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Old 05-03-2018, 02:54 PM   #21
alordofchaos
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protomartyr View Post
These are very rough estimates, but I've driven about 140 km in the city since putting the car back on the road. And I have burned enough oil to go from the max line on the dipstick to maybe 1/4 above the min line, toward the max line. Know what I mean? So I lost 3/4 of the space between the min and max lines. Not sure how many L that is.
'Murican here, so metric-illiterate.

But it is 1 quart between the Full and ADD lines, so about 1L

per OldNuc, a member here, each full diamond represents about 3/2 oz.

At that rate of oil loss, I wonder if you have a leak - 140km = ~100 miles. You probably want to keep the oil at the FULL mark at all times, better for the engine. Any drips under the car overnight?

Leaking oil at the back, driver side corner of the black valve cover? Wipe under the cover with a clean paper towel, then start the car and run for a minute, turn off, and wipe with a fresh paper towel to see if there is fresh oil.
Cover could be warped or may need a new gasket.

Quote:
Interesting that I'm reading low on the temperature gauge. I never have heat on and am pretty conservative with acceleration and everything if that makes a difference. And have been city driving, low speeds, and only 10 or 15 km at at a time. I live in Vancouver BC, if that helps at all.
Might have some local Vancouverites willing to help?

15km = about 9 or 10 miles? When you get to the end of your next drive, turn the slider to hot and turn the fan on. You should get really toasty heat - possibly uncomfortable if you put your hand right up to the vents. If the air is still cool, you may need a thermostat.

You might have more than one thing going on at a time. Oil leak/burn, plus bad tstat.

Quote:
You people are extremely helpful.
Thanks, I knew nothing about Saturns until I found this forum. Became a fan of the cars and the community.

But I remember getting instructions and help from folks, and my first response was, "I don't know those words you are using. What is an EGR? And where is it? "

Quote:
To take it off I unscrew it a bit and then wobble it back and forth and it comes out. Putting it on I just screw it a few times. Could that be causing any problems?
only if oil is blowing out, or you can hear air being sucked in when the car is running. I had the same problem with an aftermarket oil cap - it didn't cause problems but it bothered me. So I got a junkyard replacement.

Look for junkyards in your area, the "pick n pull" or "u pull" type yards. You can go in and get an OEM replacement for a buck or two.

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Old 05-03-2018, 04:06 PM   #22
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Looks like the ECTS has been replaced, as the wires have been spliced, with shrink wrap and different wire colours after the shrink wrap spot.

I idled the car for 5 to 10 minutes while checking various things. First I had wiped off the valve cover. There was more residue at the back on the passenger side than the driver side. But after idling for that time no new residue accumulated, as the napkin was clear after wiping again. Hope I was wiping the correct spot. And there are no leak spots on the ground under the car, as far as I can tell. Also, the temperature gauge went no higher than 1/8 throughout the process. It is sunny and about 68 fahrenheit outside today.

I was unable to have a helper rev the engine for me but on start-up, while idling, and immediately after revving, the exhaust emitted very little smoke. And it wasn't white... just looked like normal exhaust. Also wan't particularly smelly, certainly not sweet like coolant. Under my hood smells sorta like oil while idling, but I can't tell if it's an abnormal amount. If it was smoking before, perhaps draining some coolant today helped? Or maybe because the car sat for months, it just needed these 140 km to clear stuff out? I have to drive somewhere today so I can report back if I notice smoke again.

One thing I did notice is that while revving, and shortly after, there is leakage from my muffler. In two locations nearby each other. It looks clear as I watch it drip, but I placed a clean napkin underneath and went back and revved the engine again. The napkin showed specks of black amidst the clear fluid. What could this be? After the 5-10 minutes of idling and a bit of revving, there were two spots of fluid on the ground, each about the diameter of a coke can.

