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Old 03-01-2008, 09:01 AM   #1
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Tiger is a jewel in the roughTiger is a jewel in the roughTiger is a jewel in the rough
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 2,471

1999 SL2
Default Low, uneven idle. Code P1404. EGR problem.

First, thanks! This forum has saved me so many times. Here is an example:

I have a 99 SL2 (early model) with about 132,000 miles. About 2 1/2 weeks ago after driving my car for 20 minutes my idle plummeted to 200 or 300 RPMs, would try to go higher, then drop down to the lower RPM's when I pulled up to a stoplight. I was shocked and perplexed. No codes. I revved the motor and the problem went away until this Tuesday. When I arrived at my parents 75 miles away the idle dropped and became uneven. No code. Revved it again and it went away. I did some work for my parents and used the car without a problem on a short errand. Then the fun began. On my way home I needed to take a battery to Advance Auto to get my core charge refunded. As soon as I pulled off the interstate my car seemed to be running poorly at low speeds and almost stalled at several stop lights. When I pulled into Advance Auto the low idle problem would not go away. Idle would try to climb, then drop down to low RPM's. Still no codes, so they could not help me. At that point I did not know if I would make it home. I felt the throttle and it seemed to be hanging . So I got some Throttle Body Cleaner and quickly sprayed the butterfly. It did not help. I decided to try driving the car. Before I was out of the parking lot it threw a code P1404. Advance staff could only tell me it was emission related. Then, based on years of reading here I guessed it was a dirty EGR. I removed it and cleaned it as good as I could. I put it back on and the idle was more normal, but the car was not running perfect. Advance cleared the code, and I was on my way (I thought). I drove 20 feet and the car died. It now would not start...I checked into local towing. Cost would be $175 to St. Louis since I was 35 miles or so south of were I lived. Or, could tow to a Chevy dealer and stay in a motel...I tried to start the car one last time. It barely started and I kept my foot on the gas to keep the idle up and drove like a bat out of you know what when I finally got on the interstate. When I was close to home the idle was more normal at every stop light. Seemed to actually be a little high. I read about the EGR on this forum that night to confirm the problem. Next morning I disconnected the battery briefly hoping that would take care of the higher than normal idle as the car relearned things. There was no surging or excessively low idle. RPM's stayed around 900 or so. Later in the day in the 850 range. The more I drove this week the better things became, like nothing was wrong at all.

I am pretty car illiterate until coming here. The moral of the story is it may be a good idea to clean your EGR as a preventive maintenance routine. I am due for all my 30,000 mile maintenance, so I will just clean the EGR again in 30,000 miles. If not cleaning the EGR at least read this post:

If I would have know to disconnect the harness I could have drove home until I could clean the EGR.

This How-To post on cleaning the EGR with picture illustration was my inspiration to clean it on the fly:

Thanks for that nice cleaning write up and all the technical info fdryer proved in the first link. Now I understand how the EGR works and am wiser. Thanks to the Saturn Engineers for making he EGR so easy to service. I cleaned it on an old Sentra and it was a PITA in comparison. I appreciate my Saturn and this forum more every day. Hopefully this post may help prevent a potentially expensive situation like mine...

Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.


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