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Old 11-30-2011, 07:19 PM   #1
martensitic
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Default Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

I inherited a 96 SL1 94k from my grandmother (who only moved away, don't worry she's fine) and for the most part it runs great. I'm getting more comfortable working on it but live in downtown Brooklyn and have to do so curbside, so there's a limit to what I can accomplish. (Before anyone asks, the first thing I did was replace the ECTS! It had not failed yet, but now it won't.)

Anyhow, SES came on and had our local Saturn Authorized Service dealer (City GMC Caddy in Long Island City) look it over. It was my first visit to the place, but since I don't have a driveway I guess it's fair to give them a shot at my business (or the chance to lose my business, at any rate.)

They said the codes indicated it needed a new throttle position sensor, so they replaced TPS and also spliced in a new connector (both quite expensive) and said it cleared the code. They also tried to sell me a TB cleaning for $200, which they didn't know dear grandma had a different Saturn dealer do 9k miles ago, and I know good and well the darn thing is clean and smooth. Also automatically suggested a tune up featuring a $50 air filter, $100 fuel filter, etc etc... no thanks.

Anyhow a few days later, SES back on, and it does the high idle in park thing (resetting to normal on restart) that typifies a faulty TPS. Slowly getting my crap together I also got a bluetooth code reader, and it's showing P0122 again, which is TPS input below acceptable voltage. Just to be safe I disconnect/reconnected the sensor and everything seems clean and nice.

I guess I'm wondering if I dare take it back to the Saturn shop... brand new OEM TPS and connector, I can't imagine that they are faulty... if the wire splice job on the new connector is the problem I feel like I'm going to have a hard time getting them to admit fault and fix it for free. I could try probing the harness wires with safety pins to check TPS voltage range, but I risk the shop saying I poked the harness full of holes so it's my fault. Or, that I declined their dubious TB cleaning and tune up so it's not their problem, when this is really completely unrelated.

Any ideas on other easy checks to make before I march old Sallie the SL1 (SaL1ie?) back to the OEM money furnace?

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Old 11-30-2011, 08:40 PM   #2
OldNuc
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

You have 2 choices: 1) take it back and tell them, broke fix. You have paid for a fix of the P0122 so it should not incur any additional expense, or 2) fix it yourself. To fix it yourself you will need a soldering gun, rosin core solder, shrink tubing, heat gun, and a decent DVM. Yes you might be able to get rid of the code for a while with out the first 4 items but it will be back. I would go with option #1 to start. My guess is there is a poor crimp connection in that new connector they sold you. Those repair connectors come with supposedly waterproof crimp connectors.

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Old 12-01-2011, 08:10 AM   #3
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Since they had to replace the connector, is it possible they put on the wrong TPS? OldNuc, you have warned in the past to make sure the TPS is correct, or the PCM won't like it. I know on my 99 DOHC, the TPS looks identical to a TPS of a different #, and uses a different connector. (I realize his car is a different generation than mine). Could they have gotten the wrong TPS, wouldn't fit the connector, and so figured to just replace the connector to get the new one to fit? Thus the computer is throwing the code?

...
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

It is hard to tell exactly what they did. Why they replaced the connector is a point of interest and it would be difficult but not impossible that they installed an incorrect TPS. As the code is possibly a low 5v reference supply or a bad ground, either of which will foul up the reading from the sensor I suspect that they misdiagnosed the cause of the problem. The electronics expertise of the average dealer mechanic is embarrassingly low and this adversely impacts trouble shooting and root cause determination.

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Old 12-01-2011, 03:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Interesting... supposing the +5V supply was something less than that causing this low voltage code, what might the underlying culprit be in that case?

Also, this seems to be the only trouble code active on the car, and it runs great. Wouldn't a bad ground or a bad +5V supply tend to affect other systems and sensors along with the TPS?

Last edited by martensitic; 12-01-2011 at 03:46 PM..

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Old 12-13-2011, 11:50 AM   #6
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Well, I brought it back to them and they checked it out, eventually telling me it was an "old code" that wasn't cleared, which I don't really buy. I think they did check their wiring work as well, and so far the code hasn't reappeared, nor has the high idle in park behavior, so maybe they did correct whatever the problem was.

I think I'm done with this particular dealer shop though. Among other things, you're never talking to the actual mechanic at these places, only a "service adviser" in an office who may or may not know what's going on in any detail. I guess it's good to know where to buy OEM parts locally though.

If anyone wants to recommend a trustworthy mechanic in the 5 boroughs of NYC, I could use an informed referral!

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Old 12-13-2011, 12:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by martensitic View Post
Well, I brought it back to them and they checked it out, eventually telling me it was an "old code" that wasn't cleared, which I don't really buy. I think they did check their wiring work as well, and so far the code hasn't reappeared, nor has the high idle in park behavior, so maybe they did correct whatever the problem was.

I think I'm done with this particular dealer shop though. Among other things, you're never talking to the actual mechanic at these places, only a "service adviser" in an office who may or may not know what's going on in any detail. I guess it's good to know where to buy OEM parts locally though.

If anyone wants to recommend a trustworthy mechanic in the 5 boroughs of NYC, I could use an informed referral!
As I suspected.... It is now fixed.

