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Old 02-16-2011, 12:50 PM   #1
Northeaster22
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Default Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

I've searched a lot here and still can't get what really fits my car's problems. It’s clear many of you are pretty expert so if you can help or point me to posts with my problems/solutions, I'm all ears. I have to rely on shops to do all work. I hate to say it, but most see a woman coming in, and "the sky's the limit."

150,000 miles on the car. I don't jackrabbit start at lights, don't punch it on highways, don't mash on the brakes, drive pretty conservatively. I have to drive it well past 200k/into the ground, at least 2 more years. Don’t really have two nickels to rub together on it but will figure out a way to do what's really necessary. Oil/filter changes every 3k miles, regular gas, 23 MPG, drive about 23,000 mi. a year, almostl all highway. Timing chain/belt, water pump, front brake pads/rotors replaced Feb. 2010. Front pads/rotors also replaced in 2006. New battery June 2009. Replaced radiator Feb. 2008 when it got punctured probably by something bouncing up on long interstate road trips. New tires Dec. 2010.

I don't remember if spark plugs were replaced when the timing chain was done.

The only time I drove "differently" was after reading about "hypermiling" (neutral gear on downhills, etc). I did that a few months last year and it seemed the transmission problem below started AFTERWARD, so I stopped doing that last year.

Here are the problems:

1. SES Light: only comes on/stays on when outside temp drops below 50. Only code thrown right now is "PO128: coolant temperature below thermostat regulating temperature."

This winter, the heat has to be jacked up to 85 or 90 to heat the cabin and only works after the engine is warmed up. On the coldest days, it doesn't get warm til the end of a half-hour drive.

In the extremely cold Northeast weather this winter, my needle never gets past the 1/4 mark. Under 25 degrees, has stayed below that by a few ticks even after running awhile. In warm weather it never gets to the 1/2 mark. A couple times this winter, when in stopped traffic a long time, it did reach near the 1/2 mark and the fan came on and took care of that.

2. Also, COOLANT LEVELS keep dropping: between Sept. '10 and Feb. '11, had to add coolant 3 times, (about an inch or 1.5 inches each time, mix of Dexcool and water). If the 3-year-old radiator is leaking again, the damn thing is as worthwhile as a balloon for holding fluid, in this car.

3. WRENCH light comes on/stays on in 4 different situations (but NOT always in every one of those situations):
a) quick acceleration or extreme uphill requiring extra gas (after only this situation, car will then "thump" and lurch slightly going from 1st to 2nd gear, and less so from 2nd to 3rd, but not when decreasing gears or reverse),
b) hard braking (like when car ahead stops abruptly),
c) taking a turn or curve even slightly faster than slow, or slowly but sharply turning car around in a parking lot, with or without braking. Here, handbrake light comes on and dings, then goes off, but wrench light stays on.
d) when entering a side street with a steep up-grade, the wrench light came on recently where it had never done that in hundreds of times before.

The tranny problem and wrench light go away after car is shut off and restarted again.

NO problems with reverse gear so I'm not sure that wolfman's reverse slam fix is what it needs.

I'd read in one of these posts that "Consumer Reports notes minor transmission issues; this could be related to the torque converter’s (the automatic transmission component that replaces the clutch in a manual) lockup function, and is more of an electronics programming problem than a serious mechanical issue."

Wondering if that's the problem with my tranny or do I just need to change /flush the fluid/filter?

4. BRAKES: The only time there is a slight grinding sound from front brakes is in wet or snowy weather and only for the first minute or so, then it goes away. A young fellow I know who "dabbles" on cars said brake pads should be replaced every year or every 30k miles, and yet the wrench light/false brake light problem during hard braking/turning began after the new pads/rotors had been on for only about 10k miles, last fall.

If I needed new pads and/or possibly rotors again, I'll have a bone to pick with the shop that did it last Feb... If a brake fluid leak, what do I do about that (solution and apx. cost)?

5. I've been told I probably need to replace the thermostat (a $400 to $600 job I've been quoted, not the "simple 45 minute job" I saw someone post). I couldn't afford to have that and timing chain + water pump done a year ago so I just had the latter two. From reading some other posts now, maybe it's just the rubber sealing ring that needs replacing, or maybe just the coolant sensor, not the whole t-stat?

If it is the t-stat, is it better to have a 195 degree F opening one or a lower temp one and can I actually find the higher temp one? Advice? Part numbers?

STEERING: In extremely cold temps, the steering wheel really whines, almost moans, loudly when turned (not sure if this is normal…steering performs just fine regardless).

In general, I'm also wondering about struts, outboard links to stabilizer (have some clunky sounds going over bumps/rough road) and anything else I'd NEED to replace. My son wanted the car after I'm done with it (has loads of extras and room). CAN it go 250k or 300K and if so, with what necessary replacements to do so?

