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Old 02-04-2009, 02:40 PM   #1
SaturnJon
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Default Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

2000 SL SOHC with 92K on it. Runs great, etc. Recently for the first time, I get a service engine light come on and the code comes back as a faulty camshaft position sensor.

I know the cars don't have this sensor per se, so I am thinking of replacing plugs, wires, and cleaning the coil pack, which is strange as 15,000 miles ago I changed the wires to standard AC Delco and put brand new NGK copper plugs gapped at .040. I also remember somewhat cleaning the ignition module/coil areas, but maybe not as thoroughly as I should have. We have a lot of road salt here.

By chance I have a spare crankshaft position sensor so I'll throw that on, what the heck.

Am I on the right track? The car has no misfires, still gets almost 40 mpg, idles fine, and starts up easily.

On a positive note, this would signify the only repair on the car in the past 50,000 miles which I have owned the car. Great cars these little Saturns.

If I ignore this for awhile until it is not -20F outside am I risking the dreaded "crank but no start" scenario?
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

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By chance I have a spare crankshaft position sensor so I'll throw that on, what the heck.

Am I on the right track?
Yes and no. The ignition work (plugs, wires,etc) is in order. But skip the CPS swap. The only thing "crankshaft position sensor" and "camshaft position sensor" share is part of the title. If your CPS is good, leave it; it has nothing to do with your P0340/P0341.
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

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it has nothing to do with your P0340/P0341.

+1... You should look into those plugs and wires to make sure none of them are fouled in anyway, but also clean the coil packs real well, and if need be replace them.
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

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+1... You should look into those plugs and wires to make sure none of them are fouled in anyway, but also clean the coil packs real well, and if need be replace them.
I'll go ahead and order 2 of the coil packs from Rock Auto as they have them for 35 bucks. Saturn dealer wanted 65 bucks a piece for them.

The road salt here is pretty bad, so I don't doubt that they are severely crusty/dirty. Will scrub with light sandpaper and throw on some dielectric grease until the new ones get here.

I did order 4 brand new coil pack bolts from Saturn as the ones on it are a nice rusty red color and could be helping throw that code. (Ouch those were 4 bucks a piece for a little bolt) but oh well, such is life.

Thanks for the help guys.

Jon
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

No no no.... no dielectric grease, and no sand paper. A rag will do just fine. If they are rusted... its time for them to go.
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Old 02-04-2009, 06:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

Sometimes the P0340/341 code comes up and you clear it and you're good for a while. If it keeps coming back you need a more immediate repair. I've had the ignition module fail and cause the code, it still ran fine though. Anything from the ignition module to the spark plugs could be the cause.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

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No no no.... no dielectric grease, and no sand paper. A rag will do just fine. If they are rusted... its time for them to go.
Why no dielectric grease?
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

The other thing that should be checked while you have the coils off is the ignition control module. Check for corrosion on the back of it, if their is any clean the back of the module & it's mounting surface on the transaxle with steel wool, then use dielectric grease on the mounting surface and all electrical connections. Ignore other poster saying not to use the grease. Their is a reason plug wire manufactures supply the stuff with their wires.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

Has the intake manifold gasket been changed on this car, maybe not the problem here but will be someday . Also the ects they cause weird things to happen.
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

Many great responses, thanks.

I am a big dielectric grease user, and indeed the spark plug wires came with a small package of it.

I'll have to get the code cleared after I clean things up later today.


Is clearing a code just a matter of going back to same auto parts store that diagnosed this code in the first place?
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:08 AM   #11
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

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Why no dielectric grease?
Dielectric grease increases conductivity. I have a co-worker (who is also a master tech) put it on his car and it melted his coil, wires and ****ed up the spark plugs. Completely fried everything. I have heard both good things and bad, but more bad, from frying connectors to burning wires. I would just stay away from it. Its not needed, there are plenty of people like myself who do not use it and have no issues doing with out.
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:29 AM   #12
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

Just to offer an alternative perspective, "dielectric" means non-conductive:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dielectric

Dielectric grease is used to prevent access by water to electrical components:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dielectric_grease

You can figure out the rest for yourself.
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:09 AM   #13
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

Okay, after some research here's what I learned.

Most sites I found said that you're supposed to use the dielectric grease on the ceramic part of the plug to aid putting the wires on and off and to seal out things that can cause corrosion.

However. Others say that any that gets on the contacts themselves is squeezed out allowing good electrical connection between the contacts.
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:16 AM   #14
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

The spark plug operates at a high RF frequency and a high voltage. The thin layer of silicone grease is vaporized when the first jolt hits it. This is the only reason you get away with slathering the plug and towers with silicone grease. If you do this with low voltage, low frequency connections you will eventually get a failure. If you want to grease connections then there are special connection lubricants that have a degree of conductivity and a very low film strength so the grease does not interfere with proper connection.

Each connection has different characteristics. The grease on the ignition system is a good idea. It is not a good idea on the ECTS pins and is probably not a problem with the 1/4" male/female connectors. It may cause problems with battery connections though.
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:08 PM   #15
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

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The spark plug operates at a high RF frequency and a high voltage. The thin layer of silicone grease is vaporized when the first jolt hits it. This is the only reason you get away with slathering the plug and towers with silicone grease. If you do this with low voltage, low frequency connections you will eventually get a failure. If you want to grease connections then there are special connection lubricants that have a degree of conductivity and a very low film strength so the grease does not interfere with proper connection.

Each connection has different characteristics. The grease on the ignition system is a good idea. It is not a good idea on the ECTS pins and is probably not a problem with the 1/4" male/female connectors. It may cause problems with battery connections though.
So, what you're saying is that I don't need to go clean off the thin layer of grease, that I applied to the plug and coil connections?
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: Code says "Camshaft Position Sensor" is bad

Correct. A bit of that stuff on the aluminum tower connections and on the plugs will cause no problems. You might have a problem with it on the low voltage side of the coil but probably not as those are also high contact pressure connections that have a wiping action. The actual ICM electrical connector should have a very thin film on the little flanged rubber boot but the inside of the plug and socket should be clean other wise.

When the robot built the car the connectors were greased with a special connector lube to aid assembly. You are not buying the same stuff. The original product sells for about $6.00/oz in 1 lb batches. And the price does not go down for smaller quantities either.
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