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Old 10-28-2020, 09:43 PM   #1
Elyssia001
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Wrench Where and How to begin?

So my husband made the heart rending decision to trade in his 2000 Saturn SC1 to buy a new vehicle because he was, the pessimist that he is, concerned about sinking in a bunch of money to repair it as it is 20 years old. Since then he has regretted it and I have decided to buy it back from the dealer and get it restored to good working order. Not just for him, but for myself as well. We have 20 years of memories in that car and would love to give it back to him as a cruising car. I believe that he would like that as well.

The ol' girl has a few problems, and we aren't sure what exactly is causing them. I am hoping you all can make a suggestion or give me an idea of what I am in for here. Maybe one of you can even school me with a "Oh i know exactly what causes that and here is how to fix it!" I queried google, but the amount of information is overwhelming.

Problem #1: Backup lights don't come on all the time when backing up. Every once in a blue moon they kick on, and he has replaced the bulbs themselves.

Problem #2: The gasket on the oil pan has blown twice in the last month.

Problem #3: Husband says that a vacuum line is cracked and it causing the idle to dip so low it nearly stalls on him. (it's a manual transmission).

Problem #4: Overall Age. While my husband has taken good car of her, the car IS 20 years old and nearly everything except the air filter, oil filter, battery, and tires are factory original.

Problems 2 and 3 are the reason he traded the car in. He was worried that with winter around the corner the car would end up dying on him during his long drive to his midnight shift. I am wondering if I shouldn't just have every tube and belt replaced on the engine, as a hail Mary that it would fix the problem and keep her in good working order for the next 10 years.

I pick up the vehicle tomorrow to take to my favorite mechanic for a full inspection and I would love some direction to point him in. I am also curious how much this could set me back, as it might turn into a birthday present and not a christmas one!
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Old 10-28-2020, 11:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Where and How to begin?

Welcome to the forum! Odd that you keep blowing an oil pan gasket. I'd check the PVC valve to see if it is blocked. Very easy to do yourself.

Regarding a cracked vacuum line - there are not many in a Saturn. This is a modern 90's car, not some 1980's thing. One line that cracks goes from the throttle body over the engine, at least on the DOHC motors. Somebody may chime in who knows the single cam motors better. But I'd also suspect the throttle position sensor. They tend to wear out down at the idle position. It is a cheap part and you can replace it by taking out two torx screws.

Backup lights - still trying to figure that out on my '98 SC2. I haven't given up but haven't worried about it for a couple of years.

Age - not the problem. Rust - that is the killer. Are you in the rust belt?
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:00 AM   #3
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We live in Missouri, I am not sure if that is the rust belt or not. There is some undercarriage rust. What is the best way to prevent it from getting any worse? It has rarely been parked outside
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Where and How to begin?

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Originally Posted by Elyssia001 View Post
Problem #1: Backup lights don't come on all the time when backing up. Every once in a blue moon they kick on, and he has replaced the bulbs themselves.
Since both lights are non-functional, and have been replaced, I would check the backup light switch on top of the trans and the fuse. This thread has a photo link by richpini showing the switch
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=100354

fuse, weird issue
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=150727

Quote:
Problem #2: The gasket on the oil pan has blown twice in the last month.
Oil pan does not have a gasket - is is RTV. If a garage/shop has been doing the work, they likely did not clean it well enough before putting new RTV on.

I recall the 3rd gens like yours had some clearance issues with removal but don't recall the details It is something that can be done yourselves next time you do an oil change, though. Oh,wait, just saw you are taking it to a mechanic. He should drain the oil, remove all bolts off the pan (does not have to come completely out, as I recall there was a trans or suspension piece that made complete removal difficult).
remove all the old RTV, make sure pan flanges (mounting tabs) are straight.
Clean off both mounting surfaces with pure accetone* and clean rag, put RTV on, and bolt back up.

