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Old 04-09-2019, 11:28 AM   #1
OldFotoMan
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Default LS2 will not start

New here and need some help and advice. I have a 2000 LS2. Was running perfect. My wife drove it home after work and parked it. Next morning it would not start. Sounds and acts like the timing belt broke or it has no compression. Belt was replaced less than 20,000 miles ago. Checked it and the timing belt is good and everything is timed correctly. But it only has about 40 pounds compression on the front 3 cylinders. Haven't checked the rear ones, but I'm thinking they're going to be about the same. So now to several questions. Any ideas what would cause the engine to have such low compression suddenly besides the timing belt or valve timing? Also, is this an interference motor or not? May sound like a dumb question, but I have a good reason for asking. I spent over 40 years in the car business, turning wrenches and repairing cars. I know the 3.0 Saturn engines were Honda motors. Honda says they are non-interference motors, but every place I look says the Saturn 3.0 is an interference motor. Since my timing belt is good and in time, it's probably not important right now, but I would like to know for certain. The car has 140,000 miles and the belt was replaced at 124,000. Can anyone give me some idea as to what else may cause an engine to suddenly lose compression overnight? I've been in the car business since 1970 and have never had or seen a car lose compression like this. Seen broken belts or blown gaskets do it due to overheating, but never anything that had absolutely no warning signs or indications. I retired 10 years ago, so I'm sure I'm not up on some of the modern or recent advances in engines or management systems, but the basics remain the same. Is it possible that these have some kind of compression relief system? Is it possible that low fuel pressure could cause such a drastic drop in the compression? Any and all ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help resolving this issue.

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Old 04-09-2019, 11:59 AM   #2
Dsaturn
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2001 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: LS2 will not start

They are an interference engine. Probably Timing belt or components failure. When belt was replaced were all components IE tensioner and idler done also?

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Old 04-09-2019, 01:15 PM   #3
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: LS2 will not start

Whoever misled you to believing Honda made the 3.0L V6 engine is mistaken. That engine came from GMs european lineage. Saab then GM adapted it for the Vectra for awhile then it was exported to America into the Cadillac Catera before abandoning it. Saturn resurrected the engine for a few years. And it's an interference engine. Mess up timing and valves bend.

Presuming timing is perfect, loss of compression may be due to failure on startup from excessive flooding, raw fuel washing any oil film to lower compression. If cylinders are dry, squirting oil into each cylinder should raise compression unless the engine suffered severe cylinder wear to begin with. While it's a pain to access cylinders, try oil into the front three cylinders and check compression again. When cranking the engine, remove either the fuel pump fuse or pump relay to stop fuel being injected. Spark and injectors are cycling whenever ignition is ON, engine starter used. After repeated starting attempts, cylinders are soaking from fuel not igniting. A few starting attempts can flood a cold engine. EFI systems are well known for instant starting whether in summer or winter as long as the engine is maintained.

Are you sure your compression gauge is in good condition? I tried a loaner from AutoZone and it didn't work. Most likely due to accelerated wear and tear from being loaned out. My very old cone type compression gauge still works but without an adapter hose to fit, I couldn't check compression. The front coil pack died on the middle cylinder and I wanted to check compression while plugs were out for spark testing.

Please don't take offense but are you sure timing is perfect? Like ac repairs, mistiming is unforgiving of mistakes. I often mention in these forums that ac repairs are unforgiving of mistakes from many diyers assuming they know a lot when they don't.

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Old 04-09-2019, 01:29 PM   #4
Rj 2000 LS2
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2000 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: LS2 will not start

I never heard the 3.0L was a Honda engine. I thought it was the same as a CTS Cadillac, but with a different top end. It is an interference engine which I learned first hand! LOL

Did you use a timing belt kit to test your timing? I changed our timing belt not too long ago. I had all the cams spin and come to rest as I screwed up the tensioner adjustment. Through the process of re-timing the engine, I learned it must be hand spun several times in order to actually test the timing marks. Merely looking at the belt marks/timing marks isn't enough because the tension on the belt as it is spun only in one direction (clockwise) will change, as the tensioner loads and unloads. With the belt properly tensioned, you adjust the far right idler, then spin the engine 360 again to spread the tension, then adjust the center idler, then 360 again to verify everything is timed correctly. It takes about 8 - 360's to get it done. It's a royal pain in the rss!

