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Old 06-12-2018, 05:38 PM   #1
Achromia
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Default Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Hey there guys, first time poster but long time lurker of this forum. Before I even get started with my problems I'd just like to thank all the wonderful members of this forum present and past for the insane wealth of knowledge you all have about Saturns. I've saved so much time and money thanks to you helpful people and in doing so I've learned a good deal about Saturns myself, so thank you.

Now with the respects out of the way, I'm in search of some help. Recently I've purchased a wonderful little 1995 SW2 Automatic with 93k miles on the odo, a few thousand of which I've put on myself since owning it. By trade I'm a Union Carpenter and I travel quite a lot for work, being from the Chicagoland area. This is not my first Saturn I've owned, in the past I had a '93 SL2 5-speed that I loved and worked on myself, so I do have a good amount of knowledge of their workings and quirks. Recently on my SW2 I have been getting a dismal 18.5-20 mpg on my daily commute, which is about a 10 mile commute one way through both city and highway.

I do already have a lot of work put into my SW2 due to having no idea what the previous owner did maintenance wise, a small list of which includes:
-New Brass ECTS
-New Thermostat (87c/188F Stant 14279)
-New O2 sensor OE fitment (Bosch)
-New plugs and wires (NGK Copper)
-New Temp Sensor for Gauge
-New Fuel Filter
-New PCV (Aftermarket)
-Oil and Filter change
-New Coils
-New Air Filter
-Lots of other things too, if they pertain

With all of that said, I have two major problems I think may be affecting my mileage. The first is that I do have a consistent Code 13, O2 sensor low voltage/open circuit. It appears within 2-5 minutes of normal driving. This is what I think is the main cause of my poor mileage/low power problems, but I have replaced the O2 sensor now a total of 3 times, with a recurring code. To my eyes the connector appears to be in good shape, no corrosion or obvious fraying of the wire but I can't be sure because it's wrapped in a wire loom. How would I go about testing the O2/connector with a voltmeter or DMM and what procedures should I be attempting to resolve my code 13?
Second, I have replaced the thermostat + gasket 2 times now, and flushed coolant the day I bought the car. I believe the current thermostat to be known good, in fact I installed it just last night. All over this forum I have seen different things regarding where the temp gauge should be positioned on S-series, and my '95 rests now at roughly 3/8ths on the gauge under normal driving conditions with A/C on. I have heard some of you say that the gauge for the '95 and earlier cars should be squarely at the 1/2 mark, and I am wondering if during normal driving the car is not properly warming up. At 3/8ths on the gauge is the car stuck in open loop and causing excessive fuel consumption? If I park the car and let it idle for a while without the AC on, it does eventually get to 1/2 and above on the gauge, with the fan coming on at about 5/8ths on the gauge.

Finally, I do know that a previous owner has replaced the ECTS connector at some point, I see the crimps on the connector. Should I replace the connector prematurely even though it seems to be in working order?

Sorry for the long first post and explanation, but I'm starting to become really frustrated with this MPG and SES problem. I love this little car but I do too much driving to afford poor gas mileage. Anything you guys can suggest I will attempt to try, you are all great people! Thanks for reading.

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Old 06-12-2018, 05:56 PM   #2
Commeatus
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

temp gauge at 3/8ths is exactly where you want it to be, and the fan is kicking on right when it should, so your cooling system sounds hunky-dory. I'm not knowledgeable enough to advise beyond that, though

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Old 06-12-2018, 07:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achromia View Post

Finally, I do know that a previous owner has replaced the ECTS connector at some point, I see the crimps on the connector. Should I replace the connector prematurely even though it seems to be in working order?
If the ECTS connector receptical look good it's not likely that you would need to replace the connector. However, I would cut the crimps out of the ECTS connector and solder and shrink wrap the wires. This ensures there is a proper circuit and takes that out of the equation.

Regarding the code 13, you may want to check the condition of your ground wires. Read this excerpt from a thread....
Quote:
On the back of the block, above the starter, under the #4 intake manifold runner there is a 10mm bolt attaching several wires to the block, these are the O2 sensor grounds. Remove bolt and gently clean the ring terminals and block, reassemble. Do not drop the bolt. You can reach this bolt after removing the plastic air intake tube from the throttle body without getting under the car. Also remove ,the O2 sensor and gently clean the threads on the sensor and the mating surface on the manifold. Do not use any chemical cleaners on the sensor.
Also, make sure the sensor you are replacing is the lower 2 wire sensor. There are 2 on the 95 and earlier S Series, the one wire sensor is for the gauge and the 2 wire sensor is related to fuel management. In the photo below the person is removing the 2 wire sensor and you can also see the one wire sensor with yellow wire.