"Former" problems: 1) I read about the "fan control module…goes wonky, fans will run at full speed and stay on even after the car is turned off." This happened last summer. Dealer said, "Oh we can replace the module for you." They did something temporarily somehow till the part came in. The problem went away and hasn't returned, so I cancelled the appt. to replace the module and haven't had a problem since with the fan.

"Former problem #2": code PO496: "EVAP emission high purge flow fault". After reading here on that, I started twisting fuel cap till it clicks 3 times. I didn't think that solved it, but checking SES codes today, that code is gone now, so maybe the extra twists did solve it.

That sums it up. Thanks again for any/all help.

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Old 02-16-2011, 01:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Welcome to Saturnfans NE22!

REPLACE the t-stat, stat! Find a mechanic willing to do the laborious work as it does take a few hours to replace one. Its buried in the "V" section and requires dismantling the main intake manifold, front intake runner, throttle body, intake manifold spacer, intake air tubing, maf sensor, and some miscellaneous parts before seeing the t-stat housing. The P0128 is pointing to the old t-stat not retaining heat and opening sooner resulting in less heat in the winter. The temporary fix would be to use plastic cardboard to block off 1/3 of the radiator to retain heat. I put the plastic cardboard between the radiator and a/c condenser coil on the left side (passenger side) before I saw P0128. Once replaced (t-stat), the heat is more than adequate. Stock 195F one from Autozone is fine.

If the coolant level drops, it may be leaking from any hose clamp, water pump, or the two O-rings that are used on the extension pipe from the t-stat housing to the radiator top inlet. This extension is hidden under the front intake manifold runners and masks any leaks.

The oddball transmission shifts may be coolant temperature related or in need of new transmission oil. Replace the t-stat first and see. Its rare for torque converters to fail. Transmissions work off engine coolant temps as well as transmission oil temps as they vary and are one of the custom signals to allow smooth shifts throughout all temperature conditions. At worst, L-series transmissions do suffer occasionally from faulty pressure control solenoids but you'd have an error code for it. Wolfman's reverse slam fix applies to the S-series cars only.

If using OEM style brake pads, they're metallic and will grind at slow speed but normal. I replaced mine when rotors were needed with ceramic pads as an upgrade even though the OEM style pads worked. Ignore advice about replacing brake pads every 30k miles unless you have money to burn. Brake pads/shoes and rotors/drums are replaced when necessary, not because someone says so. Brake fluid leaks are either caused by road damage, poor maintenance, damaged parts or incorrect procedures. A leak in a brake system would be obvious with an inspection and felt as either spongy braking or worse, poor braking. Any shop that allows poor workmanship in a safety system should be reported since this endangers the public's total confidence when relying on professional repairs.

The power steering fluid most likely should be replaced and the turkey baster method seems to work; suck the reservoir of fluid and refill with fresh, repeat again after it mixes at any time you choose until the entire quart is used. Repeat this until the noise goes away.

The only modification needed would be to extend oil changes from 3k miles to 6k as oil and filters can last and make better use of your dollars. You could use the Oil Life Monitor to determine oil change as it works to your advantage since it determines the best mileage for changing based on your personal driving regimen. To go one step further, some here (including myself) are on very extended oil change intervals by using the oil life monitor (OLM) and replacing the oil filter each time but retaining oil until every other OLM indication (resetting each time the OLM indicator lights up). Using synthetic oil allows this. 3k mile oil changes is very old school and wastes money as well as resources.

...
*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 02-17-2011, 10:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Couple of other things to look at:
Tranny problem may be MAF related and MAF's are a known high failure item on L's. Take the MAF out, spray it (carefully) with MAF or electronics cleaner and re-install. If the problem goes away and returns 10-30K miles later, replace the MAF.
Another known issue with the 4T45E tranny is Pressure Control Solenoid (PCS) failure. Doesn't sound like this is your issue, but something to keep in mind.

Couple other well known coolant loss failure modes for L's that fdryer didn't mention are the oil cooler, also located in the "V" of the engine on the drivers side, have a known issue with adhesive degradation and slow leak that never shows up as drips as the coolant pools in the "V" and evaporates with engine heat. Also the "O" rings for the heater core get flat spots and coolant slowly leaks around the heater core piping, but only when the heater is used. Check the passenger front foot well for wet carpet.

V6 has a timing belt, not a chain, so leaking water pump degrades the belt. leaking water pump is an engine killer, but this doesn't sound like your problem as a leaking water pump usually has a fairly high leak rate.

Changing oil at 3K miles is a waste of your hard earned money. Go with 5K or use the oil monitor and only change when the "change oil" light comes on.

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Old 02-17-2011, 11:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Thanks, all. You guys are GREAT. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like, WHILE they're replacing the t-stat, they can also look for the coolant leak in the "hose clamp, water pump, or the two O-rings that are used on the extension pipe from the t-stat housing"?

