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Old 01-29-2009, 10:43 AM   #1
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Default How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Due to the numerous threads about high idle, I have made this to help those with the issue...

Saturns tend to have high idle issues. There are a variety of possibilities that cause it, and a variety of solutions depending on whether the engine is a SOHC or DOHC. Regardless of engine, there are a few possibilities that apply to both SOHC and DOHC.

ECT- is the most common cause to all issues if not replaced. So even if you do not have a high idle issue, replacing the ECT will help to avoid future problems. It is a relatively cheap repair, and can be picked up aftermarket. You will need teflon tape to wrap the threads of an aftermarket ECT to avoid leaks.

Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor R&R Saturn S-series
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC0U53w_Htk

ECT connector - The connector has a tendancy to corrode. It is not necessary to replace it if it is fine, but if you see any green gunk in there, then it needs to go. You will have to get this from a dealer, or you can go to a junk yard and find a IAT sensor connector.

Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor Connector Replacement
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQx84-93WkE

Vacuum Leaks - Vacuum leaks will cause high idle and are relatively easy to diagnose and find. On a SOHC around the years of 99-02 the intake manifold gasket is the most common issue for high idle. To find a vacuum leak you simply take water or brake cleen and spray aroung the intake manifold gasket to the head, the gasket for the Throttle body and all vacuum lines. Do this with the engine running. Should the idle change at all, you have just found the leak. An IM leak is probably not the likely cause of a DOHC high idle.

Carbon Build Up - This causes the IAC (Idle Air Control) valve to stick and gunks up the Throttle Body. If you turn on the car and turn it back off, then turn it back on and the high idle is gone. Replace the TPS with a dealer replacement and clean the connector. To clean the throttle body and IAC, follow RichPin's TB cleaning videos. This should be done on both motors regardless of the solution. This may also increase MPG.

Throttle Body Cleaning (part 1)of 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApNTQs6GzcY

Throttle Body Cleaning (part 2)of 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT7yA2TL4lk

Throttle Body Cleaning (part 3)of 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3dC0ZLvpt8

Thermostat- If the ECT has been replaced and the high idle continues and the other common symptoms have been checked, check your temperature. For 1991-1995 your temperature should be around the half way mark. For 1996 up your gauge should read a needle's worth over the 3/8ths mark.

Saturn S-series Thermostat R&R
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrCSJpbDCiI

EGR valve- Try to clean the egr valve if still no success then replace it.

.................................................. .............................

The order of sequence in which I would do these for a DOHC; ECT and ECT connector, Throttle Body Cleaning and IAC vavle, Thermostat, EGR valve,then Vacuum Leaks.

For SOHC; ECT and ECT connector, Vacuum Leaks, Throttle Body and IAC cleaning, EGR valve, then Thermostat.

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Old 01-29-2009, 10:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Other members feel free to add anything I may have forgotten. Due to Charlie not responding to my PM, I have put this in tech, since I cannot post in the How-To Section.

Oh and keep in mind, you should also make sure you have Copper NGK plugs in, and a new set of wires (or atleast check them for corrosion), as well as cleaning the coil pack towers.

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Old 01-29-2009, 01:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Can't forget the TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) Located on the throttle body. With your car warmed up, in Park, you have a high idle you can turn the car off and immediately re-start it. If the idle is back to where it should be this could point to faulty TPS. I believe OEM is recommended.

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Old 01-29-2009, 01:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
If you turn on the car and turn it back off, then turn it back on and the high idle is gone. Replace the TPS with a dealer replacement and clean the connector.
Already in there.

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Old 01-29-2009, 01:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

my bad, didnt notice as you didnt make a nice section of it like everything else.

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Old 01-29-2009, 01:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Good info, thanks!

Question: if I pull the ECTS connector and it's clean, should I put something like a little dielectic grease in there to keep it from corroding in the future? Or is that a bad idea for some reason?

