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Old 06-20-2007, 06:34 PM   #1
LotusLord
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1996 SL1
2006 VUE 3.5L
Default Need some suggestions

I have lots of questions regarding my 1996 SL 1, many of which will probably seem stupid to most. I've never so much as changed the oil in my car myself. I basically can change light bulbs and fuses, and that's about it. But I'm hoping to learn more. I want to do as much as I can myself.

I haven't had the car in for any maintenance for at least a year, other than oil changes every 3000 miles. A friend replaced my front tie rod ends and did everything with the breaks, as far as I know. The break light on the dash now is coming on occasionally (every day, multiple times a day, but with no apparent constant).

Can I please get some suggestions, on recommended maintenance, and some ideas on what might be causing the random break light.

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Old 06-20-2007, 06:42 PM   #2
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1998 SL2
1995 SL2
Default Re: Need some suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusLord View Post
I have lots of questions regarding my 1996 SL 1, many of which will probably seem stupid to most. I've never so much as changed the oil in my car myself. I basically can change light bulbs and fuses, and that's about it. But I'm hoping to learn more. I want to do as much as I can myself.

I haven't had the car in for any maintenance for at least a year, other than oil changes every 3000 miles. A friend replaced my front tie rod ends and did everything with the breaks, as far as I know. The break light on the dash now is coming on occasionally (every day, multiple times a day, but with no apparent constant).

Can I please get some suggestions, on recommended maintenance, and some ideas on what might be causing the random break light.
BRAKE light being on means that your BRAKE fluid is low. Why is it low? Could be a leak. My OPINION = DON'T DRIVE THE CAR UNTIL YOU FIND THE LEAK. There is a reason that this indicator is RED, RED means STOP.

Yea it could also mean the e-brake switch is faulty, but unlikely.

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Old 06-20-2007, 07:53 PM   #3
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Need some suggestions

Check the brake fluid right away. There is a float that will make the light come on when the fluid is low. Some change in the master cylinder level is normal, because the pads wear and the fluid must displace the difference. But as suggested above, make sure you don't have any leaks.

Checking for brake fluid leaks is as easy as taking the wheels off. Check each front caliper and the connections, then do the same on the back, checking the wheel cylinders. More than anything check for the obvious leak of fluid.

If you need any more in depth explanations, just ask. There are enough people here to tell you how to do just about anything, and explain it either in a simple or more in depth way.

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Old 06-21-2007, 08:26 AM   #4
LotusLord
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Thanks for the help guys, I'll have to try this in the next couple of days. Also thanks for not bashing on a total noob.

Another quick question, do you think any of the self repair books, like the Haynes, are worthwhile?

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Old 06-21-2007, 08:34 AM   #5
Gerry Proctor
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Those manuals are adequate and certainly much better than nothing. A lot of folks on this forum believe service manuals to the the script of the Devil and will not invest the 15 bucks it takes to come out of the darkness. So at least you see the merit in having some printed guidance.

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Old 06-21-2007, 08:37 AM   #6
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1996 SL2
1999 SL1
Default Re: Need some suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusLord View Post
I have lots of questions regarding my 1996 SL 1, many of which will probably seem stupid to most. I've never so much as changed the oil in my car myself. I basically can change light bulbs and fuses, and that's about it. But I'm hoping to learn more. I want to do as much as I can myself.

I haven't had the car in for any maintenance for at least a year, other than oil changes every 3000 miles. A friend replaced my front tie rod ends and did everything with the breaks, as far as I know. The break light on the dash now is coming on occasionally (every day, multiple times a day, but with no apparent constant).