And in regards to this:
Quote:
If anyone wants to recommend a trustworthy mechanic in the 5 boroughs of NYC, I could use an informed referral!
I do not believe that there is any officially licensed shops in that location that completely meet that criteria. That has been my experience anyway. There are some people working out of their garage late at night though that are OK.

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Old 11-14-2012, 03:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

After about a year of intermittent TPS p0122 codes and high idle in park behavior, I decided to just start from scratch with a new TPS and connector.

I bought Standard Motor Products from Rockauto, since it was made in the US and they are based right here in Queens, shop local they say. The OEM one I had the dealer put on (AC Delco I think) didn't seem to do the trick anyhow. I also did the harness right this time with solder and heatshrink.

Still getting these intermittent symptoms, car revs to high idle in park but resets to normal by turning the car off and on again. Pulling my hair out here.

What might be the next things to try? Bad ground somewhere? The TPS gets its +5V and ground directly from the PCM, right? If the PCM had bad voltage or ground wouldn't I be seeing trouble at other sensors and systems?

For reference I've also replaced ECTS, new battery, and recently thoroughly cleaned the throttle body and EGR.

...
1996 Saturn SL1 SOHC, A/T, 116k, NYC

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Old 11-14-2012, 04:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Did you replace the connector and solder the new splices?

There are 2 places that the PCM is grounded, 1) upper left rear corner of the block, 2 tan and 2 black/white wires. 2)front upper transaxle mounting stud.

Clean all of them.

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Old 11-14-2012, 04:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Did you replace the connector and solder the new splices?

There are 2 places that the PCM is grounded, 1) upper left rear corner of the block, 2 tan and 2 black/white wires. 2)front upper transaxle mounting stud.

Clean all of them.
Yeah, I got a new matching pigtail from the same manufacturer, and spliced everything with solder and heatshrink.

Thanks for pinpointing the grounds -- are either of them hard to get to from above?

...
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:42 PM   #11
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

The one on the back corner can be reached from above after removing the air intake tube, just do not drop the 10mm bolt.

The one on the top front stud is easy to get at.

Last edited by OldNuc; 11-14-2012 at 04:52 PM..

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Old 11-14-2012, 04:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Pull the PCM B fuse before you start cleaning grounds.

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Old 11-18-2012, 07:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The one on the back corner can be reached from above after removing the air intake tube, just do not drop the 10mm bolt.
I tried to get at the one on the back of the block, and if I'm not mistaken which one, that little bugger is tricky! Couldn't see it without a flashlight. I don't have big hands but I still couldn't really get in there under the EGR to put my fingers on it. Not sure the best angle to get a wrench on it either. You can see it from above between the #3/#4 intake channel but it seems too narrow to turn a wrench from there.

Best I could do was sneak my smallest ratchet (the bolt was 8 mm) under the egr, just to break the bolt loose and then crank it back down. Hopefully that is enough to scrunge out some resistive gremlins, if that is indeed one of my problems. Dropped my socket into the void in the process and had to fish it out blind with a magnetized screwdriver, as you said I'd hate to drop the bolt!

Also pulled the PCM B fuse and thoroughly cleaned the (extremely easy to get at) trans stud ground. So far so good.

...
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:43 PM   #14
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

It can be difficult to get at.

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Old 09-21-2013, 09:34 PM   #15
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Coil Pack I replaced them in my car and it dropped doing the high idle thing

...
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:23 PM   #16
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Well in my case, cleaning the grounding point that OldNuc pointed out did the trick, though I put it off a long time because it's so hard to reach. (Handy tip: do not drop the bolt. Do not drop your socket. Do not drop the wrench you use after you drop your socket. Nothing you drop back there will manage to find its way to the ground and it's a dark place to go feeling around.)

Curious though how a bad coil pack could cause TPS trouble?

...
1996 Saturn SL1 SOHC, A/T, 116k, NYC

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Old 09-23-2013, 07:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Bad coil pack may have similar failure symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of TPS when it is ignition.

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Old 09-24-2013, 06:38 PM   #18
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Bad coil pack may have similar failure symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of TPS when it is ignition.
That's where a good scanner is helpful. You can read the PCM computer throttle position. If it says 5% or so, something is wrong from the TPS. If it says less than 3% the TPS stuff is good.

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Old 09-29-2013, 10:04 AM   #19
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Spoke too soon, about two weeks after replacing the TPS again and cleaning both grounding points, I'm back to P0122 codes and high idle.

I've had three new TPS - one OEM from dealer, and 2 different aftermarket from Rockauto, none a permanent fix.

Wiring is tight, new connector soldered with heatshrink.

I watched the TPS output while driving using the Torque app on my phone -- as expected it resets to 0% normally, but intermittently (when the high idle kicks in) it reads 8-9% when closed.

I am flat out hands in the air stumped. I guess I will check my coil packs for lack of anything better to do but I don't see how they could cause these symptoms. No other issues on the car, other than that my radio just quit working.

...
1996 Saturn SL1 SOHC, A/T, 116k, NYC

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Old 09-29-2013, 11:05 AM   #20
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Default Re: Recurring P0122 after dealer TPS replacement

Since the tps and many sensors operate on 5v, the pcm wiring and connections may be causing erratic voltages. Other than checking wiring physically between the tps and pcm, the main power connections to the pcm and main ground may need going over.

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