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Old 12-12-2006, 01:56 PM   #1
kx250ryder
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1998 SL2
Default New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

My girlfriend just got a 1998 Saturn SL2 with about 88k miles on it.

I have already had the driver's side window motor quit working, but upon taking it apart realized that it just torqued itself crooked in the mounts, and that re-aligning it allowed it to work properly again. Problem solved (at least for now). I suspect it may surface again later.

Second task, sunroof. I have browsed a couple threads dealing with this, and it is difficult to see what is involved in removing the headliner. When I search by headliner, everyone is talking about stripping the fabric, etc. I just want to know what specifically is involved in removing the current liner, and putting it back exactly how it was (bolts, screws, snap clips, where, how many) after replacing the faulty sunroof gear thing, and maybe trying that limit switch mod that I saw.

Third, the car's auto trans. shifts poorly. It seems to compression brake like a manual transmission when it downshifts through a couple of the gears while letting off the gas. Also, it idles roughly when in neutral and drive (read car shakes), but not while in park. To me this sounds like a clutch or at least whatever the equivalent to a clutch is in an auto trans.

I am familiar with basic mechanical stuff, i.e. oil changes, filters, belts, I have re-built dirt bike engines, etc, but every vehicle I have owned has been new, so I have never done any motor/trans (or sunroof) repairs before, and was wondering what I am in for on these tasks. Or at least what to troubleshoot first before I go buying a whole trans. without needing it.

Any help would be appreciated on the sunroof repair and transmission diagnostics & repair.

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Old 12-12-2006, 05:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

It seems like a "feature" of the automatic to "hill hold" as one descends hills. 90's era fuzzy logic at work. Seems worse if one taps the service brake, I think. I haven't had one hold me back lower than 3rd gear though.

You can clean the idle speed controller, it's the valve with an opening below the throttle plate in the throttle body. Might be it's idling too low which can cause the vibes you're feeling and who knows maybe the downhill thing too.

My OBD-I scantool offered me "engine brake gear demanded" or somesuch for 95, so it's in the programming if scantily described. If you weren't in the gear your car wanted as a result of a malfunction (not misprogramming), you'd get a MIL and code for that.

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Old 12-13-2006, 01:18 PM   #3
kx250ryder
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

OK, so the majority of what you said is over my head. I am not sure what exactly a throttle body is, but I can look that up in the service manual I bought to see what/where to find and clean it. The idle did seem low, and I was wondering if there was a way to adjust that. Hopefully cleaning the idle speed controller will help.


Also, I think there was a misunderstanding because the compression brake effect I had mentioned wasn't happening on hills, it happens ANY time I let off the gas. I can feel the transmission downshift to lower gears as I slow down. The car drops down a gear, which causes the car to jerk a bit as the revs rise (from going down a gear) and then drop down again. I am not sure if this is normal on a Saturn, but in most any other vehicle I have ridden in with an auto trans. you don't feel it downshift as it comes to a stop.

One thing that came to mind, is re-setting the shift points and the car's computer as a whole. I found out how to to this for my Nissan Titan (lots of pressing pedals, key turns, and timing) online but I haven't seen any threads describing it for the Saturn SL2. Is it simply disconnecting the battery to reset the learned shift points or is there more to it?

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Old 12-13-2006, 04:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

As for your tranny downshifting, yes, Saturns were designed that way...When I got my 97 SL2 years ago, I had the same question. Next check your torque axis mount (Upper Engine Mount) on the Passenger side of the engine compartment to the left of the valve cover. If you can fit your finger between the rubber and the frame of the mount, it's time for a new one.








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Old 12-13-2006, 04:59 PM   #5
kx250ryder
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

I will have to check that. That is the bummer of this. I only see the car on the weekends for any useful amount of time.

So my list of things to do now has grown to: inspect the idle speed controller, the motor mount, trying to figure out how to remove the headliner to do the sunroof job.

Oh, I remembered one other problem that has just surfaced. When turning on the air conditioner, the belt squeals sometimes during acceleration or when steering at low speeds. Its a brand new belt, and it is aligned along all the pulleys. Is this likely a worn belt tensioner, or something pertaining to the a/c, or power steering?

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Old 12-13-2006, 05:11 PM   #6
94sc2boy
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

Kx250,

I think you just need to find a girl with a newer car and less problems

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Old 12-13-2006, 05:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

The throttle body is, well, where the throttle is; it lets air into the intake to rev up the engine. At idle, the throttle plate is actually all the way closed. But there's a "bleed" called the Idle Air Control soleniod (IAC, or ISC). The throttle body is at the "downstream" end of the black plastic air snorkel. Undo that clamp, pull it back and you'll see the throttle plate. You'll also see, toward the bottom rear, a passage; that's the IAC passage, and that's the thing to clean.

Belt issue is, indeed, probably the tensioner. Remove the belt and spin each pulley (A/C, water pump, alternator, tensioner, power steering, idler). If one feels rough, or is loose, or makes noise, it might be the culprit. BTW, if you have to replace the engine mount, the belt will be WAY easier to remove (from above) with the engine mount out of the car.

If it's the tensioner, just do whatever a guy named Uzzy tells you to do.