What extended oil change interval would be normal, with synthetic and NOT retaining oil for every other change, fdryer? And what is the OLM and how is it installed? Don't I have to pay a little extra, too, like $100 or so, to do a complete flush-out of the old oil when switching to synthetic? My current oil change guy pooh-poohed the synthetic switch, saying it wouldn't buy me any advantage, which immediately made me suspicious b/c someone else had recommended it as I'd only have to change oil every 6k and more importantly it would help prolong the quality & life of my engine.

And what's an MAF, s3nfo? I would also expect the water pump isn't leaking since it was just replaced a year ago.

Nothing else to make the car last 250k or 300k even?

I had a Saturn SL2 manual to start, it ran awesomely (better than this one even, less problems except it blew O rings a week after warranty expired, and luckily I got Saturn to pay for it regardless). I had it 10 years and almost 180k before I bought the wagon and traded it in. It probably would have run well past 200k. Loved that little car.

Thanks so much again, guys. You don't know how much it's appreciated.

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Old 02-17-2011, 01:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

1-Yes, they can look for tell tale stains to indicate coolant leaking from almost anywhere. If they're good at their work.

2-The "Oil Life Monitor or OLM is an indicator light; an oil can over the car or engine icon to tell you that the on board computer has determined the car needs an oil filter and oil change. This is all computerized and customized to each individual driver and how the car is driven. Its part of the engine computer program and free as GM decided long ago to design a free monitoring system to determine when to replace engine oil. All that's needed from any driver to reset the OLM light by finding the reset button in the fuse box, turning ON the ignition, and pressing the OLM reset button for 5-10 seconds to turn the OLM light OFF. This resets the light and begins a new round of calculations for the engine computer to determine the next oil change. This is in the owner's manual if you have one.

3-Oil does not have to be flushed or cleaned out for any reason to switch from regular oil to synthetic or vice versa. Simply draining oil and changing the oil filter before refilling with new oil (regular or synthetic) is all that's needed. The engine doesn't care which oil it has but using synthetic oil will allow better all around engine protection plus either regular oil change intervals or extended oil change intervals. Regular oil will still work if you choose to use the OLM in determining when to change oil as this was specifically designed for the majority of drivers using regular oil and using the OLM to remind them when to replace the oil and filter.

Regular oil changes are considered at approximately 5k-7k miles. All GM cars with OLM systems will alert a driver at these estimated mileages based on each person's driving style. Any oil change between 3k and 7k miles is considered normal while deliberately accruing twice this amount in mileage before changing oil would be considered an extended use of oil. Considering extending oil change intervals is strictly up to each individual to determine as this is outside recommended guide lines.

4-The Mass Air Flow or MAF sensor is between the throttle body on the engine and air filter. It measures air volume for the engine computer so the correct fuel amount is fed into the engine.

...
*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 06-15-2011, 09:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Hi again. Looks like the mechanic who replaced my t-stat in Feb. may have caused some new problems and left some old ones unfixed.

STILL have the coolant leaking slowly just as before, and it also seems when that goes low enough to set the coolant light, the tranny thump/lurch and wrench light start up again too, same as before.

I have to wonder if the guy even bothered to check for all the places you folks said to look for coolant leaks, or if he's just not that good at his work.

The BIGGEST problem, though, I had 2 weeks ago, same/similar as in these threads (well, it won't let me post the URLS to the 2 other threads, I can PM someone if you want them).

It looks like it could be because of dismantling/reinstalling MAF sensor and throttle body when t-stat replaced in February:

On the highway in middle lane and needed to get over to exit. The only break in traffic was ahead of me, so I hit the gas, full-throttle. The car suddenly lost acceleration, no gas at all. Still had steering and brakes. The "Reduced Power" & SES lights came on. I luckily coasted to the shoulder without being smacked into by anyone near me, shut it off, waited awhile, then started again. The gas again worked, SES light was on but not Reduced Power. Drove the rest of the way to and from Baltimore, Md., just fine, had no problems since. I don't think it's the MAF sensor itself because the engine runs fine now and because MAF sensor failure causes drastic transmission problems.

Codes thrown by SES are:

P0606 "Engine Control Module/Powertrain Control Module Processor" can come up if the car was in the reduced power mode.

P0102 "Mass or Vol.Air Flow A Circuit Low Input" is an airflow sensor condition. Probable causes include 1. vacuum hose off, cracked or passage blocked - Engine mechanical timing condition. 2. Throttle body intake tube loose, cracked or off. 3. Baro (barometer)/MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor dirty or defective. 4. VAF (Vane Air Flow) MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor dirty or defective.