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Old 05-03-2018, 11:58 PM   #23
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

The splices in the ECTS must be soldered and properly insulated with heat shrink tubing. The product of the CAT is water vapor and if the mixture is FUBAR from a fouled up ECTS circuit the system can makes lots of water, more than you would think. Fix what you know is broke and then go from three, fix the ECTS. As to coolant leaks etc you can use the BARS Leaks now with no ill effects and I would hold off on any block seal at this point.

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Old 05-04-2018, 01:04 PM   #24
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The splices in the ECTS must be soldered and properly insulated with heat shrink tubing. The product of the CAT is water vapor and if the mixture is FUBAR from a fouled up ECTS circuit the system can makes lots of water, more than you would think. Fix what you know is broke and then go from three, fix the ECTS.
Wait, how do you know the ECTS is broke? I thought the other poster suggested that if it's been shrink wrapped, that means it's already been fixed before and is likely fine now.

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Old 05-04-2018, 01:37 PM   #25
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Can you tell if the ECTS connector splice was soldered? Butt connectors will be obvious under shrink wrap and would be a point of failure but soldered wires are difficult to tell. I'd remove the shrink wrapped section and solder the wires yourself followed by shrink wrap. That way you know for sure. While you are at it, remove the ECTS and confirm it is brass tipped and not resin tipped (prone to cracking). This will eliminate the ECTS question from the equation. The connector should be in good shape too - not fouled at the pins.

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Old 05-04-2018, 04:06 PM   #26
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

I don't remember where on the forms I read this but an easy way to test if the ects wiring is working properly is to put a jumper between the two holes on the end of the wire, such as a paper clip, and if the gauge shows 100% and the fan turns on, the wiring is good.

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Old 05-04-2018, 05:22 PM   #27
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Actually, shorting terminals applies only to 1st gen Saturns - shorting the OBD I terminals (I cannot recall which pins) or simply disconnecting the coolant sensor connection is detected as an error with the pcm programmed to turn on the cooling fan. This doesn't determine whether or not the coolant sensor is operating correctly but does verify the coolant circuitry and cooling fan operation.

Protomartyr, as a "broke student" some here either ignore or skipped over, you can test the coolant sensor by simply going to Autozone or Advance Auto or find a friend owning a reader. Use a reader to display coolant temps, when the engine is cold before starting and after a full warm up (ten minutes idling or driving). These two temperature measurements are your baseline data points. Cold engine temps should reflect ambient temps in your area, +/- a few degrees, between 185F-200F with a warm engine. If you see these values then your coolant sensor is operating as designed and connections are fine. No second guessing. If these values aren't displayed then troubleshooting is needed. If you cannot find anyone to borrow a reader then try using a dial thermometer, meat type or scientific glass type dipped into the coolant container. Even a hand held IR probe if someone has one to borrow - aim it at the t-stat housing. No money has to be spent if you're resourceful with some imagination without spending any money unless absolutely necessary.

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Old 05-04-2018, 07:43 PM   #28
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Thanks everyone. I'll do the temperature readings ASAP.

I'm a little unclear on what the problem is with having a faulty gauge/ECTS. Does it just need to be fixed so I can see whether I'm actually overheating, in which case I'd then need to figure out why? Or does it cause issues such as to MPG or oil burning, even without overheating?

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Old 05-04-2018, 09:13 PM   #29
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

A faulty ECTS will send incorrect information about the temperature of the coolant to the PCM. For example, the engine temp may be 220 and still rising but if the ECTS is faulty, it wont know that. It'll think the engine is some cooler temperature and not tell the fan to turn on as a result. The car would be overheating but you wouldn't know based on the tamp gauge because the needle would be stuck on a lower reading.

As for mpg, a faulty ECTS negatively effects that too. If the PCM sees that the car is still running cool, it will use a richer fuel mixture until it reaches operating temperature somewhere around 185-200. A faulty ECTS would give the PCM a temperature reading bellow 185 so the car will continue running rich.

