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Old 06-29-2022, 07:39 PM   #1
doyle524
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Post 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventatively

Hey guys, new to the forum. I picked up a 2003 LW200, runs well with over 190k miles and most things work well. However, I do have some issues, and some were hard to find answers for on this forum and elsewhere.

First, I’d really like to know what I should check and replace with this car. I’ve already done the oil and filter plus the spark plugs (was developing an intermittent misfire), and plan to flush the coolant and brake fluid as well as the air and fuel filters. The belts seem decent, as are the tires. Are any of those hard to reach, or do any of them have any then to get hung up on? Is the automatic transmission sealed, or should I be looking to replace the ATF as well? Are there any other items that may need done preventatively before 200k?

Now to the issues I’m facing, and I’ll just list them here:

The car has a bit of a stutter when accelerating from a stop - it feels a bit like a misfire but only directly upon acceleration. This is most noticeable when the engine is cool and the air is hot - I’m planning to clean the throttle body and idle control valves with some carb cleaner, because I’m thinking it’s possible the throttle is a bit gunked up and slow to respond, but I’m curious if there are any common issues that could cause this.

The parking brake doesn’t appreciably slow the car - I had the front up on stands while changing the oil, and while I of course chocked the rear wheels and left it in park, the handbrake was fully pulled and had zero effect on the car, which rolled hard against the chocks (to the point of breaking one of the bricks I was using); plus I’ve pulled it at highway speed to minimal effect. This could be related to a creaking sound from the rear brakes upon pedal application that I hope to fix with the brake fluid change and a closer visual check on the pads and rotors.

There’s a small coolant leak I discovered while changing the oil, it runs down the back of the block and drips (slowly) further back than the oil pan, right around the heat shield. There is never a puddle under the car, but every few weeks the dash light comes on and it needs topped off. The oil I removed from the car was dark (and nonmetallic), so I highly doubt it’s the head gasket leaking - it’s seemingly more an annoyance than a problem, but I couldn’t trace it up, so if anybody has a list of places coolant might be leaking from where it would run down of the rear of the block, I’d love to stop it.

The HVAC is stuck on the defroster, while the other HVAC controls work. I found this post that seems to diagnose it as the mode actuator, so I’ll be checking that and looking for one from a junkyard: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho....php?p=2262505

The air conditioner doesn’t work - I believe the most likely cause would just be that it needs recharged, but again, if there’s a common issue, let me know.

And a final minor irritation (which seems to be common on these cars if the Regular Car Reviews episode is something to go by), the hinges in the interior seem weak and both the center console lid and one of the wings on the spare tire cover panel have broken off. Has anybody found a good way to fix these, or should I just trawl the junkyards or live with it?

Sorry for the huge post, and I appreciate all help!

Last edited by doyle524; 06-29-2022 at 07:40 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 06-29-2022, 09:05 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventati

I can address ac issues with other L200 owners hopefully addressing your list of problems.

Most vehicle owners assume their ac systems need recharging when loss of cooling occurs. This assumption is wrong. Service valves on vehicle ac systems are put there for the eventual repairs that comes from attempting to flex aluminum tubing from every pothole and corrosion occurring from unprotected bare aluminum fittings. If everyone can imagine repairing their refrigerators, freezers, central hvac and room ac units as impossible then the same consideration should be given to vehicle ac systems. All refrigeration systems, including vehicle ac systems are considered sealed from factory assembly and warranted under new car guidelines. If ac fails during warranty, dealers are obligated to repair and restore it back to factory condition. After warranty, dealers, repair shops and diyers with knowledge can repair them. Personally, 98% of all vehicle ac system problems is the leak no one wants to address but will run to the auto store for the refill kit(s) in hopes of a low cost repair (in a can), refilling........a leaking system. Most refill kits have sealer reputable dealers, repair shops and diyers will never use because it contaminates the system, rarely works and creates a large repair bill when repairs are needed that makes money for dealers and repair shops as a system is completely disassembled and flushed of refrigerant, oil and sealer. Damage from sealer use may require replacing the condenser coil, drier, txv and compressor - a very expensive repair that would have been less by a simple diagnosis; using an inexpensive uv blacklight to shine on every part of the ac system parts to illuminate factory installed dye, glowing greenish yellow in shade, indoors or after sunset. A simple use of a uv light should show where the leak occurred that released refrigerant. Sealer hasn't been overwhelmingly successful. Search these forums and any other car, pickup truck or suv forum and see if there's a positive consensus of ac sealer in a can. Ac mechanic in a can rarely works.

