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Old 12-11-2016, 01:54 AM   #1
photoashleyk24
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Dizzy 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Ok, this will be my 1st time ever posting here. I've read 1 100 threads that Google has so helpfully led me to in the year I've owned this car, but never registered til tonight. Anywho... here goes nothing:

I own an 01 SL1 (1.9L engine/AT.) It has about 175k on the engine. I've owned the car for around a year. The only real complaint I've had (til 2 weeks ago) was that the car keeps throwing those damn Camshaft Position Sensor codes. But, since the car drives fine, the threads that I read led me to believe that it wasn't a huge deal. (Let me add here that the person I bought it from (a friend) had JUST installed new plugs/wires before he sold it to me.)

Ok, so 2...ish... weeks ago I got in the car to go somewhere and when i turned the key NOTHING happened. I opened the hood, got out, and sort of tapped on the battery terminals. Got back in and the car started up and immediately stalled. Turned the key again and it cranked a little more than normal, but started and ran fine. No more problems. Until maybe 3 days later. Same thing - turned key and no response. So I somehow figured out that I could open and close my car door and the car would repeat the same song and dance as the 1st occurance - start, stall, crank more than normal and start and then be fine. I could turn it off and restart it with no problem. About a week into this, I took the car to Advance...

***side note: I bought a brand new battery 7 months ago. No, make that TWO brand new batteries - 1 for this car and 1 for my 97 Civic. I don't drive the Civic much and about a month ago I got in the car and the battery was DEAD. It wouldn't even power up enough jumping it to pretend to turn over! Took the battery to Advance and got a replacement (2yr. warranty on both batteries.)***

...I thought that maybe my Saturn's battery was garbage too. The tests came back that the battery was fine, but there was a small draw showing up. I keep my damn phone charger plugged n2 the 12v hole, so i figured that must be it.
Fast forward a few days - still intermittently doing the same thing... Opening and closing the door still producing the same results... I had come to the conclusion I had some sort of short and started doing research.

The problem would be noticeably worse as I was leaving work at night. After sitting there for 8 hours in 30 weather, the "more than normal" cranking during the 2nd start would be escalated.

Then, yesterday I was sick, so I never got in the car. It sat from about midnight thurs night/fri morn until about 11:30 Fri night - almost 24 hours. Went to start it up to go grab cigs and when i did the door trick, nothing... opened and closed the door 5 or 10 more times for good measure, but... NOTHING.

Got up this morn and jumped it off the Civic. Started up, let it run for about 30 mins and get good and warm and then it started fine - repeatedly. Last night I spent a good 3 or 4 hours reading up on parasitic drains and short circuits and all that happy crappy. So I drove to Advance to buy a circuit tester and some spare fuses. (***Also, I watched a video last night about cleaning the connections in the tower that the spark plug wires attach to, as well as the 4bolts that make connection, so i figured I'd grab some brake cleaner for good measure and see if I couldn't get the Camshaft Positioning Sensor codes to stop popping up.***)

Had the guy at Advance (a different store from the 1st tests) test my battery and charging system. Well, 1st thing he did was point out that my positive cable (it's a front post battery, btw) wasn't seated very tightly AND the little red pieces of ...velvet???... (The circles that you use in conjunction with that red petroleum jelly goo...) had gotten screwed up into the post itself. So, he took that out and tightened down the connector real well. THEN he did his tests. Battery came back 100%. Alternator failed. W.T.F.!?!?!?!?!?!

I come back home and do my little science experiment with the checking of the fuses and the circuit tester. I started with lighter fuse bc I read that that one gets shorted out fairly often bc the 12v socket isn't rated for the amperage necessary to charge a cell phone. It tested ok, but was a little corroded/dark looking on the prongs so i replaced it. Same with the body fuse (controls the dome lights) - replaced that one too. Thought a little more about that whole common fried circuit/wiring from charging phones, so i pulled the lighter fuse and just left it out. THEN I moved onto the circuit testing...

Unhooked the + cable and created a circuit and, indeed, the light (in the tester) DID come on even when my doors were shut and nothing was running. Well, I start pulling fuses - i started with the box under the hood bc that's easiest - right as I was finishing up with the under the hood fuses, the light went out. So... slightly puzzled... I moved on to the under the dash fuse box. When I opened the door to get to it the tester light came back on. Started pulling those fuses (also put the lighter one back in and pulled it, just to see.) Well, I isolated it down to the BODY COMP fuse. Pull it - light goes off, put it back in, light comes on. None of the other fuses broke the circuit. Have been thinking on this all day since...

