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Old 09-26-2020, 01:29 AM   #1
97POS
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Default SOHC Vs DOHC

I'm pretty sure this has been hashed to death, but I'm looking for some input from people who have owned or frequently driven both S-series SOHC and DOHC (I'm an off-and-on again professional mechanic, and I've only worked on 2 S-series in the shop in the last 10 years. Both were SOHC also, if I remember right)

I currently have a 97 SC1 5 speed, and always felt I needed something a little bit faster for a daily driver. I am looking for a DOHC (coupe only, for aesthetic reasons), but they are in short supply in my area (the closest driveable one is well over an hour away from me). Am I going to find the 24 additional horsepower (according to wikipedia) of the DOHC significantly noticeable?

Reason I'm asking is cause my current SOHC Saturn has a "good" engine (relatively speaking) but has been bitten by the rust monster, and I'm thinking if the 24 HP is not that noticeable, maybe I'm just better off just buying another SC1 since they're more readily available in my parts, knowing I have a known good engine sitting in wait.
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Old 09-26-2020, 09:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

I can see no advantage to single cam engines.

It seems they were offered as a slightly cheaper version - saving the new buyer like $4 a month off the car payment. You will not get better gas mileage with one. The ONLY reason I could see getting one is if you were buying the car for a teenager with a lead foot.

I have not owned one.

I have driven a couple - and it seemed like there was a block jammed under the throttle. Pretty disappointing.
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Old 09-26-2020, 10:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

I have owned and driven both, my first one was a 2002 SL1 with an auto transmission, then a 1997 SC1 with a manual, then two SC2's. 2001 & 2002. All were daily drivers for a140 mile round trip each day to work and back up and down some very hefty 2.0 mile length grades.( Northern CA Altamont and Dublin Grades I-205/580).
The first thing I noticed when I test drove my first SC2 2001 with about 100K miles on her was that she was way more peppy then my SC1 ( when I first got my SC1 it had low miles around 85K) I picked up on that right away so it wasn't just a seat of the pants thing.
Now my SL1 was not a dog, she had a fair amount of pickup and power also, but I would have to downshift the auto for more power going up the grades if I wanted to keep up with traffic. On the SC1/2 I did not have to do that. I could keep up with traffic at 70mph. Now as far as pickup for passing, they both SC1/SC2 have enough, but it's not instantaneous, I drive country two lane roads also on my way in to work and if you want to pass someone you'll have to give yourself enough time and room to do it, it's not like one of the newer cars with instantaneous pickup. But the SC2 will move faster than the SC1 in this case.
The SC2 was my daily driver for about 2 years, and I got to fool around with it. It definitely has more power and way more pickup then the SC1 or the SL1. Now as for gas mileage you will see a noticeable difference. My SC1 was consistently getting 42-43 mpg, and I did MPG checks all the time, it was pretty consistent at 42-43, I was very impressed, especially when you are driving 140 mile round trip a day! When I got my first SC2 it dropped to 37-38 MPG. I did a full tune up on it, plugs, wires, 02 sensors, the mileage did not change over the course of two years. I was kind of disappointed, but I was way more happy with the performance of the engine, so it was a very fair trade-off.
About a year ago I purchased another SC2 with 85K miles on her, just as peppy and very smooth revving engine. Once again the full tune up and the gas mileage is about 37-38. So you are going to see a difference there.
So to answer you question from someone who has owned both models, yes you will see a difference in power, acceleration and less gas mileage over the SC1/SL1 models. I wouldn't purchase a SC1/SL1 now that I have driven the SC2.
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Last edited by lilwhitetruck; 09-26-2020 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 09-26-2020, 11:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

I've only owned DOHC s series myself, but I vaguely recall seeing somewhere on this forum some dyno charts or graphs.

Gearing in the manual trans, and HP/torque output between the SOHC and DOHC engines were identical or very close through the first three gears and up to around 2700~3000 rpms. 4th and 5th gears are taller in the SOHC cars, and you start seeing a difference in over 3k rpms. (this is from memory so take with a grain of salt).

If you do a lot of driving on flat roads, there was a lot of interest from DOHC owners swapping in the 5th gear from the SOHC cars. Was supposed to be good for 2~5 mpg depending on the driver and roads. Downside was that you would lose cruise control (computer saw the taller 5th gear as slipping and disengaged cruise) but cruise could be bought back with a cheater plug to fool the computer and a cruise module from a pre-OBDII s-series)
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=175409
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

The gas mileage of SOHC and DOHC will be the same IF you drive them the same. Thing is - it's simply not much fun....


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Old 09-27-2020, 09:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Once you go DOHC you never go back. The only benefit to the boat anchors is a 2mpg gain *IF* you live in the flatlands, otherwise you're using 4th gear so much you don't see any gains at all (on the manuals with 5 gears anyway).
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

The gas mileage of the SOHC and the DOHC will NOT be the same, I have driven them the same, 140 miles round trip, owned each two years, the gas mileage is NOT the same. And no not only if you drive in the flatslands, if you drive normally, 70 MPH, up and down hills on the freeway. I know I've owned both. As stated before the SOHC is 41-43 mpg the DOHC is 37-38 MPG. It's not a 2mpg gain at all. . .
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Old 09-27-2020, 08:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Thank you all for the input (feel free to keep inputting though). Pretty much helped me make up my mind to look for a DOHC. I don't mind a slight hit in the gas mileage department for noticeably better performance, as long as it's more than 20 MPG (all my other vehicles are v6 and v8 pickups, so anything over 20 looks good right now LOL).

