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Old 05-28-2012, 11:07 PM   #1
Ecomike
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2001 SL1
Default Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

The e-fan runs fine, and the Saturn cools down when we turn on the A/C at idle at zero MPH, and at cruise speeds. So the relay, fuse and fan are good. Temp climbs with A/C off, at stop light or parked in Neutral. Fan does not come on with out the A/C running. I decided to check the actual temps under the hood and my IR gauge showed a peak 240 F at the main radiator hose to metal nipple on the drivers side on the engine block.

Is there a separate relay or power circuit or ground I need to check?

I plan to check the ECTS, but I think it is only 18 months old at the most, IIRC.

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Old 05-28-2012, 11:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

What's 240 on your temp gauge? Fan won't come on until you hit 3/4.

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Old 05-28-2012, 11:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

240 F on my held infrared gauge, and the e-fan had not yet turned on.

"actual temps under the hood and my IR gauge showed a peak 240 F at the main radiator hose to metal nipple on the drivers side on the engine block"

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Old 05-30-2012, 07:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Also which way does the coolant flow through the radiator, which side is the inlet, the passenger side or driver's side? I need to know if that 240 F reading I got was going in or out of the block.

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Old 05-30-2012, 10:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

What was your temp gauge reading?

The lower hose has the thermostat, I want to say that's the outlet, but don't recall for sure.

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Old 05-30-2012, 11:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Correct; upper rad hose is engine-to-rad, lower is rad-to-engine. Check condition of the ECTS connector.

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Old 05-30-2012, 11:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurdueGuy View Post
What was your temp gauge reading?

The lower hose has the thermostat, I want to say that's the outlet, but don't recall for sure.
Dash gauge was reading vertical (when I read 240 F under the hood with the IR gauge), straight up in the middle. With the AC on it reads about 1/8" past the first mark.

So which side is the "lower radiator" hose on, passenger or drivers side?

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Old 05-30-2012, 11:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecomike View Post
So which side is the "lower radiator" hose on, passenger or drivers side?
Passenger side (it's, erm, lower than the other hose....).

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Passenger side (it's, erm, lower than the other hose....).

OK, thanks, so it is the reverse of what I am use to, 1980's jeeps flow the other way, passenger side out of the block then to drivers side, LOL.

So that means the coolant was leaving the engine-block at 240 F going into the radiator hose on the drivers side (upper hose), and implies that the ECTS is not reading accurately, which is what I suspected.

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecomike View Post
Dash gauge was reading vertical (when I read 240 F under the hood with the IR gauge), straight up in the middle. With the AC on it reads about 1/8" past the first mark.

So which side is the "lower radiator" hose on, passenger or drivers side?
In a 3rd gen, with a/c off, the fan won't kick on until the temp gauge is around 9/16 of full scale - just past vertical.

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:48 AM   #11
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

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Originally Posted by BV22 View Post
In a 3rd gen, with a/c off, the fan won't kick on until the temp gauge is around 9/16 of full scale - just past vertical.
I have heard that, but 240 F is way too high, way past the 220 F that the e-fan should be turning on at, regardless of what the dash gauge says. I never trust dash gauges for absolute temperature readings. Dash gauge info depends on many things that can drift and change, like a drift in the ECTS resistance as a function of temperature, poor contacts along the wiring routes.....

Recently it was in the 90's here, and the e-fan was never turning on while parked in the drive way idling, and I knew that was not how it use to work. The e-fan use to cycle at lower temps, and now it does not. Was also loosing coolant out the bottle cap slowly over time (level sensor on the dash was warning us) caught the small leak at the cap one day, replaced the cap, refilled the system, and noted the 240 F, and no fan yet. It cools down to about 30-35% of the temp gauge range with the A/C running, idling in the driveway at 95 F ambient, so I know it is not the rest of the cooling system, just needs the fan to turn on when it should, at 220 F max and not let it get to 240 F idling in the driveway!

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Old 05-31-2012, 12:27 PM   #12
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Fair enough. But your gauge indication of 2 needle widths past 1/4 scale on a warm day with the a/c on is exactly consistent with my gauge, and my fan does not kick on until the gauge is 2 needle widths past 1/2 when sitting still with the a/c off. 240 F is too high though.

The fan is commanded on by the PCM based on the reading of the ECTS, so if you are 100% confident in your handheld temperature gauge, then the ECTS or its connector/wiring is suspect.

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Old 05-31-2012, 02:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

IIRC her's used to turn on at about 3 needle widths before the center line - 1/2 scale, but it is not my DD, so I can't be too sure. I trust the IR enough to take action, LOL, and to suspect it is above 220 F. I don't trust it beyond a +/- 5 *F, and I sample multiple points, and take averages, and try to keep a history, as distance to the sample point, and color of the surface does affect the actual IR readings.

With the A/C running, and the fan on I was reading about 195-200 F out, and about 180 F return, IIRC, which indicated a good water pump, radiator and fan to me. I will get some time to work on it this week end!

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Old 05-31-2012, 02:50 PM   #14
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Sounds like you've done a reasonable "calibration" of your IR. For grins, before replacing parts or searching for lousy splices in the ECTS wiring, I'd let the thing idle in the driveway until the temp gauge approaches 3/4. If no fan by then, turn on the a/c, cool it down to below 1/2, shut it off and start fixing. A scan tool would be very useful to determine the temperature being reported to the PCM. IIRC, fan on point is in the 220-225 F range.

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Old 05-31-2012, 08:46 PM   #15
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

I'm not sure I'm seeing evidence of a real problem. The temp gauge isn't reaching a point where the fan should be turning on, and the temps are changing in a logical way when the fan runs with the AC. You're reading temps of surfaces, which doesn't give an accurate reading of the coolant temp itself.