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Old 12-13-2006, 09:54 PM   #8
kx250ryder
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

Thanks for the detailed description about the Idle Air Control solenoid. I will check that this weekend. And to 94sc2boy, even if this car's engine and trans. grenades next week, along with all the other stuff so far, its still cheaper than the payment she would be making on a new car, so no complaints really.

I just got home, and on my way I stopped by the Saturn dealership and scooped up an Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor since they seem to be a part prone to failure and may be contributing to the rough idle.

I can't wait until Sunday to wrench some more. So far, I have done a belt, battery, and had the door apart to do a window motor, but we (dad, neighbor and myself) found that the motor had just torqued itself crooked in the mount, and as soon as we loosened the bolts and re aligned it, it worked perfectly again, which was wierd. Anyway, my guess is that it will still fail eventually, but at least I got a little more life out of it.

Next up, sensor, idle/throttle body cleaning, engine/transmission oil change, belt tensioner, tire rotation, motor mount (if necessary), and sunroof repair though that's probably on hold until it warms up, and budget allows.

My eventual goal is to make an 87k mile car reliable enough that I don't have to worry about my girlfriend getting stranded. Uphill battle for sure, but it gives me another weekend hobby.

EDIT: Uzzy, if you are out there, could you help a guy out on a deal for a Saturn OEM belt tensioner, the only dealer within 50 miles of me is asking more than I think its worth, but I heard aftermarket ones aren't good. Oh and I just found that the guy in the office next to me at work (service manager) has an OBD-II scanner in his desk drawer. Going to see if he will let me borrow it soon.

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Old 12-16-2006, 06:36 PM   #9
kx250ryder
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

OK, so I swapped out the ECTS (its easier than doing an oil change), and it made the car idle better, and run warmer. I will see if this improves gas mileage, although mpg was high 20's/ low 30's for city driving so I won't be sad if it doesn't.

I did notice that the coolant was a little low, so I bought some Havoline Dex Cool that I am going flush the old stuff out with tomorrow morning when the engine is cold. I am hoping that a previous owner just boiled some off while the car was running hot during an AZ summer, and that there isn't a leak somewhere I will have to try to track down/troubleshoot.

I checked the throttle body while I had everything apart and it was totally clean and smooth when operated by hand, as was the air filter. So I left it alone for now, and was happy that its pretty easy to get to for future reference.

I found a couple places where I can get a Dayco 89240 tensioner (the one other than OEM everyone seems to recommend) for around $53.00 + shipping which is $80.00 less than what the local Saturn dealership wanted for OEM, so I will probably pick one of those up next.

Each day I spend with this thing boosts my confidence in these little cars. If I didn't need a truck to haul my dirt bike/camping gear, I would almost consider ditching the Titan for one of these.

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Old 02-24-2007, 08:43 PM   #10
kx250ryder
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

OK, so two more maintenance items completed (Rock Auto had prices I couldn't pass up).

I swapped out the torque axis mount, and it was pretty straightforward. I found that anti sieze was a must, and also a 7mm wrench to hold the studs while loosening the nuts.

Also, replaced the belt tensioner with the Dayco unit. I managed to do this alone, but the key was having a Craftsman 3/8 drive breaker bar that was about a foot long, and a 15mm crows foot for it - not a typo, stock is 14mm for the tensioner pulley, Dayco used a 15mm.

When re-installing, I loosely laid the belt in place around all the pulleys, except the top front one (I forget whether that is alternator/ac or what now). To take enough tension off the new tensioner, I accessed the pulley from below through the wheel well and turned the breaker bar clockwise and wedged it behind the drive axle boot. This allowed me to stand up and stretch the belt over the top front pulley. Having an extra set of hands would have made it infinitely easier, but I managed without it.

Luckily, I caught that other how-to post about loosening and re-torquing the two motor mount bolts that you access through the holes in the bottom of the frame after installing the engine mount. I think it would be a good idea to merge that how-to in with the TAM install how-to and/or the other motor mount how-tos as well since its easy to miss.

No more belt squeal, but the car still vibrates quite a bit at idle. I kinda thought the motor mount would have cured it better than it did.

I am going to try plugs and wires next to see if that helps with the rough idle since the ECTS and motor mount didn't do much.

Side note: anyone know where/how much I can get an OEM tan leather driver's seat or at least seat cover? The one in my girlfriend's car is cracked and pretty beat looking.

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Old 02-25-2007, 06:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: New to Saturn World, Couple Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by kx250ryder View Post
Luckily, I caught that other how-to post about loosening and re-torquing the two motor mount bolts that you access through the holes in the bottom of the frame after installing the engine mount. I think it would be a good idea to merge that how-to in with the TAM install how-to and/or the other motor mount how-tos as well since its easy to miss.
Unfortunately, the original How-To thread is locked.

Quote:
No more belt squeal, but the car still vibrates quite a bit at idle. I kinda thought the motor mount would have cured it better than it did.
What brand was that aftermarket mount? If it's an Anchor brand, don't be surprised about the vibration. Anchor makes a cheap knock-off of the "second design" mount, the one Saturn abandoned and reverted to their original design.

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