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Old 10-15-2002, 06:20 PM   #1
AxeMan
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Dizzy Check Engine Light - Invalid Trouble Code

I'm having a strange problem with girlfriend's Saturn and hopefully someone has some clues. It's a 1997 SL1 Sedan, SOHC engine, automatic, 76K miles. Last Tuesday she told me she was getting an intermittent check engine light. I asked her if she noticed any change in engine performance (stalling, rough running, etc) and she said no. No change in performance. I told her that it was probably an emissions issue or something minor so I told her that I'd look at it over the weekend. I have an OBD-II compliant scan tool so I can readout the ECM trouble codes. So on Saturday I plug in the scan tool and I get the following trouble code: P0341.

I don't have a service manual for her Saturn so I looked up this code on the universal OBD-II lists and a P0341 code is "Camshaft position sensor range/performance". So I go looking for a cam position sensor on the engine head. I don't find one. So I made a quick call to a Saturn dealer asking for a price plus the location for the camshaft position sensor. "The SOHC engine does not have one" was the response I got. So how come the ECM in this engine is setting that code? Dunno was the answer I got. Must be some sort of electrical problem.

So I went and bought a Hayes manual and low and behold, the dealer was right. The manual lists all the trouble codes for the OBD-II compliant SOHC and DOHC engines and code P0341 is NOT used. So...my question is this. How could this ECM set a code for the camshaft position sensor when the engine doesn't have it? Do I possibly have a bad ECM? If someone has a shop manual could you do a double check to make sure trouble code P0341 isn't used? Luckily at this point the check engine light is just an annoyance because the car runs fine. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 10-15-2002, 06:31 PM   #2
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Something as simple as a gas cap that isn't properly tightened can activate the SES light. The cap is part of the emission-control system; it should be tightened at least 3 clicks after refueling.

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Old 10-15-2002, 06:46 PM   #3
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That is true. If your gas cap is loose you may set a check engine light. But when you readout the trouble code with a scan tool you'll get a code like P0440 which is related to the evaporative cannister system or something like that. You won't get a P0341 code.

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Old 10-15-2002, 06:58 PM   #4
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My copy of the Chilton's Saturn 1991-98 Repair Manual gives the following for PCM Diagnostic Code P0341 on page 4-25

System "CAM Location Signal"
Fault Description "Error"

I'm no mechanic, but that does not tell me much. Also, I thought that OBD-II started on later Saturns than 1997, (1999?), but I am not sure and it isn't in the Chilton's index. :-(

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Old 10-15-2002, 07:19 PM   #5
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Well the only thing I can contribute here in this thread is that OBDII was mandatory in cars beginning in '96. Everything from then on is supposed to follow this standard. Also some cars were following the OBDII standard a few years before it became mandatory. Well that is if you can believe everything you read on the web

Bill

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Old 10-15-2002, 08:55 PM   #6
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Someone already had this qyestion here before...

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Old 10-16-2002, 06:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by bbriand
Well the only thing I can contribute here in this thread is that OBDII was mandatory in cars beginning in '96. Everything from then on is supposed to follow this standard. Also some cars were following the OBDII standard a few years before it became mandatory. Well that is if you can believe everything you read on the web

Bill
Thanks, Bill! (I was sure somebody on here would correct me if I was wrong.)

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Old 10-16-2002, 06:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by ym42
Someone already had this qyestion here before...

You're correct. I went back and looked thru old posts and someone with a '99 got the exact same trouble code. The recommendation was to change out the plug wires and clean the coil towers. Dunno if that cured their problem because the original person asking the question didn't come back and say it cured the SES light. But this SL1 has 75K miles and the original plug wires so I figure it's worth a try to change them out and see what happens.

Thanks for the info.

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Old 10-16-2002, 09:17 AM   #9
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AS stated by the dealer and others your (her) car does NOT have a "camshaft position sensor" in the true sense of the definition. The OBDII computer sets this code when it "sees" a miss or cross firing plug or plug wire (essentially a sort of "one of these things is not like the other" constant comparison between the running plug wires obtained through feed back from the DIS module and/or coilpacks) 99.9 times out of a 100, replacing the plug wires and cleaning the coilpack towers solves the problem. HOWEVER! If you pull the plug wires off the plugs and discover any sort of corrosion or contamination on the boots it could be the cause. Since her car is a SL1, it won't be as prone to the "bad camcover gasket filling up the plug wells with oil" problem of "2" series DOHC cars, but the plugs boots are fairly exposed to the elements so corrosion is a faint possibility.