Advice I've read on fixes from these forums:

a) Clean the MAF sensor carefully. (One guy pulled it off, and found one of the hoses wasn't on right. "It was folded under where you can't see from the top. I have to assume the guy who put my car back together a month ago when the thermostat was replaced did it wrong and I had an air leak. Can't have been a big one because only a little of the hose didn't make it around the fitting, but there were traces of dirt around that spot so I know some air was getting in.") ("Tranny problem may be MAF related. Take the MAF out, spray it (carefully) with MAF or electronics cleaner and re-install. If the problem goes away and returns 10-30K miles later, replace the MAF.")

b) air filter & tubes including the one that goes to the throttle body.

also: pull the air filter cover and MAF sensor and make sure the throttle body and throttle plate are clean. wipe/clean everything out in the throttle body with carb cleaner. Check flex tube from MAF and clean before putting it all back together. also spray some starter fluid around the vacuum hoses to see if any leaks.

c) check electrical connector to the MAF sensor for corrosion.

The other thing he did wrong: when he changed oil/filter, the oil pan bolt he used was too large, it stripped the threads in the oil pan. I guess he lost the one that was in there on the ground when he took it out? The place who found the problem gave me the thing showing the stripped metal in its grooves, put in a temporary plug to hold the oil in, and said if the original mechanic can't rethread it, I need a new oil pan.

And last but not least, the mechanic isn't returning any of my many phone calls for 2 weeks. I expect him to stand by his work and remedy these problems because he either caused them or didn't fix them the first time he supposedly did. If I need to report his shop, where in Connecticut do I do that? I'd rather they do the fixes right at no extra charge to me, but if I can't get this guy to do the right thing I definitely will report him. This is so B.S., especially as he came recommended to me by someone he's friends and neighbors with and has done a lot of car work for over many years, and who knows and is respected by EVERYONE in our town (hence he WON'T refer this mechanic to anyone and will steer them clear of him in the future). You'd think the mechanic wouldn't want to ruin THAT relationship in the process of screwing me, but he will do just that if he refuses to do the repairs.

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Old 06-15-2011, 10:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Just heard from the mechanic, only after I told his staff he wasn't going to get rid of me by ignoring me. He talked of the coolant leak, didn't even bring up the loss of power problem and then claimed they didn't replace the oil pan bolt or he would have charged me for it, that it's the old bolt and he didn't cause the problem. I asked if his "Saturn expert" could have lost the original one and replaced it with another one without charging or letting on because he lost it. He said "no, it's the old one. It isn't a new bolt." Guess I have no way of knowing what really is or isn't "old". It's his word against the other place's word; I've got the most recent oil change place saying one thing, and the prior oil changer--this main mechanic--saying the opposite. Just seems like finger pointing B.S. to me.

When I reminded him he was still ignoring the most serious problem, the reduced power/MAF sensor/dirt/air leak, etc., he snarkily said, "So you're saying that every problem you're having now is 100% only a direct result of the work we did?" I replied, "You didn't fix the coolant or tranny problem I ASKED and EXPECTED you to fix in Feb. when you also did the t-stat, and the MAF sensor was problem-free before you had to remove and reinstall it to replace the t-stat. So, YES."

I'm bringing it in next Tues. Any thoughts from you folks are very welcome, as always.

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Old 06-21-2011, 11:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: NOW NEW PROBLEMS caused by this mechanic- 03 Saturn wagon LW300

The mechanic took my car today, to supposedly fix all the above problems. He drove my car into his shop (in another town) and drove it back to his neighbor's house at day's end (where I stay when we do this), and it's not only still got the SES light on, but two NEW problems exist: 1) starting up the car, in park, it idles "brokenly", roughly shaking and vibrating the entire car, and when I opened the door, to look at the engine, the interior lights flicker constantly in time to the sound and vibration, and without even touching the gas pedal, the idle surges as though I'm pressing on the pedal and then dies down and continues loudly throbbing and surging and sounds like it's dying out each time it ebbs, and 2) the air conditioner is completely broken (turns on, fan works, nothing but heat coming out).

The AC and the idle/performance/smoothness of the running of the engine had been 100% fine when I dropped it off for him to take this morning.

The only new problem it had developed yesterday was smoke coming from the front of the engine, near the radiator. I'd guessed that was from either the coolant leak or possibly an oil leak because of the wrong-sized bolt stripping the threads of the oil pan that this mechanic denied was his doing.

I am livid. He left no record or papers on what his supposed "Saturn guy" did, not even the checklist I'd left him of all that you folks here have told me to ask him to check/clean/reattach. I don't get out of work till evenings, and he didn't call me to tell me anything so I have to wait to talk to him tomorrow morning.

I don't know how anyone can return a car, not fixed is bad enough, but in worse shape than he got it that same day?

Help, folks?

