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Old 03-17-2011, 06:07 AM   #1
October Red
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Default Cylinder #1 Misfire

Bought a 2002 SC1, 5 speed coupe recently with 80,000 miles. It's a one owner car. Bought it knowing the SES light was on and that there was a misfire at idle. I assumed I had enough technical skill to solve the misfire issue, and it helped me get the price down. But I have been stymied so far and need help.

Symptoms:

At idle, #1 cylinder misfires all the time. Removing the plug wire to #1 causes no change in the way the engine idles.

I have:

New plug wires
Swapped the original coils and igniter with those from another Saturn I have that I know are good. No change.
New Bosch platinum plugs.
Changed the fuel filter just in case (it was original in any event)
Run several cans of injector cleaner through it.
Run carburetor cleaner through the intake manifold.

Once off idle, the engine runs fine. Pulls strongly (well, as strongly as a single cam engine can) from below 1000 rpm with no hiccups. The misfire does not seem to be sensitive to temperature or moisture.

Actually, the car runs just fine at everything EXCEPT idle. I am averaging 32 mpg in mostly urban driving. Haven't done any highway trips with it yet.

Some friends told me it sounds like an MAF issue but I don't believe the Saturn uses a MAF. I don't suspect an O2 sensor issue, because I believe the engine would not run as well as it does off idle if that were the case.

My personal suspicion is that the injector for #1 cylinder is bad, but it could be that it is not getting a signal from the PCM at idle. The OBD-II scanner reads "misfire cylinder #1". Well, duh. I already knew that! : >

But before I invest the money and time into new injectors (I wouldn't go to all that trouble and just replace one), is there something else I can do to diagnose the problem? I suppose I could use a volt meter to test for a voltage at the #1 injector at idle, but I don't know what voltage to look for. No voltage would definitely suggest a problem with the PCM though, I suppose.

I don't mind doing the work. But I would like to be a little more certain that my efforts are going to pay off before I dive under the hood, WD-40 and socket set in hand.

Any thoughts, suggestions or general musings would be appreciated.

PS. I suspect the car was traded by the original owner because this problem could not be diagnosed or the proposed cure was too expensive for his tastes. The car came to me with a brand new set of plug wires, so somebody did the cheapest thing they could think of to try and solve the misfire. Didn't work for them and it didn't work for me either. : <

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Old 03-17-2011, 06:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Easy way to diagnose injector issues; just swap injectors from another cylinder........

With the ignition ON, engine OFF, all injectors are HOT; 12v sits on both sides of the injectors - ground is switched by the engine computer to fire each one when each needed.

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Old 03-17-2011, 07:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Also, check your intake manifold gasket. This year and model are famous for a vacuum leak at the #1 intake runner. My 02 SC1 had the same code and the misfire was so bad I could hear the popping in the exhaust at idle. Otherwise, the car ran fine. Spray some carb cleaner at the area where the # 1 intake runner meets the head. If the idle changes, you likely have a gasket leak. There is an excellent how-to on this site for changing the gasket. Not a difficult repair.

OldNuc will also insist that you get rid of those platinum plugs!

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Old 03-17-2011, 09:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Get your favorite long handled screwdriver and put the tip of it on the injector and put your ear to the screwdriver and make sure it is clicking. If it is not get a multi meter and check the resistance on it and the one next to it. If they are the same grab a spare injector or invest in a noid light set and plug it into the connector and see if the new one clicks/noid light flashes. If the new one doesn't click/light doesn't flash is it a wiring/ecm problem

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Old 03-18-2011, 08:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

WOW! Thanks to all for great suggestions! I very much appreciate the feedback. The suggestion from BV22 sounds very promising, as his experience is exactly the same as mine. Will try that this weekend and go from there. Will also keep you all updated as to my progress.

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Old 04-02-2011, 07:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Well, getting the spark plug wires in the correct order helped a lot!

I was getting a very hard popping through the exhaust, but that is gone. But I still have a sort of random kinda soft burble through the tail pipe. My local mechanic is suggesting a gunked up/burned exhaust valve, I think it is the intake manifold gasket, as I have heard that suggestion from MANY people.

The mechanic says there is a service bulletin on SOHC engines saying sludge is a major factor. I think he is already spending the money he expects to make removing, servicing and re-installing the cylinder head. The misfire is so soft now that an ordinary clod of an owner probably wouldn't even notice it. I could just live with it, but that would inhibit my plan to add a Cherry Bomb Turbo muffler to the car.

I did get a tip from a local Saturn fan that doing the intake manifold gasket procedure is aided by removing the power steering pump and moving it out of the way and by removing the torque access engine mount (after supporting the engine from below, of course) so the engine can be shoved/rotated forward a bit to pick up some more clearance.

My mechanic says a cylinder leak down test will determine if there is a valve issue. Does that sound right? Or should I save the money for diagnostics and just change the manifold gasket and see what happens?

PS: this entire forum is a great resource for us dedicated shade tree mechanics out there. BTW, are there any ex-Saturn techs from the Rhode Island area on the forum????

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Old 04-02-2011, 07:34 PM   #7
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Thumbs Up Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

change your plugs.use NGK ONLY
GET THE CORRECT ONES FOR YOUR CAR.

