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Old 12-09-2008, 03:01 PM   #1
xinda
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Default Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Hi everyone,

I have a 2004 Saturn Ion, manual transmission.

I filled about five gallons of 87 octane gas on Saturday. The gas station posts that there might be some ethanol on the gas, no exact quantity stated. Side note: I didn't realize that until recently that's probably why their price is 10 c/gallon lower than the brand name stations.

I drove the car for about 30 miles since Saturday and today I have the Check Engine Light on steady. I thought I notice some stalling on acceleration from a red light to green light or when shifting gears, but really, I am not sure if they were because of my driving habit.

Anyway, I am going to Autozone as soon as possible to get the code read. I suspect the light is on due to the ethanol laden cheap gas.

My questions are:

1. I am wondering if anyone ever has similar problem. If it is due to the fuel, manual says that light will go off after a full tank of "good gas." Was it the case with you guys? Or do I need to get it reset?

2. Should I siphon as much gas as possible from the tank?

3. Once I siphon gas, should I dilute the remaining "bad gas" with a good gas?

I really appreciate your responses.

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Old 12-09-2008, 03:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

gas price is only partially related to ethanol content, in reality most gasoline sold in the united states contains up to 30% ethanol (you'll see it on most pumps somewhere) this is normal and only a problem in some older cars, only E85 and E100 cannot be used in these cars. where modern cars have a hard time using "cheap" fuel is when there's a high water content or when gas stations thin the gas (probably with water, but not 100% sure) and affects the combustion characteristics. You may be experiencing the gas cap not tight enough or leaking problem, the code(s) will reveal that, but running a bottle of heat through your car will solve any water problems. if the gas is truly the problem, the only solution is to drain the tank, and bad fuel would be best discarded in an environmentally friendly manner (the gas station you bought it from).Yes, I have had crappy gas result in the car stalling and running less than optimal, but because of the high mileage I was putting on my car at the time, I just ran it through

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Old 12-10-2008, 03:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Thanks, 2006 ion2,

I bought a portable code reader from Autozone for 59.99. Apparently, they do not have the free service anymore. I live in Santa Clara, CA, btw.

The code I have is a P0442, Evaporative Emission Control System Leak Detected (small leak).

So, it might be the gas cap or any other leak, like you said. Come to think about it, I thought I didn't hear the gushing air coming out when I opened the gas cap when I filled up last time and also last night when I tightened it.

I put some sealing on the o-ring and re-tighten the cap and reset the code--I haven't got the new cap yet. We'll see if the light comes on again. Will update.

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Old 12-10-2008, 03:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

the evap canister is between your back tires, the weird box you can see from the back side of your car, those hoses are where your leak is if it wasn't your cap.

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Old 12-11-2008, 08:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

take your gas cap off .... put it back on... fixed

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Old 12-13-2008, 12:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

I menentioned a "Bad egg smell" (Thought my Cat might be going bad) to my service rep, and he asked if I was using "Discount" gas? I told him yes (COSTCO), and he said to stay with the upper end gas stations., Chevron, Shell, Texico etc.. I have since then and have had no more smell.

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Old 12-13-2008, 12:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by xinda View Post
I bought a portable code reader from Autozone for 59.99. Apparently, they do not have the free service anymore. I live in Santa Clara, CA, btw.
No, that's California. Quite some time ago a law was passed that only ASE certified mechanics can read the codes. Of course you can always read your own.

This is still a free service in the other 49 states.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xinda View Post
The code I have is a P0442, Evaporative Emission Control System Leak Detected (small leak).
That is the code that would be thrown for a loose gas cap. Yes it can be other things but if this is the first time you have seen it, tighten the cap, clear the code (it it can) and go on. If the code reader doesn't have the option to clear the code you need to wait for a certain number of start/warmup cycles and it will go away (I don't remember how many).

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Old 12-13-2008, 04:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogi1200 View Post
I menentioned a "Bad egg smell" (Thought my Cat might be going bad) to my service rep, and he asked if I was using "Discount" gas? I told him yes (COSTCO), and he said to stay with the upper end gas stations., Chevron, Shell, Texico etc.. I have since then and have had no more smell.
i went somewhere to and they had said they smelled an egg smell. he said that was the cat and there was build up prob. from useing cheaper gas. and said four cycle engine should use the high octane gases.. but my car runs ok. i have been using higher grade gas but it all drives the same for me. THat day was just a bad one. all i went there for was to get tires put on and then when i started my car to get some cash (before they even looked at it) it shot right up to 4k rpms. but super slowly went back down. i drove it for like 5 mins (after turning the car off and then on a couple times , it kept doing it and i checked everything to make sure nothing was cought under the peddle.) so then i went to the store and parked and then came back out it started normal.

