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Old 09-21-2011, 03:00 PM   #1
SkippyThorson
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Default 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

Over recent years, my Saturn has developed a low hum, definitely noticeable and growing. Today, something relating to the exhaust let itself go - it has that continuous loud farting sound whenever and only when I accelerate.

It does not sound like it is coming from the back of the car. The muffler and all the pipe I can see look fine. Two years ago the heat shield fell and rattled against the pipe, and I put a 2 inch metal piece between the shield and the screw holding it up. It's certainly not that.

I can only describe it as that stereotypical loud-car farting sound. It seems like it's coming from right near the engine. If you were to look across the bottom of the car from right below the front tire, it seems like it's right there, but I can't tell.

Any ideas on what I may be in for? Hole in the pipe, the pipe rusting into 2 pieces, etc? My car is very rust-free for being a daily driver NY car, so I can't positively say if rust is to blame. Maybe just a clamp coming loose or falling off? Hmm.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

It won't be just a clamp; everything from the downpipe (right off the manifold) to the cat is welded together. One semi-common failure point is the flex-pipe; it's just upstream of the cat, and it has a braided metal outer jacket. Look/listen for the noise around there. Can you get your hands on some ramps? That would be the best way to inspect the forward part of the exhaust system.
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

Wish I could have just checked earlier, but I was in a white dress shirt and good jeans. Got it home just now, and got underneath. Right behind the cat., where the pipes bolt together, it looks like a little rubber gasket blew itself apart. Would that be all that's causing the noise? What is that gasket?

MadPogue, thank you for that tip. I can wager that'll come in handy to know some day.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

Have a friend hold an old rag over the exhaust pipe with the engine idling while you hover your hand around the suspected joint. From the back pressure, the source of the leak/noise should be obvious but that sure sounds like it's the problem.

Catalytic Converter Gasket ~$4.20 from RA. I didn't check the FLAPs price but should be close.

Be sure to PB the crap out of the three flange nuts several times before even attempting to remove them. The nuts are torx IIRC?
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

Well. It wasn't as easy as I thought. The flange around the gasket was a mess, and the guy I go to all the time had a recommendation for me. His father has a third gen like mine. He took it in this morning so I can see his work. He cut the flange out on both sides, and just replaced it with solid pipe. He never has to mess with a connection, gasket, or messed up flange again.

This seems like a great idea to me. It's not like I'll ever be working on my own exhaust or bending pipe. The less that's there to go wrong down the road, the better. The little mount on the curve just before the muffler was also broken, so he fixed that too. He said it was very clean underneath, and the job wouldn't take long at all. It took him about an hour start to finish.

I dropped it off with him around 10:30am, and I got back to pick it up around 1:30pm because I had errands to run. It set me back $75, but I think it was worth it considering parts, time, and labor. Honestly, I don't think my car has been this quiet since it was new. It makes me wonder how long the flange / gasket was on its way out before it totally went.

Weird thought of the day; I can swear that my car turns and stops nicer after it's been up in the air on a lift. Am I nuts?
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

I had the same thing happen to both my '97s, at the same time coincidentally. The bolts holding that 3-pointed flange together rusted out and the pipe fell off the cat. I just welded the two flanges together tho, instead of cutting and adding pipe.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:13 PM   #7
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultimate View Post
I had the same thing happen to both my '97s, at the same time coincidentally. The bolts holding that 3-pointed flange together rusted out and the pipe fell off the cat. I just welded the two flanges together tho, instead of cutting and adding pipe.
Yup, that's about it. Those bolts, or what was left of them, needed to go. I'm thrilled with the outcome. It's nice and quiet now! Ahh, the little things.
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL1 Exhaust Suddenly Loud

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkippyThorson View Post
Yup, that's about it. Those bolts, or what was left of them, needed to go. I'm thrilled with the outcome. It's nice and quiet now! Ahh, the little things.
Heh, as soon as I got done welding the flange on my car, started it up... No leaks from my weld, but the dang flex pipe developed quite the leak. Thats this weekend's repair. Still not quiet !
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