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Old 10-25-2019, 05:44 AM   #1
S-forever
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Default '99 SL2 scary bad knock

I just bought a '99 SL2 with a really bad knock. I knew it was bad when I bought it and got it for parts. The body is really nice though, so I'm thinking of fixing it. It seems it would cost more to rebuild than just replace the engine, but '99 is an odd crossover year. What's the best engine to put in it? I have a choice at the JY, but I only want to do this job once.

The car has a standard transmission. There was some issue with 3rd gen clutch hydraulics. Is it worth trying to go back to the older clutch release system? I just want to get this right. The car has about 155K miles on it.

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Old 10-25-2019, 06:47 AM   #2
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1999 SL2
1998 SC2
Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

I love my '99 engine. The clutch and hydraulics seems like the same ones as in the '98. If I was going to do a swap I'd get a Gen 2 motor just so I could have an aluminum valve cover. A rebuild on your engine would still be the most awesome.

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'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
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Old 10-25-2019, 07:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
I love my '99 engine. The clutch and hydraulics seems like the same ones as in the '98. If I was going to do a swap I'd get a Gen 2 motor just so I could have an aluminum valve cover. A rebuild on your engine would still be the most awesome.
Thanks! I may rebuild it in my "spare" time(LOL)! For now, I'd like to get it running well. If I use a gen 2 engine(96-98), I suppose I have to change the computer too, and that means finding one for a gen 2 standard. Do you know if there's a difference between the actual engines for the standard and automatic within a generation?

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Old 10-25-2019, 07:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

I'm not sure you would have to change the computer. You should follow wagonmaster's progress, what he is doing is very similar.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=238283

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'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

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Old 10-25-2019, 07:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Easy swap would be '98-'99; harder would be '96-'97, freaking annoying would be '93-'95 and '00-'02. Body style doesn't matter, as long as it's DOHC.

If you find a '93-'97 motor the fuel rail has to be swapped or otherwise converted to return-less and with the swapping I've done the fuel rails only swap to/from certain years.

No reason to change the PCM, unless it has some option you want to add (mainly cruise control).

Identical motors for both transmissions.

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Old 10-25-2019, 09:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Quote:
Originally Posted by S-forever View Post
I just bought a '99 SL2 with a really bad knock. I knew it was bad when I bought it and got it for parts. The body is really nice though, so I'm thinking of fixing it. It seems it would cost more to rebuild than just replace the engine, but '99 is an odd crossover year. What's the best engine to put in it? I have a choice at the JY, but I only want to do this job once.

The car has a standard transmission. There was some issue with 3rd gen clutch hydraulics. Is it worth trying to go back to the older clutch release system? I just want to get this right. The car has about 155K miles on it.
It is better to rebuild the engine than to swap a used engine into it because of oil consumption. Finding a replacement engine is sketchy because 1999 is a single year interchange.

DOHC engines have a habit of trashing the valve stem seals when they get higher mileage, as well.

The most difficult part of rebuilding will be finding a crankshaft. Reman cranks are available, but you should try to locate a new crank for best results.

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Old 10-25-2019, 10:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Quote:
The most difficult part of rebuilding will be finding a crankshaft. Reman cranks are available, but you should try to locate a new crank for best results.
I reused my crank. The machine shop was ready to turn it down if required, but it was not. Then you buy bearings to match. Why go with an unknown crank unless you know yours is toast?

...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

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Old 10-25-2019, 05:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
I reused my crank. The machine shop was ready to turn it down if required, but it was not. Then you buy bearings to match. Why go with an unknown crank unless you know yours is toast?
I listened to this engine run for all of 10 seconds and it sure sounds like the crank is toast. I could be wrong, but that knock was so hard and loud that I'm lucky that the block's still intact. I towed it home and should probably pull the pan first if I can do that with the engine still in place. Someone put clean oil in the engine, so that's no indicator.

So far, it seems that the consensus is that a 98-99 engine will have the fewest problems, and probably a 99 is best. This one has no air injection system.

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Old 10-25-2019, 09:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Determine if the knocking engine is the 99 1/2 up or the 99 1/2 down engine.

The 99's that we saw had the newer engine with the narrower head come in about half ways through the model year. So if you have the wide head then you can use the older DOHC engines. Narrow head then the newer engines.

Compare against your 97 SL2. It is a noticeable difference.

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Old 10-25-2019, 10:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssicarman View Post
Determine if the knocking engine is the 99 1/2 up or the 99 1/2 down engine.

The 99's that we saw had the newer engine with the narrower head come in about half ways through the model year. So if you have the wide head then you can use the older DOHC engines. Narrow head then the newer engines.

Compare against your 97 SL2. It is a noticeable difference.
Thanks. The exhaust manifold is different - the O2 sensor is sideways instead of pointing to the radiator. Tomorrow when it's light, I'll pull the '97 up parallel and see what I can see. The '97 has an aluminum valve cover I installed from a '95, but it's otherwise stock. I suppose I could compare the plastic valve cover I took off against the '99 engine. That might define it. I wonder if I can figure out the original '99 engine from the VIN number?

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Old 10-26-2019, 02:13 AM   #11
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

I looked again at the cylinder heads and cam covers. The cover on the 99 is definitely narrower and has a different bolt arrangement than the 97. It's about an inch narrower over the cams and 1.5 inches narrower over the timing sprockets. Both engines have aluminum intake manifolds.

It seems that I'm in for replacing the engine with the newer 3rd gen engine unless I want to get into a bigger project.

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Old 10-26-2019, 08:45 AM   #12
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

Sounds like the first step is to take it apart and see what the knock is. Maybe your '99 head is good and you can put that on a lower end from any year.

...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

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Old 10-26-2019, 11:57 AM   #13
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

That makes sense. I don't know if I can check the lower end without removing the engine. Can the pan be removed without the subframe out? If I can do that, I can do it in the yard. Otherwise I'm probably going to have to tie up my garage for the fairly long term. It's standard, so the easy way is probably to pull the whole drive train from the bottom.

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Old 10-26-2019, 01:06 PM   #14
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

You can definitely pull the pan with the motor in the car. I've done it.


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Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

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Old 10-26-2019, 01:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: '99 SL2 scary bad knock

I just thought of something. When I bought this car with a known bad engine, the valve cover had been removed and was missing a bolt. The guy said that they took it off to check if the knock was in the head. I'm not sure why they'd think that unless the timing chain had jumped. If so, there might be more wrong than just a bad bearing. Even more reason to pick up a spare engine if I can get one cheap. It's definitely the narrow head design. This looks like it might become a longer term project.

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