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Old 10-16-2002, 09:18 AM   #10
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check the spark plugs, wires and coil towers. that 's what i did when my 96 sc2 gave me that code. the coils were bad.

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Old 10-16-2002, 09:54 AM   #11
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Yea, thanks for the info. I changed the plugs at 60K miles so they should be OK. I visually inspected the plug wires at that time and pronounced them as "OK" but it appears I should have changed them as a preventative measure. This weekend they will definitely be changed.

There's a bunch of things that trouble me about this problem. GM is doing their customers and especially the Saturn techs a dis-service and creating confusion. First, if this problem is indeed cause by cross firing of the plug wires I would expect the ECM to set a code like P0300. Instead it sets a code of P0341. That tells me that GM is NOT adhering to standard SAE J2012 which outlines the standards inwhich the OBD-II trouble codes should refer to. The standard for P0431 says "camshaft position sensor". P0300 is "multiple crossfire". So it's bad enough that GM is not following the SAE standard. But what makes it even MORE confusing is that the manual....at least my Hayes manual....does NOT list P0341 as a vaild code used by the SOHC or DOHC engine. Yet...the ECM spits out this code with the OBD-II code reader. Unless you knew ahead of time that this code is actually crossfire and not a cam position sensor problem you are left scratching your head wondering what's going on. And you could easily spend hundreds of dollars and multiple hours changing out perfectly good parts and hope you get lucky and "Easter Egg" the problem.

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Old 10-16-2002, 10:09 AM   #12
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AMEN! I will only add (not to defend GM) that the Saturn ignition system actually fires two plugs simultaniously during "normal' operation. One fires "hard" (if you will) on the power stoke and its "sister" plug in the firing order fires "soft" on it's exhaust stroke hence the "multiple crossfire" interpreted by the PCM. The dealer was perhaps being vague about his explaination to drum up a little "easy" service business. As a former Saturn tech..this code and it's cause in a Saturn is/was common knowledge among us.

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Old 10-16-2002, 11:00 AM   #13
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No see it is a correct code and it is because the 'cam sensor' is failing to trigger a valid signal.
The problem is that Haynes/Chiltons aren't correct and never are. They are dime store mechanic POS DIYW (DIY-Wrong) manuals printed with a mish mash of generic information with the intent to make a few $$ and have a total disregard for accuracy and valid information.

The Saturn does in fact have a cam reference pulse and this pulse is triggered by the ignition control module through the Compression Sense Ignition.


The electronic ignition (EI) module supplies a ground to the cylinder #4 signal wire whenever it determines cylinder #4 has fired on its compression stroke. The EI module uses capacitive pickup plates located under the 1/4 coil pack to determine the polarity sequence and voltage amplitude of the cylinder 1/4 secondary ignition. The PCM supplies 5 volts on the signal line and expects to see the cylinder #4 signal wire go low after every 14 crankshaft pulses (2 revolutions). This is used to determine the position of the camshaft, except under decel. The PCM only uses the transition from 5 to 0 volts as a valid TDC compression #4 cylinder signal DTC P0341 sets when the PCM detects extra cam pulses (more than one cam pulse within two crankshaft revolutions.)

DTC Parameters
DTC P0341 will set if the PCM detects 11 or more consecutive extra cam pulses (cylinder #4 signal line is pulled to ground too often) when MAP is greater than 30 kPa.
If the PCM detects 20 correct consecutive cam pulses, DTC P0341 will pass for the rest of the ignition cycle.
DTC P0341 diagnostic runs continuously until 20 correct cam pulses have been received when the vehicle is not in a decel.
DTC P0341 is a type B DTC.

