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Old 09-18-2012, 08:20 PM   #1
chetterhead
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Default 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Hi guys, new here. About ready to start slamming the hood on my head until one of us dies.
This is my girlfriend's car and she's the original owner. 139,000 miles. It's been ignored almost to death. Not by me! Blame the ex.

So about a week ago, she said it was bogging down at lower speeds. She'd hit the gas, it would hesitate, then catch up and start actually putting some effort into it. She also said it felt weaker than normal and that the CEL came on.
Our roommate ran the scanner and got "an 02 sensor code", but said he didn't know which one (pre or post) and it hasn't repeated since.
We went with the easiest fixes first and cleaned the MAF, but we ran out of cleaner. It was also discovered that the air filter was filthy, collapsing and cracking. We planned to go get a new filter and more MAF cleaner the next day.
She drove it to work and back the next day and said it actually felt a little better, but the CEL was still on.

That night we sprayed the MAF out again, removed the intake and cleaned the TB without removing it and changed the air filter. Tried to crank it and it wouldn't start, just the starter working, but apparently it either had no fuel or no spark. Afterward, I noticed the smell of gas. There were no visible drips or puddles and nothing looked damaged or corroded. I decided to let it sit, then disconnected the battery overnight. The next morning, it wouldn't start. Not like a passlock problem (which it also has, but that's the least of my worries). It turned, but didn't start. That only lasted a few cranks before it stopped cranking at all and it gave me a series of (I think) three clicks, each about a second apart, not fast like a dead battery. I also still had power to the dome and idiot lights.
We put a voltage meter on the battery and it was around 12.6, and dropped to around 10 when the engine was cranked.
We then checked for pressure at the rail. We have no gauge, but there wasn't even enough to make it do much more than dribble out.
At this point, she called GM and was told that no recalls applied to her car. So, since we wouldn't be screwing any sort of warranty, we set out to change the fuel filter which I'm almost certain was also stock. It was marked with an X. Before doing this, we pulled the battery. While testing the volts, we noticed that the battery was stamped 04. After we got it out, we realized the battery itself was swollen. Not surprising. We swapped it for our roommate's battery out of his 94 Chevy k1500 and after changing the fuel filter, it didn't start. It kept turning, but wouldn't go. There was pressure at the rail this time though. How much pressure I don't know.

So we pulled her plugs. Wow. The first one was worn to a little nub where there should be a nice little post. Besides that, it looked like normal wear for what were likely stock plugs, 139k miles old. We couldn't find the exact plugs locally and in the interest of time, we got cheap Bosch plugs. There wasn't really much chance that cheap plugs would make this thing any worse.
I got it to start after that, but only by flooring it while cranking after several attempts that failed. I was about to give up but felt it start to go and just gave it all it had. It now will run with a little coaxing and there are no codes, but the damn thing now will hesitate slightly when you give it gas (in neutral, it hasn't been driven), then the RPMs will gradually make it up to match the amount of gas it's being given, then once you remove your foot from the gas, it slowly climbs back to normal idle. It's as though the car is responding three times as slow as you are. This is also the case if you push the throttle from under the hood. I've tried it several times since this revving thing yesterday, with the same results every time. The first start of it around 11 am was rough and required me to give it full throttle again, but it seemed to wake up after a few seconds and started running as rough as it had before.
There are no codes. No CEL thus far, though the battery was disconnected for around two hours last night and not started again until this morning and the car hasn't been driven. There's also no more gas smell since the fuel filter was changed.

After looking everywhere on the internet and not being able to find anything, I'm stuck. I drive a 65 Dodge Dart and it's just become the reliable car. When it has issues, we have casual chats. This Saturn is driving me nuts though.

Help!

Thanks in advance.

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Old 09-18-2012, 11:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Possible catalytic converter clog? A simple test would be to remove the front O2 sensor for a LOUD drive. If the engine suddenly responds then the catcon's broken and pieces are strangling the exhaust system. Another method would be banging the catcon with a fist and listening for loose cat guts - there shouldn't be any.