***I've read so many crazy BCM stories today/tonight, but the real question here is - why did the tester light go out on its own as I was finishing up pulling the fuses under the hood? Maybe I should've waited like 15 mins after I pulled the cable to do the tests??? And I know that the "body" fuse, which powers the dome light, draws off the BCM (or "body comp" fuse), so did opening the door (and, in turn, causing the tester light to come back on) start some sort of timer? Maybe the BCM runs for like 10 or 15 mins whenever the door gets opened...???... In that case, I don't have a parasitic drain at all. This bears watching.***

Ok, all that said and done, I have looked online and found an alternator. But I stopped myself from buying it when a very smart person in one of these threads said "GET A 2ND OPINION." While driving myself crazy over trying to decide if I have a short or not, coupled with the fact that I IN NO WAY believe in my heart that the problem could be as simple as a loose battery cable - I also threw in a couple of simple alternator tests for fun... Removed the negative cable while running and the car stayed running fine. Also revved the engine while looking at my headlights' reflections in my front door glass- No dimming of them or the dome light. So, it's off to a different Advance...

Had it tested again and both the battery AND the alternator tested fine. Drove it around town, ran errands, turned it on and off each time I stopped somewhere - everything seems a-ok. But the real test will be letting it sit tonight in the cold for 8 or 10 hours and THEN seeing how it goes.

Do you think that a loose battery cable would cause the symptoms I described?? I just can't believe it. I mean, I'm not going to be angry if the problem magically goes away and the car starts without a hitch when my alarm goes off at 6 am (simply bc I want to get out there and test it in the freezing cold, after sitting for 8 solid hours.) The whole opening and closing the door thing tho- that just doesn't seem like a loose battery cable to me. I would LOVE to hear any/everyone's thoughts/suggestions/opinions on this short novella I have written here. Lol...

Also, wish me luck with the whole cleaning the connector points on the spark plug wires in order to make my car stop throwing bad CPS codes - I'll take feedback on that as well! Am I pointing myself in the right direction, at least???

To end this, yes, (obviously) I am a woman. I have been working on my own cars for the last 5 or so years. I live in a VERY small town with one mechanic. Who is a racist *******. And who knows JACK about cars unless they are Fords. So... It it just seemed simpler to start doing it myself. 😊

THANK YOU, in advance, to anyone who takes the time to read this. And a double, triple ty goes out to anyone willing to share knowledge with me. On that note, goodnight all. And a soon to be MERRY CHRISTMAS as well! 🎅

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Old 12-11-2016, 03:38 AM   #2
fdryer
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Its understandable about unfamiliarity with cars, problems and repair shops not representing the best mechanics or technical skills needed to repair sophisticated cars. Saturns like yours have more electronics including GM's Passlock security along with the body control module that runs almost everything in the car that isn't run by the pcm controlling the electronic fuel injection system, engine management. With all that info, there are many repair shops that fall short of being professional.

There's a good chance that you may have overlooked the power system supplying power to the car - battery and battery cables. Main power always starts with battery, the two battery cables and their connections. The two large battery cables can corrode from battery acid leaching into the heavy insulation while not appearing unusual when a visual inspection is made. Powdery blue residue is dried battery acid and it eats copper wires in those two cables. The other ends connect to the starter (red cable) and two grounds - chassis and engine block. Power seems to be a problem here.

An easy way to tell if battery acid and loose battery connections are causing mischief here; mix a warm water solution with baking soda and use an old toothbrush to apply this solution on both battery connections. If bubbling appears, its battery acid being neutralized by baking soda. Allow the solution to bubble while brushing away the corrosion. A plain water rinse is all that's needed. Tighten the battery terminals with care as side terminal batteries are prone to damage from overtightening. Oil or petroleum grease can help prevent future corrosion.

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Old 12-11-2016, 09:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

I went ahead and read through most of that, until the end of it.

First, I will look at the codes you mentioned. You mention camshaft position sensor codes. Now, we all know there is no camshaft position sensor on the 1.9L engines, however, have you tried testing your ICM?

You mentioned the previous owner had just replaced the plugs and wires. Is it possible he was getting a P0300 - Cylinder Misfire, Random?

Also, with the mileage, have you considered a failing crankshaft position sensor? The tricky part about the CKP, is that it will NOT LIKELY throw a PCM DTC fault. It will just fail.