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Last edited by trottida; 06-12-2018 at 07:59 PM..

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Old 06-12-2018, 08:20 PM   #4
Achromia
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Trottida, those are fantastic recommendations, I honestly hadn't ever seen that discussion regarding the O2 sensor grounds. It's entirely possible that could be a cause, I'll look at the ground as soon as I get a chance! Thanks very much.

Indeed, the sensor I'm looking at is the 2 wire ECTS that has been crimp spliced previously. I have replaced the 1 wire sensor for the gauge already, and that seems to be properly working. I have also replaced the ECTS with a new one as of a day ago, but the previous re-wire makes me think it may not be spliced correctly

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Old 06-13-2018, 06:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

The temp gauge sounds like it is working correctly. As far as the poor fuel economy, one you are running the AC in city driving.

This is going to be one area of concern. AC, unless you are on the highway, will KILL your fuel economy.

Regarding code 13, this code sets when there is no signal from the O2 sensor AFTER the car has reached the temperature needed for "closed loop" operation.

In addition to checking the ground wires on the top bolt to the transmission bell housing/engine block mating, I would check the wire coming off the plug of the replacement O2 sensor. You may have a melted/broken wire causing this fault.

When this happens, the car will continue to operate in "open loop", which means it will run around 12.5-13.0:1 air/fuel ratios, instead of utilizing fuel trims from the O2 reference voltage to lean it out as close to 14.7:1 as the PCM can calibrate it to run.

Since there is no signal being detected by the PCM, this is why you are NOT setting a Code 45 for rich exhaust after one minute of operation, which would be the code telling you why you are getting such poor economy.

Once you have determined that all the wiring is in good repair/soldered splices, the next step is to replace the PCM itself, if the Code 13 is still present AFTER confirming the wires are not the problem.

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Old 06-13-2018, 10:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

To clarify the temp gauge reading... for your 95 it should be within a needle width or so from the half mark. Being at 3/8 would concern me. If your fan is coming on at the 5/8 mark then I'd be suspect of the gauge or gauge sensor.

Absolutely resolve your code 13 before spending any more $$.

The other thing you did not talk about was the cat-con. A restricted exhaust can make the pope say bad words.

I'd also run a compression test and fuel pressure as just normal trouble shooting. Also spark check the coils. Just because they are new doesn't mean they are good. TONS of junk parts on the market.

I'm not sure what you are expecting for mpg's but for mixed driving in Chicago you probably are not too far from normal.

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Old 06-13-2018, 05:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Thanks to both of you for the insight, it's very appreciated. I am going to run outside now and clean my ground for the O2 and see if that is my cause for the code.

Saturn Night, what you said about the AC usage is good advice too, it's unseasonally hot right now in Chicago and it does suck to drive with no AC so on that front I can live with a few less MPG but I probably wouldn't expect to see 18MPG from just AC usage, right?

I will do as Highmile suggested and check normal engine function including spark, compression and fuel pressure. I too am pretty suspect of either the temp. gauge or temp. sensor for the gauge, but the sensor is new of my replacement maybe a month ago. Would a bad one wire sensor to the gauge cause a ~1/8th difference in needle postition? My assumption is that I would have NO gauge at all if that were the case..

Either way I will be focusing heavily on fixing my Code 13, hoping to not need to replace the connector unless absolutely necessary as the part is almost $90 at my local parts store, yikes Thanks for the help guys!

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Old 06-13-2018, 06:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achromia View Post
.... hoping to not need to replace the connector unless absolutely necessary as the part is almost $90 at my local parts store, yikes Thanks for the help guys!
You wouldn't need to replace the connector but rather just cut out the crimp connectors and solder and shrink wrap the wires.

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Old 06-13-2018, 07:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Highmile, 18.5 even in city driving is awful, and not right.
Specs are 26 city, 37 highway and 30 combo.
Something is seriously wrong with this car, or the OP is driving in 1, not D.

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Old 06-13-2018, 09:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achromia View Post
......... 1995 SW2 Automatic with 93k miles on the odo, a few thousand of which I've put on myself since owning it......my '95 rests now at roughly 3/8ths on the gauge under normal driving conditions.... At 3/8ths on the gauge is the car stuck in open loop and causing excessive fuel consumption? If I park the car and let it idle for a while without the AC on, it does eventually get to 1/2 and above on the gauge, with the fan coming on at about 5/8ths on the gauge.......
When the cooling fan turns on, this says the two wire coolant sensor is working and sending correct signals, even with crimped connections otherwise any compromise in crimped connections would interfere with correct signals reaching the pcm and not turn on the cooling fan when needed. Its up to you if you cut the crimps and solder these connections but I doubt the low fuel mileage is a fault in coolant sensor wiring. What's not discussed is the O2 sensor itself.