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Old 09-19-2012, 01:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

low fuel pressure could be a going or bad pump, too. Don't use bosch plugs in ions, they ruin them. Use acdelco iridium plugs for best results, and 100k mile reliability. As for pm, do you have an 04, or a maf? You can't have both unless you have a redline. Have you cleaned the 2 things inside the tb (tps and iac valve)? Have you cleaned the map? These are all things that need to be done. I have a whole thread on pm stickied, you might want to read it before posting. Be careful what batteries you use in ions, the trunk mounting requires you to use a vented battery (vented with a tube), otherwise you are venting sulfuric acid vapors into the car.

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Old 09-19-2012, 01:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Ok, first things first, I don't think the old battery was vented. Figures. The roommate's battery is just on to get it power do we can figure this all out.
The Bosch plugs are not going to stay in there. I needed to get anything at all better than what it had. I plan to order the iridium plugs if I can get this thing to come back to life.

When we cleaned the TB, we took the TPS off and couldn't figure out how to clean it without doing more than we were comfortable with.
I was reading about the IAC and I'm going to go back in and give all this stuff another cleaning and I'd appreciate any help.
I have no clue about the MAP.
As far as having or not having a MAF, I'm assuming it'd be the thing sticking into the intake between the filter and the TB, right? In the middle of the tube? If that's not the MAF, I'd love to know what I've been cleaning.
Where is the 02 sensor before the cat? I'll pull it and see what happens.

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Old 09-19-2012, 02:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Yes, maf sensor between the air filter and throttle body. Hope your using maf cleaner (only).

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Old 09-19-2012, 03:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Update:

I had the roommate pull the 02 above the cat while I drove the girlfriend to work, and he drove it to get a little more gas and said it was responding better (I had no chance to drive it while it was originally bogging, but he did). I tapped the gas a few times to see how it did on revving and it seemed to do better, in that it went up and came down faster. Not great, but better.

We ran the scanner with the sensor out and got

P0031
P0135
P0031 P
P0130 P
P0134 P
P0135 P

All those P's are confusing me, but the roommate just went to dig out his scanner directions and see if it's specific to the reader.

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Got it. Pending codes.
Basically I think it's freaking out because the 02 sensor is out, right?

I'm totally confused about this MAF/not a MAF thing. It's an Ecotech 2.2. From what I'm understanding, that car didn't have a MAF. MAFs only came on Redlines. Is that correct?

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

On '04s there is actually an "Air Temp Sensor" on the intake. It's located after the air filter but before the throttle body. It's not a "MAF Sensor" I think that is the confusion.

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Old 09-19-2012, 05:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Thank you! That's one less thing to worry about.

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Old 09-19-2012, 05:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

Do you have this or not?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg maf sensor and housing.jpg (9.0 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg maf sensor.jpg (12.9 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg maf sensor 1.jpg (11.9 KB, 1 views)

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Old 09-19-2012, 07:01 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

I do not.

I just cleaned the IAC. It was filthy as you may have imagined. I didn't disconnect and reconnect the battery.
When I started it up, it slowly rumbled to life, then the RPMs shot up to almost 4,000. I disconnected the battery and am letting it sit for an hour or so.

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Old 09-20-2012, 02:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

You've been cleaning the iat sensor. The iac can mess everything up, as can a dirty tps. The map sensor is the most important sensor in the intake, though, so clean it, too. It's top center on the intake manifold.

Ignore any codes you induce (ie by removing an o2 sensor).

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Old 09-20-2012, 09:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

One other thing you might want to check is the actual continuity of the TPS resistance output. I can't remember exactly what the OHM range should be, but i was experiencing quite a few unexplained idle/acceleration issues and finally pin pointed it to a faulty TPS (No Codes thrown).

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Old 09-21-2012, 03:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

I was considering doing just that.

The car is now running, but still not being driven. I'm about to call it as a bad cat, but I'll still check the OHMs on the TPS.

Honestly, it's now being cleaned up to be traded in.

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Old 09-22-2012, 11:43 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2004 Saturn Ion 2 QC 2.2 manual - revs slowly, returns slowly to idle

We tested the TPS.
The ground and power wire showed a little under 5 volts. I believe it was about 4.85.
We tested the resistance ohms by opening and closing the throttle and it moved steadily up and down while we turned it.
We tested the signal wire while opening and closing the throttle and it started at 0.44 volts and maxed out at 4.17 volts.

It's my understanding that it's supposed to start at 1.0 and go to 5.0. Am I wrong? Also, could the fact that we were using paper clips reduce the voltage to the meter?

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