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Old 07-15-2017, 12:43 PM   #1
CompComplex
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Question Starting Problems - But Read On...

I am having a problem with my 1998 Saturn SL2 that I thought I had fixed after searching for solutions through Google and coming upon this fine forum. Now that I joined, I believe I've spent time searching enough to think I know I haven't come across the same problem, per se. Here's what I got:

When the car has been parked for 8+ hours and I go to start it, I first place the ignition in ACC, then all the right things happen - lights come on in dash, the buzzing of the fuel pump behind me goes off, and then it's associated relay behind the dash clicks. When I move the key to START - it cranks and it starts, but its a very sluggish almost non-start. To coax it into starting I have to really pump the gas pedal and after many pumps, the car fully starts. This is after a good amount of blue-tinged smoke spews out the tail pipe. But once started, it runs like a champ.

Once the car is warm, if I go do errands and make stops - I have no issues starting it. Once in a while, after a short stop I do experience what I described above, but what I described above mostly happens after an 8+ hour stoppage of car use.

Prior to Google searches I thought it might be my battery. It was 5-years old to the month after all, so I replaced it. That was not the problem. Through Google searches and coming across this forum I thought it might be the crankshaft position sensor (CPS). My son and I changed that out today, and still the car has a problem starting up. I am suspecting the fuel pump or something associated with the delivery of fuel to the car. But before I spend the time and coin on that I was hoping to hear from someone who might have experience in this sort of problem.

All questions are welcomed and any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 07-15-2017, 01:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Your post should be in the S-series Tech forums. You're in the L-series Tech forums. Copy and repost there for members sharing info related to S-series cars.

What you may have overlooked is what ails every S-series engine - the infamous original coolant sensor (round nosed plastic), cracking and sending incorrect temperature signals. The engine can flood at startup as well as run rich all the time with the temperature gauge needle hovering (incorrectly) over the 1/4 mark. Remove it for examination and replace it with a flat nosed brass one. This sensor usually results in overheating and damage the rubber seals used in thermostats requiring t-stat replacement. A reader displaying actual coolant temps can help as operating temps should be between 185F-200F. Instant starting is a hallmark of EFI systems.

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Old 07-15-2017, 01:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Welcome to the Forum! You have posted in the L-Series forum. You may get more detailed responses in the S-Series Forum.

However, it sounds like a weak fuel delivery problem. When was the fuel filter last changed? Of course it could be a weak/failing fuel pump as well.

Start with the fuel filter if not recently changed and see what happens.

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Old 07-16-2017, 11:27 AM   #4
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Information Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Post moved to S-Series Tech forum.

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Old 07-16-2017, 12:42 PM   #5
CompComplex
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Happy Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

I apologize for the confusion on my part. Thanks for the info I will be certainly looking into it.

Also, thanks to the admin for moving my post for me!

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Old 07-16-2017, 01:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Your post should be in the S-series Tech forums. You're in the L-series Tech forums. Copy and repost there for members sharing info related to S-series cars.

What you may have overlooked is what ails every S-series engine - the infamous original coolant sensor (round nosed plastic), cracking and sending incorrect temperature signals. The engine can flood at startup as well as run rich all the time with the temperature gauge needle hovering (incorrectly) over the 1/4 mark. Remove it for examination and replace it with a flat nosed brass one. This sensor usually results in overheating and damage the rubber seals used in thermostats requiring t-stat replacement. A reader displaying actual coolant temps can help as operating temps should be between 185F-200F. Instant starting is a hallmark of EFI systems.
Thanks for the info. I've already looked into this. Seems straightforward to replace and try. I guess I know what I'm doing next weekend...

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Old 07-16-2017, 01:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rb6667 View Post
Welcome to the Forum! You have posted in the L-Series forum. You may get more detailed responses in the S-Series Forum.

However, it sounds like a weak fuel delivery problem. When was the fuel filter last changed? Of course it could be a weak/failing fuel pump as well.

Start with the fuel filter if not recently changed and see what happens.
Another thing to check, which I will. I haven't looked into this on yet (how to do), but that's what I'm off to do now. Thanks for the info!

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Old 07-16-2017, 03:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

If "pumping" the throttle really helps, then that is a pretty good hint that the fuel-pressure is OK and the ECT sensor probably is the culprit.

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Old 07-16-2017, 08:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
If "pumping" the throttle really helps, then that is a pretty good hint that the fuel-pressure is OK and the ECT sensor probably is the culprit.
Well, two so far are point me in that direction. I've looked into it and it seems pretty straightforward to do. I'll give it a shot. Thanks.