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Old 01-29-2009, 01:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Some people go back and forth on it. I have heard that its great to it melted my coils. I put a little bit in my turn signal connector, didn't hurt anything. Its up to you, I would say it should be ok, there is not as much power running through it as a coil. And who knows... they could have globbed it on there. I think if you just put a bit you should be fine. Alot of other members just plug it back in.

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Old 01-29-2009, 02:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Good info, thanks!

Question: if I pull the ECTS connector and it's clean, should I put something like a little dielectic grease in there to keep it from corroding in the future? Or is that a bad idea for some reason?
It is a very bad idea. There is an o ring in the top of that connector and when connected its sealed. Flush it out with CRC electrical parts cleaner, let it dry and put it all back together.

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Old 01-30-2009, 10:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
It is a very bad idea.
Inquiring minds want to know - why is it a bad idea? I'm not doubting your expertise at all (having read your previous posts, and being amazed at your knowledge ), I'm just curious at to the reason - particularly if I'm doing just a small amount.

I'm guessing because the heat will cause the grease to run and short the connections?
Quote:
There is an o ring in the top of that connector and when connected its sealed.
So if there is corrosion, the O-ring should be replaced?

Thanks!

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Old 01-30-2009, 10:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
I'm guessing because the heat will cause the grease to run and short the connections?
Its not that. Dielectric grease increases conductivity.

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Old 01-30-2009, 02:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Inquiring minds want to know - why is it a bad idea? I'm not doubting your expertise at all (having read your previous posts, and being amazed at your knowledge ), I'm just curious at to the reason - particularly if I'm doing just a small amount.

I'm guessing because the heat will cause the grease to run and short the connections?
So if there is corrosion, the O-ring should be replaced?

Thanks!
The grease is a low grade electrical insulator and thermally conductive. It has a very low film strength so it is not a very good lubricant either. It is designed for mounting solid state devices on heat sinks. It will also migrate and collect dust and other debris. On connectors that have an external seal a very small bit wiped on the seal will improve the seal though. There are greases that can be used directly on electrical connectors and they are sufficiently electrically conductive that they allow proper contact while sealing the connection. They are all synthetic lubricants and they come from Nye, and the cost/oz will stagger you. Its not a short you are concerned with but the increased connection resistance. This can result in increased local heating in the point of connection and eventual failure. Also potential connection contamination from environmental pollutants in open connections.

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Old 01-30-2009, 09:04 PM   #12
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The grease is a low grade electrical insulator and thermally conductive. It has a very low film strength so it is not a very good lubricant either. It is designed for mounting solid state devices on heat sinks. It will also migrate and collect dust and other debris. On connectors that have an external seal a very small bit wiped on the seal will improve the seal though. There are greases that can be used directly on electrical connectors and they are sufficiently electrically conductive that they allow proper contact while sealing the connection. They are all synthetic lubricants and they come from Nye, and the cost/oz will stagger you. Its not a short you are concerned with but the increased connection resistance. This can result in increased local heating in the point of connection and eventual failure. Also potential connection contamination from environmental pollutants in open connections.
For what it's worth, both the marine industry and much of the aircraft industry will essentially pack connections with dielectric grease. If your contact is bad you have problems regardless. If your contact is good, it insulates and protects the area.

You can pack an ECTS with common cheap non synthetic "tune up dielectric grease" and suffer no ill consequences.

Heat sinks do not require any dielectric properties, only thermal and corrosion resistant properties.

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Old 01-30-2009, 09:46 PM   #13
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

The grease used to pack connections is not the standard dielectric grease that is commonly available. If you are bound and determined to be packing connectors then the cheapest stuff is Dow Corning DC-4. And it will foul up connections. Aircraft is packed with a FAA approved product, for a very good reason.

There is no real reason to be packing modern automotive connectors. They are splash proof by design and if you submerge the car you have other problems.

Its a car not an airplane or boat.

The "Tune up grade dielectric grease" is nothing more than a silicone grease.