As far as your alternator, well, when the alternator starts going the battery usually goes with it. So, if you had to replace the battery, I am not surprised by the alternator failing its test.

As far as your cigarette lighter? Don't leave the charger constantly plugged in, even when the phone is not being charged. Apparently, that wiring is the same hot wire for the fuel pump, and continuous accessory usages result in a "Pride of Delphi" burnt/melted wire and junction block.

And there is a reason your only mechanic, in your town, only seems to know about Fords. He wanted "job security". In mechanic shops around Ohio, there is a saying: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If it weren't for Ford, our tools would rust."

My own personal motto of Ford, goes something like this: "Ford, Ford! They're the best! Drive a mile. Walk the rest......"

Hope this helps, and I hope you enjoyed the Ford humor(I can't stand Mopar, either), and welcome to the forums.

...
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Old 12-12-2016, 03:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Quote:
Originally Posted by photoashleyk24 View Post
I opened the hood, got out, and sort of tapped on the battery terminals. Got back in and the car started up and immediately stalled. Turned the key again and it cranked a little more than normal, but started and ran fine. . . . I could open and close my car door and the car would repeat the same song and dance as the 1st occurance -... Well, 1st thing he did was point out that my positive cable (it's a front post battery, btw) wasn't seated very tightly
first thing I thought of was "loose or corroded terminals" - tapping and slamming the door was shaking things enough to make the necessary electrical connection.

How much parasitic draw, and is there an aftermarket stereo in the car?

I just bought an '02, and pulling the aftermarket stereo got rid of my overnight battery draining.

A certain amount of "parasitic" drain is normal. There is a constant trickle of electricity to the stereo, for example, to feed the memory for your preset stations and keep the clock running, and your BCM is always "listening" for the signal from your key fob to unlock the doors. Obviously, this should not be enough to keep you from starting every day.

It does not sound like parasitic draw was your original problem - if it was, your car would not have started (battery would be dead) no matter how often you opened your doors. The fact that it was an auto parts store that diagnosed it after the fact also leaves me a little skeptical. Maybe 10%~20% of them offer good advice.

Quote:
I started with lighter fuse bc I read that that one gets shorted out fairly often bc the 12v socket isn't rated for the amperage necessary to charge a cell phone.
From what I recall, the fuse does not blow. What happens is that a connection at the back of the fuse panel burns out. On Gen 2 saturns, it's the F5 junction - it's a different junction on the 3rd gen like yours. This does not cause a battery drain or hard starting, though.

...
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Old 12-12-2016, 04:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

OK, here's my 5 cents....

1) You need to get the code sorted and fixed and get that out the way.

2) As stated elsewhere you will have a degree of parasitic draw as the car needs power to keep certain things operating not least the security system.

3) If it hasn't been done already make sure the connections to your battery are clean and secure with no corrosion on them. Check the condition of both cables that connect to the battery. If they look yucky and past their best, replace them.

4) Do as someone else said and don't leave the phone cable connected to the cigarette lighter socket. It is NOT a 12v outlet, it a cigarette socket.

5) A simple way of checking battery condition BEFORE is to simply switch on the headlights. If they are bright, then that tells you the battery is good on charge. If they are dim, the battery is not good on charge.

6) Battery's hate HEAT and COLD. If a battery is clinging to life, it will generally go when the weather turns cold and it's having to work harder. I'm in Florida and our batteries suffer with the heat.

7) If the Alternator is working correctly and the battery is fully charged then theoretically the car should turn over smartly and start, with the alternator taking over the grunt work. If the battery is good and the car turns s l o w l y then the Starter Motor may be on it's last legs OR the power cabling to it is bad and is not getting full battery power, so then you go back to #3).

8) This scenario can and does happen and it happened to me some years ago back in the UK. The car ran fine, started OK, etc, then all of a sudden I left it in a car park for a short while, came back to start it and nothing. The car was towed to the garage who said it's the alternator, so they put a new one on. Went fine for a few days and the same thing happened again. My local garage said - it's the battery, so off I go to the battery center who check its conditions and it's fine. A sharp eyed mechanic found the problem in the starter motor. Over time as they wear, they can create what are called 'flat spots' on the commutator. That's the cylindrical part that the brushes connect to and when power is applied it spins. There were flat spots on the commutator and when the brushes landed on the flat parts, there was no connection and hence the car gave the impression of nothing. We swapped out the Starter and no more issues.

