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Old 04-15-2009, 07:29 PM   #1
ifried85
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Default 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

Hi I have a 1999 Saturn SC1, automatic transmission with 108,000 miles on it. I have been having a problem with rough idle/vibration. The car typically is at about 1200 rpms in park when the car is warm and around 900 rpms when in drive. I have noticed that the vibration becomes worse when the car is in park or neutral but it is still there in drive. Also when the AC is on the vibration becomes even worse. The top and bottom motor mounts have been replaced recently. Also my egr valve failed recently and was also replaced. Does anyone have any ideas for what could be causing this problem? I would appreciate any help. My mechanic was not sure what to do in order to fix the problem.

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Old 04-15-2009, 08:10 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

Have you replaced the original engine coolant temperature sensor (ECTS)? Use the Forum Jump below to find the How-to library's videos, pictures, and procedures about it. It usually fails with rough high idling from constant rich mixtures. The replacement is the brass one from any auto store stocking it and will bring the idle back down as well as improve fuel consumption.

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Old 04-15-2009, 10:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

Did you use OEM replacement mounts or the cheap smiley ones? Can make a difference. If you've gone that far also consider replacing the torque mount above the transmission and also the lower transmission mount. Although if $ is an issue I'd consider doing the lower transmission mount first. The one that attaches under the battery is pretty well protected and doesn't go bad as quick. When replacing them, the last thing you want to do is loosen then re-tighten the lower engine mount nut where the bolt attaches to the cradle.

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Old 04-16-2009, 10:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

I am going to try and replace the ECTS tomorrow. My temperature gauge does not even go up to the quarter mark so hopefully this is the problem.

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Old 04-16-2009, 11:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

Keep this in mind after replacing the ects; once the engine warms up but still doesn't show past the quarter mark on the temp gauge, replace the thermostat as it tends to fail slightly open. This causes slower warm-ups and reduces fuel economy. Once the thermostat (195F) is replaced, the temp gauge needle should be between the quarter and half mark (3/8ths).

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Old 04-16-2009, 01:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

I am having the same problem with the rough idle in my 01 SC1. Does your RPM seem to fluctuate, in idle, like mine does, too?

Also, the thermometer on my car has NEVER gone past 1/4, so I'm going to look into this as well.

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Old 04-17-2009, 03:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

So I replaced the ects and it has made a huge difference. The temperature gauge went up a little over the quarter mark. I only had a chance to drive the car for a few miles so hopefully once I make a longer trip it will reach the 3/8 mark. The RPM in park has dropped from 1200 to 800 and in drive the RPM has dropped from 900 to 700. However I am still having some vibration problems. My car is still vibrating but it is not as bad as it used to be except for when I put the AC on. As soon as the AC is put back on the vibration becomes significantly worse and the rpms go up by 100 and stay there. Any ideas on how to fix this. Could this be from the engine coolant thermostat or is this something else?

stytch my rpm's never fluctuated they stayed consistently high.

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Old 04-17-2009, 04:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

With the ects taken care of you can attend to the other issues that may be affecting engine vibration. You may have to;
  • clean or replace the spark plugs
  • clean the ignition module and coils of corrosion
  • clean/degrease the throttle body
  • replace the thermostat - the original one may be running cooler than normal. It shouldn't take more than 10-minutes of driving to bring the temperature needle to the 3/8ths mark.

The idle speed will increase normally (automatically) when a/c is selected due to compressor load but not significantly. The increase is usually only enough to overcome compressor load, basically returning the idle rpm back to normal when it would normally drop if the PCM wasn't programmed to do so. Perhaps cleaning the throttle body will help reduce the increase as there are no adjustments for this. The PCM detects the a/c being selected and is programmed to compensate for the extra load by adjusting the idle air control valve (IACV in the throttle body) to restore rpm. The iacv already works properly because that's what's adjusting the cold idle speed (1200rpm) back down to normal idle (800-900rpm). The ects reports the coolant temps to the PCM in order for the PCM to control engine idle speeds at any temperature and load conditions.