*a lot of shops will use brake cleaner, etc., to clean the surface and that is why RTV often fails - modern brake cleaner formulations may leave a residue, and the RTV will not adhere well. Pure acetone is $3 for a huge bottle at walmart. make sure it is unscented. Info per OldNuc (RIP)

Another possibility is that he is leaking oil elsewhere and it is dripping down to the pan. A possible spot is the gasket under the black plastic (composite) cam / valve cover, especially at rear driver side corner of the Wipe all around, underneath that gasket with a clean paper towel after a drive - if it is wet with oil at all, it is either warped or the gasket has failed. I have never heard of the factory RTV for a Saturn oil pan failing - when it has failed, it is because someone previously removed the oil pan for some reason. Even if the PCV is blocked completely and there is excess crank pressure, something else will probably blow off before the RTV at the pan.

Quote:
Problem #3: Husband says that a vacuum line is cracked and it causing the idle to dip so low it nearly stalls on him. (it's a manual transmission).
Has the original ECTS ever been replaced? Along with what Waiex suggested, just a general cleaning of the throttlebody and passages might help. richpin06a has a good video on that on youtube, your mechanic or husband can watch and do it.
His channel has lots of Saturn-specific videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/richpin06a

cleaning (your 3rd gen throttle body is slightly different than his 2nd gen - it is located vertically at the back of the engine, near the firewall at the end of the black plastic air intake, and vertically mounted by 4 screws at the corners - his 2nd gen is horizontlly mounted at the driver side of the intake manifold - but once removed, cleaning is the same process)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc5qCuQLmFE

throttle position sensor replacement
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na6Hgu2qwLg
Quote:
Problem #4: Overall Age. While my husband has taken good car of her, the car IS 20 years old and nearly everything except the air filter, oil filter, battery, and tires are factory original.
Impressive

Quote:
There is some undercarriage rust. What is the best way to prevent it from getting any worse?
one of the members here, Macgyver, just posted some info on using Fluid Film. Your husband or the mechanic could do that - particular areas are the front subframe, particularly driver side, rear door sills, and around the trailing arms' front mount area. MacGyver sprays the entire under-body except the exhaust and brakes but rust and road salt is a bigger issue here
...
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Old 10-29-2020, 02:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Oil pan does not have a gasket - is is RTV. If a garage/shop has been doing the work, they likely did not clean it well enough before putting new RTV on.
My apologies for not being clear. I gasket I am referring to is the little round one on the bolt that plugs the oil pan. The one that must be removed when you change the oil. Something is happening to the oil system to cause it to drool oil around the bolt even though we have replaced it twice. Husband's impression was it was because of pressure build up in the system.
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Old 10-29-2020, 03:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Where and How to begin?

Naw, there is no way for oil to be that high.
Who changes the oil, family or shop?
I'd just replace the damaged o-ring/oil seal (probably from an attempt to find out how tight is tight and got it too tight.) and go forward.
How many miles on the car in these 20 years?
Still has the original water pump, radiator, and top engine mount??
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Old 10-29-2020, 03:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post

Backup lights - still trying to figure that out on my '98 SC2. I haven't given up but haven't worried about it for a couple of years.
Same!! My '98 SC2 Red Hot 5-speed has new Reverse bulbs,
new Reverse Switch and the lights still don't go on.
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Old 10-29-2020, 04:49 PM   #8
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Same!! My '98 SC2 Red Hot 5-speed has new Reverse bulbs,
new Reverse Switch and the lights still don't go on.
Same for me. I went as far as to short the two wires that plug into the switch, and the light goes on. Must be something wearing in the shift mechanism. I replaced that as well, with a junkyard part obviously. No issues with my SL2 though it is the same parts.

Regarding the oil drain plug leak, it must just be a bad gasket. I'm assuming it does not gush out, but just some drips on the floor. The first thing I'd do is clean it thoroughly and make sure the oil is really coming from the plug and not migrating there. Also make sure the sealing surface is clean and undamaged.
...
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Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 10-29-2020, 05:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Naw, there is no way for oil to be that high.
Who changes the oil, family or shop?
I'd just replace the damaged o-ring/oil seal (probably from an attempt to find out how tight is tight and got it too tight.) and go forward.
How many miles on the car in these 20 years?
Still has the original water pump, radiator, and top engine mount??
Husband did all the oil changes and yes, those are original
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:38 PM   #10
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Husband did all the oil changes and yes, those are original
That thing must vibrate and rattle like crazy. I’d definitely recommend a new top mount, ideally all 4. They’re dirt cheap, but they don’t last more than a few years based on what other members have said. OE was really the way to go, but those are all dried up now