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Sorry to read about additional troubles you're having as this mechanic seems to be in over his head. Without any forthcoming news on what he's doing to keep you informed he's hiding things done/not done while stalling for answers.

It's a tough situation to determine where fault lies as well as figure out how badly things are without getting some basic information; error codes fall into one of two messages - one is the SES while the other is the wrench indicator. Most readers are capable of decoding SES or emissions related codes that must pass federal/state regulations while the wrench codes are more difficult to decode unless better readers are available. Autozone provides free readings of SES codes and cannot read wrench codes. There are readers to buy from ebay to reduce costs that can read both codes for around $120+ or pay GM diagnostic fees to read any code from their Tech II expensive reader/scanner/programmer.

Perhaps insisting on the error codes (typically Pxxxx for generic SES errors, P1xxx for GM/Saturn wrench codes, Bxxxx for body control module codes [very specific], Uxxxx for communications codes) may help so they can be posted here. We have almost all the error codes posted in the How-to library on page 5 or 6 under OBD II Powertrain Codes. Technical explanations can be found by Googling or from members (like me) having access to the service manuals for direct information. Having these codes posted and/or searching online will give you/us a better idea of what's ailing the car.

Its just a guess on my part but it seems as though most or all of these problems aren't transmission issues as the transmission can only work from cues the engine gives since the engine provides all the power to allow the transmission to do its part. Electronic fuel injection can be difficult to troubleshoot while separating EFI issues from transmission issues.

...
*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 06-22-2011, 09:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Troubleshooting cars from 2000 miles away is never easy, but here's my opinion. Sounds like your mechanic is causing cascading problems, first recommendation is just forget what you've got invested with this guy, consider it sunk cost and find a new mechanic.

I don't think you had a t-stat problem to start with, sounds like the slow leak is either the oil cooler leak or possibly the plastic catch bottle is leaking, not common, but it has happened. What's the temp gauge doing? It's possible the mechanic installed the new t-stat wrong, or used the wrong t-stat and engine temp is not running where it should be. This can cause accelleration problems as the engine never get's up to what the ECM considers running temp, so adjusts the fuel mixture to try to get the engine temp where it wants it.

Need to look at the whole air intake system, I assume when you're talking about the "tube" and air leak at the MAF you mean the o ring that seals the MAF sensor against the intake tube. If the mechanic couldn't even get that right, who knows what else is screwed up, and you may have who knows how many air leaks. What's the metal part of the intake tube and the throttle butterfly look like?

Rough idle/poor acceleration. From what you've explained so far, don't think you have a fuel problem, that leaves spark or air, and you've had problems with both of those. What I'd do is with the engine running, I'd disconnect the sensors one at a time to see what changed, disconnecting cam sensors and crank sensor should cause the engine to die immediately, disconnecting the MAF should cause a change in idle. Don't think you have an ECM problem, they usually work or don't, could be a bad cam or crank sensor though.

Keep us posted.

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Old 06-22-2011, 10:20 AM   #11
Northeaster22
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Hi, guys, and thanks so much for responding.

The only code thrown right now is, as before, P0102 "Mass or Vol.Air Flow A Circuit Low Input". That's it.

Also, popped the hood. In park, idling, the engine is rocking forward and back almost a whole inch on its moorings. Like they didn't screw it back in tight or something. Shaking the entire car, front to back, in turn, even me in the front seat when I'm sitting there.

The wrench code/tranny clunk I wasn't able to replicate today in some basic driving around, but I don't know if that's fixed since I didn't yet do a highway acceleration which is sometimes when it occurred before.

I replaced the t-stat in March as it seemed the most urgent recommendation I received here on this forum in Feb. ("REPLACE the t-stat, stat!") I'd be dismayed to think I dropped $600+ on that if it wasn't necessary.

Temp gauge gets up above the 1/4 mark (like it DIDN'T do before replacing the t-stat), and has gotten up almost as high as half on hot days like last 2 days. The fan responds and does well, so no overheating.

As for the "I assume when you're talking about the "tube" and air leak at the MAF you mean the o ring that seals the MAF sensor against the intake tube," I was taking literal details from other posts here that referred to "Check flex tube from MAF". etc. I honestly don't know (and can't tell) one of these things from another. Sorry, but as I said in my original post, "when they see a woman coming in, the sky's the limit."

"What's the metal part of the intake tube and the throttle butterfly look like?" Are there any details, positioning info, photos, you can point me to so I can find this out?

I can be pretty handy if I had a step by step list (that is, I'm not afraid to do simple stuff). I'd need the list of sensors to disconnect one by one, what they looked like/where they were, but I expect that's probably above and beyond the call for you great guys to be able to help me with.

I'm a single mom and live paycheck to paycheck. Just don't have the money right now to bring it to a Saturn dealer and say "please fix all that the other guy broke or didn't fix". My car is my life, getting to work. I don't know what I'm going to do. And I have to pass emissions in August, which it won't do with this P0102 code and bucking engine.

