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Old 03-14-2020, 10:21 PM   #1
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Default 02 sl1 sohc overheating

My buddy is at a loss and gave me his 02 sl1. 144k miles
Fan works and comes on but the engine overheats. I'm getting the car tomorrow.. anything I should look for? I never had a sohc saturn.. thanks!
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

You might want to verify that the coolant is filled up correctly, or if there is a leak, may check to see if the front of the radiator is clear and not packed with dust/dirt or debris blocking air flow.
Could need a thermostat (use a Stant 195 degree F only) or the ECTS changed out (or both).
Might determine if the car is truly overheating or if the gauge is just creeping into the RED zone and it just causes the fan to come on (which is normal) and pull the temperature down....
What part of the country do you live at?
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Old 03-15-2020, 09:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Make sure the small line from the head to the coolant reservoir is clear and flowing. You can do it with the cap off, but it's almost as quick to just remove it (with the car cool) then put it in the open reservoir and check for full flow.

Also check to make sure you're getting good flow through the upper hose when the thermostat is open, and especially when it's warm enough to be fully open. The upper hose should be cold on a cold start, and then warm up when the car nears full operating temp.

Thermostat brand will rarely matter as long as it's working. Some of the aftermarket units run warmer than the original, but essentially all of them work within the specs in the Saturn FSMs through the years.

It could simply be the gauge issue.... people get used to gauges never going over the 1/2 mark and freak out when they do. Most S Series will go beyond 1/2, and many near the red zone, before the fan comes on.
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Old 03-17-2020, 01:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Thermostat and waterpump both replaced. I let it run and with the gauge not even half way you can see bubbles going into the coolant reservoir.. it was flushed and purged of air. It's not getting that hit before the bubbles appear. Sohc 144k miles otherwise it runs great. No milky oil..
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Old 03-17-2020, 01:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Bubbles in the reservoir are a sign of head gasket failure. A cooling system pressure test would further confirm.
https://www.2carpros.com/articles/ra...-pressure-test
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Old 03-17-2020, 03:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

It could just be that your radiator cap is failing too. Swapping in a known good one only takes a second and it's worth ruling out
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Old 03-17-2020, 03:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

I just check coolant reservoir cap, and I think it was a little loose.. (brand new reservoir).. tightened it slightly.. and no bubbles.. but fan kicks on and temp continues to rise. I think I do have to do the pressure test.. if its a head gasket it's most likely getting scrapped. Thanks!
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Old 03-17-2020, 04:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Just offhand, what gas mileage do you normally experience, and has it been going down at all?

If you were to consider scrapping, why not try something that I have used with true success on a Dodge dakota.

https://www.google.com/search?q=blue...hrome&ie=UTF-8

It worked overnight, stopped & cured the head gasket issue completely for these last 10 years and did not plug up any oil or heater cores at all.
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Old 03-17-2020, 05:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

I was just given the car by a friend.. I just started it and as the fan kicked on, bubbles in the overflow.. and upper hose is cold.. and i was able to loosen it at the engine with no coolant. Wtf.. it's a new wp. and thermostat
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Old 03-17-2020, 08:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Did someone install the thermostat upside down, blocking all coolant?
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Old 03-17-2020, 09:25 PM   #11
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Post Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

My first plan of attack would be to remove the thermostat and make sure the ects is new style brass ended.

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Old 03-17-2020, 09:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

If a reader is available, plug it in and get some readings. One at cold engine before startup (reflecting ambient temperature) and when the engine reaches operating temps (185F-200F) or when the cooling fan turns on (above 220F).

It may be a worn out fan appearing as if its running but may not be blowing with force. The fan should be loud when its running (only one speed).
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Old 03-18-2020, 08:45 AM   #13
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Thanks. Fan is loud and you can feel the air coming out strong..
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:00 AM   #14
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Among other suggestions to follow up, is the ac condenser coil blocking airflow? The ac condenser coil is always in front of the radiator. Airflow must go thru the ac condenser coil before the radiator gets airflow.

As Signmaster suggested, did you observe for coolant flow in the coolant container? Coolant always flows whether the t-stat is open or closed because the water pump always circulates coolant to the heater core - the return line from the heater core empties into the coolant container.

Is coolant translucent? Did the previous owner use stop leak at any time? Are both radiator hoses hot, indicating coolant flow?
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Old 03-18-2020, 04:59 PM   #15
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Thanks everyone.. just swapped out the thermostat.. waiting to see what happens..
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Old 03-18-2020, 07:21 PM   #16
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Swapped out thermostat and it must have been defective. Upper haose got hot and gauge stayed in the middle.. thanks!
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Old 03-18-2020, 07:40 PM   #17
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Post Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Your Welcome!!

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Old 03-21-2020, 06:47 PM   #18
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Quote:
Originally Posted by timl865 View Post
Swapped out thermostat and it must have been defective. Upper haose got hot and gauge stayed in the middle.. thanks!
It might be worth noting the type it is to avoid it in the future.
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:18 AM   #19
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Timl865-

The SOHC is a fine design, some run high miles.

They sometimes develop a head crack (I think near psgr side rear).

They had BAD reputation my area (LI,NY).

In 1999 Saturn issued Tech Bulletin for new procedure on head torqueing.

Maybe consider new timing set + head gasket with New proper procedure on head torque.
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Old 04-01-2020, 08:48 PM   #20
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Default Re: 02 sl1 sohc overheating

Long island here also...
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