Spending 10-30 minutes with a uv light should make dye glow where invisible refrigerant leaked out along with oil. Dye glows when illuminated by a uv light. If you able to do this then you can decide which way to proceed instead of refilling a............leaking system. If you insist, waste a can of r134a (without sealer) and use the uv light. Good examples of dye; both service valves when caps are removed.
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Old 06-29-2022, 10:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventati

Thatís some excellent info, fdryer, thank you! I knew self-sealing products were bad news, because any air pockets will create solid blockages, especially in intricate fins etc. I was just going by what Iíve heard people around me talk about having their mechanic do when their ac stops blowing cold. Iíll grab a UV light and check it out rather than wasting refrigerant.
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Old 06-30-2022, 08:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventati

Quote:
Originally Posted by doyle524 View Post
The car has a bit of a stutter when accelerating from a stop - it feels a bit like a misfire but only directly upon acceleration. This is most noticeable when the engine is cool and the air is hot - Iím planning to clean the throttle body and idle control valves with some carb cleaner, because Iím thinking itís possible the throttle is a bit gunked up and slow to respond, but Iím curious if there are any common issues that could cause this.
I cleaned the throttle body, which had a bit of buildup, but not much (the idle control valve proved significantly trickier to access, I couldnít get a firm grip on the Torx screw head with my Torx screwdriver or my drill with a Torx bit). I also cleaned out the air intake pipes and the air filter housing (donít have the new filter to swap in yet but the old filter isnít too bad) - crazy how much gunk gets in those pipes downstream of the filter.

However, the hesitation seems to have gotten a bit *worse* rather than better. Iíve narrowed it down to a hesitation when accelerating moderately or hard from a standing stop or thereabouts - a smooth gentle acceleration has no hesitation, and even a 5mph coast before acceleration prevents the hesitation.

Next guess is the throttle position sensor, assuming I can get to it - is there an easier way to reach the stuff around the throttle body?
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Old 07-01-2022, 11:47 AM   #5
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventati

My L300 has four wheel disk brakes. The rear discs are a top hat design; the disc has a hub that serves as a drum brake. The drum brake is very small and not designed for emergency braking by any stretch of the imagination. It's main purpose is hill holding as a parking brake. If your LW200 has rear discs then they're most likely designed the same way. L200s, LW200s and L300s share many parts.

Look up parts on rockauto for images besides comparing prices. With close to 200k miles, either ecotec engines last with periodic maintenance or break down at random like ignition coil or ignition control module failure. A search in forums of ecotec engines, the most popular being the 2.2L, should show a pattern of icm failures with the coil pack holding up. Putting the icm onto a cavity on the coil pack sitting over a hot engine can provide real world consequences of random failures or intermittent operation. Another possible issue may be fuel pressure requiring a pressure gauge borrowed from AutoZone or other big box store with a free loaners.
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Old 07-17-2022, 12:39 PM   #6
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventati

Quote:
Originally Posted by doyle524 View Post
...First, Iíd really like to know what I should check and replace with this car. Iíve already done the oil and filter plus the spark plugs (was developing an intermittent misfire), and plan to flush the coolant and brake fluid as well as the air and fuel filters. The belts seem decent, as are the tires. Are any of those hard to reach, or do any of them have any then to get hung up on? Is the automatic transmission sealed, or should I be looking to replace the ATF as well? Are there any other items that may need done preventatively before 200k?
Wow, you've got a lot of stuff to do! FWIW, here are some thoughts:

Checking ATF: there is an 11mm head inspection plug on the transaxle located to the right of the vehicle's center near where the nose begins to extend out to the r/h axle. With the engine warm and running remove the plug. If no ATF runs out then begin to slowly add until you can see fluid exiting the inspection hole. There are varying requirements about when to replace the ATF based on the conditions one is regularly driving in. I drain the transmission at a 50K mile interval and it has never seen a repair. If one is queasy about being underneath a car with the engine running then a mechanic should do this to check the level of the ATF. Lastly, if you're draining the transmission the refill is officially at 6.9 quarts. One tenth of a quart is 3.2 fluid ounces. Put in a full seven quarts and don't worry about it. That minimal overfill will cause no problems. I've done it several times with no negative consequences. You don't even need to check the level after you're done!

Radiator flush: absolutely do not use tap water. The system requires distilled water only. Additionally, this job can get messy really fast! There are two points to drain antifreeze from - the drain cock at the lower right of the radiator and at the bottom of the water pump's rear cover. IIRC, the plug's head is 13mm and you need to use a wrench (not enough space for a ratchet and socket ). It is nearly impossible to drain this part of the system without causing a mess of some size. I've tried placing a small funnel beneath that spot with a hose attached, but have only had partial success at capturing the waste antifreeze. One can have more success if the correct size hose is attached to the drain cock nipple. Otherwise antifreeze will run easily along the sub-frame (engine cradle) past the R/F tire.


Quote:
Originally Posted by doyle524 View Post
The parking brake doesnít appreciably slow the car - I had the front up on stands while changing the oil, and while I of course chocked the rear wheels and left it in park, the handbrake was fully pulled and had zero effect on the car, which rolled hard against the chocks (to the point of breaking one of the bricks I was using); plus Iíve pulled it at highway speed to minimal effect. This could be related to a creaking sound from the rear brakes upon pedal application that I hope to fix with the brake fluid change and a closer visual check on the pads and rotors.
There is a nut located low on the parking brake assembly in the center console that needs to be adjusted from time to time, but not often. Remove the boot behind the handle to expose that adjuster and nut. The boot is press clipped it in place. Squeeze its base inward from the opening and lift it out. A medium sized screw driver will assist in gently prying the base out of the console opening. Additionally, you may need to directly adjust the parking brake shoes. That's a more awkward job, but doable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doyle524 View Post
Thereís a small coolant leak I discovered while changing the oil, it runs down the back of the block and drips (slowly) further back than the oil pan, right around the heat shield. There is never a puddle under the car, but every few weeks the dash light comes on and it needs topped off. The oil I removed from the car was dark (and nonmetallic), so I highly doubt itís the head gasket leaking - itís seemingly more an annoyance than a problem, but I couldnít trace it up, so if anybody has a list of places coolant might be leaking from where it would run down of the rear of the block, Iíd love to stop it.
A pipe runs from the back of the water pump beneath the exhaust manifold to a junction attached to the block and that junction- can't recall the proper name for it - is where the heater hoses attach to the engine. A large rubber O-ring seal is at both ends of this this pipe and is held in place by pressure against the water pump and the junction. A special rubber seal has a seat within junction and seals it against the block. This seems to be the area where you're leak is located based on your description.
...
374K miles - Holy canolli!
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Old 07-17-2022, 04:19 PM   #7
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 LW200 nearing 200k - a few issues, and looking for what to change preventati

Quote:
Originally Posted by pierrot View Post
A pipe runs from the back of the water pump beneath the exhaust manifold to a junction attached to the block and that junction- can't recall the proper name for it - is where the heater hoses attach to the engine.
Correct name the for junction: Inlet Assembly. The pipe is referred to as the Radiator inlet pipe.
...
374K miles - Holy canolli!
Biden/Harris predictions, '21 -'25: weak economy; weaker military; more terrorism; emboldened RED CHINA. Sadly, B & H are proving me correct...too bad... now Russia?!
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