As for ditching this mechanic, I think that's my only choice. I'll report him to the Better Business Bureau and the state of CT somehow. Any other ways to report him in this state? I'll try to take him to court, as soon as I can, too. I can't afford the costs to fix all that he's screwed up or didn't fix.

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Old 06-22-2011, 11:58 AM   #12
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

1-Your engine should not ever rock back and forth. That's what engine mounts are for, to stabilize and isolate engine vibrations. One major engine mount is on the passenger side and hidden under the air filter black plastic tubing. At least two more are under the engine somewhere and maybe a fourth on the driver's side? I wonder if this 'mechanic' (conveniently) forgot to bolt down these mounts?

2-The air tube is all black with corrugations to allow flexing while maintaining a sealed air flow from air filter to maf sensor to throttle body. The maf sensor would be a little to the right of the passenger wheel hump. The air filter box is the large square looking thing set behind the passenger head light and wheel hump, feeding air to the maf sensor. The maf sensor sits between the two large diameter stainless 'worm' clamps that ensure air flows through the maf sensor before entering the throttle body. A black plastic tube connects the maf sensor to the throttle body that's on the passenger side of the engine, on top. Directly behind the throttle body is the white intake manifold with the large lettering "SATURN 3.0l....." that splits off to the right side of the engine to feed into two intake runners with four separate white pipes.

There are pictures from members with this engine in various stages of disassembly if you search for timing belt replacement.

...
*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 06-22-2011, 12:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Just heard from the mechanic.

I asked him what work had been done on the car yesterday and what did they find.

He said "We went through all your checklist. There was no external coolant leak, no oil leak whatsoever. Everything was hooked up properly."

I asked "Then how can I be losing coolant at the rate of an inch or two every 2-3 months? And what about an internal leak then?" He said, "You could be pulling coolant through the head gasket."

I had to ask, "Then how does that get checked or fixed?" He said, "pull the top of the motor off." He clearly didn't do that and had no intention of doing it. He was supposed to find and fix this leak in March.

I asked if he drove it home. He said he did. I asked why he didn't notice the engine/whole car bucking and chugging and the SES light on. He said it wasn't doing any of that when he drove it home. I found that impossible to believe. There is no way to not notice it.

I asked why does his Saturn guy think the P0102 code is still throwing. He said, "We don't know why." And then shut up again.

I said, "And you didn't do anything to find out why or fix it?" He remained silent.

About the AC, he claims the smoking problem that just appeared is because of a dye that I had put into the AC system that is now leaking. I said I never had anyone fix the AC system or put a dye in it. He insisted the smoking problem was clearly due to an AC leak and that he didn't cause it, even though I reminded him that the AC was working perfectly on the same day the smoking problem started, the day before he got it.

He insists he and his shop are blameless for everything and even went on to say that "we spent a couple of hours going over it to try to make you happy but that isn't enough for you, you are being unreasonable and there's no satisfying you." He wouldn't even consider the fact that his Saturn guy is inept and caused more problems on this car than he can fix.

So that's that. I've obtained the DMV complaint forms from my state, and will be documenting and submitting everything. Everyone will know my documented reviews about this shop across the Internet as well. So hopefully no one else will get burned like I just did.

I think I'll also take it to the Saturn dealer, find a way somehow to pay for a complete diagnostic and get written estimates on all the remedies. THOSE I'll submit with the DMV complaint form.

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Old 06-27-2011, 11:00 AM   #14
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

New mechanic popped hood today, immediately saw the cracked vacuum air hose. The connector was split about an inch long, hissing loudly. It was causing misfire codes repeatedly too. Replaced the part, the engine stopped rocking, misfires stopped. This is exactly what I'd asked the prior mechanic to look for and FIX.

Still have immediate SES and P0102 MAF code, intermittent tranny clunk on hard acceleration, and broken AC.

Reading more around here, I found this TSB (saturnfans.com/forums/showpost.php?p=826816&postcount=5 ) on possible over-oiled replacement air filter fouling the MAF and causing the more serious other problems which still remain:

Quote:
The use of an excessively/over-oiled aftermarket, reusable air filter may result in:
• Service Engine Soon (SES) Light On

• Transmission shift concerns, slipping and damaged clutch(es) or band(s)

• Engine driveability concerns, poor acceleration from a stop, limited engine RPM range
The problem mechanic who did the t-stat in March also replaced the air filter, so I'll have the new guys (the good ones) check if that's over-oiled and maybe the MAF still might need cleaning only (I suspect the lousy mechanic I just ditched didn't bother to even open the hood if he couldn't see or hear the vacuum leak).

