick unscrewed the connector the rest of the way by hand,then had the other new sensor in hand ready to screw in.Coolant WILL come out of the hole,so the quicker I got that new one started ,the less a mess I had.Note the red stuff on the threads.That's the VERY important threadlocker that comes on the dealer part.

Tightened down the new sensor with the 13mm socket.Spec is 71 INCH pounds,that's not a lot!I did not overtighten,but didn't leave it so it will wiggle out later either.
I just turned it till it felt snug enough to stay put.Their is threadlocker on the dealer part sensor,red stuff.

auxmike 07-03-2004 10:52 PM

I Checked old sensor and connector.If the connector is slimey inside,one might want to buy a new one.This is optional,but recommended if one has green slime in connector.
Here's the connector pack I can buy from the dealer,cost $26,comes with instructions.
Here's new all brass next to old cracked brown resin ECTS.What's that PCV valve doing in there?
This is how the sensor goes in/out.I squeeze it on the black just above where my thumb is.I did'nt squeeze the longer "horns".They are part of the locking system.This is the sensor resting in position.

auxmike 07-03-2004 10:53 PM

This is the sensor locked in.Note how the "Flats" on the brown part lines up with the black part you squeeze.
I couldn't see any of this,so I had to feel it to get it back on right,the connector that is.
Thus the illustration outside of the hidden area it resides in.
Once the sensor is in and connector reattached,reinstalled the intake.
I gently squeezed again the spring clips at the throttle body while pressing down the lock tab with a screwdriver.Eased off the clips gently.
Pressed closed the 4 clips for the airbox.
Checked the antifreeze level,topped off if needed.Checked for any tools left around engine bay or hood!
Started car,checked for any leaks.
This is what I did today,thought you might like to see.
Remember,this is show and tell,I'm not teling you to try this yourself.

HomeBase 07-04-2004 10:46 AM


I need to replace mine on my 96 SL2. This will help me tremendously!



Tiger 07-04-2004 11:00 AM

Beautiful! Thanks for the great picks and directions! :p

dcp 07-04-2004 05:02 PM

Very good information,THANKYOU!

wolfman 07-04-2004 08:00 PM

Very good pictures. I will only interject that the sensor with the SINGLE yellow wire going to it that IS visable in all those pictures is NOT the ECTS. That is the sensor for the GAUGE in 95' and earlier cars. If you look at the picture where the poster is using the ratchet wrench with the extension on it, it kinda points (as he is tightening it in the picture) to where the ECTS IS, BELOW and to the RIGHT of where the one wire gauge sensor that can be seen in the pictures is located. 96' and UP cars will NOT have the gauge sensor visable in these photos so there is no chance of making an error and removing the wrong one.

auxmike 07-04-2004 08:13 PM

Thanks Wolf!
Yes,it's the two wire.I would hope folks would realise that by the way I mentioned you can't really see it.
Any advice just how tight to go for the 99% of people out there who don't have a torque wrench in inch lbs.?
I don't like to hammer it all the way home due to the fact it's brass and dished at the end.When I feel resistance,I ease up on it.The threadlocker seems to hold it still quite well.

wolfman 07-04-2004 08:52 PM

The "feel" of a fully seated ECTS is very similiar to a spark plug. When you feel the resistance increase to the point that you can no longer turn it by hand, THEN carefully use the socket wrench to continue. When you feel a marked increase in resistance to turning the wrench, about another 1/2 turn MAX will do. DO NOT wrench it down with all your strength. You can also pull off the socket and feel for the gap between the hex head of the sensor and the engine. When that gap is gone, the sensor is fully bottomed. I wish your excellant pictures had been added to the "How To" instructions I had posted months ago...they would work quite well hand in hand, though your instructions are right on the money.

auxmike 07-04-2004 09:03 PM

Wolf,feel free to "steal" my pics and add them to your description as you see fit.Not a problem.
All I ask is credit for the pics.
Mi casa es Su casa!:cool:

Spazie 07-22-2004 06:01 PM

I feel handy!! I just did this all by myself. First time I've ever done something mechanic-ish on my car without my brother's supervision. Thanks for the pics, they were a great help!!

Razorbak 09-15-2004 11:23 AM


Can one of the moderators please make this thread a sticky? :?:

(Same for wolfman's ECTS thread.)


ndsaturn 09-19-2004 05:56 AM

quik question. the etcs on my 93 saturn is brass with a black plastic end. which one is this? old or new style, or aftermarket ? ty

sierrap615 09-19-2004 02:06 PM

thats the new and improved style.

123SVT 12-14-2004 05:39 AM

Re: HOW OT: Change the ECTS Coolant Temp Sensor w/pics!
I tried this BUT at the last step I couldn't get the conector on right now it read nothing on my temp gauge.... :dizzy:


sierrap615 12-15-2004 03:08 AM

Re: HOW OT: Change the ECTS Coolant Temp Sensor w/pics!
i know it doesn't look directional, but i'm sure it is, try fliping it 180 degrees

Luke 12-15-2004 11:52 AM

Re: HOW to: Change the ECTS Coolant Temp Sensor w/pics!
I feel handy!! I just did this all by myself. First time I've ever done something mechanic-ish on my car without my brother's supervision. Thanks for the pics, they were a great help!![/quote]

That should strongly support the suggestion that you continue to work on your car--it can only gett better, & surprise you even more. :yes:

emptypockets 12-15-2004 08:53 PM

Re: HOW OT: Change the ECTS Coolant Temp Sensor w/pics!
Awesome auxmike! I need to do this on my car and I don't think we even have a 13 mm socket let alone a deep well. Thanks for the how-to.

romac 01-07-2005 05:41 AM

Re: Changing the ECTS Coolant Temp Sensor (with pictures)
We just got our ECTS in for her 96 SC1 5spd. How much do these instructions vary from that? Anything else to look out for? Is this something we can do on our own?

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