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Old 12-04-2013, 10:48 PM   #1
satmark
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1999 SL
Default P0401 My old friend

Actually more like my old enemy. I know this topic has been written about A LOT and I'm hesitant about starting a new thread but don't know what to try next. This is for a 99 SL. Following the advice on the forum I've cleaned the EGR valve per Richpin's video and done the blow out procedure, both several times. Note: I see some black exhaust shooting out of the open valve mount when I do the blow out procedure. I've installed a new aftermarket EGR valve and one from a junked car. I've tried bypassing the valve with an aluminum gasket to see if the engine runs better (it did not, it actually runs fine all the time). Lastly I've tried spinning a thin cable with the end slightly spread apart up through both the intake and exhaust ports on the valve mount. I couldn't get the wire to go very far on the exhaust manifold side, on the intake manifold side I went approximately 12 inches and then stopped, not knowing if there was a danger in going farther. I've reset the PCM after these various attempts and yet my old friend (enemy) keeps coming back.

What can I try next? I'd love to get to the root cause of this as I'm hoping to keep the car for at least a couple more years which means at least one more emissions test to pass. As always, thank you so much for your advice.

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Old 12-04-2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

The P401 usually indicates partial blockage on the exhaust side of the EGR head port. Clean out the portion that is accessible when the valve is off, use a fiber brush and carb cleaner. You can block the manifold side with a decent piece of metal and hold it in place with a single mounting bolt and then run the engine and it will idle normally which will allow you to control RPM and blow out more crud from the exhaust side. Use a piece of metal that will not get sucked in, soda can is way too thin for this and you want something about twice as thick and large enough to cover 1/2 of the EGR gasket and the port. The other thing to look at is the port into the intake manifold under the MAP sensor, make sure it is not full of goo. Do not poke anything into the MAP though.

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Old 12-04-2013, 11:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Hope springs eternal, will do and report back. Thanks OldNuc!

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Old 12-07-2013, 03:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Update: I did all the things OldNuc suggested and confirmed there is no goo in the MAP port on the manifold. I then unplugged the PCM B fuse for 60 seconds.

Upon start-up the check engine light came on right away. I went for a 20 minute drive and the engine light remained on. The car runs fine. I don't have a scanner but I assume (dangerous I know) that if I take it to Autozone I will still have the P0401 code.

Next steps? Thanks!

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Old 12-07-2013, 03:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

The 401 should not come on immediately upon startup. Worth getting it read to see what might be going on.

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Old 12-07-2013, 03:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Will do. Any recommendations for buying a scanner? It's getting to be a pain taking it to Autozone, much as I appreciate this service of theirs.

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Old 12-07-2013, 04:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

This will do just about allyou will need for the 99, Pro-Series OBDII Code Reader, http://www.diydiagnostics.com/index.html

The Torque app on an Android phone with a good bluetooth interface works as well. Basically about 1/2 the cost of the Pro-Series above.

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Old 12-07-2013, 04:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Back from Autozone, here is what the scanner said:

Catalyst Mon: Inc
Evap System Mon: Inc
All the other systems were OK or N/A.

There were five codes returned:
401 Insufficient flow
405 Sensor A Circuit low
401
405
401

Thank you again. I also appreciate the advice about scanners, will be researching that soon.

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Old 12-07-2013, 05:24 PM   #9
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1998 SC2
Default Re: P0401 My old friend

The 405 may be the cause of the problem. What you need to do is measure the voltage between pins B and D on the EGR connector, the gray and black wires. Do this with the EGR connected and disconnected by sticking a pin into each wire and then connecting the meter to the pins. Key must be in RUN but engine OFF. Should be about 5v. Then measure between D and C, gray and brown wire using pins into wires with connector connected to EGR. Key must be in RUN engine OFF. Must be greater than 0.2 v. This could be a bad EGR connector, bad EGR, or problem elsewhere but as these are specifically EGR codes I suspect the EGR or the connector has failed.

