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Old 05-21-2009, 03:12 AM   #1
JoJo
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Dazed 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

I own a 2000 Saturn sl2 with about 87,000 miles on it, that broke down on me. Moneys tight so I can't take it to a mechanic, and would like to try to fix it myself. At first when I tried to start it I could hear the starter motor and the engine firing, basically got as to starting as a car could get without actually starting. Some mechanically inclined friends suggested changing the spark plugs so I did. Now I only hear the starting motor when I turned the key. I Know I'm getting sparks though the wires. The auto parts guy says that means the issue is most likely on the fuel end things. Which I agree makes sense. I use a fuel injector cleaner on regular bases, and PCV valve was replaced about 40,000 miles ago, and the throttle body was cleaned about month before the car broke down. The fuel filter was next on my (to do list) before the car quit, so that's where I'd like to start. But when I looked in to it I found out that my model's fuel filter has a regulator in it.
Therefore is expensive and has me wondering if this is something I can fix on my own or does the regulator mean that it's tied into the Passport Security System and if I start playing around with the filter will I screw more stuff up then I fix. Also I've heard that buying an after market filter will cause me more problems down the road and should buy an Saturn filter from the dealership. Is this true? I mean if I ask the auto parts guy, he's probably going to tell me I should buy his product, and I'm sure saturn will say the same. Because of the expense of the filter, I'd like to shop around for the cheapest deal, but only if the cheapest deal is going stay the cheapest deal. Also I don't like my local Saturn dealership and really don't want to send any money their way. Please offer my any advice that you can, and thanks!

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Old 05-21-2009, 05:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

The Passlock anti-theft security system has a security light in the speedo or tach that flashes when enabled. If its on during start-up the engine won't fire up because it disables the fuel pump from running. Be sure its off during start. This security light turns on with all the other lights when the ignition is first turned ON and turns OFF with most of the lights, leaving the brake, seat belt, oil, and battery light on before starting. The next check is the fuel system with the ignition ON - you should should either hear or feel the faint hum/hiss of the fuel pump running for 2-3 seconds then shut off (safety). Listen for the fuel pump while the lamp test is being conducted at the same time. Find the fuel rail test valve with a black cap near the injectors; remove the cap, cover losely with a rag and press the valve stem (same as the tire valve) expecting a healthy spray of fuel. Spraying fuel out means the fuel pump and pressure is available for the injectors. No spray of fuel means the fuel pump, relay, fuse, and wiring are suspect. Check the fuel pump fuse and swap the fuel pump relay with another similar one. The fuel pump cycling can be done as many times as needed but wait between ignition OFF and ON for 30-seconds before turning the ignition ON again. Having fuel and pressure means the ignition needs to be checked with a spark test.

With the coil wires off, have someone turn the ignition key to start while you watch for sparks across the ignition coil towers. A lack of spark means the crank position sensor (CPS) failed while sparking means it didn't. Partial spark means one of the coils may be faulty or needs cleaning with a wire brush of ignition coils and ignition module. The cps is located above and behind the starter, mounted with 10mm bolt. Buy it from any auto store stocking it.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 05-29-2009, 01:29 AM   #3
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Thumbs Up Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

Thanks but I managed to borrow a fuel pressure gage, not really sure why but when I hooked it up and attempted to start the car it started right up. Why it would start then and not before I don't know. Idle is real rough (lots of vibation) and there's kinda of a hissing sound coming from the engine block. Vacuum leak maybe? Rpms are right for idling in park, but on the test drive rpms were way too low for sitting at stop lights in drive with the brake on (only about 300) and seemed like it wanted to die. Service Engine Soon light came on in the last mile or so. I'm glad though that it started at least.

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Old 05-29-2009, 01:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

Yes, a vacuum leak is very possible when you hear hissing. Either look over everything carefully in the engine area or have a garage start looking. You can use a rubber hose as a stethoscope and place it carefully around with the engine idling until you locate the source of the hissing, use a water spray from a spray cleaner to see if the vacuum leak raises or lowers engine rpm further. Vacuum leaks usually raises engine rpm.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 05-30-2009, 01:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

I had a mechanic take a quick peek, and he said the sound was being caused by a pcv valve. So I replaced it, and the sound is gone,and the car is idling smoothly now, but the rpms are still way too low at a stop sign or stop light, and almost stalls out. Other than the low rpms the feel right when I drive it again, and sounds perfect, just have no idea what to make of the low rpms.

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Old 05-30-2009, 03:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

When the check engine Light came on, did you read the code? That is probably the best clue.

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Old 05-30-2009, 04:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

And would you mind sharing with us what you describe as "low rpm"? Numbers are better than just descriptions.