The best way to test the ECTS is what fdryer suggested, using a reader to get actual numbers from the computer as well as having a meat thermometer or something similar in the coolant container. If the thermometer reads what the computer is reading +/- a few degrees, the ECTS is working fine

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Old 05-04-2018, 09:33 PM   #30
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Most of us here are knowledgeable and share info to anyone willing to learn without paying for it or learning the hard way by spending money and 'throwing parts at the car'. Info most dealers and repair shops are not going to give away since info is money and business is run to make a profit from ignorance. Diyers are knowledgeable due to learning the hard way and from self education, correcting mistakes by practice when errors are made along the way to becoming a better informed diyer.

The coolant sensor has failed in virtually every S-series from '91-'01. It fails in one of two modes, high resistance or low compared to a good one. The majority fail by cracking and outputting incorrect signals the pcm sees as a very frozen engine (electronically higher resistance than normal). The pcm in turn simply interprets the wrong signals by enriching the fuel mixtures. Some cars flood during starting while most startup and run ragged all the time with some tell tale indications; the temperature needle never goes above the 1/4 mark, the heater never provides heat in winter, fuel mileage is always down, and when left this way eventually ruins the engine by washing the cylinder walls of the thin film of motor oil resulting in coked piston rings that never seal with good compression, and leads to overheating since the pcm never sees the correct temperatures from a faulty sensor. This sensor outputs varying signals as coolant temps change so the pcm knows when to turn on the cooling fan. A faulty sensor doesn't send correct signals so the engine overheats since the pcm doesn't know coolant temps are high enough to turn on the cooling fan. One sensor can do irreparable engine damage.

A reader can help here.

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Old 05-05-2018, 01:54 PM   #31
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

I haven't been able to get a temperature reading yet but I'll try tomorrow.

But yesterday I went on a drive totaling 134 km (83 miles), return. About 1/4 of that was city driving in moderate traffic, the rest highway. According to the fuel gauge, I used about 1/8 of a tank of gas. Gasbuddy.com estimated 9.51 L for this trip with my vehicle, is about 1/5 of the 45.8 L tank. So my car used significantly less fuel than expected.

I don't know exactly how much oil I burned. Anywhere from 0 to 2 diamonds' worth. Forgot to check where the dipstick was when I left. My bad.

It doesn't look like I lost any coolant but there could have been a small amount. Will need more testing. Currently sitting just above the minimum line on the reservoir so I'll notice any loss in the future.

My coolant temperature gauge stayed mostly at 3/16. In traffic at the end of the return trip it went up to around 5/16.

After parking each time I left the car running and put the fans on high, high heat. The air coming out was certainly warm but I wouldn't say "hot." I could have left my hands in front of the fans indefinitely.

No white smoke or coolant smell at any point.

Opening my door each time I parked I was met with a possible burning oil smell, but I can't be sure. It smells under the hood after driving. But not at the exhaust. And I don't know if it's an abnormal smell... it's an old car, maybe it just smells a bit.

Question: do I still need to get an oil change every 5000 km even though I'm replacing oil as frequently as I am? If so, I'm due for one. Perhaps that would be a good chance to get a reading done as well.

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Old 05-05-2018, 02:10 PM   #32
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

^^ You said,
"My coolant temperature gauge stayed mostly at 3/16. In traffic at the end of the return trip it went up to around 5/16."

This backs up what many have been saying to you.
Either the ECTS itself is bad, OR the wiring to the sensor has issues and maybe was not soldered correctly.

I realize these temperature gauges are not always 'spot on' correct, but the general Gen2 S series points higher than 5/16" on the scale...usually closer to 7/16-1/2" (just a bit to the left of center) after the engine is warmed up.

