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Old 10-20-2011, 11:09 PM   #1
ricnick06_80
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Default 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

I am a first time Saturn owner, having owned Dodge the rest of the time. My Neon croaked about a month ago, so I saw this Saturn with low miles for a good price and figured why not. I was also in a bind since I travel a lot for work and needed a car ASAP. While I like the feel, look & ride smoothness of the Saturn...this idle speed issue (which I have researched and tried a few things to no avail) is driving me bonkers. I need this car to be reliable, and with it now being to the point where it's at 3000RPM when I'm going 50km/hr and actually accelerating and shooting towards 4000RPM when I brake...and also going through a lot of gas...I'm almost afraid to drive it now. Taking it out in a gravel pit and shooting it was going to be my next step, but I need a car...and I found this site (thank God!) Someone...somewhere...must have the magic "cure all" for this high idle problem in the Saturn sl1 with the 1.9L engine...because I've seen a lot of complaints about it. Me and my mechanic are pulling our hair out over this. So far, my mechanic has done a diagnostic and found nothing wrong, he checked for the intake gasket failure at cylinder 1 (good and sealed), he cleaned the throttle body (worked properly for about 2 days after that, then suddenly when I was at a stoplight the RPM shot up to 3500 for no apparent reason and i couldn't bring it down even after shutting the car off and restarting). My mechanic just last week cleaned the throttle body AGAIN and put in a new IAC valve...and it worked properly for about 3 days. Now tonight on my way home, the car was popping in and out of overdrive AND the passing gear as I was going a consistent 60km/hr and it was at 2500RPM. When I brake, it is going over 3000RPM and accelerating for about 5 seconds before I can slow the car down. This is clearly...very dangerous...not only for me, but also for others on the road. Please...someone...help me & my mechanic out with this, we're at our wits end and both ready to either shoot this car or set it on fire lol. This car has already cost me some income since I don't feel safe driving it to work sites in other towns I go to frequently. I've NEVER had a problem like this with Dodge...wish I would've found this site before I bought the Saturn...but I was in a hurry for wheels. If I would've known about the high idle issue, I would've stayed away from this car! Thanks!

Eric...

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Old 10-21-2011, 05:00 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Here's a short list to check off;

1-Is the coolant sensor the original faulty round nosed plastic one? If so, replace it immediately with a flat nosed brass one. The faulty one keeps a high idle, not as high as 3k rpm but high enough to contribute to high idling.

2-In the temperature gauge stays at the 1/4 mark, replace the thermostat too, with a new 195F(85C or 87c) one. Same high idling. You'll have warmer heat when cold weather comes. (Canada?)

3-Check for any vacuum leak from cracked/worn/damaged rubber hoses like the brake vacuum boost hose or vacuum fittings. With the engine idling, push/pull/twist/squeeze hoses and fittings to find vacuum leaks. Another trick is spraying water or brake cleaner over suspect vacuum leaks; an immediate change in idling indicates a break.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg cracked ects.jpg (39.1 KB, 41 views)

...
*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 10-21-2011, 08:54 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Thanks! I'll print that info along with the picture of the ECTS out for my mechanic, since he has a shop where he can work inside where it's warm :-) I live up further north in Canada and don't have anywhere sheltered to check these things on the car. The weather here usually numbs the fingers starting around late September. If it was summer of course I'd check the things you listed. Since the weather has already turned colder, I've discovered this car does have good heat...although it's nowhere near to dropping down to the -40's yet. So it remains to be seen if it might have the good thermostat. I haven't noticed where the temp gauge sits at, I'll keep an eye on it today. The car just rolled over to 92,000km's, so I'd like to find a solution to this issue soon...since the car is still "young".

Eric...

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Old 10-21-2011, 09:18 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Quote:
he cleaned the throttle body (worked properly for about 2 days after that, then suddenly when I was at a stoplight the RPM shot up to 3500 for no apparent reason and i couldn't bring it down even after shutting the car off and restarting). My mechanic just last week cleaned the throttle body AGAIN and put in a new IAC valve...and it worked properly for about 3 days.
That's kinda peculiar.

When he cleaned the throttle body the first time, did he remove it from the car and clean it, or just pull the plastic off of it and spray into it?

I would check the video by richpin06a on throttle body cleaning. Your 3rd gen is a little harder to reach but the basic idea is the same. Give it a thorough cleaning, including the IAC passages as shown in the video, and see what happens. It's relatively easy even in finger numbing weather (mechanic's gloves are helpful )

While you have the carb cleaner out, try double-checking the intake manifold gasket by spraying all around it when it is having a high idle moment. Around the #1 and #2 is the usual spot and it seems your mechanic knows this, but it does not hurt to spray all around it.

