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Old 06-16-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
SomethingClever
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2001 SC2
Default 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

Hey fellow Saturn fans. I'm having a sudden and frustrating problem and I'm hoping someone here can help me identify the source.

Yesterday I drove my 2001 Saturn SC 3-door around running errands. Despite the fact she has 130,000 miles on her, I take great care of her and I'm a competent mechanic. She drove fine all day until I came out of a store and tried to start her up.

Upon ignition the car started shaking pretty hard and the check engine light began blinking. Used my code scanner and came up with p300: Multiple Misfires.

Turned the car off and on, no luck. Drove it a bit and smelled rubber, which I suspect was the serpentine belt wearing from all the shaking. Stopped, turned it off, turned off the AC and cleared the codes. When I started it rumbled a bit and then went back to normal and worked fine for the next two hours.

This morning, I went to drive again and the same thing happened. Rumbling, undrivable. This time there was a smell of gas and a different code P0410 Secondary air.

After some poking around on the internet, I've heard it could be either the Body Control Module or the Ignition Control Module. I can easily get an ICM at Advanced Auto Parts, and I'm tempted to change it along with the plugs and coils. At the same time I don't want to wade in and spend the money without really knowing for sure.

Any advice, thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated.

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Old 06-16-2012, 12:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

You may be having an alternator problem. These cars are extremely voltage sensitive. At least,do a voltage check and let us know.

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Old 06-16-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

yes do check the battery/altenator.

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Old 06-16-2012, 01:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

It's worth checking the voltage with the engine on and off, but I doubt that's the problem.

My best guess is a coil or ICM. With waste spark, a failure that effects one coil will typically take out two cylinders--a 4 cylinder engine doesn't run well on only two cylinders. Check the spark plugs for fuel fouling (if you have two that are wet or fouled, it's most likely that coil or the ICM).

You can check primary and secondary resistance on the coils, but this may be a problem that's only apparent when hot (so they may test fine when cold). Next time it starts doing this, you can remove all the plug wires (from the coils) and have someone crank the car while you watch the coils--if you don't see a significant spark between the towers on each coil, that's the problem.

It could also be as simple as a bad plug wire.

It may also be worth checking the CKP, but I believe that typically causes a no-start when it fails (sometimes it will run when it's cold, but it will die and not restart once it warms up).

If you determine that it is a coil or ICM problem, the best bet is usually to get a full assembly (both coils and ICM) from a junkyard--they're fairly cheap, and used OE ICMs and coils are far more reliable than aftermarket ones.

PCM and BCM failure is VERY rare--that's only a last resort after you've tested everything else that could possibly be the issue (there is no way to test a PCM/BCM--sometimes a scope or a dealer-level bi-directional scantool (Tech2) can give you some indication of a problem, but it's unlikely, and not worth paying anyone to try if you don't have the tools yourself).

Oh, and welcome to the forum! You came to the right place.

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Last edited by PlasticCarsRock; 06-16-2012 at 01:10 PM..

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Old 06-16-2012, 01:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

I checked the plugs. #2 & #3 seem damp and gassy. Those both come off of the 2nd coil pack. I put in new wires just a few months ago, so I don't think they are a problem.

As a side note, while waiting for replies, I took off the coils and tested them. They both showed the same resistance - 2 ohm for the primary coils and 8.06k ohms for the secondary coils.

The primary result seems wrong though because according to my manual, they should show 700 to 900 ohms. Unless they are BOTH bad. Is that likely?

Thanks to everyone for the help.

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Old 06-16-2012, 01:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

Also it seems note worthy that all but #1 of my sparkplugs seem scortched.

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Old 06-16-2012, 04:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

Did you try swapping the two ignition coils around? With plugs 2&3 misfiring, putting this ign coil in the 1&4 position should foul those plugs while 2&3 clear up if the ign coil is faulty. Continuous misfiing in 2&3 would indicate the icm as the fault.

Described scorched? Google spark plug charts from any major spark plug manufacturer to see a picture chart of every possible way to ruin plugs.

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Old 06-16-2012, 05:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

Well, after searching the interwebs, I found a salvage yard that had the parts, but they were not open and their prices were not reallly that much lower than Advanced Auto. So I got new parts: 2 new coil packs and a control module. I swapped the parts and Katrina (My car is named Katrina- no not because of the hurricane, she just seemed like a "Katrina" to me.) is running like new again.

I hope the problem does not come back as it seems from peoples posts that it can if it turns out to be something else, but for now I'm calling this resolved. thanks for all the useful advice.

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Old 06-16-2012, 05:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

Quote:
Originally Posted by SomethingClever View Post
I checked the plugs. #2 & #3 seem damp and gassy. Those both come off of the 2nd coil pack. I put in new wires just a few months ago, so I don't think they are a problem.

As a side note, while waiting for replies, I took off the coils and tested them. They both showed the same resistance - 2 ohm for the primary coils and 8.06k ohms for the secondary coils.

The primary result seems wrong though because according to my manual, they should show 700 to 900 ohms. Unless they are BOTH bad. Is that likely?

Thanks to everyone for the help.
The universal/general spec for primary coil resistance is .5 to 5 ohms. Manufacturers may have their own more specific specs for their products, but most fall within this range. There is no way they would ever be 700-900 ohms--they need to be able to draw a lot of current, to saturate in something like 1ms or less, which is impossible with such high resistance. What manual says that? IIRC, GM DIS coils (like your Saturn has) are typically somewhere around 1.2 ohms. Possibly Saturn coils are slightly higher resistance. If you tested yours when they were hot, that will definitely increase the resistance significantly.

You can try swapping the coils, to see if the problem moves, which will narrow it down between the coils and the ICM. Don't wait for the plugs to change--as soon as the problem occurs, you can check for spark at the coils (remove the wires and observe the spark between the towers while cranking), or use an IR thermometer to check the temperature of the exhaust, right where it leaves the head (the misfiring cylinders will just be pumping air, so they'll be much cooler).

Your best bet for replacement, regardless of whether it's the coil or ICM, is to grab the whole assembly from a junkyard (typically doesn't cost much if any more than a single coil), so you could just change it and be done.

edit:

Quote:
Originally Posted by SomethingClever View Post
Well, after searching the interwebs, I found a salvage yard that had the parts, but they were not open and their prices were not reallly that much lower than Advanced Auto. So I got new parts: 2 new coil packs and a control module. I swapped the parts and Katrina (My car is named Katrina- no not because of the hurricane, she just seemed like a "Katrina" to me.) is running like new again.
Glad it worked out.

...
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Last edited by PlasticCarsRock; 06-16-2012 at 05:59 PM..

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Old 06-17-2012, 12:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2001 SC Shaking, Inconsistent Error Codes

The manual I have is a used Haynes Manual. (I know I need to just break down and get the Chilton!) It says later in the chapter that the tests only apply to models up to 1995, and that for later model, to go to the dealer. I don't quite get that, but I'm glad to here that the correct range is .5 to 5 ohms. That makes a lot more sense.

I guess what I can take from that is that it's likely that both my old coils are still fine, and that the problem was in the ICM. Still it's not SO bad to have new coils installed and if they ever give me problems (unlikely as that may be), I've still got the old ones.

The larger issue I think I need to resolve is finding a junkyard in Pittsburgh that is open on the weekends!

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