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Old 12-31-2000, 12:00 AM   #1
SlwDeth
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Default The Car just DIED !

We have a 92 Saturn SL2 (manuel trans.)w/ 110k miles. We just bought the car used, about 2 months ago. My wife was driving the car home from work when the car lost acceleration and then died a second later (on a flat straight country road, durring a chilly(30F ish) morning). She costed off the road waited a min. then tried to restart it. The starter (her words)engaged and the motor cranked,but didn't start. She tried again and still nothing. After about 4 hours I picked up my wife and went to check out the car. When I tried to start it all I got was some wierd clicking kreenkling sound comming from the engine area. No starter cranking. All electric things in the car work ( win., radio, locks etc.) it just won't start. We even tried popping the clutch in 1st gear and I heard the same kind of noise, no trying to kick over or anything. The car has a full tank of gas too.
My wife and I have both admired Saturns from a far, but had never owned or knew anyone who owed one. So when we found this we both were very happy. As we havn't been able to afford a new one yet. The car has been kept in GREAT shape in and out. I can't tell really mechaniclly. The Used car dealer (uh oh <img src="http://www.saturnfans.com/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Images/Happy.gif" border="0" align="middle"> ) we got it from knew the owner who could not provide us with maintanence up keep documents, back ground etc. The car has been running great though. Only problem has been the SES light popping up now and then (which we were told to ignore) and a week after bringing it home the Odomiter / trip meter stopped working. All fluids were fine (oil was a tad high, but clean)and no visable leaks have been seen in engine compartment. We got a low coolant light, and added coolant . That was fine. The other day though I noticed the oil low light popping up when braking and then the presure gage for the oil kind of bouncing afterwards then settling down just fine. I did fail to check it though at the time, just figuring it might be an electrical thing given that the Odomiter stopped working.The car does kind of bounce when decelarating;in the lower gears mainly (jerking alittle forward, and backwards.Clutch needs adjusting I guess). Other wise it's been running great. We hadn't had it checked out by a shop yet for lack of funds, but I wanted to take it to a Saturn dealer for a full once over.My automotive knowledge is very limited although I do know your basics of up keep (tune ups, oil changing, etc.)and I have your basic automotive tools.
I checked all the fuses and they were fine. I pulled the spark plugs and they look to be ok (didn't gage them though)All the wires are connected, the belt is fine, the batery connection is fine and the terminal is corrosion free. Checking the oil though, it doesn't register on the stick. It was sitting on about a 30 degree slope to the right(side of road). We pushed it to a semi-level spot and still nothing on the stick. Has the oil leaked/burned away in a month (60 miles driving a day,country roads) after being a tad high to start, causing it to sieze ? No oil idiot light came up or no rise in temp. while my wife was driving it that morning. Anybody's help would be a blessing. The main things throwing me is why did it die and how come I don't hear the starter cranking now?
You all seem really great with helping others and we still have high hopes for our Saturn. I have been a Toyota pick-up owner and a Toyota fan in the past with zero problems to report from ownership. I've been attracted to Saturn for hope of America getting it right again with quality cars. Instead of just a marketing,money vacuum that most domestic cars seem to have become(with some exeptions of course). Please I want to BELIVE !! <img src="http://www.saturnfans.com/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Images/Happy.gif" border="0" align="middle">

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Old 12-31-2000, 01:35 AM   #2
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Your alternator might have died. That would explain why the car suddenly quit on the road, and also why you're starter might not be engaging anymore...the alternator probably completely drained the battery too. However, you did mention a couple points about the oil pressure light, so it might be another problem that I'm not aware of. Check to see what other board members say. In my experience on this board, somebody is bound to give you the right diagnosis. Good luck, and a warm welcome to the Saturn "family."

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Old 12-31-2000, 02:07 AM   #3
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Well, it seems you just may have some internal damage. My reasoning follows. I'm sure if I am way off base, it will be pointed out by others.

If it was just you trying to start it and you got nothing, then I would think starter. We just replaced the original on our 93SW2 - no warning, it just died. Since you were driving and the motor died and you tried to push start it with no luck, that pretty much rules that out.

Since you said you have lights and door locks and such, I would say the battery and alternator are OK.

Not being able to get any maintenance records raises a flag for me. The fact that the oil was clean when you bought the car just says the used car dealer had it changed. First gen Saturns are notorious oil burners. Another red flag for me is that you were told (by whom?) to ignore the SES light. That is not a good practice to get into.

Seems to me that you noticing the low oil light popping up should have been a HUGE warning to add some oil. The pressure gauge will sometimes stay up even with low oil level.

The clutch is hydraulic, so there is no adjustment to make. It is either working right, or the hydraulics need to be replaced. They are sold and replaced as a unit.

Not having any oil show on the stick is <i>Not A Good Thing</i>

Driving 60 miles a day for a couple of months equals at least 2500 miles (conservative estimate allowing for weekends off). That many miles on our Saturn would be 2 or 3 quarts of oil. It's what Saturn calls "normal" but most of us here on the board know is excessive but manageable. You have to carry at least a couple of spare quarts with you at all times and check the oil at least every other fill up, with every fill up being better. If the oil was not changed every 3000 miles by the previous owner(s), the internals could be forked up.