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Old 01-03-2015, 12:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

All what is said above can and will affect idle. What is not listed.... I've owned 2 Saturns. Besides proper maintenance they are wonderful cars. SATURN switched to the secondary air injection system around 2000 or 2001. I own the 01 Saturn Sc1. The air injection system going into your exhaust headers, check the air lines located on top of the ac compressor you can spray them out with throttle body cleaner. Now check the metal air line going into your headers this line is probably clogged with carbon build up. Clean of course but if its clogged your not done just yet. It's a task, you have to remove the headers and clean the ports out they are for sure full of carbon build up. Now once that's done lets talk about the catalytic converter and muffler. Notice your converter at night my be glowing red this means it to is clogged. To insure your system is operating fully I'd change the muffler out also being 14 years old don't matter the mileage its more than done its job and needs to be retired. Back to the air injection system.. When you turn your car on make sure the blower "located in the front passenger side corner closest to the head light" turns on when you start the engine it'll run for a minute or two..... Other problems I've encounter... Does your car shake when coming to a stop? To fix this problem have your tires balanced its 40 dollars at WalMart. Change your rotors and brakes I went the next best from stock. That will fix that shaking..... Car running hot and ghosts leaks... Unfortunately my luck... I bought this car used and I didn't do the 101 inspection just the basics... People I advise you to drain your coolant run the prestone radiator flush for 3 to 5 days drain the system and run it with water for 30 minutes with the heater on high full blast. Drain once again. You now why im telling you to do all this is because you used the water hose to top off, tap water, spring, or water full of rich minerals yummy. Not yummy for your cooling system over time itll choke the system out caused by the build up and deposited and scale from using mineral enriched water. What needs to be used people is the 88 cent gallons of distilled water while flushing and rinsing the system. Then use distilled water when adding the gm recommend brand of coolant its the dexcool I get the uncut gallon and stretch it into two gallons for the price of one. I had a busted radiator, a leaking water pump, I went ahead and changed my lines, people if your gauge is this reading and not stuck on stupid and never moves I wouldn't waste my time on buying the 15 thermostat, I had to change my busted heater for located under the radio and air ducts "you'll know when this happens you'll have a sweet order smell when you sit down" look down at your feet and on the passenger carpet it'll be soaked to confirm its the heater for put a paper towel to sit there it'll be the coolant color, check your making sure it engages when you press in the ac button. If you don't have a ac haha I fixed my own with a lifetime warranty for well under 400, I can tell you how to bypass the high pressure ac line by disconnecting the wiring harness located driver side right far corner nearest to the steering wheel. Once this is disconnected find you a short piece of any type of wire that has copper its not rocket science. Now that the connection that's loose "not the stationary one on the ac line" put the exposed ends into each of the little spaces in the wiring harness you can tape it to insure it doesn't come out. Now start your car you have a working fan without having ac. When you think you have the over heating problem fixed. I don't bring my car to a mechanic and never will. It took me some time to think why.. I am over heating and loosing coolant.. I fixed everything in my cooling system wrong. Lift your car up and get under the mofo lol... Wiggle your way under the engine and find the starter.... Ok now located the transmission notice there are two black rubber lines being held by a plastic bracket on the fire wall. The transmission cooling line that's also running your radiator coolant. That's the last and final culprit to the whole leakage issue.. Besides change out a few temp sensors it'll never hurt these cars are getting up in age. Loosing oil? Go ahead and change your valve cover gasket it never hurts be careful not to brake the air line its fragile lol I doesn't take much believe me. Make sure you line the gasket up its not hard. Inspect the oil pan the pan its self has a gasket that may be leaking. Mine was just a make shift gasket the professional at WalMart put on because they broke or dropped the real gasket. A set of the 3 costs less than 5 dollars. Regular vehicle servicing... Change your oil when needed I go 5000 miles with adding one quart around the 3500 mark that's what engines do burn oil especially Saturn motors. Change and inspect your air filter when needed. Changed and inspect your spark plugs.. Your spug plugs tell you what's going on internally in your engine weird right its true.. A diagram is located in your service manual if you don't have one goggle search how to tell what my spark plug is suppose to look like or something to take nature. It even might be on the box not sure. Also change out your spark plugs wires to ensure peak performance from this system. Change your coolant as needed.... I'd advise you like the old timers told me this is in reference to your transmission if you have never change or done regular maintenance on your transmission like changing the filter and fluid.. Please please listen don't start know if its not broke don't fix it.. The system is like a child it built up a immune system as it became an adult using the same filter and fluid. You go this transmission heart and blood basically lol it will give you problems and die make sense? With proper car and love your engine can and will last you 400,000 miles plus. Never say it can wait till later, when later comes you will have another major issue that could have been prevented by correcting the problem you held off. Around 180k to 200k I've experienced if you have a standard go head get a new clutch installed its about to have its last breath.. If you wait till last minute it'll blow out the gasket housing and leave you stranded in Texas when your trying to get to Louisiana to go home after working all night lol. Your alternator will go first then your starter then your battery... Go head and change all three this is something you want and need to be in sync with one another operating at the same levels. This is what powers your car and its brain and ability to function. Now you'll have to do some research on what this sensor is called its located right above your starter or very near. When this little joker goes out its literally 15 bucks and will cause your entire car to completely shut down. I mean when your turn the key no nothing light radio no hint of life. This is your problem ill swear to it. Go head and change your power steering pump the bottom line can and will be a pain to get off and put back on.. If you do this while you have your alternator off it'll make your world and life easier. Or be hard headed like me. Now your tension pulley I like its under 20 bucks. It's old and needs to get change its lived its life. This is what holds your cheap belt on this is a cheap part. Funny think is this cheap part is very important its the main reason your belt stays on and keeps you going. Tell me what happens when you pop you belt going 80 down the road. You could jump timing... Once this happens cut your loses and go find another 500 to 1500 Saturn. Or you could get lucky and you just need to install another pulley. Now for the ones that have no ac and still running your belt on it. Google search this.. It's called a.. Ac bypass belt.. Oreillys swore up and down they have no such thing that will do this without buying a replacement.. Plate and pulley to completely remove the compressor. WRONG LOOK IT UP ON THEIR WEBSITE. It's there. Leave your crank shaft alone of course. For your main air system if you want to help it breath better I suggest a k and n pop and screw filter and remove your normal housing for it. This way you have no breathing restrictions and a filter that can be cleaned. You'll have better performance and hp and gas mileage. If you believe all that bs. I now it'll help your engine perform better... I think this sums it up........ Now if you want to clean your internal engine.. Never by the products that sound to good to be true they will hurt and harm your engine. Stick with the brands that been around for decades they are still hear for a reason.. That goes with your cooling system don't put that trash in their you will I promise you this have to replace the entire system again if done so already. For the engine go buy 2 cans of seafoam 16 oz and seafoam "deep creet" 1 can.. Pour one into your gas tank.. Take the second can of seafoam use 8 oz roughly of it half the can I used a cup and my best judgement of measurement. Take 1/3 of this while the engine is off and pour into your oil where you normally add oil. Now remove the air line off the brake booster its located of the fire wall your car will idle high for this time period.. Start your car now slowly I mean slowly pour 1/3 of the remaining 2/3 seaform into the air line... It'll take a few minutes now for the last 1/3.. 2 to 3 oz pour as fast as you can it'll cause the motor to stall out and turn off. If you didn't achieve this by not having enough seaform becaus eof miss judgement. After trying to stall the motor out quickly hold your thumb or finger over the hole it'll stall then I promise it can't breath. Keep the engine turned off. Now take the deep creet seaform don't over do this it wont hurt but just don't. Take your air duct off your throttle body using the throttle cable bracket opening the valve in side and spray a generous amount soaking the inside of the throttle body and valve the thing thing flips open when up hold down the throttle. This is lubricating and cleaning the system its cleaning all deposits and carbon build up.