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Old 12-13-2008, 04:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

octane has nothing to do with it, higher grade just means higher resistance to detonation, the base gas is the same, what matters is where you get it from, places like shell and chevron are "top tier" fuel carriers, there's a list of supporting stations on line, google top teir gas, other places have no quality control and thus you get crap sometimes.

...
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trifecta dealer for the U.P. and WI. There is no two door ion. Proudly driving one of the last saturns produced before gm killed the brand.

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Old 12-15-2008, 10:42 AM   #10
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Thumbs Up Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by xinda View Post
Hi everyone,

I have a 2004 Saturn Ion, manual transmission.

I filled about five gallons of 87 octane gas on Saturday. The gas station posts that there might be some ethanol on the gas, no exact quantity stated. Side note: I didn't realize that until recently that's probably why their price is 10 c/gallon lower than the brand name stations.

I drove the car for about 30 miles since Saturday and today I have the Check Engine Light on steady. I thought I notice some stalling on acceleration from a red light to green light or when shifting gears, but really, I am not sure if they were because of my driving habit.

Anyway, I am going to Autozone as soon as possible to get the code read. I suspect the light is on due to the ethanol laden cheap gas.

My questions are:

1. I am wondering if anyone ever has similar problem. If it is due to the fuel, manual says that light will go off after a full tank of "good gas." Was it the case with you guys? Or do I need to get it reset?

2. Should I siphon as much gas as possible from the tank?

3. Once I siphon gas, should I dilute the remaining "bad gas" with a good gas?

I really appreciate your responses.

I was having the same problem . I started using regular gas instead of mid grade or premium back when gas was real expensive . I eventually started to get a check engine light . I even had the car go into limp mode a couple of times when going into 4500 or 5000 rpm's ( not even red line ) . I had the code red and it came up with a code that basically meant fuel mixture to lean . The guy at the Saturn dealer said I needed to have the computer reprogrammed and that should fix the problem . Well the light came back on shortly after that and I was out around 80 bucks or so . I was still using regular gas . Recently gas got real cheap so I started using mid grade again . The car performs better , never goes into limp mode anymore ( even when approaching red line ) and the light never came on again .


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Old 12-15-2008, 02:04 PM   #11
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

these cars don't need midgrade, midgrade is only needed in the sky's 2.4 because of the compression ratio. midgrade is no more clean than the regular from the same station, it just resists detonation better. if your car doesn't like the regular, something's wrong with the gas or your engine.

...
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Old 12-16-2008, 12:05 PM   #12
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

my car needs it

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Old 12-16-2008, 12:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

I've been using regular from day one and never had 1 problem. 2 yrs ago tried midgrade for a month I experienced no difference in power or MPG.
If regular gives you issues change station or brand.

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Old 12-16-2008, 01:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 06_Ion2 View Post
my car needs it
unless you have a higher compression ratio or a special case, no you don't.

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Old 12-17-2008, 03:18 AM   #15
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nababbo View Post
I've been using regular from day one and never had 1 problem. 2 yrs ago tried midgrade for a month I experienced no difference in power or MPG.
If regular gives you issues change station or brand.
Ditto. I used the bottom grade since sept 1996 when I bought my saturn now have 128K and no problems. Tried better grades and saw zero difference.

My bmw motorcycle recommends premium. I use cheap grade 99% of the time with no problem - bike now has 63K on it and it's a 1992!

If you deal with the real issues on the saturn you don't need special gas or oil.

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Old 12-17-2008, 09:41 AM   #16
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

just to clarify, by special case, I mean you've done some mod to your engine that requires you to burn a higher grade fuel.

...
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:22 AM   #17
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

All gasoline comes from the same refineries.

Gasoline comes by boat/tanker or by pipeline. No special brand.

The wholesaler in this region is a private company and not one of the tier ones. All the tractor trailors - Shell, Exxon, etc. pick up their gasoline from the same wholesaler.

Some state that the major brands add additives to tractor trailor on delivery to gas station.

What's your take on this?

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Old 12-19-2008, 03:24 PM   #18
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Default Re: Check Engine Light on from cheap gas?

those would be the top tier gas stations, shell, chevron, ect.

...
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