Then, if the MAF code still lights, I'll have them replace it and I expect the connector. Anything I'm forgetting? I'll call Saturn to be sure I get all the parts needed. Looks like the 2 might cost me about $155 (Cardone or ACDELCO new) + $16 for the electrical connector, from rockauto.com, plus shipping.

Thanks again, for all you folks. This forum is a sanity-saver.

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Old 08-26-2011, 11:08 AM   #15
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Any update on your vehicle? I had to read your story from start to finish kind of like getting sucked into a good book or something. Now its like there is a commercial and I'm waiting for the ending.

I'm having a few similar type problems and came across your thread. I have a 2000 LW2 wagon, 3.0L V6. I am not sure how many parts (if any) are interchangable between our vehicles, but for what it's worth, I have a few spares of many of these things.

I have a spare MAF sensor (still connected to the black air filter cover plastic square thingy)

I have two spare plenum's (if that's what they are called). I'll get some pictures when I get home if your still need anything. And these have the Throttle Body as well as the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valves on them.

I have been meaning to replace my thermostat but now I realize that this is going to be a bigger project than I originally thought! I'm not sure how much these MAF sensors usually cost, I picked my spare up from a junk yard for 5 bucks or something.

I also have an entire used engine since I swapped mine out, so I have sensors and spare hoses as well. I ended up having a leak coming from one of the black coolant hoses that send coolant into the car. I think it's called the heater core hose. On my car these hoses have special quick connect couplers and have a rubber oring that makes the seal instead of the normal hose and clamp method. But someone would probably have noticed if it was leaking from there. But mine was leaking slowly and dripped a little onto my exhaust pipe so if it was slow enough of a leak, would have cooked off before hitting ground. The oring cost less than a buck and some sweat.

Anyway, I'm curious if you ever got your car back to normal and what the mechanics found out.

Thanks,
Kevin

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Old 01-10-2013, 08:19 PM   #16
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Kevin, I hope you got your answer long ago, but figured I'd answer your q's, in case it helps you or anyone else, even though it's long ago.

I had the new mechanic replace the MAF sensor (which I bought from the dealer in July 2011 for $294 incl. tax), and the mechanic charged me $20 to install it. After that, no codes, no SES light, the dashboard was dark, a beautiful sight (as in warning-free)!

I still had the leaking, decreasing coolant, though they couldn't find any obvious spot to fix. Suggested that before I do a gasket job, to put it some Bars Leak for Head Gasket (not sure if that's the right name), into the coolant reservoir, to see if that helped stop up the leak. I asked him, what if that doesn't work, can I do another bottle of that stuff? He said only 1 more bottle, no more, and if that didn't do it, I'd need a gasket job.

I'm happy to report that only 2 bottles of the stuff seemed to stop the leak and it's been fine since.

I'm having another problem now and that's why I'm back here, though it probably should be posted under another subject. Maybe I'll post it here anyway, since the history of the car is here.

A recap: Saturn LW300 automatic tran 3.0L V6 2003, now with 204k miles. I just had the mechanic check out the fan& other reachable belts, nothing wrong. Timing and "drive" belts (is that the same as serpentine?) and water pump done 3/2010 at 124k miles; new mechanic said do those again when at 218k, but won't hit that for another 15 months. New t-stat, intake gasket, brake system bleed, all done 3/11. New MAF sensor done 7/11. New battery 6/09 (told it should last 75 months, or just over 6 years). New radiator, AC condenser and cooling system flush done 8/08.

THE NEW PROBLEM: Pulling into a parking lot, twice now in the past 2 weeks, only the "REDUCED POWER LIGHT" flashed on and the power went dead, no gas pedal function, tough steering, but only for about 3 seconds, then it all went away and the car was fine. No codes thrown. I took foot off gas and car recovered within seconds. Both times, I was in a rolling turn in mid-steer at a normal but somewhat faster rate of speed than usual (usual turns are after a green light from a dead stop).

The other problem preceded that one: in freezing temps or below, the loud, very high-pitched whine/screech on start up is worse this winter. People stare at me as I drive away upon startup, it's so loud. It sounds like a youtube link someone posted elsewhere on a thread called "Weird noise while car warms up in the cold" (I can't post the link apparently), but I think I may have two sounds, because mine can also be much more high-pitched it's like nails on a blackboard only painfully loud. It happens in park, idling and driving, is worse until really warmed up and still comes and goes, doesn't happen every time I press the gas or every time I let up on it. Even if I warm it up 7+ minutes till the gauge is at the 1/8th mark, it persists. While warming up, I can smell a slight burning smell in the cabin, I guess coming through the vents. (The AC's still broken, can't afford to fix it, don't know if it's a leak or just a bad AC pulley)

It screeches when I accelerate, AND when I let UP on the gas, and more so the colder the car is. I thought maybe the fuel pump? I've long had a tendency to drive till the empty light comes on, probably straining the fuel pump. Even after it's pretty warmed up, whine/whistle/screech continues at most stops, when I let up on the gas to stop and when I start up again. It even screeches sometimes just coasting, no gas pedal, and while it's not constant, it's intermittent for at least 20-25 minutes of driving at any speed. Doesn't get higher-pitched at faster speeds. COLD weather only.