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Old 04-02-2011, 08:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Thanks. You guys are really passionate about this spark plug thing, aren't cha?

Only a fool would go against such a tide of experience. I'll get the NGK's on Monday!

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Old 04-02-2011, 09:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

you also sprayed some brake cleaner around the #1 cyl area on the intake manifold, right?

also, the cyl #1 misfires in 3rd gen SOHC engines is due to the intake manifold gasket crumbling and/or wrinkling right around (or obviously long before)... NOW. NOT sludge. it crumbles/wrinkles, causing a leak in vaccuum, which typically you should've also set a P0507 as well.

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Old 04-02-2011, 09:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

I have sprayed the area around the #1 intake runner with brake cleaner. But tell me, what exactly is it I am looking/listening for when I do this? Should the misfire go away temporarily?

Anyhoo......have ordered a FelPro improved design gasket and 4 NGK plugs from my close personal friends at RockAuto. I kinda want to do this gasket thing, if only to prove to myself I can do it.

What's the worst that could happen? Other than having a car that won't start or run and has to be sold for 1/4 of FMV?

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Old 04-02-2011, 09:53 PM   #11
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

The idea is to not actually spray a high pressure blast of the cleaner on the intake. You drizzle a stream along the junction between the manifold and the head. When(if) you hit the point of the leak the idle RPM or sound will change momentarily. You can only get at the top part of the manifold easily though.

The misfire and leak at #1 is a known problem.

As you are about to do an intake job read this: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...ntake+manifold This will flatten the learning curve.

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Old 04-02-2011, 10:29 PM   #12
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Thanks for the link.

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Old 04-08-2011, 05:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Got my gasket delivered from RockAuto today. Following the advice in the how to thread, I managed to get all 9 nuts off without dropping any, got the old gasket off, checked that I got all of it, installed the new gasket, got the manifold back in place and all 9 nuts back on without dropping any.

Whew! That's extraordinarily good for me, who usually has 8 thumbs and 2 fingers, rather than the other way around. Also, I have no garage and work outside on a gravel driveway. Dropped stuff tends to disappear faster than a politician's promise, so I am pretty darn pleased with myself.

Haven't torqued the nuts yet. It's getting dark out. Will finish up the job soon and then see whether all of this effort has had the intended result.

Will it be or ?? Stay tuned.

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Old 04-08-2011, 06:23 PM   #14
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Quote:
Originally Posted by October Red View Post
..... I have no garage and work outside on a gravel driveway. Dropped stuff tends to disappear faster than a politician's promise, so I am pretty darn pleased with myself.....
TIP; find card board boxes to use as a floor liner under the engine to see where all the parts fall. Simply open all glued flaps till the box is just one flat piece of card board to lay down. You can hear and see where parts fall.

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Old 04-08-2011, 06:53 PM   #15
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Then when you reach for them on the cardboard the part will skitter off and hide in the rocks.

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Quote:
Then when you reach for them on the cardboard the part will skitter off and hide in the rocks.
How on earth did you know, sir? Can you see into my driveway from where you are? For that is precisely what happens. Every damn time!

Actually, I usually spread an old blanket out, not so much for catching stray bits but to cushion my poor old back against the sharp corners of the gravel. Still, I find that squirming in and out from under the car tends to dislodge the loose bits before I can recover them.

Why a fellow like me does not have a proper garage is one of life's great mysteries. My wife says I should be happy to live in such a scenic, peaceful place - stuck out on an island in the middle of a lake at the end of a dead end road, with abundant local flora and fauna everywhere you look. As you can tell, she is just not a car person.

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:35 PM   #17
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Go find a chunk of commercial carpet. It is thick and heavily backed. Nothing will roll off of it and it resists rocks. I have experience with gravel drives also. And I now have a garage.

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Old 04-08-2011, 11:28 PM   #18
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

so did you do the "screwdriver to the ear" test to listen to each injector?

To make a cheap noid light, like I did, you can use a resistor soldered to an LED, like this:



Then you will know if the injector wiring is working or not. You can crank the engine with your noid light in and it will flash for each injector pulse.

I just diagnosed a problem with my car, where one of the injectors was "stuck" at idle and sometimes during normal driving the injector would "snap" back to life intermittently. Very annoying!

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Old 04-10-2011, 10:45 AM   #19
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Just throwing this out there.. I just bought mine.. Whether it be at idle, or driving it would only fire a Cyl 1 misfire.. Check your whole Secondary injection system.. the hose for mine came off just right around cylinder one. and it radically changed the idle.

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Old 04-11-2011, 06:02 AM   #20
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Default Re: Cylinder #1 Misfire

Quote:
And I now have a garage.
I am INSANELY jealous!

My problem is I live right on the edge of a lake. State law forbids any new construction within 500 feet of water. My local building inspector is a stickler. Ergo, I have no garage and will NOT have a garage, as long as I am in this location.

I had a Cover_It garage a few years ago, but it collapsed in an ice storm some years ago and did almost $4000 worth of damage to the car inside it. So that's not a real solution.

Government regulation stifles the creative imperative of the normal male-type person.

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