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Old 12-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Oh boy, electric... Well, in for a penny, in for a pound so I'll give it a shot. Might be a while before I digest this not to mention obtain a voltmeter. Thank you very much!

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Old 12-07-2013, 10:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

It does look like the problem is an intermittent connection in the EGR connector. You can try a band-aid first if you want. Buy a can of CRC QD-Electronic Cleaner and spray out both the connector and socket. Do not use any grease of any kind on the actual connector. You can use a thin film on just the finned rubber seal to make it easier to get into place. Just might fix it.

Voltmeter... This is a good meter at a low price. http://www.amazon.com/INNOVA-3320-Au...s=innova+meter

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Old 12-07-2013, 10:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

The DeoxIT D-5 works wonders on a connector that has any type of corrosion as you pointed out previously in an earlier post....

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Old 12-08-2013, 12:11 AM   #13
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Yes it does. They have an extensive product line and the 5% spray is what to use. To make this product effective though everything must be silicone free to start with so that is why the CRC QD.

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Old 12-08-2013, 02:28 AM   #14
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

I have a innova scanner that reads live data and the wrench codes. I paid around 130 dollars. Later I upgraded it to read ABS for my Grand Cherokee.....It reads ABS on the Jeep but I think it doesn't read the Saturn.

It does read the Wrench Codes though which comes in handy.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:33 AM   #15
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Saturn is unique and finding a scanner that will pull ABS or airbag codes on an S-series gets expensive.

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Old 12-08-2013, 01:20 PM   #16
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Default Re: P0401 AND P0405 My old friend(s)

Update: I cleaned the EGR electrical connector with CRC QD as suggested. I also scraped away any corrosion I could see with an emery board. I then pulled the PCM B fuse for 60 seconds to reset. The check engine light still came on right away. I do now have one squeaky clean EGR electrical connection at least. I will pursue the voltage testing next.

In the course of cleaning the electrical connector I removed the clear goop that was at the bottom of the male connector housing. In hindsight I realize that was probably there to prevent condensation. Should I attempt to replace this goopy substance and if so with what? Thank you!

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Old 12-08-2013, 03:48 PM   #17
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Default Re: P0401 AND P0405 My old friend(s)

Quote:
Originally Posted by satmark View Post
In the course of cleaning the electrical connector I removed the clear goop that was at the bottom of the male connector housing. In hindsight I realize that was probably there to prevent condensation. Should I attempt to replace this goopy substance and if so with what? Thank you!
I would say that would be dielectric grease. You can get it at any parts store, also good inside your spark plug boots to keep them from sticking to the plugs.

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Old 12-08-2013, 07:16 PM   #18
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

Do not put grease into that connector as the presence of that crap is probably the root cause of your problem.

If that SES is illuminating immediately it is probably a P405 code and I would attempt to verify that as I suspect your EGR connector is shot. That 5v reference voltage is applied to several other sensors which will complain immediately if it is missing so the 5v supply is probably functional. That leaves EGR connector and associated wiring. Check continuity on the EGR valve and inspect connector wiring. Voltage checks may be of little value at this point as it is either EGR valve, wiring, or connector.

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Old 12-08-2013, 10:58 PM   #19
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

By all means don't properly use the dielectric compound. Then you would spend much less money buying electrical cleaners, and much less time cleaning up bad contacts.

Used properly the dielectric will protect the contacts and lengthen their life. Used improperly.... well I guess you'll have to ask the people that manage to screw that up. I'm picturing a young child trying to operate a tooth paste tube or something, but even that wouldn't cause an issue with contacts if it was the right weight grease.


If you can literally scrape away corrosion with an emery board you have probably found one of the sources of your issues. Anyone that is scared of the use of dielectrics should at least use WD 40 on such contacts. Allowing them to corrode then using caustic cleaners or abrasives is doing damage to the connector. Fine if you like electrical shorts and soldering, not so much if you enjoy a trouble free car.

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Old 12-08-2013, 11:27 PM   #20
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Default Re: P0401 My old friend

^^^More plain old bad advice.

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