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Old 03-05-2017, 09:38 PM   #1
TheNoteTaker
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1997 SC1
Default Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Ok so,
I have had the car for well over a year now, '96 sc2.
It's up for inspection by the end of the month and I have come up at a loss for what else to do. I've read thread upon thread about lean conditions and what the different fixes were, and I can't figure it out.
I've been pondering the idea of MAYBE the injectors are starting to go out but I don't know what injectors usually do when they start to die. I have to get it running right and without a code or SES light before I get it inspected because here in the lovely state of North Carolina, it being a '96, it has to have emissions testing done, and I'm not taking the chance of paying $30+ to try at an inspection and have it fail in the middle of them running the test.
I've run a couple of different injector cleaning solutions through the system several times, hasn't really helped. I changed the fuel pump and filter last year sometime because the pump was starting to go out, sometimes it wouldn't stay running or would nearly die in traffic, the filter I changed because who knows when/if that was changed last.
A few months ago I purchased an OBDII scan tool that pairs with a smart phone via bluetooth, I've checked some of the data for it against the guages (rpm vs the tach. , coolant temp. vs temp. guage, ect..) and I believe it to be correct.
I captured some of the data via a screen recording and uploaded it on youtube here:
https://youtu.be/mg3pIu-9Fb0
(hopefully that link will work, never done that before)
When I was recording the data the car was running lean, as seen by the fault code in the video, I gave it a couple of revs to show the data change, and then I cleared the code, showed the data again. I want to point out that the code didn't come back on until I went to drive it later on that night.

My symptoms are the occasional feeling of mild hesitation/loss of power when accelerating, only under 4k rpms either with or without the light on, HOWEVER, if the light ISN'T already on it almost immediately comes on once I feel the hesitation. Also, sometimes when the light is on, I don't feel any hesitation/loss of power for a small amount of time and then soon after the feeling comes right back.
I have noticed that, even with the light on, above 4k rpms it performs nicely. Packs a huge punch, can through you back in the seat a little bit and isn't afraid to get to highway speeds or greater with a quickness. (totally not speeding )
I'm stumped and I don't have access to the money to be able to replace injectors and the ECTS and IAT and t-stat and t-stat housing.

On a side note, I have also replaced the TPS and CKPS, only replaced those because it would run and then die after about 10 minutes, but anywho.

I know that the flex pipe needs to be replaced, the exhaust manifold is rusted over, looks like it has never been off so I don't know about the gasket, fairly recently had the down pipe off to fix the leak it had around the front of the oil pan and replaced both that gasket and the oil pan material while I was there. The upstream O2 sensor is basically brand new, just ordered it a couple months ago, denso p/n 234/1022. Downstream sensor most likely never been off, rusted to the cat flange. backside of the cat is super clean, looks completely intact. I also replaced the FPR at the same time as the O2 sensor. The only iffy thing about that was the vacuum hose going from the FPR to the TB, the plastic hose broke at some point so someone just substituted some rubber hose between the two. I can remedy that real quick though.

Conclusion...I need help, anyone please lol.
The car currently had 140,370+ miles.

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Old 03-05-2017, 11:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Um, Just reading through, I really don't see anything that would cause your car to fail. You mention basically, small hesitations under 4K....how would that cause failure? I don't ever remember a time when I even got the tach to 4K while on the road? What kind of speeds are you getting to, to get that high?

Have you verified that the PCV hose and connector are not plugged up, have you tried to simply clear the P0171 code and if so, does that code reappear?

What brand fuel filter did you use, did you get one that is specific to the '98 model and use that on your '96, because the "98's are special regulators and if so, it might trigger a lean fuel flow condition.

I would just be sure the engine is fully warmed up, and ready then get it tested.

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Old 03-06-2017, 01:08 AM   #3
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Well the hesitations's have, on more than a few occasions, come very close to getting me into a wreck. I've done testing to see if the hesitation/power loss goes away in higher rpm ranges, hence the 4k+ rpm. Pretty sure the PCV hose isn't clogged and yea when I clear the code it'll come back, but it varies. It isn't predictable.
The filter I'm pretty sure is right, looked exactly like the old one.