The sound is almost like a dog-whistle it's so high-pitched, and when it happens, it's continuous, like a pulley or a belt circling, and sometimes stops abruptly but most times fades gradually.

I've wondered if it's the fuel pump b/c of the reduced power mode, but other threads here say the noise can be fixed these ways: replace old tired power steering fluid with Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF, replace power steering pump, serp belt, tensioner, roller pulley, or it's just a valve in the transmission sticking a bit until it warms up some. (I still have the intermittent transmission clunk when accelerating even slightly too fast from a stop and only in cold weather, which will reset itself and go away (without any codes thrown) if I turn it off and wait 20 seconds to restart.)

So I'll try the remove PS fluid with turkey baster method first as it's cheapest, but that wouldn't have caused the car to go into reduced power mode, right? I don't think so. That's the bigger problem.

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Old 01-11-2013, 06:12 AM   #17
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

With your well maintained car and a better than average mechanic, have him go over the belt tensioner. It may have decided to give up the ghost; when tensioners lose their ability to hold serpentine belts tight the loose belt squeals against the crank shaft drive pulley - all the driven pulleys restrain the belt from turning and the crankshaft pulley is the only driver. The tug of war is won by the loose belt on the drive pulley. If you see the belt flopping in idle or can press down on the belt easily with just your fingers then the belt tensioner is worn out.

The other engine on/off issue may be the crank position sensor announcing its impending failure.

...
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*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 01-11-2013, 12:09 PM   #18
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Thanks, fdryer, and hello again! You wrote elsewhere a couple times, "try the fuel filter" and I can't recall if that's ever been replaced, so I should try doing that first, then the CPS, maybe? You said the fuel pump is the costliest of the three. Any rough est. on cost of CPS? And I'll have him look at the tensioner too. Thanks again! Without your help last time too, I'd have been sunk.

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Old 01-11-2013, 02:19 PM   #19
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

As always, I try to suggest the easiest and cheapest repair as I don't want someone giving me expen$ive advice that wastes my time and empties my wallet. Cheap and easy goes a long way if possible.

If the fuel filter was never replaced and the car is beyond 100k miles, replace it and make a record of it. A crank position sensor isn't cheap for our L300's. Mine cost me $90 from Autozone when its about $60 anywhere else. I didn't replace it until I was sure and when mine failed I had no choice but to buy immediately. Even $60 is expensive...........

I knew mine was the cps from reading members troubles and verifying it with a multimeter the day it failed on the road. A cps can fail in one of two ways; outright failure or intermittently. An outright failure seems to occur less than the intermittent failures like many of us here on the forums experience - L-series, S-series, and Vues. The intermittent failure has a distinctive symptom; the engine dies with the tach dropping to zero, coasting off to the side of the road and calling/waiting for help, attempts at restarting only results in the starter cranking the engine but the engine never firing up then the engine coming to life after 20 minutes (or more) of cooling down. The car is drivable until engine heat kills the cps to repeat the cycle again.

Fuel pumps are made to last the life of most cars that can go beyond 200k miles. Tesing for a worn, intermittent pump will require voltage and/or pressure monitoring as well as checking wiring, power to and grounding before concluding a failed pump. I don't think your pump is anything to worry about. yet.

...
*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 01-11-2013, 11:45 PM   #20
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Default Re: Problems with 2003 Saturn wagon LW300 auto transmission

Just found a receipt showing fuel filter replaced in March '07 at 67k miles (and paid $100 environmental waste fee?), but I think it's prob. worth doing again.

I consider even $90 cheap, when compared to $250 or $500! There are a couple independent auto parts shops around I can call or stop in to price-shop. I might just replace it proactively. I'd rather completely avoid the breakdown as I've just started a new job. It's critical not to risk missing any work at all.

Something like this happened once before but I don't recall the cause or fix and can't find receipt. It just died, exactly as you just described, on a rainy winter morning driving my son to high school, as I made a turn. As though I ran out of gas, but I didn't. I wish I'd kept better records then, but I was ill with Lyme disease at the time, and not able to focus on much. That was between 2004 and 2008.

In the meantime, it's great to know that if it stops like that, I could wait till it cools down and then drive a little ways again. My commute is only 25 minutes! Thanks again.

...
210,000 miles (8/20/13) ... do I hear 300,000...?

2003 V6 3.0L LW300 Automatic (my big red wagon)
1993 4cyl 1.9L SL2 stick (my little green tin sardine can, traded in for above at 167k)

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