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Old 01-03-2015, 01:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

Part 2 Continued:

Now let you car sit for 30 minutes. Then start it. What you need to do now is drive this like when you was a kid dreaming to go fast driving a car just don't get in trouble. Hahha. What happened while you let your car sit is the seaform was allowing to soak and set in around your pistons rods valves. Nicks and crannies. It's eating away the deposits and leaving your internal organs nice and shinny. When you run your car like you stole it. Keep it mind this mother ****er is going to have a ton of white smoke google search it. It'll have it for about a full block I drove mine down a square block on each reaching 70 mph. Do this within a couple 100 miles of a oil change. Think about this you just removed and loosened all the carbin and deposits up. They are now moving freely. They are traveling to your oil filter. You oil filter is going to become very used up. It's going to catch all the negative components. Leaving the passage way for your oil some what restricted this is why you do it before a oil change and run your car for at least 100 mile but not more than 200. This this every other oil change and your pistons valves and rods will become new like the day they was installed and stay that way. I do believe I cover all my knowledge of the Saturn experience if you have a question feel free to ask.

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Old 01-03-2015, 09:43 AM   #11
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2002 SC2
Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration


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Old 01-03-2015, 10:09 AM   #12
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

I know I know BlkSaturn it has 11.5k characters. I missed a few words here and there. A little miss spelling, after a while the page started tripping but this covers the majority of what your problems could be and most likely happen. I figure I tell it how it is. Regular maintenance and upkeep will make the car last. I'm 22 I'm a tech with hydro Chem environmental. I'm not a licensed mechanic by any means I just have a will to learn and problem solve along comes knowledge. Moral of my point in putting across is do it your self it can be done some money on labor and buy your next couple parts with it.

Now for the inexperienced take it some where to change the clutch, the sub frame is a task you have to do little petty steps to drop the transmission. The parts 150 labor 700. Yes this is by the book. Have fun driving.

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Old 01-03-2015, 11:14 AM   #13
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SC1 rough idle/vibration

If you often run your car to a empty tank all the trash at the bottom will clogg up your fuel filter don't forget to change as needed.

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