Diagnostic Aids
Use Scan tool to monitor CMP RESYNC COUNTER while running engine. The counter should count to 14, which indicates the number of notches passed on the crankshaft in 2 revolutions, then reset to zero when a cal pulse is received.
High resistance in the #4 secondary ignition system of low resistance in the #1 secondary ignition system can set this DTC. Check for corroded or loose #1 or #4 secondary ignition components. Use Scan tool to monitor MISSFIRE CURRENT CYL #1 and #4 which may point out an intermittent misfire causing the DTC.
A cam pulse that occurs too often without a cylinder misfire will not affect the engine operation.
-FSM

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-Adam Chant
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1997 Saturn SC2 - Stock Rebuild

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Old 10-16-2002, 11:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by wolfman
AMEN! I will only add (not to defend GM) that the Saturn ignition system actually fires two plugs simultaniously during "normal' operation. One fires "hard" (if you will) on the power stoke and its "sister" plug in the firing order fires "soft" on it's exhaust stroke hence the "multiple crossfire" interpreted by the PCM. The dealer was perhaps being vague about his explaination to drum up a little "easy" service business. As a former Saturn tech..this code and it's cause in a Saturn is/was common knowledge among us.
So is it a safe assumption that the trouble code P0341 is NOT supported by any formal documentation, such as the factory shop manual? And it's just "common knowledge" among Saturn techs?

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Old 10-16-2002, 11:07 AM   #15
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WOW ! SCDYNE, that was one heck of a long explaination for a "sensor" that dosen't exist ending with "check your plug wires" Don't feel bad though (I don't) I've had this running arguement with many fellow current and former techs about the "non-existant" camshaft position sensor for years! No one has ever been able to tell me beyond the manual's propaganda how "compression" can be sensed through a solid spark plug or plug wire with no actual pressure feed back or mechanical connection to the engines camshaft(s). Another GM miracle of technology!

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Old 10-16-2002, 11:20 AM   #16
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Oops...I take back my prior post. Thanks SCDYNE for the info. You just cleared up a bunch of confusion.

I think I'm gonna swing over to Helminc.com and order a shop manual.

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Old 10-16-2002, 11:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by AxeMan
manual....at least my Hayes manual....does NOT list P0341 as a vaild code used by the SOHC or DOHC engine.
there's your problem there. using a "Hayes" manual. Haynes manuals are crap. yes I have one. it's currently being used to hold up a table that wobbles. you really need a Saturn factory service manual and an Saturn tech that's been around for a few years to ask what they -really- mean.

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Old 10-16-2002, 11:50 AM   #18
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Actually...it all makes perfect sense now. The ECM "infers" the physical position of the camshaft by counting the return pulses from the ignition coils. If that count is incorrect either due to missfire or crossfire the ECM then assumes that the camshaft is not in proper time so it sets trouble code P0341.

It's kinda of a round-about way of doing it and can be easily upset by just having bad plug wires.

But what really pisses me off is that I'm sure the dealer knew this when I called and I asked about that trouble code. This squarely puts Saturn of Albany, NY on my "no business" list.

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Old 10-16-2002, 12:01 PM   #19
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Buy saturn tech manuals... that'd get expensive. I called my local Saturn dealer and asked about purchasing the manual for a '01 SC2. The gut was like well the manuals are around $200-$300 each. So I said something like "So the complete manual is less than $300?". I probably would have bought it until he said "Well I think there are about 8 different ones for your car."

After hearing that I figured I'd save my $2400 - $18 (Haynes/Chiltons manual) and possibly put it towards a turbo system. I mean come on. Now if I could only find them in PDF format...

Bill

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Old 10-16-2002, 12:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by bbriand
Buy saturn tech manuals... that'd get expensive. I called my local Saturn dealer and asked about purchasing the manual for a '01 SC2. The gut was like well the manuals are around $200-$300 each. So I said something like "So the complete manual is less than $300?". I probably would have bought it until he said "Well I think there are about 8 different ones for your car."

After hearing that I figured I'd save my $2400 - $18 (Haynes/Chiltons manual) and possibly put it towards a turbo system. I mean come on. Now if I could only find them in PDF format...

Bill

Go over to http://www.helminc.com. The shop manual is $120. They also have a "restraint" manual that's also $120 but chances are you won't need it.

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