https://www.amazon.com/Westar-EM-282.../dp/B000C9B5EE
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Old 10-29-2020, 11:38 PM   #11
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My apologies for not being clear. I gasket I am referring to is the little round one on the bolt that plugs the oil pan. The one that must be removed when you change the oil. Something is happening to the oil system to cause it to drool oil around the bolt even though we have replaced it twice. Husband's impression was it was because of pressure build up in the system.
oh, no worries

most likely the gasket like toggenburg and Waiex191 said. Read through this
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=236148

apparently, Saturn used two different oil pans, bolts for each are the same size and will fit, but will use a different gasket depending on if recessed or not.

I've done oil changes for over 30 years and never had a leak, using the "feels tight enough" method for putting the drain plug back in . . . until I changed the oil on the Saturn. Had a slow leak, Replaced the bolt, still leaked. Finally put a torque wrench on it, was a little under torqued. Have used a torque wrench on the oil drain bolt ever since, no leaks.
...
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Old 11-22-2020, 09:29 PM   #12
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I wanted to give you all a status update on my progress so far. The good news is that our company mechanic said that there isn't anything majorly wrong with the engine, and he can get the hoses and belts replaced for me for under $200 I am thrilled to hear it! He also said that the rust on her underside wasn't bad and he is going to clean it up for me.

I recently got the plates for the saturn and went out to put them on while doing an inspection on what I need to do to complete her restoration. I made a list to share.

1: tuneup engine - in progress (mechanic waiting on parts and time. Scheduled for 1st week of dec)
2: repair damage to drivers seat vinyl - not done (I have the kit, need to find the time)
3: detail interior - not done
4: get paint chips treated - not done
5: treat windshield scuffs and scrapes - not done
6: restore oem saturn bra - in progress
7: replace aftermarket shifter cables with oem - not done (more on that below)

So unknown I said before that the vehicle was original and nothing had really been replaced yet. I totally forgot about when the shifter cable snapped and husband got an aftermarket one installed. He hated it right away; said it was sloppy. So I recruited a coworker to help me find an oem and he found me one! And it costs more than the rest of the repairs combined! But if it all goes well, it should make the old girl drive like she did when she was new, so I count it as a major victory.

I will share "before" pictures when I figure out how to post them.
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:08 PM   #13
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......I will share "before" pictures when I figure out how to post them.
Virtually every cellphone and digital camera creates huge image files, each one several megabytes in size. All too large for acceptance here as thumbnail images. I've found the easiest solution by using Win7s Paint program to resize snapshots and images to under a megabyte and formatted to jpeg as acceptable here. Use whatever image program you have if it's not Windows. Other formats may require reducing file size for acceptance as thumbnails so experiment until finding the right values. There won't be any warning of unacceptable images as this is the only hint to resize them. Image quality isn't lost especially when show and tell of everyday snapshots aren't printed for the art gallery. Of course, there's always another possibility of a new Andy Warhol like Banksy but my guess is not around here.
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:12 PM   #14
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I totally forgot about when the shifter cable snapped . . . So I recruited a coworker to help me find an oem and he found me one! And it costs more than the rest of the repairs combined!
In the decade (!) or so that I've been on Saturnfans, I've never heard of a single case of a shifter cable snapping.

But I've seen dozens of times when the one of the clips came off under the hood, the shifter bushing under the center console broke, or the end loop breaking off (I guess that could be considered a "cable snap")

DiY repairs for any of the above run $1 to $15 or so.


Here's a shifter cable how to, save on paying labor costs
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=160664

A "tune up" on this car is spark plugs, maybe wires, maybe an air filter. Can be done at home for under $60 in parts, maybe an hours time if it is your first time.

Engine timing is controlled by the computer and not adjustable, valves are hydraulic and lash is not adjustable, so if the spark plug wires are in good shape and the air filter not dirty, a tune up is just spark plugs. Not much to tune up on "modern"* cars anymore.

*Even less on a really modern (not 1990s) cars - coil on plug means no spark plug wires, platinum plugs means plugs only replaced every 100k miles. Maintenance before 100k miles is just oil changes and oil/air filters.
...
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7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
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