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction?
Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p
102k @ purchase, now 162k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 10-21-2011, 10:13 AM   #5
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Happy Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

the guys know what they are talking about i live in canada also and damn near froze to death in my saturn because the thermostat was not the 195 and also the ects drove me nuts to literly had to hold it back at a stoplite these 2 things should resolve most if all issues with the idiling and gas burning good luck with it oh its not that hard to change yourself and dont shoot it ill take it i thought the same thing with mine put it out to pasture the only way to sleep at nite knowing your not gonna kill someone in it when it high idles keep on the forum and let us know how you make out there are master wizards that know everything about this car on here good luck i learned those 2 things are the first thing to change on this car they are both faulty not so much the thermostat but you freeze in this car if you dont change it i literly had frost on the inside of the windows and had to scape them while driving down the highway and lost feeling in my toes also

Last edited by racinginblood; 10-21-2011 at 10:25 AM..

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Old 10-21-2011, 12:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

I've owned two 2nd gen Dodge Neons, the first one with my job went 374,000 before the transaxle konked out so that's when I retired it. The second one i had up until a month ago blew the head gasket at 261,000 so I retired it too...one day before I had a job to get to 2 hours away, so I saw the Saturn locally for cheap (that should've been a warning bell with the low k's!) so picked it up. If I wouldn't have been so pressed for time I wouldn't have needed this forum since I would've just flown down to Vancouver and picked up a third Neon. Both my Neons did have brief idle issues, but this was the brake booster problem...fixed by a recall on both of them. My mechanic is convinced this Saturn is possessed haha. So am I. He checked again this morning for vacuum leaks...nothing. He says it looks like it has a newer thermostat (heater in this car works awesome...too awesome actually!), although I did notice the temp gauge doesn't go past a 1/4 of the way. So my mechanic is ordering me in one of the brass ECTS since the one I have in there now is the plastic one that I've heard horror stories about. It should be in early next week, I'll update after I've got it put in.

Another thing I forgot to mention is this car got pulled down to Arizona behind a motorhome every winter by the former owner (an elderly gentleman in his 80's). With the car being in neutral all those miles & barely getting driven while down in AZ or here during the summer...could that possibly cause the PCM to have a permanent "brain fart"?

Well...I've got it parked in the driveway now with the battery unhooked in high hopes of resetting the PCM. Coming home at 50-60 km/hr at 2500+ RPM is annoying, dangerous...and is using a lot of gas. If this indeed does reset the computer, I might just have to unhook the battery every time it does the high idle.

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Old 10-21-2011, 12:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

As you know, any car can be towed in neutral. Nothing's running and the EFI system is off so nothing can get fed back to the pcm. No brain fart.

The plastic coolant sensor is the problem. The giveaway is the temperature gauge hanging on the 1/4 mark. The t-stat manually controls coolant temps but the coolant sensor controls (indirectly) what the temperature gauge displays as well as tells the pcm engine temps. A failed coolant sensor does one of two things; fails cold or hot - yours is telling the pcm the engine's cold so the pcm continually runs a richer mixture and higher idle. The failed hot sensor is rare with the same complaint; the engine literally backfires up through the intake manifold and out the throttle body. The few describing this scenario sometimes see flames out the throttle body when the air intake tubing is removed. The sensor sends out an incorrect temperature signal as if the engine were already hot when its started cold. The very leaned out mixture that the pcm sees (from this failed sensor) just fires prematurely, ending in a backfire. Both situations remedied with a flat nosed brass sensor.

...
*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*

Last edited by fdryer; 10-21-2011 at 12:48 PM..

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Old 10-21-2011, 12:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Alright, good to hear the thousands of miles towed in neutral wouldn't hurt anything.

Yep, my mechanic ordered me an AC Delco ECTS, made sure on the phone with where he gets his parts from that it was indeed a brass one. I'll post an update after a few days of having the new on in, see if it makes a difference.

At this point if I was to see flames I'd just throw some gas on it and walk away haha.

Eric...

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Old 10-21-2011, 12:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

The only impact of towing wrt. the PCM is - if the key was in RUN, the odometer would have counted the miles towed. If the key was in ACC, the odometer would NOT have counted the miles towed. But neither one would adversely affect the PCM.

As for the high idle, did you check for the intake manifold gasket leak WHILE the idle was racing? And/or, do you know whether the gasket has been replaced? If you don't know that it's been replaced, you might want to consider doing it anyway, since it very likely has the famed wrinkle.

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Old 10-21-2011, 01:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

I was standing right next to my mechanic when he checked for vacuum leaks, negative on any leaks. The car was idling at around 2000RPM when he checked. The thing that has us puzzled is that if it was a small vacuum leak somewhere, it should be a constant problem. Whereas, having cleaned the throttle body the car worked fine for a few days, then the problem came back. After putting the new IAC in last week...again, worked fine for a few days then the high idle came back. In the case of a vacuum leak, even swapping new sensors in should make no difference in idle speed...in theory. Really hoping this brass ECTS does the trick...I need a good reliable vehicle for work that's good on gas as I do a ton of highway driving...and right now with the fast idle, it holds 110km/hr on the flats as if it's in cruise (i don't have cruise on this car) and i'm not even touching the gas lol. It's possessed!!!! And using a lot of extra gas...which with gas at $1.30/liter I'm not very impressed.