...
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Old 03-06-2017, 04:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Causes

Map sensor. How to test. https://youtu.be/B8EVhFc5Yqw. Hopefully that link works. It's richpin.

O2 sensor. Does your scan tool have graph option? Should show it up and down. Middle at or around I want to say .045 volts

Vacuum leaks. Spray flammable gas or liquid around intake and plastic tubing with cold engine and staying away from plug wires. Or smoke machine.

Exhaust leak. Sounds like you have one of those.

Dirty worn fuel injector

Weak fuel pump. What is psi?

Restricted fuel line. What is psi?

That's all I can think of and hopefully that's a good starting point to collect some good data. Better than throwing parts at it if you don't have to.

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Old 03-06-2017, 11:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Repairpal does a good review of error codes; http://repairpal.com/obd-ii-code-p0171. A brief reprint to highlight some areas;

P0171 is not an Oxygen Sensor problem. Before a P0171 code is possible, the computer first ran a series of tests to validate the readings from the oxygen sensors. Since the oxygen sensors passed their readiness tests and didn't set any codes, the computer then looked to the Fuel Trim adjustment. When the computer determined the air-to-fuel mixture to be too lean, it then set the P0171 code.

A vacuum leak is very common. It could be a torn PCV hose, a torn Intake Air Boot, or even a broken seal on the dipstick (the dipstick is a part of the PCV system and if it does not seal, too much unmetered air will enter the engine). Donít rule out a sticking/leaking EGR Valve or leaking EGR or Intake Manifold Gasket.

Tried blocking off the egr valve?

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Old 03-06-2017, 07:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

The app that I use and my scan tool do support O2 sensor graphing, it is a little confusing though as to the fact that the two different sensors show up as different colors on the graph, and there isn't a legend on the graph or anywhere else in the app.
My father ordered a fuel pressure gauge a couple of days ago, still waiting on that, when it gets here..IF it is the right type, I will take some measurements and post them back here.
Again I'm not sold about the injectors, as far as I know they are the original injectors and as previously mentioned the car has 140k+ miles on it so there's that.
The fuel pump I replaced brand new, couldn't get a gold of the pump by itself and besides the sending unit was a little brittle anyways.
I never even thought that the dipstick could have anything to do with it, I'll go out there and verify that it is intact. I don't feel like there is a vacuum leak, like I said I did check for them, in hindsight I know now that the EVAP purge solenoid valve might be leaking at one of the hoses...when we changed the pump we had issues getting the EVAP canister hoses routed the right way because we had to replace the rubber hoses up front, and we got the pump-side lines mixed up and ended up running straight gas through it and...staining the concrete in the garage .

Intake manifold gasket : probably never been off honestly, I've looked at possibly doing it once, decided it was too much work at the time so I haven't touched it.

The EGR valve, speaking of that I actually took the valve off and cleaned it with some brake parts cleaner and sprayed some lubrication oil on it to make sure it couldn't stick any more, it would stick if I pushed the valve open as far as it would go and held it for a few seconds, after I sprayed the oil on it it didn't stick at all.

I had been previously thinking about saving up for some new injectors from jegs performance, however I'm not sure if they would fit in the intake and on the rail or not, they're high impedance injectors and a 32lb/hr injector. Again, not sure if that would cause harm to the engine or not having a very over-sized injector or not. I wouldn't think that it would, I wasn't thinking of the performance aspect so much as just providing more headway for fuel trim. This is the link to the page:
http://www.jegs.com/i/Accel/110/150132/10002/-1

Funnily enough the light turned itself off today while I was driving home, but it was acting just as hesitant as usual so I figure it didn't have enough time to trip the light again.

...
1996 SC2 1.9L DOHC w/auto trans. and only 136K original....It's purple :3

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Old 03-08-2017, 01:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Forgot about this when I was typing the original post, at just under 3k rpm it'll buck a little bit. Don't know if that is helpful or not. Still waiting on that fuel pressure gauge.

