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Old 11-01-2009, 11:56 AM   #1
dgreen97
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Default Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

Hi everyone,

I have a 98 SL2 with 150k miles and for the past couple years I've had a large problem with noise and vibration inside the car. The noise/vibration gets worse the colder it gets, and it gets better when it heats up over time. I've checked everything from the motor mounts, the transmission mounts, dogbones, and the entire exhaust system and I can't find out where this noise is coming from. To describe it: It sounds like the engine is being amplified inside the car. It's just a louder version of what the engine sounds like outside. If the car is at idle, it's relatively quiet but when I hit the gas it becomes very loud. It doesn't sound like there is a hole in the exhaust though. Does anyone have any idea of what this could be? I'm getting really tired of my car sounding like a dump truck.

Thanks for your help

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Old 11-01-2009, 09:43 PM   #2
Killowatt
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1997 SW2
Happy Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

I had much the same noise on my 97 SW2. I had the "flex pipe" replaced on the exhaust system and that sure helped. It's not "Cadillac quiet" but much better.

The flex pipe is right under the firewall at rear of engine compartment, and it looks like a woven metal mesh cover. It's supposed to flex to help remove vibration, but it apparently rusts out, but still looks OK.

Hope this helps. Good Luck


...
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

Not that it is going to make too much difference, but do you have a 97 or 98 model year car? You reference both years in your post...

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Old 11-02-2009, 09:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

My car is a 97 I must have accidentally typed 98. I never checked out the flex pipe before. You said that it can look fine but inside it can be rusted out and cause vibration? The noise is definitely coming from the engine compartment because it just sounds like the engine is inside the car with me. It's just a louder version of it. I was thinking it might be the flywheel being out of round or something but I don't think that is the case considering the noise is most prominent when I hit the gas whether the clutch is engaged or not. When the car is at idle, it sounds like any other car because it's quiet. When I hit the gas, the vibration starts and all of a sudden it sounds really loud inside the car. Was the flex pipe an expensive replacement?

Thanks for your help

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Old 11-03-2009, 10:33 AM   #5
DonP
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

Does the noise change when making turns or slowing down/speeding up?

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Old 11-03-2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

no the noise doesn't changing when turning. The noise gets louder when accelerating (whether just revving the motor while staying still or getting up to speed). It sounds like an amplified version of the muffler. The tone of the muffler has a distinct sound and it just amplifies in the cabin. The muffler isn't toast though because otherwise the sound would be constant and it would be loud outside too. If I stand outside the car, it sounds fine just like any other. If I get inside, it seems all of the engine noise is amplified and I can hear it very well. I just put in some more insulation for my doors today but that didn't do anything.

What could be causing the sound to be amplified in the cabin? Anybody know? I've been trying to fix this problem for like 2 years on and off and I still haven't found what the hell is wrong with this thing.

One thing I did notice on the metal mesh for the flex pipe that connects to the front pipe is that one edge of it (the end that wraps around the pipe) has come loose a little bit. I put my hand next to it and didn't feel any exhaust coming out but could this possibly be the issue. I can't really tell if that is the sound because I'm underneath the car where the motor is and not inside.

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Old 11-03-2009, 04:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

It also sounds like the noise is coming directly in front of me like around the firewall. Any ideas on if the firewall insulation is a possibility of going bad and if it would allow so much engine noise to come into the cabin?

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Old 11-04-2009, 12:53 AM   #8
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

I had a problem with my flex tube too on my 99 sl2, might be a common issue, my car failed inspection I did not know it was bad but my top mount was failing too my car was a rattle trap. You sure all your mounts are good? Have you jacked up the engine slightly (with wood at oil pan) and hit the gas and see if that fixes it if it does it's the mounts if not it's in the exhaust? I might have gotten lucky and had a new flex tube sourced and installed for 50$. That top mount is easy to replace 35$ @ advanced auto. It's either rubbing or cavitating. gotta figure out which one. Saturns don't have much in the way of sound deadening material so I don't think it's that.

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Old 11-04-2009, 09:09 AM   #9
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

yeah i've definitely checked all of the mounts. I jacked the motor up at different angles as well to test if the sound changes in the cabin. No difference. This is the oddest car problem I've run into so far. Nothing seems to fix it. Since the tone inside the cabin sounds a lot like the muffler tone, is it possible the muffler has gone bad inside (such as the baffles) without seeing noticable holes on the exterior of the muffler? What would make the sound change when temperature changes? The sound/vibration is always worse when it is cold out. When the car finally heats up, it gets better (less sound/vibration) but its definitely still there. I don't want to replace the muffler though if there is nothing wrong with it. Another question: If the clutch went bad, would it cause the engine noise in the cabin to get very loud and vibrations to go through the car?

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Old 11-04-2009, 09:10 AM   #10
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

I also checked the end of the flex tube (the metal mesh) and the edge of it isn't wrapping tightly to the front pipe coming down from the engine. I put my hand next to it and no exhaust felt like it was coming out though. When you guys replaced your flex tube, did you notice this?

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Old 11-04-2009, 09:48 AM   #11
l0phat
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

Here is some info I forgot last night the flex tube piece we are refering to was called a resonator by the guy at the inspection place. Perhaps rather than cavitation I should have said resonation. It's possible the baffles went bad in the muffler I guess. Wonder if it's possible to stick a coat hanger up there to test... untested..and unknown... I can try it out for ya to see if we get different results after work... I'll let ya know what I feel. But to answer your question.. I had no idea mine was bad.. the bad mount covered the noise..

...
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:36 PM   #12
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

Quote:
Originally Posted by dgreen97 View Post
I also checked the end of the flex tube (the metal mesh) and the edge of it isn't wrapping tightly to the front pipe coming down from the engine. I put my hand next to it and no exhaust felt like it was coming out though. When you guys replaced your flex tube, did you notice this?
Try having a friend hold a rag against the the tailpipe (when it's idling) while you crawl around underneath and check for leaks. The back-pressure will make it much easier to find if you have any leaks.

...
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

Can you isolate the source using a mechanics stethoscope?

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Old 11-05-2009, 03:04 PM   #14
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Default Re: Loud noise and vibration inside 97 saturn sl2

thats actually not a bad idea to check for leaks. i'll try that out and see what happens from it. no i wish i had a stethoscope so i could better identify where the noise is coming from. When you're inside the car in the drivers seat it sounds like it's all around you which is why I'm not sure if its the muffler or the motor causing the loudness/vibration. I do have a question about the firewall though. What would cause the engine noise that previously wasn't a problem to start being an annoyance? Can the firewall insulation that prevents the engine noise in the cabin go bad enough to turn the inside of the car into a noise dome?

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