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Old 12-15-2012, 08:54 PM   #1
djns420
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1999 SL
Dizzy Odd question about 99 SL running at 1/4 temp gauge

Hi, I had a question I wanted to get input on. My '99 SL has 165k miles on it and has barely had anything replaced. Last year I replaced the ECTS with a brass tip one because my transmission wouldn't shift into OD or have weird TC lockup when I turned on the heater fan. After replacing the ECTS the car warms up in like 2 minutes or less than a mile of driving, but stops at 1/4 which leads me to believe my thermostat is stuck open. I've put like 80k miles on this car and I've never seen the temp gauge go past 1/4 unless I'm stuck in traffic on a hot day (then the fan kicks on at 1/2).

So getting to the odd question, if I were to replace the thermostat, am I gonna blow up the water pump, head gasket, etc. since the engine hasn't seen prolonged temps above 1/4 in like 8 years/80k? The car still gets 30-40mpg+, and the heater blows pretty warm air so I'd be reasonably content with forgoing the 'stat change if it's going to cause a cascade of problems in this car that's currently defying the need for replacement parts.

Any opinions, experiences or preferably facts are welcome. Thanks

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Old 12-15-2012, 11:39 PM   #2
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1997 SL2
Default Re: Odd question about 99 SL running at 1/4 temp gauge

Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by djns420 View Post
if I were to replace the thermostat, am I gonna blow up the water pump, head gasket, etc. since the engine hasn't seen prolonged temps above 1/4 in like 8 years/80k?
No, just change it. If you did the minimal loss ECTS procedure your coolant needs to be replaced anyhow. That and, take the opportunity to inspect and/or replace the radiator hoses as well.

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Old 12-16-2012, 10:03 PM   #3
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1998 SL2
1997 SL2
Default Re: Odd question about 99 SL running at 1/4 temp gauge

Before you change your tstat, on a fully warmed engine, either put a thermometer in the reservoir return stream or put a code reader to see what temp is being reported

Many people have reported temp gauges that just read low, even though the actual coolant temp is within the right range.

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Old 01-25-2014, 07:27 AM   #4
dentresistant1
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Default Re: Odd question about 99 SL running at 1/4 temp gauge

On my 1996 SL2, I have discovered that were are 2 types of thermostats installed at the factory: A high-flow version for engines with California Emissions (w/ front and rear cat exhaust system) where the engine runs a bit hotter, and a regular flow t-stat for the non- California emissions models.

If you run a regular-flow t-stat on a Cal emissions engine, the gauge be about half way on the temp display at operating temperature (engine runs too hot). If you run a Cal. emissions t-stat on a non-Cal engine, the temp display will rarely go above 1/4, and you won't get much heat in the winter time. The only difference between the two thermostats is how far the spring/plunger opens at operating temperature, thus affecting the volume of coolant flowing through the engine. Both versions of t-stats start open at the same temperature.

The only problem is both OEM and aftermarket t-stats are one size fits all and don't make this distinction. In my experience, most replacement t-stats are the regular-flow versions, not the high-flow.

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Old 01-25-2014, 10:24 AM   #5
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Odd question about 99 SL running at 1/4 temp gauge

The 96 model was unique in that it was initially released with a handful of modifications from the 95 model year for mandated emissions changes. One that is rather obvious is the 0.060 plug gap spec on the initial emissions certification labels. The PCM code went through multiple revisions as well.

As to multiple thermostats there is no existent Saturn data book that lists more than one single thermostat operating specification nor is there any evidence of multiple thermostats in the parts book.

What a local dealer may or may not have done and have explained away by the usual smoke and mirrors does not count as OEM.

Any information supporting 2 different OEM thermostats would be interesting to actually see.

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Old 01-25-2014, 01:10 PM   #6
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Odd question about 99 SL running at 1/4 temp gauge

Quote:
Originally Posted by djns420 View Post
Hi, I had a question I wanted to get input on. My '99 SL has 165k miles on it and has barely had anything replaced. Last year I replaced the ECTS with a brass tip one because my transmission wouldn't shift into OD or have weird TC lockup when I turned on the heater fan. After replacing the ECTS the car warms up in like 2 minutes or less than a mile of driving, but stops at 1/4 which leads me to believe my thermostat is stuck open. I've put like 80k miles on this car and I've never seen the temp gauge go past 1/4 unless I'm stuck in traffic on a hot day (then the fan kicks on at 1/2).

So getting to the odd question, if I were to replace the thermostat, am I gonna blow up the water pump, head gasket, etc. since the engine hasn't seen prolonged temps above 1/4 in like 8 years/80k? The car still gets 30-40mpg+, and the heater blows pretty warm air so I'd be reasonably content with forgoing the 'stat change if it's going to cause a cascade of problems in this car that's currently defying the need for replacement parts.

Any opinions, experiences or preferably facts are welcome. Thanks
Our car ran cooler from the factory than some claim is normal, and had the lower rated thermostat as the original. I personally don't think I gained anything other than more available heat by replacing it when the factory unit failed. MPG actually decreased slightly with the higher temp unit.

If you are too cool or have any idle/MPG/driveability issues than it's something to be concerned with. If not I wouldn't rush out to make it run warmer myself.


But, warmer temps don't mean everything is going to fail soon either. Our OEM radiator did fail after the warmer thermostat, but they all fail sooner or later and ours was on the outer edge of normal life expectancy. Our car has had no head gasket or water pump problems at all in 140K miles, with approx 40K of that with the warmer running thermostat.


In most cases if the thermostat or seal have failed, your warm up time will be increased. If you are really concerned you can check the operating temp with a scanner or using a thermometer in the reservoir. These gauges are not very precise and between that and the various different types of thermostat units that may have shipped in cars, it' not an exact.


If it's the original thermostat, that's a lot of life for any unit.

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