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Old 03-11-2017, 06:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

https://youtu.be/_tlHz97X0BU
Finally got the readings for the fuel pressure. It's a 24+ hour cold start. I paused the recording for a minute or two to allow the oil to get flowing through it before revving it. As you can see in the video, the fuel pressure reached a max of 35 and about 30 at minimum. Obviously it was just at idle, however, I will say that when the pump primed the line, had to take the line off of the rail to get the gauge to screw into the valve, it was at about 38 or 39 PSI but quickly fell down to 35. The gauge stayed at 30 for the entire time it was on after the car was turned off, which was about 5 minutes or so.

...
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Something's wrong because fuel pump pressure should be between 38-44 psi at ignition ON time and stay there with the engine running. At 32 psi with engine idling, this appears to be lower pressure than ideal and may be the reason for the lean error code. The question is either the pump is worn or the fuel filter is strangling pressures. If you can connect the f/p gauge before the filter and turn on ignition, you may see a different pressure to determine which way to go.

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Old 03-11-2017, 07:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNoteTaker View Post
Ok so,
I have had the car for well over a year now, '96 sc2.
It's up for inspection by the end of the month and I have come up at a loss for what else to do. I've read thread upon thread about lean conditions and what the different fixes were, and I can't figure it out.
I've been pondering the idea of MAYBE the injectors are starting to go out but I don't know what injectors usually do when they start to die. I have to get it running right and without a code or SES light before I get it inspected because here in the lovely state of North Carolina, it being a '96, it has to have emissions testing done, and I'm not taking the chance of paying $30+ to try at an inspection and have it fail in the middle of them running the test.
I've run a couple of different injector cleaning solutions through the system several times, hasn't really helped. I changed the fuel pump and filter last year sometime because the pump was starting to go out, sometimes it wouldn't stay running or would nearly die in traffic, the filter I changed because who knows when/if that was changed last.
A few months ago I purchased an OBDII scan tool that pairs with a smart phone via bluetooth, I've checked some of the data for it against the guages (rpm vs the tach. , coolant temp. vs temp. guage, ect..) and I believe it to be correct.
I captured some of the data via a screen recording and uploaded it on youtube here:
https://youtu.be/mg3pIu-9Fb0
(hopefully that link will work, never done that before)
When I was recording the data the car was running lean, as seen by the fault code in the video, I gave it a couple of revs to show the data change, and then I cleared the code, showed the data again. I want to point out that the code didn't come back on until I went to drive it later on that night.

My symptoms are the occasional feeling of mild hesitation/loss of power when accelerating, only under 4k rpms either with or without the light on, HOWEVER, if the light ISN'T already on it almost immediately comes on once I feel the hesitation. Also, sometimes when the light is on, I don't feel any hesitation/loss of power for a small amount of time and then soon after the feeling comes right back.
I have noticed that, even with the light on, above 4k rpms it performs nicely. Packs a huge punch, can through you back in the seat a little bit and isn't afraid to get to highway speeds or greater with a quickness. (totally not speeding )
I'm stumped and I don't have access to the money to be able to replace injectors and the ECTS and IAT and t-stat and t-stat housing.

On a side note, I have also replaced the TPS and CKPS, only replaced those because it would run and then die after about 10 minutes, but anywho.

I know that the flex pipe needs to be replaced, the exhaust manifold is rusted over, looks like it has never been off so I don't know about the gasket, fairly recently had the down pipe off to fix the leak it had around the front of the oil pan and replaced both that gasket and the oil pan material while I was there. The upstream O2 sensor is basically brand new, just ordered it a couple months ago, denso p/n 234/1022. Downstream sensor most likely never been off, rusted to the cat flange. backside of the cat is super clean, looks completely intact. I also replaced the FPR at the same time as the O2 sensor. The only iffy thing about that was the vacuum hose going from the FPR to the TB, the plastic hose broke at some point so someone just substituted some rubber hose between the two. I can remedy that real quick though.

Conclusion...I need help, anyone please lol.
The car currently had 140,370+ miles.
Saving 5,000+ characters of text and unrelated/unnecessary information, What fault codes are showing up?

The engine is going to bounce between "Lean" and "Rich", because of the how the voltage is interpreted by the PCM.

A lean condition can be caused, by a variety of things:
Vacuum Leaks
Faulty O2 sensor
Exhaust leaks
Clogged fuel filter
Faulty EGR valve
Failing injectors
Leaking or Failed PCV valve
Faulty MAF/MAP
Faulty ECTS
Faulty or leaking Purge/EVAP system
Scan your codes, and that will give you a rough idea of where to start looking.