Process of elimination I'm afraid. Good luck

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Old 12-14-2016, 08:08 AM   #6
Highmile
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Even though your alternator checked good it could still be the issue. When they test them they check for output and not for parasitic draw.

I would disconnect the wire between the alternator and starter when testing for the drain.

As far as the cam shaft position code... new plugs are good but what plugs did he use? Search this forum for the correct plugs. These cars are copper plugs ONLY. Other plugs have a well know history of issues. A weak coil can also cause it as well as several other things.

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...
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:23 PM   #7
Packard
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Test the battery after u ran it and then test it a few hours later without starting It may be bad cranking amps . Because there could be parasistic drain on the battery . Like somewhere could be ground out circuit You could test like removing circuit fuses and see if the parasitic draw changes . While have a meter . Its possible you got a circuit that has bad wire that is shaking and shorting causing the drain on battery. And thats causing it to intermittent. Since u say u cant start it possibly linked to the sensor they will cause the car not to start if there not working . They need to have good signal from the computer . and if they get shorted your car wont start.

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Old 12-16-2016, 10:07 PM   #8
photoashleyk24
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Thumbs Up Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

So, it's been a week now since the man removed the little felt circle and tightened down the post and I haven't had ONE SINGLE issue since. Craziest thing ever, I swear. It's been bitterly cold so I haven't been able to mess with cleaning the connections for the wires to see if any more codes get thrown, but the check engine light has yet to reappear, so it's not something that I feel is life or death at this moment. Hell, maybe the bad connection (which was ONLY due to the little felt circle having been screwed into the post hole, so it was blocking some of the connection, and the fact that the post wasn't screwed in as tightly as it should have been. There was never any corrosion - the battery is practically brand new and had been treated with the red petroleum goo (thus the presence of the little felt circle) to avoid such a situation...) Maybe the bad connection was somehow causing the codes to get thrown...???... I guess anything is possible.

Thank you for all of the feedback. I will update if/when I get around to seeing if i can fix the CPS codes by cleaning the tower connections where the plugs draw their power from. Merry Christmas, Saturn Fans!!! And I hope 2017 is full of perfectly running vehicles for us all! :0)

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Old 12-17-2016, 10:03 AM   #9
Packard
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

This is what you can do to test for the drain do this.

run the car for an hour . turn off . try to start does it start. if it dont you have another problem if it starts parasistic continue to next step park the car disconnect negative on battery come back next morning reconnect battery car should start . if this car start consistently with this disconnecting battery until u use the car again parasistic drain .

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Old 12-17-2016, 11:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

"So, it's been a week now since the man removed the little felt circle and tightened down the post and I haven't had ONE SINGLE issue since."

Felt circles??? Are you talking about under the battery cable terminals? Doesn't this battery have the stock side terminals? There must be nothing between the cables and the battery.

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Old 12-17-2016, 11:40 AM   #11
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Those felt circles are for proper top post batteries, not the crappy side post batteries 99% of modernish GM vehicles use. Using them on these battery's is inviting no-start no-power problems...lol

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Old 12-17-2016, 11:59 AM   #12
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Yeah, that is kind of my point... has somebody incorrectly installed the felt thingys, or has the cabling been hacked-up to install a crappy top post battery; do we need to consider how good the new cable termination is?

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Old 12-17-2016, 12:31 PM   #13
Saturn Night
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Default Re: 01 Saturn SL 1.9L AT - parasitic drain...???

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
Those felt circles are for proper top post batteries, not the crappy side post batteries 99% of modernish GM vehicles use. Using them on these battery's is inviting no-start no-power problems...lol
I was going to mention that, but you beat me to it.

OP, glad the issue is fixed. Make sure, in the future, that nothing males contact with the battery, other than the side post. GM side posts are designed to seal the connection with the rubber boot covering that post.

Despite the negative aspect of having to replace the posts in the event the battery connections are over torqued, it is a better design than top post batteries. I have seen many top post batteries develop nasty corrosion, due the to rubber boot just sitting on top of the connection, and it doesn't seal up around the bottom of the post as well.

Ford trucks and SUVs are notorious for this, and it destroys the connector(which is very low-quality copper), resulting in a much more expensive repair to cut a heavy-gauge wore and splice it to a new connector.

Guess then trucks and SUVs are built "Ford-Tough" after all...........

Happy New Year. Stay safe, amd have a Merry Christmas.

...
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1995 Saturn SC2 @ 181k - 17.2538 @ 77.91mph w/Stock TB
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