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Old 04-23-2003, 09:14 PM   #1
skijay
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Default engine coolant temp sensor

While my 97 SL2 was getting the muffler strap replaced........

I was told based on a visual inspection of the snap on wire connection that that the sensor is cracked and it is leaking coolant so therefore the two electrical contact points are corroded and the sensor is sending nothing to the PCM and my 97SL2 is running to rich and now causing carbonizing in the throttle body system.

I am getting 30mpg for my average commutes and 34mpg on l highway trips with this car. It starts easy and runs fine. The car has 35,000 miles on it and the oil is changed every 3 months and does not use any oil.

This is the car I posted about where I had problems when one dealer screwed up the valve cover gasket change (twice) and I had to seek Saturn's assistance so I could go to another facility to get it fixed properly without having to pay for it. The engine was cleaned and or degreased twice due to the excessive oil leakage. Is it possible that the corrosion seen is a result from the engine cleanings? I can see trace oil on the wires from the mess from the oil gasket.

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Old 04-23-2003, 09:32 PM   #2
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probally is, some Saturn dealerships just screw around, and hire complete idiots, buts thats just some of them!

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Old 04-23-2003, 09:59 PM   #3
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If the sensor was sending nothing to the PCM then you would be chugging out black smoke out of the tail pipe so badly you wouldn't be able to drive the car. With nothing from the sensor/sensor unplugged the PCM thinks that the engine is at minus 40 degrees. The connecter could be corroding due to the engine being shampooed but they are usually sealed well enogh that they wouldn't get water into the connecter. Chances are that the sensor is leaking and has gotten to the connecter. Pull the connecter and have a look see. Easy to DIY for both the sensor and connecter.

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Old 04-24-2003, 10:03 PM   #4
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Now I am confused. According to my Haynes manual the "temperature sending unit" can be checked to see if it works properly by the operation of the temp gauge. It seems like it is fine as it runs the same temperature as it did when brand new.

Yes there is a little oil (it smells like oil, not coolant) on the end of the connector, but that whole area was saturated due to the sloppy valve cover gasket change.

How do I know it is not working? Also if I change what do you suggest to use for a socket and the easiest way to do this. I know the part about doing it when the engine is cold and to open the coolant expansion tank to let the pressure down.

Thanks

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Old 04-24-2003, 10:18 PM   #5
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At work we use the scan tool reading for the temp compared to a thermometer in the surge tank. If the readings are to far apart then the sensor is toast. On the 97 only having the one sensor for the PCM and the gauge you can't use the temp gauge to compare.

To change the sensor you'll need a deep or semi deep 13mm 6 point socket and rachet. Coolant hot or cold, how impervious are your hands to hot, releave the system pressure and then put the cap back on. Sensor connector off, have the new sensor or a cork to plug the hole close by, remove sensor plug hole to stop the coolant flow. It will spill some coolant out right away and then slow as it begins to only gurgle out. Inspect the sensor for cracks of any kind, it can jsut be a discolouration the plastic. Install is just the reverse with topping up the coolant and letting the system run until the fan kicks in. This way you know everything works.

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Old 04-28-2003, 11:54 AM   #6
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I did my tune up on the SL2 this weekend. (new plugs, wires, PVC, air filter).

I noticed that the inside the engine chamber where the plug goes, I can see the "alloy metal" color, very little carbon.

The plugs came out, and the plugs were normal, just worn. No carbon build up, no sludge, just normal looking 6 year old / 35,000 mile plugs.

I was expecting to see a carbon build up or something on the plugs, since according to Saturn, my car is running way to rich.

I did not change the sensor yet, as everything seems to work fine.

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Old 04-29-2003, 10:35 AM   #7
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Inspect the sensor for cracks of any kind, it can just be a discolouration the plastic.
Mine did not have any cracks, but did appear to have an area of discoloration. From your experience, the discoloration could affect it's ability to read the temperature ??

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Old 04-29-2003, 10:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Luke
SSicarman

Mine did not have any cracks, but did appear to have an area of discoloration. From your experience, the discoloration could affect it's ability to read the temperature ??
The old style plastic/resin sensors should be a fairly even consistant colour. Areas of discolouration (usually lighter) would be the beginings of or even actually small cracks that would allow the coolant to get to the thermister that is the actual sensor. Once the coolant gets to that and the bare wires that go to it the temp readings will become skewed.

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Old 04-30-2003, 10:07 AM   #9
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Thank you.

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Old 04-30-2003, 03:47 PM   #10
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I broke down and did the tune up (plugs & wires) myself, but I did not got through with the coolant temp sensor myself.

I dropped it off this morning and 2 hours later it was completed. I now will "decarbonize" my throttle body by using the Techron.

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Old 04-30-2003, 10:19 PM   #11
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Luke you're very welcome.

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