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Old 03-28-2013, 01:57 AM   #1
ZOXCAT
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Default 1999 Saturn SL1 - Multiple Issues - Please Read

I'm preparing my car to sell it, but obviously want it in as much working condition as possible so as to get the most money possible.

It's had problems ever since I purchased it 2+ years ago, but nothing major. Recently though, it's been running very, very rich. When I start it cold it always sputters a bit and coughs up a big cloud of gasoline rich smoke and if you're in the lane behind me you will smell it coming from my exhaust. This is the most important thing I mean to fix before selling.

Now, I know that the ECTS and thermostat are notorious for being faulty on this vehicle. I replaced the ECTS right after I bought it and never bothered with the thermosat until today.

Back up a little bit and here we are with the running rich problem. There was a code for the throttle position sensor being faulty, so I replaced it. After replacing it and disconnecting the battery and such, the code came back. Along with the TPS code, a new code emerged for the camshaft position sensor, which does not exist.

Okay, so there is a problem for sure. It could be the wires for the sensor. It could be something else altogether. Before I did anything else, I decided to replace my thermostat.

Before I headed out to pick up the part I poked around a bit and found that the two wires going to my ECTS, which had been spliced by yours truly, were a bit loose - so I respliced them. I started the car afterwards and there was no change in behavior. Still a bit of sputtering to start and a cloud of smoke. So, on to the parts store.

I pick up the new Durolast thermostat from AutoZone and proceed to drain my coolant. When I remove the housing for the old thermostat I can't find it - it's nowhere to be found. There was no thermostat in my car for the past 2 years. How is that even possible? So, I figure this must be some sort of cause of the problem the car is having. I install the new thermostat and fill up the system with Dex-Cool 50/50.

I start her up and the usual ailments remain (sputtering / smoke / gas rich). Let it run for 10 minutes and my temp gauge has not budged.

I'm thinking I may have fried the ECTS when resplicing ( I didn't disconnect the battery during). But, there is also no change in performance since installing a thermostat.

Please help me. I'm very inexperienced when it comes to working on cars. I've heard great things about you guys here.

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Old 03-28-2013, 06:12 AM   #2
Signmaster
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1995 SL1
Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL1 - Multiple Issues - Please Read

You seem to be heading in the right general direction. It's quite possible your splices for the ECTS are bad, or it's also possible that the plugs and basics are so fouled up that the mixture is right but not burning properly.

At least now you have a thermostat.

When was the last time you did any basic check of plugs and wires? Also have you ever pulled the codes recently? The codes should point you in the direction of what is wrong.

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Old 03-28-2013, 07:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL1 - Multiple Issues - Please Read

I'd examine the coolant sensor wiring again, carefully. The terminals on the connector and sensor should be clean and free of any corrosion - the operating voltages are below 5v and incorrect splicing or corroded/fouled connections results in a higher resistance that translates to the PCM 'seeing' a colder engine. The PCM being misinformed simply reacts with rich fuel mixtures. Go the other way, shorting the wiring and the pcm 'sees' a HOT engine and leans out fuel mixtures. No damage occurs to circuits when the ignition switch remains off.

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