Code 13 is about the O2 sensor. As long as the service light flashes, remains on or blinks, the EFI system is in open loop mode. Open loop mode means either cold engine startup/warming or the EFI system emissions monitors detected something wrong - turns on the check engine light, stores error code(s) and leaves (normal) closed loop mode of emissions control for open loop mode. You're engine is staying in open loop mode as long as the cel remains on with whatever error code is stored. Fuel mileage isn't a priority until the code 13 problem is solved (presuming its the only error code).

Using a Bosch O2 sensor may be the problem and not wiring. Early EFI systems using OBD I also used first generation O2 sensors. Original O2 sensors are either Denso or NTK and if you search around here for the recommended sensor or members can point out which one works for your '95. Despite fear mongers stating Bosch O2 sensors are poor substitutes, what's never acknowledged are incompatibilities when using sensors that appear on paper may be equivalent but fail in actual use. Some areas of EFI systems should use oem parts and not equivalent components. The O2 sensor, throttle position sensor and egr valve are some of the items that work better with oem replacements. A fact no one wants to acknowledge - Bosch invented the EFI system, owns world wide rights to all the iterations since the beginning. GM, Ford and Chrysler (back then when Bosch already had EFI systems in Japanese and European vehicles) refused to pay royalty fees to incorporate Bosch EFI systems. They failed miserably with their own versions of throttle body (single large injector) carburetors to keep Carter, Holly, and a few others from falling into oblivion. They succumbed and what the world knows is Bosch EFI systems have no equal for mass produced emissions control and achieving fuel economy for any vehicle that can take advantage of electronically controlled fuel management. Bosch O2 sensors work fine in almost every other car, truck or suv where its used as oem parts. Just not in 1st gen Saturns. Incompatibility, not faulty Bosch sensors.

My guess is if the original O2 sensor didn't turn on the cel until the replacement was used, either an incompatible sensor was used or wiring is at fault. Unitil the error code and repair is made to allow the EFI system to detect and erase this error on its own, open loop mode will remain. And fuel economy will remain low.

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Old 06-14-2018, 06:17 AM   #11
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

I'd agree with the above. Most likely the O2 is either simply not properly connected, or not the right one.

You can actually use the field test mode and see if the car is ever even entering closed loop operating. With MPG that low, there is likely a good chance it is not, and just running open loop the entire time.

To use field service mode, jumper the ALDL terminals A and B after starting the car. The CEL will flash twice a second while in open loop mode, and slow to about once a second if it enters closed loop. The transition is easy to notice when it takes place, and even in cold weather should usually take place within a minute.

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Old 06-14-2018, 03:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signmaster View Post
I'd agree with the above. Most likely the O2 is either simply not properly connected, or not the right one.

You can actually use the field test mode and see if the car is ever even entering closed loop operating. With MPG that low, there is likely a good chance it is not, and just running open loop the entire time.

To use field service mode, jumper the ALDL terminals A and B after starting the car. The CEL will flash twice a second while in open loop mode, and slow to about once a second if it enters closed loop. The transition is easy to notice when it takes place, and even in cold weather should usually take place within a minute.
With OBD-I, you NEVER jump the A and B terminals with the engine running. The at-home mechanic, using the $15 code scanner(or $.50 paper clip method), should only ever jump those terminals with the key in "ON" position, but NOT running. Jumping those terminals, with the engine running, is a recipe for a fried PCM.

There is only one exception, with OBD-I, and they are specialized scanners available for a rather large price tag on the Snap-On truck or maybe a GM dealership.

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Old 06-14-2018, 03:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achromia View Post
Thanks to both of you for the insight, it's very appreciated. I am going to run outside now and clean my ground for the O2 and see if that is my cause for the code.

Saturn Night, what you said about the AC usage is good advice too, it's unseasonally hot right now in Chicago and it does suck to drive with no AC so on that front I can live with a few less MPG but I probably wouldn't expect to see 18MPG from just AC usage, right?

I will do as Highmile suggested and check normal engine function including spark, compression and fuel pressure. I too am pretty suspect of either the temp. gauge or temp. sensor for the gauge, but the sensor is new of my replacement maybe a month ago. Would a bad one wire sensor to the gauge cause a ~1/8th difference in needle postition? My assumption is that I would have NO gauge at all if that were the case..

