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Old 12-12-2011, 10:48 PM   #1
starkman
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1996 SW2
Default 96 saturn sw2 won't start

Was wondering if someone can offer some advice on a starting issue...

I use my 96 saturn sw2 daily. Last sunday morning (12/11/2011) I went to
start it and no go.
It seemed like a battery issue but I ended up replacing it and still the same.
Basically it sounds as if it will start but never quite makes it.
I replaced the spark plugs since they were due, and the ECTS in the engine.
I also checked the fuel pressure at the schrader valve on the fuel line by the
fuel rail and it is 42PSI. I assume that is sufficient and that fuel line pressure is not the issue.
Can anyone make a suggestion as to what to try next?
Someone said check for spark but I have no idea how to do that. Also I do not have access to a helper so how can I check for that on my own (safely) ?
Thanks!

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Old 12-12-2011, 11:31 PM   #2
off-track
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1997 SL2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

Remote starter switch.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVqeDG7DbKA
Pull the wires off the 4/1 (left) coil pack.
Ignition on.
Crank and look for spark between the two coil towers.

...
1997 - SL2, barebones, 161k, Auto - Rebuild complete and.. burnt a valve 20k later Arrgh!
Purchased 114k 10/07
Added OEM CC

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Old 12-13-2011, 08:06 PM   #3
starkman
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

off-track,

Thanks for the response.
I don't have a remote starter but I tried something else: I set up a mirror at such an angle under the hood so it would reflect the coil pack area (4/1 wires disconnected), so that I could see the spark travel between the two towers when I attempted to start it. Before I attempted starting, I shut the lights off for better visibility. WHen I attempted starting , sure enough, there is an arc going from coils 4 to 1.

Also as fyi on a separate note, there were/are no trouble codes showing (no check engine light). I scanned it anyway and it came back with '0 codes'.

What would you recommend next? check for air or some kind of cylinder compression test?
Thanks,
M

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Old 12-13-2011, 08:16 PM   #4
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

Yeah, compression test would be in order. Also see if it barks on some starting fluid. It could be getting fuel to the rail, but no injection. Check ALL fuses in BOTH fuse boxes.

Props on the mirror trick; that's using the old bean....

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Old 12-14-2011, 11:12 PM   #5
starkman
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

Here is an update on the situation.

Confirmed there is spark going to the end of all spark plug wires.
Confirmed there are no blown or damaged fuses in both fuse boxes.
Sprayed starting fluid into the throttle body by opening the butterfly
valve manually and squirting some in. Did that a couple of times and each
time the motor niether starts nor shows any indication that it made a difference.
Checked all 4 fuel injector electrical connections with the 'noid' light
and all 4 light up ok by blinking. Is it possible that even tho the injectors are getting a signal that fuel still can't get thru?
Rechecked the fuel pressure on the fuel line at the schrader value. Received same pressure as 1st time testing: 42psi.
Have NOT yet checked for cylinder compression. Will do that tomorrow.

The starting situation is the same as before - it cranks but won't start. Engine sounds like it almost will start but just can't quite do it.
What compression psi should I be expecting when testing those?

Mark

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Old 12-14-2011, 11:54 PM   #6
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1997 SL2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

180 or better dry..

Well damn! Leaving work today.. Started the car and not 20-30 seconds later it died. Restart just chugged and, then it started for another 5-10 seconds and died again. Cranking fine and nothing more after that.. ARRGH!

Tomorrow I need to replicate just what you've done Mark to figure it out!

...
1997 - SL2, barebones, 161k, Auto - Rebuild complete and.. burnt a valve 20k later Arrgh!
Purchased 114k 10/07
Added OEM CC

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Old 12-15-2011, 01:19 AM   #7
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

starkman, what's the mileage? When pulling plugs, examine them for flooding as many starting attempts should have flooded the engine if it never fired up. Smelling or seeing soaked plugs verifies injector operation. Soaked plugs can kill all ignition attempts so blowing out remaining fuel will help by cranking the engine without plugs installed. A compression test can be done before reinstalling dry plugs for another try unless compression is totally lost.