Are you getting symptoms of an actual problem, or just worrying about temperatures that according to the gauge are completely normal?

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by BV22 View Post
Sounds like you've done a reasonable "calibration" of your IR. For grins, before replacing parts or searching for lousy splices in the ECTS wiring, I'd let the thing idle in the driveway until the temp gauge approaches 3/4. If no fan by then, turn on the a/c, cool it down to below 1/2, shut it off and start fixing. A scan tool would be very useful to determine the temperature being reported to the PCM. IIRC, fan on point is in the 220-225 F range.
I should mention that the surface temp readings with the IR tend to be lower than the internal coolant, do to surface temps cooling as the air passes by, so an actual 240 F reading is pretty scary to me!!!

I need to carry my laptop out there with my USB OBD-II rig and software and check the PCM reading. I just don't depend it much, yet.

I am an old school style guy, still depend on old analog volt ohm meters, and old school techniques. Like using a pot of boiling water at sea level and an ASTM thermometer to check sensors for accuracy, LOL!

OBD-II is great, until the real gremlins get loose under the hood, then it is time to pull out the old tools and hunt for the weak link.

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:19 PM   #17
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

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Originally Posted by PurdueGuy View Post
I'm not sure I'm seeing evidence of a real problem. The temp gauge isn't reaching a point where the fan should be turning on, and the temps are changing in a logical way when the fan runs with the AC. You're reading temps of surfaces, which doesn't give an accurate reading of the coolant temp itself.

Are you getting symptoms of an actual problem, or just worrying about temperatures that according to the gauge are completely normal?
If you read the thread, I noted that the coolant was disappearing, coolant level sensor was going off, and I finally caught it leaking at the bottle cap one day. I am also pretty sure this vehicle cycled the fan before the 1/2 way mark when we got it. And I do not trust dash gauges, they lie!!!! I prefer to verify them once I start suspecting a real problem.

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Old 06-01-2012, 12:09 AM   #18
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurdueGuy View Post
I'm not sure I'm seeing evidence of a real problem. The temp gauge isn't reaching a point where the fan should be turning on, and the temps are changing in a logical way when the fan runs with the AC. You're reading temps of surfaces, which doesn't give an accurate reading of the coolant temp itself.

Are you getting symptoms of an actual problem, or just worrying about temperatures that according to the gauge are completely normal?
The gauge can't be trusted.

You're failing to realize that the gauge runs off the ECTS on 2nd and 3rd gens. If the ECTS is bad and is telling the PCM the car is cool when it is actually hot (thus the PCM won't turn the fan on), it'll also tell the gauge the car is cool when it is hot. If the ECTS is suspect, you CANNOT trust the temp gauge. The fact that he's measuring 240 on the upper rad hose is VERY indicative of a problem. These engines are aluminum and can't tolerate heat above the normal range.

An ECTS is less than $15. Change it. Also, inspect, clean or replace as necessary the ECTS connector.

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Old 06-01-2012, 01:50 AM   #19
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

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The gauge can't be trusted.

You're failing to realize that the gauge runs off the ECTS on 2nd and 3rd gens.
No I'm not. I'm quite aware of everything you just said.

Quote:
If you read the thread, I noted that the coolant was disappearing, coolant level sensor was going off, and I finally caught it leaking at the bottle cap one day. I am also pretty sure this vehicle cycled the fan before the 1/2 way mark when we got it. And I do not trust dash gauges, they lie!!!! I prefer to verify them once I start suspecting a real problem.
I wasn't clear that that was part of the current symptoms, sorry. We see a lot of people on here that panic over normal operations, or just need an ECTS or reservoir cap. More often than not the simple answer is the correct one, and without accounting for your other symptoms, I was led to the wrong hunch.

I would've jumped on the ECTS as well, except that you said you already replaced it. However, if you replaced it with a resin-tipped sensor, I would just plan on replacing it again with a brass tipped sensor, and of course double checking the connector.

I understand and agree with your lack of trust in the gauge, but the gauge is generally trustworthy, the sensor is not. So there is a high likelihood that the gauge is accurately telling you the temp that the PCM is seeing, but a good chance what the PCM is seeing is wrong. This results in the gauge reading sometimes giving big hints toward the issue. (Sometimes more obvious than others, like the saturn I delt with a little while back that had the gauge jumping between 1/2 and completely cold. Tells me there's an intermittent signal to the PCM.)

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Old 06-01-2012, 01:40 PM   #20
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Default Re: Coolant E-fan problem, 2001 SL1

Hmm, you mentioned the resin tipped sensor. I bought a new one from A-Zone this week (not yet installed), and while the base is entirely brass, the front part, not in contact with the coolant, is a composite material. Since the female connector is also non metal, I am not sure I see the distinction, or issue.

I thought the old OEM sensors that went bad, had a threaded partial polymer composite base, wetted by the coolant, that was failing, and letting coolant get to the electrical contacts, and that those were the bad ones. Did I miss something here?

I hear what your saying, about green newbies, LOL, while I am still somewhat new to the Saturn (about 2 years now), which is probably obvious, I am not to new to auto work, most of my recent experience has been 10 years keeping my fleet (LOL) of 1980's jeeps running as DDs with nearly 300,000 miles on one, Renix 87-89 years, and an 85 XJ Cherokee Mutant with a Nissan SD-22 diesel transplanted drivetrain, and I am a chemical engineer, Techi-Nerd, lab rat, LOL. Thus the attitude about not trusting gauges, unless I have seen it calibrated three times with calibrated equipment, LOL

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