Get that car to a Saturn service department (or a trusted mechanic that is Saturn savvy) and hope for the best.

Diggs

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Old 12-31-2000, 02:54 AM   #4
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You probably have bad news headed your way. The 1992 Saturn does not have a low oil light, it has an oil pressure light that comes on when the engine has low oil pressure. When this light comes on it is a STOP AND CHECK ME light. You mention an oil pressure gauge, again not on the Saturns-must be after market. If it's bouncing around, especially on the low end of things, then there is something funny (not ha-ha funny) with the oil pressure. I don't believe anyone in our shop has ever replaced an oil pressure sensor on the Saturns for having gone bad. Now with no oil on the dipstick, the engine not wanting to crank over and strange noises from the engine when tryng to crank over I would have to suspect that the engine is siezed. I sure hope for your sake that I'm wrong and that it's some weird stupid thing or a bad starter or something. Good luck.

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Old 12-31-2000, 09:05 AM   #5
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Just a point of clarification. '91&'92 Saturns had a oil pressure gage as well as a lite.But as ssicarman says, when that lite comes on there is NO oil pressure

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Old 12-31-2000, 01:53 PM   #6
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Don't ever recall seeing a 92 with an oil pressure gauge in it (up here we never saw the 91's so its possible that we never saw any 92's with gauges). I will certainly bow to sattech on this and keep my eyes open for any 92's with gauges.

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Old 12-31-2000, 09:14 PM   #7
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Great!! Now that i openned my mouth and probably stuck my foot in it . I don't remember a '92 with gauges either. I went by the service manual. I'm pretty sure that the 92 DOHC had oil gauge Now I'm going to have to verify it for my own peace of mind... Stay tuned

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Old 12-31-2000, 10:15 PM   #8
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Here's another theory - this one's a bit less dismal than total engine destruction...

Suppose the fuel pump croaked. Starter would engage and turnover, but not start. That would explain the died on road, followed by cranks w/o restart.

Now suppose in the repeated efforts to start the car, the starter also croaked/burned out. That would explain why the electricals in the car still work, but the car will not crank anymore and fails to push start.

This is probably not it, but it is a bit more positive outcome than some of the scenarios previously listed.

By all means the SES light should NOT be ignored. And, whenever you buy a used car with significant miles, pay strict attention to oil and other fluid levels for a while (now, we tell ya).

And as others have said, finding no oil on the dipstick is not good news, but it need not necessary mean total engine disaster either - as long as you have adequate oil pressure. I've seen a car get so low on oil that the oil pressure light would come on when taking a turn at an intersection. It didn't show on the dipstick at the time, but the engine wasn't damaged. However, it wasn't a Saturn and it wasn't driven that way more than a block or two to find some more oil ASAP. Don't ask how I know about this.

Good luck - I hope it is something relatively inexpensive.

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Old 01-01-2001, 02:58 PM   #9
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Dr.Bob,
What you said makes sense to me about the fuel pump, starter thing. I guess we'll have to wait to get it picked up by a tow truck. We're out here in the country so I don't think (hopefully) that the Troopers will tow it.
Yes I had the alarm bells go off in my head when we bought the car and after the test drive I mentioned to the Used car dealer owner that the SES light was comming up and he said to ignore it, but I just let myself go with the flow. Figuring it should be ok until we could get it to a Saturn dealership for a complete check up. I don't know if I was spoiled (due to owning my Toyota for ten years, with low upkeep needed) or just stupid aboout not keeping a closer whatch on the oil. I just didn't think it would burn through that so quickly after being high to start with.
Thanks for the think through, I guess we have to wait a little to get that checked out until we get it to a shop. <img src="http://www.saturnfans.com/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Images/Happy.gif" border="0" align="middle">

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Old 01-02-2001, 10:38 PM   #10
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car has died on me on several occasions. the reasons:
dead battery- check with a voltmeter. also check the manufacture date, if 3 years old replace. bout 40 bucks at walmart
dying alternator- can only be checked if the car is running, if your able to jump start check the battery voltage with the car running, should be at least 14 volts, if less than that the alternator is dead, replace. $109 at napa
fuel pump- bad connection at the trunk
on the time that my alternator went bad, the electricals were still working (radio, light,power windows and locks) but the charge on the battery wasn't enough to start the car. the starter just clicks not cranking the car. had to jump start each time.
on the fuel pump, when you put the key on accessory, you should hear a whirring sound coming from the trunk area for about 2-3 seconds that is if you have enough battery juice to run the pump. if not, check the pump fuses at the passenger kick panel, pull out the fuel pump realay also at the same area and plug another in its place. if i recall right, all the relays at that side are the same thus interchangeable. now try hearing again. could hear better if you open the trunk and stick your ear in while someone turns the key. if nothing, peel the carpet siding on the driver side of the rear trunk you will see a 3 inch long/1 inch wide connector. check the connector, then try hearing it again. if you don't hear any it must then be the pump itself.
let us know what you find out. good luck.

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