...
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"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 03-11-2017, 07:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Ok, I am not aware of any other place to connect the gauge without trying to connect it on-line. To be completely honest I am under the assumption of both the pump and filter having been the right ones and brand new. I replaced both myself. I know that the filter we took off was a little dirty so maybe some crud was stirred up and is clogging the filter? I'm not sure, I'll figure out a way to watch the pressure before the filter and post it back here.

...
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Um, Just reading through, I really don't see anything that would cause your car to fail. You mention basically, small hesitations under 4K....how would that cause failure? I don't ever remember a time when I even got the tach to 4K while on the road? What kind of speeds are you getting to, to get that high?

Have you verified that the PCV hose and connector are not plugged up, have you tried to simply clear the P0171 code and if so, does that code reappear?

What brand fuel filter did you use, did you get one that is specific to the '98 model and use that on your '96, because the "98's are special regulators and if so, it might trigger a lean fuel flow condition.

I would just be sure the engine is fully warmed up, and ready then get it tested.
I am not familiar with NC Laws, regarding inspections. I know, in Ohio/PA/NY, if you go in for inspection and the "MIL" is ON, it is an automatic failed inspection.

NY even goes as far as checking for "Pending" codes, to weed out any possibility of "cheating", by having codes cleared right before you go in for the test.

That exhaust leak needs to be fixed.

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Old 03-11-2017, 08:09 PM   #13
TheNoteTaker
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Yea NC law requires that no codes be set and the MAIL light can't be on, most older cars get probed, when we had mine inspected I don't remember them probing it.
It's also impossible to get past the scan because 4 of the 7 checks that are done are reset and have to be rerun.

And yes, I took a picture of the flex pipe the other day when I changed the oil and it is bad.

...
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNoteTaker View Post
Yea NC law requires that no codes be set and the MAIL light can't be on, most older cars get probed, when we had mine inspected I don't remember them probing it.
It's also impossible to get past the scan because 4 of the 7 checks that are done are reset and have to be rerun.

And yes, I took a picture of the flex pipe the other day when I changed the oil and it is bad.
The flex pipe leaking WILL cause an MIL, because of your downstream O2 sensor. It should NOT affect the O2 Upstream voltage for air/fuel ratio, but the exhaust temps will be out of range for the downstream O2.

Walker makes replacement exhaust pipes, that are legal for sale in your state.

That manifold is cast iron with perma-torque nuts on those studs. I have a brand new nut, that was SUPPOSED to be a pack of 4, from GM. Stupid dealership mis read my order. It has triangular threads. Once it is torqued down, it will NOT come off without pulling the entire stud out of the cylinder head.

So, it is very doubtful that the gasket is leaking. And, trust me, my 1991-1992 Saturn Twin Cam exhaust "manifold" was leaking at the #3 cylinder, after the shop tried to reuse the 1995 SC2 manifold gasket. You will find a HUGE loss pf power. So, if you have plenty of punch above 4k rpm, your exhaust manifold is fine.

As far as connecting your scanner: The ALDL plig is under your dash/steering column area. Plugging in a code scanner(not one of those smartphone apps with bluetooth), will show you what codes are present in the PCM.

AutoZone, Advance Auto, O'Reilly's, NAPA, and many other can scan your codes for free.

As far as your fuel pressure, it is fine.
Fuel pressure @ idleVacuum Line Attached) - 31 to 36psi
(Vacuum Line Removed) 37 to 45 psi
Fuel System Pressure DecayAfter 5'minutes of idle) 3psi(1991-1997)
Fuel Pump Pressure: 46-94psi
Fuel Pump Pressure Decay: 6psi

One psi lower than the minimum will not hurt anything. You can test this, by removing the vacuum line and plugging the connection on your throttle body. This will increase your fuel pressure, and if the lean condition and bucking goes away, then you know the pump/injectors are shot.

Increasing fuel pressure really isn't gonna cause too many issues, unless you have a leaking injector, for the purposes of a 5-10 mile test drive. I wouldn't recommend driving the car with high pressure for too long, though.