...
*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 12-16-2011, 01:20 PM   #8
starkman
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

Guys,
Mileage is slightly over 180k.
I pulled the plugs and they smelled faintly of gas.
I then did the cylinder compression test, both dry and wet.
Here were the results:

cyl dry wet
--------------------------
1 130 250
2 70 130
3 180 270
4 160 190

In all cases I held the key for about 10 seconds. I tested cylinders
1 and 2 a couple of times since it seemed that the longer I held the
key over the more the compression rose and plus their initial readings were low. My chilton manual says to do the compression on a warmed up engine but I have no choice but to do it cold since I have a no-start situation. I wondered if doing the compression test on my cold engine affected the readings and caused them to vary so much(?). Temp outside during the test was ~25F. For the 'wet' tests I put a few squirts of oil in the cylinder thru the spark plug hole.
I suspected that if the compression did rise after the wet test, AND
my starting issue was related to compression, THEN the car might
have a chance of starting after putting the plugs back in. The suspicion
was correct. After putting the plugs back in and hooking everything back
up, the car started, but the behavior of the car as it was running was almost
as bad as the no-start condition. There was white smoke billowing from the tail pipe and the engine now has a high pitched whining noise. I shut the car off shortly after that, then reinspected the engine for correct connections etc.
I then started it again and let it run for 15-20 seconds or so before shutting off. Same results.

Any suggestions on next steps?

By the way thanks for all the help so far.

Starkman

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Old 12-17-2011, 02:40 PM   #9
starkman
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

Started the car last night again to let run for 5 minutes.
Still saw a fair amount of white smoke from the exhaust.

Started again today and took it for a drive around the neighborhood.
Not as much white smoke but still some very noticeable exhaust. Also the exhaust does not smell the greatest.

Whining noise from the engine seems to come and go. Seems to be more
noticeable when driving at higher RPMS.

In hindsight it would appear that by doing the compression test and removing
the plugs for dry-out and keeping the throttle at wide open during the test
probably corrected the starting issue since most likely engine was just
flooded, but why it was flooded in the first place I have no idea.

At this point I'm wondering what I can do to improve the exhaust situation.
Is it possible the wet compression test that I did has screwed up the plugs?

Also not real confident about driving it due to the sense that there is
something significantly wrong with the engine . Any thoughts from anyone?

Starkman

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Old 12-17-2011, 04:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: 96 saturn sw2 won't start

By not starting the first time with a very tired engine, flooding is most likely the issue since at least two cylinders are well below the minimum compression standard for daily use. Every attempt at starting continually injects more fuel so flooding not only drowns the spark but washes oil off cylinder walls to decrease compression more. The air/fuel mixtures are much less likely to ignite with fuel soaked plugs (shorts out spark) and very low compression. Most drivers are unaware if what flooding means and even less informed about pressing the gas pedal to the floor to clear out a flooded engine. This may have helped you if you were aware of trying it especially with a well worn engine. Its occurred to my perfectly good running L300 on several occasions and suspecting a flooded condition by simply holding the throttle wide open until the engine came to life with some sputtering as the excess fuel burns off. The starter ran a good bit longer before more air diluted the flooded cylinders to allow spark to occur. Simply moving my car (in less than a minute) can cause flooding since it doesn't warm up.

You're looking at a rebuild at this point. Ignore 'white' smoke as its nothing more than condensation settling into the exhaust system overnight. You're heightened awareness allowed you to notice this white smoke as it already occurred before except you ignored it. Condensation boils off as steam as the exhaust system heats up - more smoke in the first 10-minutes of driving until all is boiled out and moisture entering along with air continues to evaporate as light smoke. The process begins again every day. Be aware of the difference of white and blue smoke as some mistake white and blue smoke. Blue smoke against a dark back ground is distinguishable and is a sign of oil burning. Moisture condensation that starts out as large white smoke quickly lessens as the engine heats up to operating temperatures. Oil burning/consumption will remain as blue smoke as both are emitted simultaneously. Careful observation will train anyone to see this.

The best you can do for now is to use fresh spark plugs and a clean ignition system, ignition control module and coils cleaned of all corrosion with some dielectric grease on each plug boot. New plug wires if they're over 50k miles old. These will forestall the eventual rebuild.

...
*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; 12-17-2011 at 04:50 PM..

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