Can I please get some suggestions, on recommended maintenance, and some ideas on what might be causing the random break light.
a repair manual of some sort should be the first thing on your shopping list. as much as i despise the haynes/chilton manuals, they do serve a purpose. they're inexpensive and will show you a lot if you haven't done much auto mechanic stuff in the past.

oil is easy. i won't go over the steps, but do a search on this site and some will pop up.

you almost NEED someone that knows what they're doing to show you things to look for. we can tell you here, but you can't get a very good visual that way. EVERYTHING that you can maintenance on a saturn has been covered in great detail in these forums.

some basic wear items include:

brake pads
brake rotors
brake shoes
brake drums
engine mounts
tie rod ends
cv-joints
clutch
struts
strut mounts
rear sway bar end links (for sx2 owners)
bushings
lower control arms (the ball joint is non-serviceable)
front wheel bearings
rear wheel hubs
radiators (plastic side tanks crack)
hoses
air filter
Electronic Coolant Temperature Sensor (ECTS)


there's probably a lot more, but those should keep you busy for awhile...


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Old 06-21-2007, 11:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Thanks very much again guys. I know I have a lot to learn. A service manual is in my future. Any preferences, or pros and cons for a particular brand? Pictures would help a lot, since a few of these terms are new to me. Also any recommendations on tools that I might need, and or want.

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Old 06-21-2007, 11:25 AM   #8
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Need some suggestions

I just have a Haynes, but a factory manual would be better. You can get by with just about anything, but photos are always helpful if you're new to things.

As for tools, buy what you need on a regular basis. A decent socket set, combination wrenches, screwdrivers, anything you find you need to use often. A lot of times it doesn't pay to buy specialty tools that relate to a single type of car, unless you plan on keeping that car a long time.

Lots of parts places have loaner tools for off the wall stuff you don't use very often. Autozone in my area has free loaner stuff, you pay for the tool and then get your money back when you return it.

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Old 06-21-2007, 11:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Great! Man you are all so helpful, I really appreciate it!

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Old 06-22-2007, 08:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusLord View Post
Thanks very much again guys. I know I have a lot to learn. A service manual is in my future. Any preferences, or pros and cons for a particular brand? Pictures would help a lot, since a few of these terms are new to me. Also any recommendations on tools that I might need, and or want.
there is no substitute for the factory service manuals. the 3 volume set is about 14" tall if you stack them. in comparison, the haynes manual is about an inch thick if you set it on a table. my manual transaxle section alone is bigger than that...


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Old 06-22-2007, 10:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Is there a good place to get the factory manuals, and what can I expect to pay?

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Old 06-22-2007, 12:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

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Is there a good place to get the factory manuals, and what can I expect to pay?

you get those directly from saturn. expect to pay around $125 for the set...


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Old 06-22-2007, 12:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Ouch, money I'd rather invest in fixing up the car. I ordered the Haynes manual yesterday, and previous comments about asking people to show you inspired me to contact an old friend of mine to help me out, and teach me some stuff. Cleaning out the junk, replacing one of the brake lights and inspecting the horn are a few of the things on my list for today. Baby steps

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Old 06-22-2007, 01:06 PM   #14
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusLord View Post
Ouch, money I'd rather invest in fixing up the car. I ordered the Haynes manual yesterday, and previous comments about asking people to show you inspired me to contact an old friend of mine to help me out, and teach me some stuff. Cleaning out the junk, replacing one of the brake lights and inspecting the horn are a few of the things on my list for today. Baby steps
yeah, it's expensive, but worth every penny. my set of FSM have paid for themselves many times over.

haynes will do fine for now. knowledgeable friends will be even better. especially since the last time i gave my FSM a beer, it STILL didn't do **** for me. i gave a friend a beer once and he fixed my car...


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Old 06-22-2007, 01:50 PM   #15
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Default Re: Need some suggestions

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Originally Posted by S3aturnR View Post
haynes will do fine for now. knowledgeable friends will be even better. especially since the last time i gave my FSM a beer, it STILL didn't do **** for me. i gave a friend a beer once and he fixed my car...
I'm hoping that's the case. I work for an alcohol distributor, he can have a case of what ever he wants if he can teach me to be more self sufficient when it comes to auto maintenance.

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