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Old 05-05-2018, 02:12 PM   #33
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Original coolant sensors failing also damaged thermostats by overheating the large seal, deforming it, resulting in coolant flow at lower than ideal operating temperatures (185F-200F). Heated air should be hot at lower blower speeds. Try one speed lower from high and feel for very hot air flow out vents. Below is one example of a damage t-stat. You may have to replace yours but try acquiring a thermometer for coolant temperature measurement first. According to your descriptions, coolant temps should have the needle between 3/8ths and 1/2 on the temperature gauge. Temperature gauges are useful for an overall perspective to observe temperature swings while driving and shouldn't fluctuate once t-stat regulation occurs to maintain a narrow temperature range.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg plastic-brass cts.jpg (82.8 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg t-stat 2.jpg (60.8 KB, 4 views)

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Old 05-05-2018, 02:58 PM   #34
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Thank you both. Will get the temperature reading done tomorrow.

I just looked through the maintenance records from the previous owner and found a shop recommendation to change the thermostat and O2 sensor back in February 2013. Seemingly based on another note that says "burning oil". They changed the O2 sensor a short while later but not the thermostat.

Is the thermostat a bigger, more expensive job than the ECTS? How do I know whether the problem is the thermostat or the ECTS? I'm sorta feeling like the ECTS is fine since it has shrink wrap on the wires indicating it was previously replaced. Unless the connections went bad or something since then, or the new one broke as well.

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Use a reader to display coolant temps, when the engine is cold before starting and after a full warm up (ten minutes idling or driving).If you cannot find anyone to borrow a reader then try using a dial thermometer, meat type or scientific glass type dipped into the coolant container.
It's safe to open the coolant reservoir after 10 minutes of idling, to put a thermometer in there?

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Old 05-05-2018, 04:46 PM   #35
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

If you look at the two images, the body of the redesigned coolant sensor has a rounded shoulder. The original ones are flat shouldered. Remove the connector and look carefully. No money spent, just some time to look.

Unless you have a thermometer to measure coolant temps, guessing can be expensive if you cannot afford throwing parts at the car.

The best and safest way to measure coolant temps if a thermometer is all you have is to remove the coolant cap on a cold engine and startup. Measure temps at cold startup and idle for about 15 minutes or longer as temps rise and seen on a thermometer. While this is tedious, a reader is more accurate without concern about removing the cap on a hot engine. If you need to remove the cap on a hot engine, the cap can be removed but carefully and slowly. With air in the coolant container, a small amount of hot vapors escapes. Placing a large heavy rag over the cap can help. If done safely and slowly, a warm engine will release pressure in a few seconds to allow complete removal. Beware of one issue - if this engine has a history of overheating easily then do not remove the cap as coolant will boil almost immediately when pressure is relieved. Remember, under pressure, coolant is restricted from boiling from a combination of a 50/50 mixture and pressure to raise boiling point to around 265F. Once pressure is relieved, boiling point drops to a lower temperature, around 220F. Water boils at 212F.

Removing coolant caps with a warm engine is never recommended but when done carefully with an engine not known to overheat, can be done with cautions. Simply put, if unscrewing the cap (slowly) suddenly shows coolant bubbling up/boiling, just tighten the cap immediately. I don't recommend doing this to anyone not familiar with pressurized cooling systems but I've done it on my L300 without issues. Worse case scenario is scalding hot coolant spray.

An infrared hand held temperature probe or reader removes any reason to have the coolant cap off. You always have choices.

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Old 05-06-2018, 09:35 AM   #36
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

^ ^ ^ what a great community, eh?
Sorry, I was away retrieving my own broke college student (just graduated, BA in Physics)

Sounds like two probable issues, oil loss and bad thermostat.

Quote:
Is the thermostat a bigger, more expensive job than the ECTS? How do I know whether the problem is the thermostat or the ECTS?
Bad thermostat: slow to warm up, weak heater output, temp gauge never gets above 1/4 during normal driving.

Bad ECTS: temp gauge never gets above 1/4, engine fan will not come on even when engine shows signs of overheating (gauge on instrument panel will still show low, though), heater output is normal, hard starting, stalling, black smoke from exhaust

Thermostat is not a hard job. Guessing it would cost around $100~150 for a shop to do it.
DIY - about $10 for 1 gallon of pure antifreeze, $1~3 for distilled water (depends on how much you use; I flush with a garden hose, then final flush with 2 gallons distilled; and use 1 gallon for the final fill). Plus whatever tools you have to buy . . . maybe $20 or so?