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Old 07-18-2017, 07:07 AM   #10
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Question Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

I've continued to do some research and I'm truly torn in which direction to go. Most of the advice and what I have read points to either the engine coolant temp sensor (ECTS) or the EGR Valve. Those most of the advice points to those two as either (or who knows maybe both) as the culprit, there is little explanation as to why.

Is anyone willing to provide a more detailed reasoning as to why it's one over the other?

My problems from the original post persist - I can get the car started, but I have to vigorously pump the gas pedal. And just yesterday that process failed on me, so I'm beginning to think I'm on borrowed time until the car won't start at all.

Again, any help, advice, or information will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 07-18-2017, 10:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

"Pumping" the throttle has no effect except to invoke "flood clear" when the throttle is opened past a certain point while cranking. That stops injection pulses to help the engine start if it has been flooded with too much fuel. The ECT sensor is a prime cause of "too much fuel", as it usually fails such that it indicates a very low engine temp (maybe even down towards -40F) and the PCM commands the very rich mixture that would be required at such a low temperature.

The EGR? It has no effect while cranking/starting. Even if it is defective and leaking (the only failure that would matter), there is no exhaust when starting, it can't interfere with the "first firing".

Aside from the above logic, the ECT sensor is the easiest, cheapest, and most likely failure. If you gotta gamble to pick one, pick the best bet...

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Old 07-18-2017, 11:24 AM   #12
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CompComplex View Post
I've continued to do some research and I'm truly torn in which direction to go. Most of the advice and what I have read points to either the engine coolant temp sensor (ECTS) or the EGR Valve. Those most of the advice points to those two as either (or who knows maybe both) as the culprit, there is little explanation as to why.

Is anyone willing to provide a more detailed reasoning as to why it's one over the other?

My problems from the original post persist - I can get the car started, but I have to vigorously pump the gas pedal. And just yesterday that process failed on me, so I'm beginning to think I'm on borrowed time until the car won't start at all.

Again, any help, advice, or information will be greatly appreciated.
Discussing problems go only so far. Until you remove your coolant sensor as suggested previously, you're not going to know anything.

This failure of virtually every original round nosed coolant sensor has been covered many times in these forums. All you have to do is search to find repeated info about it.

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Old 07-18-2017, 03:13 PM   #13
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
Aside from the above logic, the ECT sensor is the easiest, cheapest, and most likely failure. If you gotta gamble to pick one, pick the best bet...
The ECTS is a problem that has plagued Saturns until it gets changed. So +1 on that, plus like billr said, EGR is not part of the starting equation.

The other common symptoms besides the hard starting and blue/black smoke are: lower mpg, radiator fan does not come on when idling, and temp gauge never rising above 1/4 on the temp gauge.

it really is straight forward. Videos, photos, and how-tos abound because it is so common.

Don't overtighten, if you don't want to spend the $10~12 for the new part, pull out your current one (13mm deep socket) and examine the tip. Round nose = replace. Flat = good

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Old 07-18-2017, 09:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: Starting Problems - But Read On...

you don't say how many miles are on the clock.im guessing high milage..since this is injected .as stated previously in clear flood.fuel injection stops...your pumping has no effect on that..so lets do a cheap free other than your time experiment..since this is an 8+hr cold soak issue from an assumed return from a drive at operating temp..you say it runs fine.si I will assume no misfires and plugs&wires ok..wouldn't run if coils...it gets fuel and oil hence the grey/blue smoke..we can assume the valves&seats are ok cuz anything over 24%leakdown in cyclinder will cause a noticeable misfire.. so the only thing left is something killing the spark..what could do that?coolant..when you shut off the car the cooling system still has pressure until it cools back down to ambient temp.that pressure can force a small amount of coolant into 1 or more cyclinders and foul out the plug causeing a hard start...to roadtest this idea fri night come home&shut off.next am pull out the plugs and stuff some paper towels down the wells with a large towel over all the plug holes to hold in place while someone else cranks it over..also put the plugs in the wires and look at the spark while your there.should be bright blue...there should be no damp or wet towels unless it's oil(possible you could have a valve gide or stem seal leaking so much oil into the cyclinder it fouls it out but I doubt it or you would have a james bond smoke screen every time you take off..) if it is wet you have found the problem and a new headgasket is in your future...if completely dry no oil or coolant we need to look at cranking fuel pressure...hth

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