You can hear the values hit the pistons. Are you hearing that noise while trying to start it? However, it is possible nothing is hitting and the timing is just off a bit so the values are opening during the compression stroke causing the compression to be low.

Don't forget to consider the Crank Position Sensor. If this sensor is bad the engine won't start and perhaps the compression tests were not accurate. The fact that you got all the same measurements means perhaps the compression tester may not be working right or its a timing belt issue. Could be either or.

Was your coolant temperature sensor working correctly prior to this problem? Back butter the sensor output and see if it is between 3 to 4 volts while the engine is cold and not 1 volt or lower. If lower than 1 volt when cold, the sensor is bad and could be affecting the start. If the engine temp is above 289 degrees... all sorts of unpublished things happens to adjust the timing and restrict fuel.

There are a host of other things which I'm sure you checked...
- Is the Security Light ON constantly or Blinking while trying to start the engine? If so, do the 10 minute relearn process to clear the light. Fuel and ignition is shut down when the security light is ON.
- Fuel Pump noise? Is fuel in rail?

It will be interesting what you find given your background. Please do report back when you diagnose the problem or problems. It helps everyone to learn more so we can keep our Saturn's on the road!

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Old 04-09-2019, 05:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: LS2 will not start

Timing belt including all pullies, tensioners, water pump, etc. were replaced at a professional shop. Car drove and ran fine for about 10 months. My wife came home from work on a Friday evening. Saturday morning it would not start. Turned over sounding and acting like there was no compression. My immediate thought was that the belt had broken. It's December in Ohio and freezing outside. I'm not going to fool with it myself in my driveway. Tow it back to the shop. Mechanic initially has the same reaction. Acts like a broken belt. But seems very unlikely since it was just replaced, unless a component failed and locked something up. Once it is in the shop and partially torn down for inspection, the belt and all components seem good, proper tension, and in time.
Does not appear to have jumped time. But the engine only has about 40 pounds of compression on the front 3 cylinders. As I said, I've been in the business since the late 60's and spent years doing timing belts on many European autos before most American car mechanics even heard of them. I'm retired and after 2 spinal surgeries and 3 strokes, it was not a job I wanted to do myself, so I sent it to a shop that I know and trust. Now we're at a loss. Neither of us has ever run into a situation like this. The engine seemed to be fine when parked for the night, then very low compression the next morning, but all belts and cam timing components seem to be in order and cam timing checks as it should. I'm stumped! And I apologize for having it backwards, apparently Honda borrowed their 3.0L V-6 design from Opel. Anyway, any ideas and thoughts will be appreciated, and a special thanks to those who have already responded. Unfortunately, none of the responses so far tell me anything that we haven't already thought of or checked. The way this happened, logic and experience would dictate a mechanical component failure, but everything checks good and as it should. I can't think of any electronic component or any part of the engine management system that could drop the compression like this. And I've never seen gaskets blow on all cylinders at once; after the car was shut off for the night, so that's highly doubtful. Again, We're stumped and just hoping someone else has experience a very similar situation and can give some insight. Thanks again.

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Old 04-09-2019, 11:39 PM   #6
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: LS2 will not start

40 lbs in the front three is actually a good sign. None are zero, those would be bent valves! If the back three are also 40 the crank sprocket may have sheared the key. I would continue to tear down the timing belt and inspect the crank key.

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Old 06-10-2019, 01:45 PM   #7
OldFotoMan
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Default Re: LS2 will not start

OK. Now I'm totally baffled. Mechanic took it all down. Checked everything. Belt was good. All timing marks were as they should be. Checked to make sure crank key had not sheared. Everything appeared to be correct. Put it all back together. Started right up and ran fine except a miss (weak spark) on number 4 cylinder. Bad coil pack. Replaced it and everything is good. I'm completely baffled as to how an engine can act and crank like there's no compression, have very low compression when checked; then have good compression and run fine after doing nothing to repair it. Just took it down, inspected, and put it back together.
If anyone has any ideas, I'd like to read them. With over 50 years of working on engines, I've never seen or heard of anything like this before.

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Old 06-10-2019, 06:08 PM   #8
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
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Default Re: LS2 will not start

Do you trust this guy and did you watch? I bet something was loose and he got lucky. I have also been doing this for all my life. I donít believe that nothing was wrong.

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