Either way I will be focusing heavily on fixing my Code 13, hoping to not need to replace the connector unless absolutely necessary as the part is almost $90 at my local parts store, yikes Thanks for the help guys!
OBD-I O2 sensors run about $50-60 here in Ohio, now, and yes even with the AC running, about 18mpg is too low for city driving with most cases of the Saturn S-Series.

Highmile is right about the temp gauge being near the half marl, and he has a 1995 SL1. My 1995 SC2 has a replacement thermostat, which are prone to sticking open slightly and leaking through the bypass valve, so mine behaves like your at the 3/8 mark.

Even running a little cooler, I am averaging 34-37mpg combined city/highway mileage with the DOHC.

www.car-part.com

If the O2 sensor replacement and wiring checks do not rectify the issue, you can source a replacement PCM.

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Old 06-15-2018, 06:29 AM   #14
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
With OBD-I, you NEVER jump the A and B terminals with the engine running. The at-home mechanic, using the $15 code scanner(or $.50 paper clip method), should only ever jump those terminals with the key in "ON" position, but NOT running. Jumping those terminals, with the engine running, is a recipe for a fried PCM.

There is only one exception, with OBD-I, and they are specialized scanners available for a rather large price tag on the Snap-On truck or maybe a GM dealership.
If you are absolutely clueless about the function of a serial bus and data transmission, you could possibly display your ignorance of facts and engage in fearmongering based on those evils you don't understand.

Luckily for me, I have a background in communications and have been around such data bus use for years. I've also been involved in the DIY diagnostics and tuning of cars for year, so I don't fall prey to internet myth.

Those specialized scanners often have a switch that really just does the exact same thing, but just does it attached to a scanner that can often read more data.

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Old 06-15-2018, 02:11 PM   #15
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signmaster View Post
If you are absolutely clueless about the function of a serial bus and data transmission, you could possibly display your ignorance of facts and engage in fearmongering based on those evils you don't understand.

Luckily for me, I have a background in communications and have been around such data bus use for years. I've also been involved in the DIY diagnostics and tuning of cars for year, so I don't fall prey to internet myth.

Those specialized scanners often have a switch that really just does the exact same thing, but just does it attached to a scanner that can often read more data.
http://www.theimportkiller.com/forum...hp?topic=420.0

This topic, for OBD-I has already been covered in OUR forums, as well, if the first link isn't sufficient enough.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=129611


Congratulations that you work in some kind of field, regarding data links and bus communications. And with OBD-II that works fine for the at-home mechanics out there. OBD-II(1996-up) scanners are programmed to take advantage of this.

With OBD-I, it spells a recipe for disaster with the PCM.

Since you are the "self-proclaimed expert", here, feel free to make a video showing all of us how to do what you are claiming can be done.

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Old 06-15-2018, 03:08 PM   #16
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

You shouldn't start the car with A-B jumpered.

Occasionally, there is a voltage spike and the PCM is not protected from that line

It's OK to jumper them with the car running (as Singmaster said, "after starting the car") for the field test mode.

wolfman is/was a licensed Saturn tech, ditto ssicarman
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13424

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Old 06-15-2018, 03:44 PM   #17
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

^^ a very interesting link, thanks for posting that alordofchaos.

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Old 06-16-2018, 08:38 AM   #18
Saturn Night
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

I'll wait for the video footage of those claiming it can be done, then I'll check www.car-part.com for the correct PCM they will need, to replace the one they have fried.

Maybe my uncles can get them a good price, if they have one at their salvage yard.

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"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 06-16-2018, 04:35 PM   #19
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
You shouldn't start the car with A-B jumpered.

Occasionally, there is a voltage spike and the PCM is not protected from that line

It's OK to jumper them with the car running (as Singmaster said, "after starting the car") for the field test mode.

wolfman is/was a licensed Saturn tech, ditto ssicarman
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13424
Bah!

What would a couple factory trained techs and a guy with an electronics background possibly know?



I actually already have a video I took in December of me doing it. I mention plugging in the scanner after starting the car but don't show it. If the OP or anyone else would want to see just how easy it is I can upload the video or make another.

It's just as simple as it sounds. I've done it a dozen or so times on my Saturn over the years, as well as having done it on a few other cars. And I've seen it done on more cars by others, as well as having seen loads of posts for years with people doing it. No replacement PCMs involved. I've even seen where people start the car with the terminals shorted first, but common sense (and techs) will advise against it.



Well, that is anyone other than Saturn Night. If he wants to see it, it's going to cost a signature line. Being the skeptical fearmongering naysayer will come with a price.

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Old 06-16-2018, 08:41 PM   #20
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Default Re: Extremely Poor Gas Mileage 1995 SW2 Auto

The burden of proof falls on the one making the claims, Signmaster.

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"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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