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Old 01-31-2009, 09:23 PM   #14
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The grease used to pack connections is not the standard dielectric grease that is commonly available. If you are bound and determined to be packing connectors then the cheapest stuff is Dow Corning DC-4. And it will foul up connections. Aircraft is packed with a FAA approved product, for a very good reason.

There is no real reason to be packing modern automotive connectors. They are splash proof by design and if you submerge the car you have other problems.

Its a car not an airplane or boat.

The "Tune up grade dielectric grease" is nothing more than a silicone grease.
I've worked both in the marine industry and around military aviation while in the Marines, and have seen first hand the use. As I've said before, if using a dielectric causes connection problems, then you already had connection problems.

And while I agree most connections these days are fairly splash proof, they are not air proof. I personally consider a quick dab of the proper dielectric much easier than splicing and soldering a new ECTS connector.

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Old 01-31-2009, 09:36 PM   #15
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

The ECTS connector is so well sealed that when the sensor cracks and leaks it does not run out and attract attention.

You may do as you please, but greasing connectors causes more problems in a car than it solves. We are talking about a car and not a boat or airplane.

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Old 01-31-2009, 09:45 PM   #16
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

I had an unstable idle on my '97 SL1. Also there was a problem with high idle on startup. After friggin' around with it a bit, I noticed that the unstable idle fluctuated with fluctuations of the engine temp guage. I tried DC-4 on the somewhat greenish pins, but it didn't really help. I changed the connector to the ECT, and the ECT itself, for the second time, and the problem went away. I have changed 3 ECTs now in 4 years.

I am also an aircraft mechanic, and DC-4 is recommeded by more than one manufacturer, including Cessna and Beechcraft. I am on the fence as to its usefullness.

I certainly have the utmost respect for Old Nuc's opinions however.

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Old 01-31-2009, 09:59 PM   #17
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Northbound View Post
I had an unstable idle on my '97 SL1. Also there was a problem with high idle on startup. After friggin' around with it a bit, I noticed that the unstable idle fluctuated with fluctuations of the engine temp guage. I tried DC-4 on the somewhat greenish pins, but it didn't really help. I changed the connector to the ECT, and the ECT itself, for the second time, and the problem went away. I have changed 3 ECTs now in 4 years.

I am also an aircraft mechanic, and DC-4 is recommeded by more than one manufacturer, including Cessna and Beechcraft. I am on the fence as to its usefullness.

I certainly have the utmost respect for Old Nuc's opinions however.
Like yourself, I find the vast majority of OldNucs post to be very informative.

In your case, a bad connection is not going to be helped at all by using such a compound. The idea is to prevent the corrosion that destroys the contact.

I've also found huge differences in cars and the marine and aircraft industry. One of the most important being that in the case of yachts or aircraft, you can't pull to the side of the road when something goes wrong. Combined with operating conditions usually less favorable than road vehicles, those industries usually take more precautions.

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Old 01-31-2009, 10:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

The stuff is the thing to use on an aircraft or boat as the connector will end up full of water because of the temperature and pressure changes on an aircraft and the high humidity around a boat.

I can assure you that it does not keep connectors and cables dry if your boat happens to get depth charged either. It does reduce the chances of seepage. Older style connectors have minimal seals and will fill up with condensation from the normal day/night temperature swings. The seal bellows on the weather pack connector along with the cable seal keeps them dry and the pressure equalized.

As I originally said, grease the bellows seal only and lightly. It will work fine.

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Old 02-02-2009, 12:11 PM   #19
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

Good info, thanks for some informative reading.

I was thinking that if the connectors had corrosion to begin with, something was getting in there - and that something could be done to keep it out.

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Old 04-03-2009, 06:39 PM   #20
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Default Re: How To Diagnose/Solve High Idle Issues

I have a 2001 SC2 and my high idle only returns every summer. In the winter time no high idle what so ever. Throttle body cleaned, idle air control valve replaced. Should the “summer high idle” tell me something. Yes when I turn off the engine, and start back up high idle gone. So now I am leaning towards the TPS or the coolant temperature sensor.

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