Eric...

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Old 10-21-2011, 01:12 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

With a trusty mechanic, have him pull the coolant sensor.....................that's all you need to know.

...
*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 10-21-2011, 01:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

I don't know if this is would help or confuse the issue, but . . .

Just replaced the head gasket on my '99 SW2, DOHC. When we got it all back together, and fired it up as a test, it purred like a kitten. Cleaned up a bit, and proceeded to head out to VIOC to have a coolant flush and oil change. . . and noticed the engine was running way above idle. And slowly climbing. I hadn't been the brains behind the gasket change, my friend Joe walked me through it, and he had just left. He was pretty sure he got everything reconnected, and I didn't see anything (not that I really knew what I was looking for), so I went on to VIOC with the high revs. By the time I got to VIOC, it was idling at about 2000+ RPM. As I pulled in, one of the techs told me I had an air leak (Vacuum line), and gave my some ideas on how to look for it (brake cleaner mist, etc.).

After he did the oil, and was waiting on the coolant flush, he poked his head under the hood to try and find the leak. Nothing. But he did find a set of connectors unplugged, pointed them out to me, but they couldn't figure out where they went.

Well, they sent me off, and by the time I got back, the idle was nearing 3000RPM. So I continued to pole around, and found the two connectors plug into the back of the intake manifold. I plugged them in and the idle went back to 700-800 RPM.

My point is that maybe one of those sensors or inputs might be failed/soiled, causing the problem. The symptoms are similar to what was happening on mine. Whenever he had the cleanings done, maybe it reset the input, which is why it went away for a while, but then came back.

Sorry for making a short story long, and for being new enough not to remember what the ports are (EGR?). But hopefully it helps.

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Old 10-21-2011, 03:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbetz View Post
...... found the two connectors plug into the back of the intake manifold. I plugged them in and the idle went back to 700-800 RPM.
......Sorry for making a short story long, and for being new enough not to remember what the ports are (EGR?). But hopefully it helps.

Plugging them back into the intake manifold means the vacuum leak from two ports on the intake manifold that sucked air when they were supposed to have those two vacuum lines attached.

Your egr valve is electric, not vacuum operated.

...
*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 10-21-2011, 03:52 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

They were computer plugs.

Reviewing Richpin videos, one was the Throttle Position Sensor Wire. The other . . . .?

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Old 10-21-2011, 04:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Throttle position sensor is on the throttle body, not the intake manifold. I can't think of any electrical connections on the intake manifold.

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Old 10-21-2011, 05:23 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

Manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor.

...
*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 10-21-2011, 06:01 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

^^^^ D'Oh, of course (senior moment). It's more on the "end" of the manifold than on the back, but indeed, if unplugged, it would most likely affect the idle. ('Course, you would also expect it would set a code.)

Back to the OP's case, I would really recommend revisiting that intake manifold gasket. Another carefully directed stream of some test substance (brake cleaner, water in a spray bottle, etc) would be in order. It seems just too much of a coincidence that we're seeing vacuum-leak-like idle racing, on a gen-3 SOHC, recently purchased (thus, unknown status of the gasket).

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Old 10-21-2011, 06:54 PM   #18
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

I have a 95 SL? manual with a SOHC engine.On the way to work I noticed the rpm went from the normal idle 600/700 rpm to 1000,by the time I drive home from work it idles at 1500 and drops to 1000 only after a complete stop.[stop at a red light,etc].It is like the engine thinks the accelerator is being increased.I mean in 2nd gear it will move the car 15mph without me pushing on the gas pedal[accelerator].RPM at 1500.Does the same solution apply to my problem?I thought the accelerator was stuck in some way.But if replacing the ECTS is something to do then I will tommorow on saturday.And check for leaks around the intake gasket.My problem is what is the intake gasket/where is etc. Thanks for your help in advance/157,000 miles and got 42 mpg last week but not this week.This site has the best people.My compliments to you all.

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Old 10-21-2011, 07:02 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

other than the intake gasket, it also could be the throttle position sensor.
look at the pcv hose those are known to leak intermittently like ur having now

...
now with problems and getting a newer car but not a saturn :(
My 95 SL2 white top of the line car Priceless..

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Old 10-22-2011, 06:01 AM   #20
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SL1 has possessed idle speed

OK thanks Twin,I will try that this morning,but what / where exactly is the intake gasket?I have the air filter channeled to what I think is the throttle body then that goes into the engine I think,thanks

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