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Old 07-26-2010, 02:47 PM   #1
BennySL2
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Default Jerky Saturn problem narrowed down to EGR valve. What next?

The problem: Our Saturn (1999 SL2, manual) would occasionally jerk at higher speeds and other times it was working hard (eg going up a hill). It started about a year ago (rarely, and difficult to reproduce) and slowly became worse. The jerkiness feels like an intermittent loss of power and would happen at inconsistent frequency, about once a second. It would happen at different speeds on different days, maybe 55-60mph one day, or 70mph another. Changing speeds would sometimes solve the problem, at least for a little while. The jerkiness is now problematic and reproducible enough that I decided it needs to be fixed.

What fixes the problem: From similar problems in past forum posts, I thought I'd try troubleshooting the EGR valve. I used RichPin's youtube video ("Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve (EGR) Checking"; those videos are always an incredible resource) to put a homemade gasket between the valve and the rest of the engine. That fixed the problem immediately! The car feels like it has a little more power, and with about 1.5 hours of driving has not jerked once.

Interestingly, this improved another problem our car has: the Saturn would sometimes jerk when stopped and in gear (like at a stoplight). Put it in neural and back into first gear, the jerking would sometimes go away. Since I blocked the EGR valve the car only once, and very slightly, jerked at a stoplight.

What next?: I picked up a new EGR valve and gasket at Autozone, but before I put it in (and void the money-back return policy), I want to make sure that the EGR valve is in fact the problem. From my limited understanding, the EGR valve could be fine, but a sensor could still be the problem. From another site (sorry, can't post links yet), I learned that the EGR valve receives information from the following:

Engine coolant temperature
Intake air temperature
Manifold absolute pressure
Throttle position
Vehicle speed

What would people recommend? Eliminate certain sensors as the problem? Or is the problem most likely the EGR valve itself?
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: Jerky Saturn problem narrowed down to EGR valve. What next?

By the way, I have used Saturnfans.com countless times to do some of my own car maintenance. The posts I used often too old to comment in. But this site has saved me 100s of dollars and several trips to the mechanic. So thanks
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Old 07-26-2010, 03:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Jerky Saturn problem narrowed down to EGR valve. What next?

It seems that it's 'EGR valve' day here. There's another EGR valve thread (thread number 156772) from a few hours ago. Some of the information fdryer posted might be relevant.

Some more information from me:

My SES light hasn't gone on recently. I haven't checked to see if there are any codes generated (if no light goes on, can I assume there are no codes?). Since adding the blocking gasket, the SES light came on.

My engine idles at the correct RPM.
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Old 07-26-2010, 04:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: Jerky Saturn problem narrowed down to EGR valve. What next?

It sounds EGR to me, since it got better with the blocking gasket. Before slapping the new one on, it'ld be worth trying to clean the old one with some carb cleaner. There's a richpin on this too

Even if there is not a code set (light on), there could be codes pending (has almost reached the criteria for a code, but not quite...computer isn't sure yet). For example, it detects a misfire, but it hasn't happened enough times to worry about. The computer remembers it, is ready to go, but the final misfire hasn't happened.
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Old 07-26-2010, 04:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: Jerky Saturn problem narrowed down to EGR valve. What next?

None of the sensors directly affect egr valve operation. All sensors output their signals to the pcm that controls the egr valve and uses the egr valve's feedback position sensor within it to tell the pcm pintle valve position. A dirty sticking pintle valve can cause driveability issues so cleaning is the first try before replacement since they're so costly. Its also been the experience of some members that OEM seems to be the better than aftermarket. If your old one won't work after cleaning, try the new one. And if the new one doesn't work because its an aftermarket one, get your money back for an OEM one. Some have tried junk yard egr valves with some luck.
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Jerky Saturn problem narrowed down to EGR valve. What next?

Super. I'll give it a good cleaning and see where that leaves me. Thanks!
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