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Old 05-22-2012, 05:41 PM   #1
Oliviar
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Mad 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

Hello, I have a 2002 saturn l200 DOHC 2.2l. When I start it for the first time, it idles and runs fine. After it warms up a little, when i'm completely stopped like at a stop sign the RMPs dip down 20-50 every couple of seconds, causing the car to shake. If i put the car in park or neutral, it reduces the RMP dip by 90% and the car doesn't shake as bad. There aren't any warning codes on the dash. Also, I haven't had it stall on me yet.

When the car is warm and in drive, and the rpm dip starts happening again and the car shakes a little, my dash lights start dimming down as well.

I don't know if this helps at all or if this is even related to that problem, but if i have the heat on full blast and roll all 4 power windows down at once while the car is in park, the cars RPMs dip down to 450-500 and it seems like it would stall but hasn't yet

Any help would be greatly appreciated! I was thinking of a vacuum leak, but the only type of vacuum line that I see is the one going from the throttle body to the brake booster, and my brakes work fine so that hose is probably fine.

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Old 05-22-2012, 05:51 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

1-How many miles on this car?

2-How old is the battery? Over 4yrs? Have it tested.

3-What's the condition of both battery cables? Clean and free of corrosion?

4-Is the serpentine belt loose or tight? Loose would imply poor alternator output to supply all the electrical needs of the car while driving as well as as poor battery recharging.

5-What condition is the alternator in? Have it tested with the battery.

Placing electrical loads would seem likely to test the overall electrical system and may point to one or more issues as listed above. Start with the easiest things first and work up to the difficult and expensive last.

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Old 05-22-2012, 06:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

-The car has 238k miles on it.
-I bought the car 2 weeks ago for $1,300, so I don't know how old the battery is currently
-I reached down and tugged on the serpentine belt and it feels snug, hardly any play
-Battery cables look good, so does the alternator

It's just weird that this only happens when the car is warmed up.
I will for sure take the battery to get it tested, and would I have to take out the alternator to get it tested? I don't have too many auto tools just the basic stuff like rachets/sockets/screwdrivers exc.

Thank you for a reply too really appreciate it
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File Type: jpg Saturn 002.jpg (94.4 KB, 18 views)

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Old 05-22-2012, 07:21 PM   #4
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

Looks can be deceiving; replacement crank position sensors never fully seated by owners, fuses appearing to look ok until pulled to reveal the blown element, battery cables seemingly in good condition when they're severely corroded underneath the heavy insulation, etc.. With 238k miles, everything on the car is suspect and you'll have to go over everything carefully to expose the weak parts for replacement.

Good auto stores can test batteries and alternators in the car. Others will need one or both out for bench testing.

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Old 05-24-2012, 04:35 PM   #5
Oliviar
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

Ok i'm back, I had both the battery and alternator tested.

Both passed as good.

Now I just did the cigar trick to try and find a vacuum leak - I unhooked the hose that connects to the air filter and put a brick on the gas pedal. I put a hose into the tube that connects to the throttle body and taped around it so I could blow smoke through it. I didn't see any smoke anywhere in the engine. I know I probably did this wrong, but I did not see ANY other vacuum hoses to do this to.

Anyone have anymore suggestions? Thanks

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Old 05-24-2012, 05:16 PM   #6
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

You may not like the following but without more information and troubleshooting, using 238k miles of old car and normal wear and tear coupled with a very consistent rpm dip suggests an electrical load that's repetitious in cycle. A throttle cleaning, new spark plugs, and cleaning the major battery connections to the battery and ground to chassis and engine may reduce or eliminate this issue. Placing the electrical system under a load by turning everything on just strains the alternator for maximum or near max output. There are a number of things that can cause repetitious idle swings; a worn out battery, poor battery connections, poor grounding to chassis or engine block, deteriorated battery cables, intermittent brake switch, any other electrical load intermittently turning on and off. You can see an example of changing the idle speed by switching the defroster ON/OFF or the heater blower ON/OFF.

While battery and alternator pass store tests, it may help to monitor actual voltages with a multimeter. Battery voltage hovers around 12.5v with the engine running the alternator provides all the electrical needs and outputs anywhere from 13.3v to 14.7v DC. Sometimes, voltage fluctuations can be tied to small idle changes - whether this is unusual loads or not remains to be seen.

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Old 05-24-2012, 10:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

I had a similar problem with my 01 L200, at a stop the engine would have a rough idle and feel like one cylinder would miss fire every few seconds dropping the rpms about 50 or so by the tach. A slight pressure on the gas pedal to raise the rpm about 100 and the engine would be smooth as buttah.

Turned out to be the coil pack.

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Old 05-28-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
Oliviar
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

Wow thank you for the reply! That's exactly how it is for me.

I just did another test today - I cleaned some corrosion on the battery terminals, and started it up. It was idling just fine, and I took it around the block and when I came back it started doing it again. I almost thought that since it only did it when it was hot, that it would do this whenever the fan in the engine came on putting a greater electrical stress on it.

I looked at the volts and when it was doing the stuttering thing it went from 14.33 down in the 14.20's then back up. So I think there is plenty of power still.

And yeah whenever I push on the gas peddle it is fine or when i'm driving I don't notice anything. That's interesting about the coil pack, is there a way I can test it or clean it by myself? I was beginning to think the catalytic converter might be plugged, but I don't know.

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Old 05-31-2012, 10:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

Could anyone point out where the coil pack is ? I added a picture in a post above. I was looking around and I guess my spark plugs are under the top of engine under where it says Twin Cam 2.2l. Maybe it's under there too?

autozone.com/autozone/parts/Duralast-Ignition-Coil/2002-Saturn-L200-4-cyl/_/N-jhrytZ9n80r?itemIdentifier=902994_0_0_[/url]

That's my saturns Ignition Coil according to AutoZone. I don't see anything that looks like that under the hood.

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Old 06-01-2012, 05:11 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

Were the spark plugs ever replaced? Remove them for inspection.

The ignition coil pack is the long black plastic piece running along the rear top of the engine with the ignition coil module sitting in the right corner pocket of the icp just to the rear of the oil fill cap. While removing the ignition coil pack/ignition control module you can remove the plugs for inspection.

In 238k miles the plugs had to be replaced at least twice, every 100k miles so at 200k miles the previous owner may have conveniently forgotten to replace them.

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Old 06-04-2012, 10:09 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

I FINALLY FIXED THE PROBLEM!

So I browsed around some more, come to find out that the ignition control module was recalled on this vehicle. Under the hood, it had a sticker from 2006 saying that it had this service done to fix this.

This was in 2006, and I believed that it had gone bad again because the description of this recalled item was a bad idle or loss of power. I went to Auto Zone and purchased a new one, installed it, but it didn't fix the solution.

I quickly went back up to Auto Zone and bought a new Coil Pack. I installed the new coil pack and put the new ICM on it, and what do you know. Car idles like BUTTER now, no hesitations/stutters/rmp drop. I screamed like a little girl in excitement.

Thank you to everyone who has helped. I am truly grateful for the free assistance the people on this site give. You made me the happiest person alive.

PS - I will be smashing, crunching, sawing, and burning the old coil pack tomorrow for all the frustration it has given me.

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Old 06-11-2012, 10:39 AM   #12
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2003 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: 2002 Saturn L200 Rough Idle Problem

I fixed mine as well this weekend. New ICM, Coil Pack, and Coil Boots. I replaced the plugs a couple of months ago and the problem improved, but this past week I finally got a code out which confirmed what I'd been thinking.

The idle is very smooth now and I can tell there is some power restored as well.

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