Part of the reason I asked the original question is because I noticed that the torque ratings were pretty close, so I did not know how noticeable the HP improvement would be.
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Driven primarily DOHC engines. When I got my RHD it came with a SOHC. It was immediately noticeable how much slower it was than I was used to. One of my first turns heading on my usual commute is up a slight incline merging onto the freeway from a stop. It took close to flooring the SOHC.. it's normal driving with the DOHC engine I normally drive. Don't waste time with the SOHC..
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Gearing in the manual trans, and HP/torque output between the SOHC and DOHC engines were identical or very close through the first three gears and up to around 2700~3000 rpms. 4th and 5th gears are taller in the SOHC cars, and you start seeing a difference in over 3k rpms. (this is from memory so take with a grain of salt).
[/url]
I've owned both with a manual transmission with some overlap and I would tend to agree with the above. I really didn't notice much difference in town with the exception of a hill climb that takes me home. In the SOHC the hill climb is in 3rd gear and in the DOHC in 4th gear to maintain speed. On the highway the SOHC needed more frequent downshifts ascending grades. I found this bothersome.

I've had a DOHC with automatic transmission but never a SOHC with auto so I can't speak to that comparison.

I prefer the DOHC.
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Quote:
Originally Posted by onlinebiker View Post
The gas mileage of SOHC and DOHC will be the same IF you drive them the same. Thing is - it's simply not much fun....


:P
Theoretically, my SC2 should have gotten 1 mpg better than my SL2 got - the EPA rating was higher for the SC2 due to some lifter improvements, reduced friction, or some such, don't recall the details. Both cars have the same HP.

In practice, my SC2 gets lower mpg . . . something about driving a red coupe instead of a gray sedan has me dipping into higher rpms for longer periods
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Old 10-01-2020, 07:58 AM   #12
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

The advantage of the SOHC comes in when you view it as a package. The transmission it’s bundled with along with the stripped out features on the trim (ABS, sunroof, power locks/windows, 14” steel wheels, etc.)

Because there’s less to break or cause problems, it’s overall cheaper to maintain. I often find myself favoring the SOHC manual trans base models as these Saturn’s get older.
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Old 10-01-2020, 08:39 AM   #13
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macgyver View Post
The advantage of the SOHC comes in when you view it as a package. The transmission itís bundled with along with the stripped out features on the trim (ABS, sunroof, power locks/windows, 14Ē steel wheels, etc.)

Because thereís less to break or cause problems, itís overall cheaper to maintain. I often find myself favoring the SOHC manual trans base models as these Saturnís get older.
This is a good point, but also worth mentioning you can find stripped down DOHC cars. I bought my '99 new with a manual, no power locks or windows, no sunroof and so on. I did buy ABS but it has been broken for years. Mine came with 15" steel wheels. You could not get DOHC without AC or power steering.

There is a certain appeal for a super stripped down SL, but I like the twin cam motor. Never drove a single cam.
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:20 AM   #14
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
This is a good point, but also worth mentioning you can find stripped down DOHC cars. I bought my '99 new with a manual, no power locks or windows, no sunroof and so on. I did buy ABS but it has been broken for years. Mine came with 15" steel wheels. You could not get DOHC without AC or power steering.

There is a certain appeal for a super stripped down SL, but I like the twin cam motor. Never drove a single cam.
You would love our 93 SC2.

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Not even A/C.


If it didn't have the stupid automatic seatbelts - there wouldn't have anything to break....

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Old 10-01-2020, 12:38 PM   #15
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Hello,
i currently have 2 sc2, and 1 sl1. Both models routinly make my daily 175 mile round rrip.
the sc2s are clearly the faster, better looking cars. more features too.
sc2 mpg is around 36 @ 75mph.
sl1 mpg is around 41+ @75 mph.
i have verified this for years now.
the sc2 is more fun to drive, but the sl1 is the car getting the engine rebuilt. It is just an awesome car out on the highway.
the key to driving the sl1 is to keep the momentum up.
350k and still loving it.
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Old 10-04-2020, 08:21 PM   #16
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

I went from an SL1 auto to a 5 spd SL2. I liked punching the gas from a stop in the SL1 auto and the little bugger would really take off! Also the lower rpms were nice for hwy cruising.

However the 5spd SL2 has more pep throughout the rev range compared to the SOHC. The DOHC also likes revving past 4ooo rpm where the SOHC would hit a wall around the same time.

So DOHC>SOHC. That said, my SL2 feels like a slug when compared to my Ion Redline. Add 100 hp to car of the same weight and oh my lord, that is something you feel right away. Adding 24 hp, notta so much, though I appreciate the flexibility of the DOHC 1.9 any day over the SOHC.
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Old 10-16-2020, 12:36 AM   #17
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Wow, I can comment on my own thread! I just bought a 2001 SC2 5 Speed. Definitely has a little more pep than my 97 SC1, but it is not a neck-snapping difference. Honestly, I was expecting a little more out of the 25 HP difference in a small car, but I guess not. But it's good enough, I'm happy with it (with respect to engine power). There's some quirks with this particular car, but nothing to do with it being DOHC.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:09 AM   #18
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

My son had an Sl1 automatic. The car had 84k miles when he got it and it was a slow, oil burning dog.
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Old 10-16-2020, 01:54 PM   #19
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Default Re: SOHC Vs DOHC

Congratulations!
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