You should also change your antifreeze at the same time - You said a thermostat was recommended in 2013 but no evidence it was done . . . I'm guessing your antifreeze is also at least 5 years old. (this raises the possibility that your weak heat might be due to a blockage/flow restriction of teh heater core, we'll know more when you measure actual temp in the tank with a thermometer - there should be a stream of coolant flowing into the tank from the rear, where the hose -with the red arrow in the picture is pointed - enters the tank)

Hunt4Steve's thread has excellent pictures (his engine is an SOHC and an older model, so his valve cover looks different -silver - and his instrument panel is different as well, but t-stat is identical). Note, he removed the AC stuff for clarity but you can leave it in place - but you will be working partly by feel.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...3&postcount=17

post 7 of this thread has more pics
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=223908

and this covers procedures
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=223908

I haven't watched this video (it's 19 minutes long) by Jungle King, but it says it covers coolant change
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5QzBLhdWl8

The black valve cover is this plastic thing,
http://d8559fa83407ca590c9c-26c3b154...5fb6f9a2_l.jpg
and if you were dabbing just underneath it, where it meets the metal part of the engine, that was the right spot. There is a gasket that sometimes goes bad, or the plastic cover itself warps, usually in the rear driver side (would be in the upper right in the picture)

Other spots to check - the oil pan, get a flashlight and look after it has been parked overnight. sometimes there is rust-through or pinhole leaks in the front, or something wrong with the drain bolt/gasket in the rear (I'd expect oil on the ground though, so this is unlikely - but it's a free check)

Can also be leaking at the front of the engine (passenger side) but these parts often can't be seen well without an inspection mirror or removing the tire and splash shields
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=155383

Some oil pan pictures (engine is upside down on a stad in the last picture) http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...30&postcount=6

As mentioned, we can't rule out the ECTS or the connection yet (and it is a very important sensor to proper engine operation), but that is probably a low probability based on other factors: not hard to start, no idling issues, etc. Great tips on free/cheap ways to check the ECTS.

The shrink wrap is a good sign - generally speaking, people who do somewhat dodgy connections (butt splices, etc.,) just wrap them with electrical tape because it is cheap/easy. Shrink wrap is an indication of proper repair, though as mentioned you can't tell for sure what is under it.

we also have a possibility of reduced MPGs, but not 100% confirmed yet. The gas gauge is not accurate enough to tell, unless something is horribly wrong.

...
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:35 AM   #37
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

just browsing the forums . . . came across this
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=233437

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Old 05-06-2018, 12:07 PM   #38
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Going out to pick up a thermometer soon. One post in a thread Chaos linked to says to listen for the engine fan to turn on. Will that be obvious? Don't know where it is. I'm a smart dude and learn things quickly but I've spent zero time with cars.

I looked at my ECTS again and it's not like either of the two in the pictures. Most of it that I can access without removing it is black plastic. I can feel what could be brass in one section beyond the black plastic and it seems like it could be brass covered by a black plastic sheath... would that make any sense? And I can't tell from the shape of it if is rounded or not in the key area as seen on your pictures. The black plastic part is shaped too differently from the pictures to make a comparison.

I've attached a picture, best I can do without removing the battery. Notice that the connection is also partly covered in a black residue.
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:37 PM   #39
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Protomartyr View Post
I can feel what could be brass in one section beyond the black plastic and it seems like it could be brass covered by a black plastic sheath... would that make any sense?
Disregard all that, sorry. Just realized the brass part that matters would be the tip INSIDE. But yeah, the black thing on mine makes it too different from these 2 pics for me to figure out what's going on with it.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/att...1&d=1515538626

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/att...0&d=1525547475

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Old 05-06-2018, 12:54 PM   #40
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SL2 - Rislone Block Seal (Head Gasket)

That black thing is the connector, squeeze it to pull it off

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