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Old 11-08-2007, 11:43 PM   #1
71SkyCust
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Happy New to the Forum and 1st time Saturn Owner

Hi everyone, I just found this forum through a Google search and its awesome that there is a Saturn Forum. I frequent another forum of another car that I also own and there is a forum very similar to this one dedicated to that car as well so again its great that there is one for the Saturn Cars. I didnt know much about Saturn's until I did some digging into the company, I didnt even know that it was a GM based company until tonight LOL(And I am a GM Guy, at least a few of their other divisions I am more familar with - their older cars).

Anyways, what made me post here is because I am going to be purchasing a 1997 Saturn (I believe SL is the model, its a 4 Door, 1.9L, NO exterior Badging on the car except for the saturn insignias all over it) - it has 151,000 miles on it. The car runs and drives but I was told by the owner of the car(a relative of mine) that the engine needs to be replaced due to the engine consuming oil, however I know that my relative doesnt know much about cars so I was hesitant to believe him on that. The car runs and drives, and it drives well. I didnt find any "Major" problems with the car. The car idles fine, shifts in all gears fine, no problems with overheating, doesnt smoke out of the exhaust, its a great(and suprisingly peppy, not having driven a Saturn before) little car.

The only thing that I noticed is that when you start the car I notice a vibration, almost like something is loose. I thought it might have been a loose exhaust, that checked out fine. I thought it might be a loose starter, thats fine as well.

SO, I took the car into a Saturn Dealer today to have it checked over(Safety Inspection). They called me and told me that the engine has major problems. They said that the engine burns oil(Something with the Rings, Pistons Needing replacing as well as a Head gasket leaking oil or something like that), also that a Motor Mount is Broken(explaining the vibration when 1st started). The Service guy basically told me that the car isnt worth buying, that it isnt worth $100(LOL!) - the Service Department didnt charge me anything to look at it, he was a very nice guy to do that though.

I didnt buy the car yet, but I am going to though, especially after reading ALOT on these forums tonight I found a ton of helpful information on the Motor Mount issue(AND also something with the Lower Trans Mount too) also with reading on these forums that alot of you Saturn owners deal with oil consumption on these engines quite a bit - and thats something that I can live with as long as the engine runs alright. I also really like the car, the way it drives and the way the auto trans shifts its kinda different than other auto trans cars that I have driven before. I also need a winter car so I think that this car would be a great runner Plus its great on gas!

I am going to fix the motor mount this weekend - I guess I would ask is that would any of you guys recommend checking anything else while I work on the mount? I mean from what I have said about the car?

I would appreciate any and all comments/suggestions from anyone, I thank you all in advance!
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:17 AM   #2
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Welcome to the 'hood! You might be interested to know that your new ride is from a time when Saturn was a "Different kind of car company". Unfortunately, you arrived too late to experience one of the legendary "Homecomings" - mostly just faded memories now. I think this forum is the best thing Saturn has going for them now. Anyway, I think the "S" series are some of the most reliable cars Saturn has ever built. And if you think your new ride is "peppy" I'm thinking it's a DOHC SL2. Re: your vibration - the upper 'torque axis mount' should cure that. There's also a couple of bolts in the under-carriage that should be loosened and then re-torqued afterwards (do a search on that - somebody has posted fotos). Re: your leaking cam cover - those plastic buggers are famous for that. It's sometimes a cracked cover and not just a bad gasket. Pull out all the spark plug boots and take a look down the wells to see how much oil is in there. Plenty of info here on what to do. Since these engines have timing chains instead of belts, if the engine wasn't neglected too bad, your chain might still have some life left. Good luck and happy motoring!
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: New to the Forum and 1st time Saturn Owner

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Originally Posted by 71SkyCust View Post
I was told by the owner of the car(a relative of mine) that the engine needs to be replaced due to the engine consuming oil
These Saturn engines run on oil. Just make sure you top off the tank every time you fill up the oil so that your injectors don't run dry.

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Originally Posted by 71SkyCust View Post
The only thing that I noticed is that when you start the car I notice a vibration, almost like something is loose.
That's probably your top engine mount. Those have to be replaced every 3 to 4 months. They're only around $50 and take about 5 minutes to install, so it's not really a problem. Just another consumable like the oil.