...
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:35 PM   #15
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Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

If I'm not mistaken, '96 and up are OBD II, '91-'95 are OBD I. I know when I bought my 'L300 in '05, I was in and out of state inspection in about 15 minutes, all due to a relatively new car with 12k miles. A prior car vehicle OBD I required anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of tail pipe analyzing and dyno testing at the drive wheels. A real money loser for every repair shop back then if a car passed emissions - most likely due to the length of time needed to simply run the tailpipe and dyno test simultaneously, following a computer 'road' test at varying speeds for emissions testing. I was informed that there were various ways to circumvent these tests for the shop as well as the car owner if things became too crazy. OBD II basically wiped out the need for a dedicated bay to hold the dyno by forcing the auto makers to have better self diagnostics in OBD II. Having owned OBD I and II vehicles, I see distinct advantages of OBD II for better diagnostics and troubleshooting for anyone willing to be a diyer.

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Old 03-11-2017, 08:41 PM   #16
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1997 SC1
Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Ok, I'll remember that, the line for the gauge isn't long enough to to see it from inside the car. I've had several parts stores scan it and it has the same code, the only reason I haven't returned the scanner.

About the good punch above 4k rpm = good exhaust manifold makes me less weary.

I'm hoping the pump wasn't junk out of the box. Like I said I'm sure the injectors are the original so they may be going out.
Tomorrow I'll take it for a drive without the regulator vacuum on.

...
1996 SC2 1.9L DOHC w/auto trans. and only 136K original....It's purple :3

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Old 03-11-2017, 09:16 PM   #17
OldNuc
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

The injectors either work, leak or quit. No half way measures.

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Old 03-11-2017, 09:43 PM   #18
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1997 SC1
Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Well I know that the injectors all measured at 12.4 ohms. So they should be good since the pressure didn't drop after a few minutes of the car being off.
I'll figure out a way to check the pressure before the filter, the gauge kit came with an inline barb and some hose extensions, I may try at the connections from the heat shrink tubes to the main rubber hoses under the car. I'll also try the regulator trick.

If it ends up being the filter I'm going to be a little annoyed, but I know that the WIX filter is the one to get.

...
1996 SC2 1.9L DOHC w/auto trans. and only 136K original....It's purple :3

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Old 03-11-2017, 10:40 PM   #19
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Those are high pressure pumps and you can not successfully connect to the pump discharge without the proper fitting, usually harvested from a old fuel filter. The fuel filter for the 97 and older cars is a 30,000 -60,000 mile part. On the 97 and older cars you make the pump discharge pressure test connection at the fuel filter inlet. Test rig needs a needle valve bleed as you must have ~45 psi or so at a decent flow.

The WIX or NAPA filter for your car works fine.

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Old 03-12-2017, 08:58 PM   #20
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1997 SC1
Default Re: Another Lean Condition thread... I know, I know boring and annoying

Whilst I was tearing things apart in order to plug the regulator vacuum line, I decided to check the ECTS, it's a brass tip with a flat nose. The IAT is clearly plastic and has a rounded nose. The connector for the ECTS is a little meddled with so I'm fixing that.

I went over the sensors and verified they were working, ECTS IAT and MAP. I'm going to take the car to an inspection station tomorrow, they'll have a little bit better equipment to scan it with than I can get my hands on. If it doesn't pop up I'll get it inspected and just have another year to figure it out I guess.

Theoretical question,
Could a small oil leak from the valve cover gasket double as a vacuum leak?
It's extremely small, if untouched and it didn't burn any oil at all it'd take quite a while for it to make a dent.
I also know that I can get very odd readings from the dipstick.
Let it sit for 24 hours, pull it out, clean the stick, put it back in, pull it back out and check, it will read fine.
Do it again a couple minutes later, it'll have oil running half way up the stick, without anything having been done to it.
Granted, that didn't start happening until we fixed the leak on the oil pan but still.

I'm just completely confused. I've checked everything I can get my hands on and check.

Edit:
With the regulator vacuum line off the pressure reached 40 PSI and stayed there while it was running.

...
1996 SC2 1.9L DOHC w/auto trans. and only 136K original....It's purple :3

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