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Old 05-26-2011, 01:44 PM   #1
Satcom
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Default 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

Hello, I'm having an issue with my saturn and I'd love some advice or pointers to help resolve it.

About a year ago, I saw my 'Service Engine Soon' light come on. I got very worried and stopped driving it for a while because I didn't want to break anything. I continued to drive it after about 3 months, no light was visible in regards to the engine. For the last 7 months, it's been coming on and off frequently. I only use it for city travel because it has great gas mileage being a 4 cylinder standard. I took the car to AutoZone, where a man plugged in the reader and it came back at cylinder 1 misfire. I've replace all four spark plugs with ones the same brand and type as the original (I took one in and bought four identical ones), the light continued, so yesterday I replace all 4 spark plug wires. When I began to drive it, there wasn't a light, but less than a mile later, it appeared again. I wouldn't post here unless I absolutely had to, because I don't want to be a bother to anyone. I've googled the subject a lot, and it seems like there's information that would make me think it was the coils or specifically the coil set for cylinder 1. Some of the characteristics of my car are : it runs smooth, drives well, doesn't make unusual sounds although the exhaust sometimes will make a slightly dull putt sound like the cylinder isn't hitting correctly, and lastly, it seems to vibrate a little more than it used to when idle.

I see lots of tutorials online on how to test coils, removing the plug wires from the coil and turning the car on for a few seconds to see if they both arc, but that wasn't for a Saturn so I'm not going to do it unless I hear that it's not only safe but also a good idea. How hard is it to remove the coil pack?

Thank you in advance for any help, I'll check the thread frequently.

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Old 05-26-2011, 01:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

Search this site for intake manifold gasket leak - very common on late model SOHC cars. It is easy to check. With the engine running at idle, spray a little brake cleaner at the junction between the intake manifold and the cylinder head, especially at the # 1 runner (the one at the extreme passenger side of the engine). If the idle speed changes when you do this, the intake manifold gasket is likely leaking. A modestly challenging repair for the DIY'er.

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Old 05-26-2011, 01:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

I'm assuming break cleaner is an accelerant and will cause the engine to speed up slightly? Does it need to be specifically break cleaner? And lastly, how much should I spray?

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Old 05-26-2011, 02:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

Also, thank you for your directions. I looked in the forum and found a good link and picture of where to spray.

I wanted to add this with an edit but I didn't see an edit function - what are the long term problems of this issue? Will the engine develop more problems or will it just forever tell me service engine soon? I'm going to fix it, but I was just wondering what the long term problems would be from not fixing it. I read they would charge me $500 to replace it, approximately. You say it's a moderate job for a DIY? I'm certainly not a mechanic but I am however able to take things apart and put them back together identically without issue. This would be my first big repair if this problem is the one I'm having.

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Old 05-26-2011, 02:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

Brake cleaner, carb cleaner or similar solvent is fine. On my car, the idle jumped up in RPM when I sprayed. It just takes a quick shot and listen to make the diagnosis - you don't need to soak the back of the engine.

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Old 05-26-2011, 02:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

Quote:
Originally Posted by Satcom View Post
I see lots of tutorials online on how to test coils, removing the plug wires from the coil and turning the car on for a few seconds to see if they both arc, but that wasn't for a Saturn so I'm not going to do it unless I hear that it's not only safe but also a good idea. How hard is it to remove the coil pack?
.
I've read enough threads on Saturnfans to know that this method of testing the coils works on Saturn's just as you've described. I've also come to understand that each coil works 2 cylinders so you would see a misfire on 2 cylinders if this was your problem.

I think BV22 is pointing you in the right direction but I thought that I would answer the coil test question for future reference.

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Old 05-26-2011, 02:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

I think you can only edit for about 15 minutes after posting.

If the IM gasket is indeed the problem, it is not a rush fix. The misfiring is only bad at idle. There is probably some level of detriment to the life of the catalytic converter and the increased engine vibration wears on the mounts, but nothing catastrophic.

There is an excellent how-to in the library on this site for SOHC intake manifold replacement. Read it and determine your comfort level.

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:03 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

The one caveat about continually driving with the SES light on is that it effectively "masks" any other event that might turn it on. It's analagous to driving around with your foot resting on the brake pedal; your brake lights are on all the time, so people behind you don't know when you're really stopping. So if you have to delay the repair, you should scan it frequently for anything else, totally unrelated, that might come up.

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

Alright. Thank you for the advice gentlemen. I looked at the library at the manifold swap, the pictures were a little strange from the angles but I think I could manage to do it. Now here is the tough part.. I'm no ham hands, I'm used to working on motors of smaller kinds. If any of you have ever done this swap, is there anything that could go catastrophically wrong in the process? By removing belts and other parts to remove the bolts to the manifold, will I affect the timing of the engine somehow? I plan to do this soon, so I'm getting tools ready for it, but the best tool of all is a plan, or knowing what to expect.

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

I have a DOHC car, and just did the intake manifold myself, never having done it before.

I realize you have a SOHC, but I will pass along one little thing from my experience that might help you.

When you are disconnecting little plastic vacuum line connections and the like around your throttle body, etc, be very gentle. That stuff is old and brittle these days, and it's super easy to snap off a tiny fitting somewhere even if you're careful. I was being real careful and still snapped off a little plastic line going into a fitting on the back of my throttle body. It isn't like you can run to the dealer these days and pick up small proprietary parts, either. Thankfully, I had a Pick and Pull local to me that happened to have a 3rd gen DOHC car in the yard, and I got the fitting and line I needed for a buck. You're working with little clearance often times while doing the intake manifold, and it's fairly easy to break small plastic parts.

You can do this job. They key is to allow yourself plenty of time, and if you think you can't remember where fasteners go, use some little ziploc bags and write the where the contents go on the bag with a sharpie or china marker. Alternately, use an old egg carton to hold little parts you take off, nuts, etc. Just be methodical, don't get in a hurry, and think before you act. It would be helpful to spray bolts down with PB Blaster the night before, and let the car sit overnight. This should ease your removal of rusty old fasteners significantly the next day.

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Old 05-26-2011, 04:38 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

You will not be messing with valve timing or anything of the sort. I did this job in about 3 hours in my driveway last year. It helps to get the front of the car up fairly high - I jacked mine up and slid ramps under the front wheels - because the bottom row of manifold bolts are accessed from under the car. The most important things are:
- Use a new, FelPro gasket
- Make sure you get all the old gasket material off

But first, do the spray test and make sure this is the required repair.

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Old 05-26-2011, 05:51 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL-1 Cylinder 1 Misfire

All third gen SOHV engines have bad intake manifold gasket, they were born that way. I have three of those engines and all had bad gaskets if it has not been replaced do it. If you want more room to work take the hood off this is very simple just mark it with a marker or scraper.

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