I'm getting around 350 miles per quart.

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I didnt buy the car yet, but I am going to though
Cool! Don't forget to replace your ECTS.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:38 AM   #4
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Since these engines have timing chains instead of belts, if the engine wasn't neglected too bad, your chain might still have some life left. Good luck and happy motoring!
Has anyone here ever seen a Saturn engine who's timing chain broke? Has anyone ever heard of one breaking?
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:47 AM   #5
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Has anyone here ever seen a Saturn engine who's timing chain broke? Has anyone ever heard of one breaking?
I've never heard of one breaking. I think they get kind of sloppy and start making a racket.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:00 AM   #6
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Heyy welcome! Those are minor issues for a saturn :P Biggest thing that kills a saturn...not checking the oil. An engine eating oil doesnt mean its no good (got that from one of the master members here..wolfman maybe :P) Also the engine mount is an easy fix as stated above. while ur under there, u might wanna spend 15 bucks and get a new ECTS. might save u alot of issues later on. Also tranny fluid! every 30K that should be changed with filter. As long as u do these basic things u might be like one of the members who has over 500K on his satty! 521k if i remember correctly. Good luck and check your oil!!
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:16 AM   #7
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I forgot to mention. Sometimes the 97's are hard to start.

The proper procedure is to turn the key to run, adjust your seatbelt. Then the radio. Then turn the key to start to start the engine.

If you try to put your seat belt on and adjust the radio before turning the key to run, or if you try to start the engine before putting on your seat belt and adjusting the radio, you might have some difficulty getting the engine to start.

It's not really a problem as long as you follow the proper starting procedure.

Last edited by oseberg; 11-09-2007 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:22 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the excellent replies guys, I didnt think I'd get such a quick response here!

I was reading up on the ECTS(I didnt know what that is until I found the threads explaining what they are and how to change it) - should I replace it anyways? I have never seen the temperature of the car go above the 1/4 past mark - the car also seems to Idle and Run Fine. As far as the Trans Fluid goes, I checked the fluid - it seems fine, good color, doesnt smell burnt. The car seems to shift fine, the only thing that I remotely noticed is when you shift into reverse, it seems to slowly engage into reverse; almost like it isnt "fully" in reverse for a second or two. Im not sure if thats normal of the car or not. The car seems to go through the gears in normal "D" position, I dont hear any noise from the trans so I am assuming that its alright. Although I know it doesnt hurt to change the Trans fluid and Filter though
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: New to the Forum and 1st time Saturn Owner

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Originally Posted by 71SkyCust View Post
I have never seen the temperature of the car go above the 1/4 past mark
Your thermostat has failed. Everyone here (except me) might tell you that if you fix it your fuel economy will improve. Mine didn't when I replaced my thermostat.

But it is better for your engine for it to operate at the correct operating temperature.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:26 AM   #10
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One more thing to add on the ECTS:

Should I go through the dealer to get that part? Or can I go Aftermarket? I found this over at Partsamerica.com:


http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductD...pe=290&PTSet=A


$11.99 In Store and it appears to have White threadlocking tape on the threads already.


Im sure the motor mount will have to be purchased at the dealer right?
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:28 AM   #11
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Your thermostat has failed. Everyone here (except me) might tell you that if you fix it your fuel economy will improve. Mine didn't when I replaced my thermostat.

But it is better for your engine for it to operate at the correct operating temperature.


You know, I think that you're right...I did notice that the hot air isnt super super hot when the car is warmed up, but it does get warm(a bit hot too) after a little bit - it must be stuck open then. Well, at least its not stuck closed....
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:36 AM   #12
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it must be stuck open then. Well, at least its not stuck closed....
I believe they're designed to fail open.
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Old 11-09-2007, 09:59 AM   #13
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Default Re: New to the Forum and 1st time Saturn Owner