If you want to save some money, don't throw it away on fuel injector cleaner - gasoline is already an injector cleaner by itself and very good at degreasing just about anything else. Its just poor habits from people ignoring the little warnings like "FLAMMAMBLE, DO NOT SMOKE OR WORK NEAR ANY IGNITION SOURCES". The gasoline fumes alone are explosive in the right circumstances. There are many drivers who go throughout their entire lives driving many different cars and never use any fuel additive at all. They're not ignorant as much as people put too much into misinterpreting that fuel additives will guarantee injector-free problems. It doesn't explain the millions that drive trouble-free and never bought anything other than gasoline for the engine. Word of mouth about water in the gasoline from a third party gas station doesn't explain why nobody has problems filling up otherwise these cars should be dropping out during the week all over the place. A good example of this occurred over the past winter in New Jersey when a tanker filled the wrong underground tank with diesel that was designated a gasoline storage tank. Every driver filling up with gasoline filled up with diesel and stuttered just ouside the gas station on the NJ Turnpike. It made all the news stations that evening. Every car was lined up off the side of the turnpike. The gas company promised and made good on repairs. THAT's fuel contamination.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 05-31-2009, 10:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

Rpms are dropping down to between 500 and 300 rpms at a stoplight or stop sign.
No I didn't check the codes when the light came on because that would mean I owned a dianosic computer which I don't and garages charge way too much to use theirs. Also past experience with this car tells me that a code would be useless, since in the past its never helped any of my mechanics. My car throws so many codes they just don't know what to think and according to saturn none of the codes repeat very often. Also I don't have much faith in a mechanic that needs a code to tell him what to do. Car computers are like any other computer they can have hiccups in them too. Codes are a useful tool when combined with good old fashion auto mechanics and should not be used in the place of old fashion auto mechanics.

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Old 05-31-2009, 10:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

As far as having to goto the $tealer$ship or a garage to read codes: WRONG.

AutoZone can read codes for free, and can even give you several things to replace to fix the code as well.

The only time I'd pay to read codes is when the service wrench light comes on (since that's non-emissions, and you'd need an advanced/model specific reader to read it, which only the garages and $tealer$hip$ carry.)

that being said, I'd suspect either a vaccum leak, or you need to clean or replace the IAC valve.

ALSO: If giving codes doesn't help your mechanics, then I'd replace the mechanics (or perhaps the garage/$tealer$hip.) If your car throws out so many codes it's not funny (and IIRC vehicles can store up to either 30 or 50 codes at once), I'd replace the car.

On another note, if you have buddies with an ODB-II scanner, what I would do is obtain the code(s), then punch the code(s) in Google (one at a time), example: P0113+1997 Saturn SL2, then you'll get an idea as to what you're dealing with. At this point you have two options: call another garage/$tealer$hip, or do it yourself (and trust me, everyone here has made guides on how to clean/replace/mod/rebuild/etc specific parts of our Saturns.)

And yes, P0113 most likely isn't related to your problem, it's just an example.

...
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Last edited by adventureoflink; 05-31-2009 at 10:43 PM..

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Old 05-31-2009, 10:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

Good luck finding help here. Without the diagnostic codes you and your so called "mechanics" are just guessing like shade tree "mechanics" without any training or benefit of what engine computers and their built-in diagnostics will do. If you haven't noticed, almost every car uses electronic fuel injectioon. With electronics comes some bit of sophistication, the electronics portion that a few people are ignorant of. These same electronic components makes cars so much more reliable that most only need plug replacement. Ever try replacing plugs in the old days and never gap the distributor points or set the dwell? Electronics replaced the distributor and the points so there's no longer timing adjustments to make, ever. The engine still runs the exact same way as it did when 4-strokes were first invented, just the carburetors and distributors were replaced with reliable electronics and trained people to understand what they do and how they can fail and then troubleshoot the problems. The old cars can't pass our emissions regulations nowadays because of tight fuel controls to keep air/fuel ratios as near perfect as possible. Old style carbs can never control a/f ratios the way O2 sensors feeds back exhaust information for the engine computer to adjust a/f ratios on the fly.

Sooner or later you'll realize that readers are available for free use by Autozone and other places. Maybe not for you or I to use but free scans by them for you to either buy parts from them or just writing down the codes and posting them here for more assistance. Most members here do exactly that, going for the free scan, writing the codes down and then posting the error codes. There are many more "mechanics" here that just may be able to help you except that they're just a little more aware of some things that you may have overlooked.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 06-01-2009, 09:43 AM   #11
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL2 won't start

I've been working with computers for 30 years, and would be fired from any job I've had if I didn't base my diagnostic work, in part, on reading / checking log files, the counterpart to reading the SES codes in a car. Granted, dealerships tend to interpret the codes as "replace whatever part is referenced in the description", and parts stores do the scan for you with the specific prospect of selling you those parts. But trying to diagnose anything yourself _without_ knowing the codes is like bringing a knife to a gun-fight.

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