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Old 08-04-2008, 05:24 PM   #1
celtic_jon
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Default 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

Hi Everyone. I've got a '93 Saturn SL1 automatic with 91000 miles, which seems to be getting quite hot. Even when the temp gauge in the dash is over 3/4 of the way to redlining, the fan will not kick on. I CAN turn the fan on manually, by turning on the AC, but after I shut the AC off, it will stay on for a few minutes and then turn off. The car has never actually over-heated (steam pouring out), just gotten hot.

I took it to a chevy (not saturn) dealer for a diagnostic, and they said my PCM was failing and that it would cost $600 to replace, and can only be done at a saturn dealership.

Overall, the car runs great. No problems with either starting or driving, and it will run on the highway just fine. Only 91,000 miles and no complaints.

My question is: can the dealership know "for sure" that the PCM is failing, or (after researching the forum) could it be the ECTS, or something else? Does the PCM usually fail in stages?

I'm a pretty technical guy (PCs & networking) but a bit of car DIY noob, so please be gentle with the replies. ~ Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2008, 06:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

Welcome to the Board.

Start with not taking it to a Chevy dealer.
Next replace the PCM coolant temp sensor and the connector if the terminals in it are corroded at all.
Realize to that the temp guages on the early S-series cars run the temp up fairly high (3/4 to redline) before the cooling fan cut in. They are supposed to come on at approx 226 degrees F.

Search the board for a wealth of info on the subject.
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Old 08-04-2008, 07:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

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Originally Posted by celtic_jon View Post
My question is: can the dealership know "for sure" that the PCM is failing,
Pretty much what ssicarman said.

Also car PCM's dont slowly fail. Either it works and everything is good or it doesnt and the car is dead.

But thats extremely rare. You have a better chance of being hit by lightning inside a cave than have a PCM go bad.

Now if they could only make a Windows PC that reliable??????????????
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

Thanks for the replies. I didn't take it to the Saturn dealer, because that's a 3 hour round trip for me, but I guess that's really where is should have gone. I'll give the coolant temp sensor replacement a try, and see if that helps. My uncle is a car DIYer, so I'm sure he wouldn't mind helping a noob like me. While I'm at it, I might try to fix my SES code 26, which has been flashing for a while.

Is there any risk of damage to the car if I drive it while manually keeping the temperature low? Say for another week or 2?

Good to know that it's probably not the PCM. If it really is, I'll be sure to play lotto.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-05-2008, 04:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

I was doing the same thing, turning on the A/C for a second just to kick on the fan.
But then I installed a switch so I can manually turn the fan on and off.
I drive about a mile to let the car warm up a little, and then turn the fan on, and I leave it on for a few seconds after I shut the car off.
This has completely solved my problem (trans not shifting right), and the car is running fine.
I was worried it wouldn't get hot enough, but RPM's are right under 1000 at idle, so I don't think it is still in "warm up mode."
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

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Old 08-05-2008, 11:08 AM   #7
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

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Now if they could only make a Windows PC that reliable??????????????
Typically, the PC is that reliable. It's Windows that's not reliable. (I suppose you coud say you can "rely" on Windows to be flaky...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by celtic_jon View Post
Thanks for the replies. I didn't take it to the Saturn dealer, because that's a 3 hour round trip for me, but I guess that's really where is should have gone.
If your Saturn dealer is that far away, the first place to go is here.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

since you're a pc and network guy (I'm IT, too - oracle db consultant) you need to rig up a wireless receiver and antenna, connect your laptop, write some monitoring software to scan the actual temps at multiple points in the system, and have the laptop activate the fan remotely when necessary. The wireless need? Well, you might as well go war driving while you're playing!

:-)

Yeah, ok, a worthless answer but I couldn't resist! Fits right in with standard windoze solution #1 for any problem - reboot!
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Some people just aren't happy. Would you like the small, medium or large to go?
fdryer, what are you talking about?

My signature is a quote from the movie Mad Max, which I guess I was thinking about when I made my screen name.

What did you think I meant?
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

On the older models, with the A/C off, the fan does not come on until the temp gauge indication passes the 3/4 scale mark, just be low the RED zone which is at 7/8 of full scale. Normal operating temperature is around 3/8 to 1/2 scale on the temp gauge - if all sensors and the t-stat are working properly. (Newer models have a lower gauge position.)

The temp gauge has a separate sensor from the ECTS which feeds engine temperature data to the PCM, and controls the fan.

See the first two sticky threads in the How-to Library forum for more on the ECTS.
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: 93 Saturn Getting Hot (Bad PCM?)

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fdryer, what are you talking about? My signature is a quote from the movie Mad Max, which I guess I was thinking about when I made my screen name. What did you think I meant?
I was thinking about the Mad MAx movie also! And was thinking Hummer, Army tank, big honkin' vehicles, that sort of thing. Just got a chuckle reading your sigature that's all.
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