You can buy an aftermarket ECTS just make sure that it has a brass tip instead of the plastic resin. I bought mine at Advanced Auto for 8.00 or something. Motor mount can also be bought aftermarket. The dealer part is 110.00 around here.
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Old 11-09-2007, 10:02 AM   #14
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As far as the Trans Fluid goes, I checked the fluid - it seems fine, good color, doesn't smell burnt. The car seems to shift fine, the only thing that I remotely noticed is when you shift into reverse, it seems to slowly engage into reverse; almost like it isnt "fully" in reverse for a second or two. Im not sure if thats normal of the car or not.
I'm from the school that says, if the fluid looks clear red and doesn't smell - leave it alone. I changed the fluid in my 95 SW2 when the dreaded "reverse slam" struck at 87k - even though it looked fine (didn't help any with the slam). I'm at 131k now on that same fluid. If you only have a slightly 'delayed' reverse with no big clunk, you can probably live with it. If you start to lose reverse, or start getting the slam, it's been the input shaft nut on my 95 SW2 and 96 SL2. Keep your fingers crossed.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:30 PM   #15
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Default Top Engine Mount...to be replaced every 3 to 4 months.

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Fm > Oseberg
top engine mount. Those have to be replaced every 3 to 4 months.
A slight rebuttal: the Upper Engine Mounts do not need to be changed until they begin to weaken, which would be 100,000 miles of usage. I've only changed mine only once. And please note my mileage.

Upper Engine Mount Measuring for "failing"; 1st Generation design.>Here<.

>>> Picture of Upper Engine Mount, and a way to measure/determine if it is "failing".>Here<
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by 71SkyCust View Post
One more thing to add on the ECTS:

Should I go through the dealer to get that part? Or can I go Aftermarket? I found this over at Partsamerica.com:


http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductD...pe=290&PTSet=A


$11.99 In Store and it appears to have White threadlocking tape on the threads already.


Im sure the motor mount will have to be purchased at the dealer right?

I got my ECTS at the dealer for $14.50? something like that. they actually have a big box of them since they are a common piece that needs to get changed.

and regards to the 97' starting....thats so true! haha both 97' s ive have were like that. what i think it is actually is that the fuel rail takes a little longer than "normal" to pressurize. if u listen carefully u can here the fuel pump stop and thats when i start the car. starts up everytime
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:14 PM   #17
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Your thermostat has failed.
Not necessarily. Replace the ECTS first; since it drives the temp gauge, if it's failed, it could make the gauge read low. If the gauge still reads low with a known good ECTS, then replace the thermostat.

Quote:
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I'm from the school that says, if the fluid looks clear red and doesn't smell - leave it alone. I changed the fluid in my 95 SW2 when the dreaded "reverse slam" struck at 87k - even though it looked fine (didn't help any with the slam). I'm at 131k now on that same fluid. If you only have a slightly 'delayed' reverse with no big clunk, you can probably live with it. If you start to lose reverse, or start getting the slam, it's been the input shaft nut on my 95 SW2 and 96 SL2. Keep your fingers crossed.
That school likes to buy new trannies. The owner's manual calls for a fluid and filter change every 30,000 miles, and those here on SF who have really put the miles on their automatics say that even 30K is too infrequent.

'Course, if the OP is right, and the car for sale is an SL, then it has a 5-speed, by definition.
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:19 PM   #18
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My 97 has had the fuel pump check valve problem for at least 5 yrs.
There's definitely no adverse effect on the fuel pump itself.
Key on, wait til the fuel level gage pops up and hit the starter - fires everytime
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:19 PM   #19
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Not necessarily. Replace the ECTS first; since it drives the temp gauge, if it's failed, it could make the gauge read low. If the gauge still reads low with a known good ECTS, then replace the thermostat.
What year did they switch from two temperature sensors to one?

(On my 95 SL2 the ECTS is not used for the temperature gauge. There is a second sensor for the gauge.)
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:30 PM   #20
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That school likes to buy new trannies. The owner's manual calls for a fluid and filter change every 30,000 miles, and those here on SF who have really put the miles on their automatics say that even 30K is too infrequent.
Given that the S-series uses a screw-on filter, the job is easy enough, so if you want peace of mind, go for it. My experience (a combined 400k mi. on 3 S's) says it ain't necessary. The only tranny problems I've has is the input shaft nut, which I doubt has anything to do with fluid changes.
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