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Old 08-19-2015, 08:13 AM   #1
StrongFire
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2001 SL2
Default ECTS - Is this normal?

I've had a cooling problem with my 2001 Saturn SL2. I replaced the radiator since there was a crack on the side. That took care of leaking fluid. I still noticed that the car was overheating in prolonged stop and go traffic. I did some diagnostics and found that the fan motor had failed. The car is still overheating. It looks like the fan starts when the coolant temperature hits 221. This appears to be too high since I have coolant boiling over and have to add coolant.

I have not been able to find ECTS specs to know if this is normal. When I drive with my diagnostic tool plugged in, it appears that the ECTS temperature reading is accurate. I'll be glad to replace the ECTS, but I'm trying to understand what is normal.

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Old 08-19-2015, 08:32 AM   #2
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2002 SL2
Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

Since you are in a 2001 model, you may or may not already have the brass ECTS - the year they made the change. The fan motor will not kick on unless:

1) Your AC is on
2) The engine reaches a certain temperature.

I don't recall what the temp should be before it turns on, but you may not have an issue. Others have reported similar experiences depending on the type of traffic you normally drive in. SOME have installed a switch to force the fan to run.

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Old 08-19-2015, 08:35 AM   #3
guyg
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1997 SW2
Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

Saturn 96 model year and newer temperature gauge reading vs. actual temperature as read from the ECTS.

GAGE Reading..........ECTS Temperature..........Event
.....1/4.................................150 F
.....3/8.................................192 F...................T-stat cracks open
.....3/8+................................195 F
.....1/2.................................212 F
.....9/16................................221 F...................Fan ON
.....7/16................................210 F...................Fan OFF coast to 205 F

Sounds like you need a new pressure cap.

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Old 08-19-2015, 08:38 AM   #4
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2002 SL2
Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

Has the fan failed or is it simply not coming on when it should? Your post doesn't make it clear. You say it's failed, then say it doesn't come on till 221?
If the fan has failed completely, then I'd replace that and then move on to the next cooling issue.

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Old 08-19-2015, 08:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

about 220 is when it should come on BUT if you're testing the temp with a probe in the tank and no pressure cap, by the time the fan would come on the system will be burping fluid pretty rapidly especially if the mix is not right.

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Old 08-19-2015, 01:14 PM   #6
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1996 SC2
1996 SC2
Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

ECTS:

If you've never changed it, change it anyway.
Get the brass (I don't think they even make the plastic/teflon one anymore).

It's under $10, at parts stores. Plenty of videos, pic and stories of how this little device can have you chasing your tail for weeks on end.

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Old 08-23-2015, 07:11 PM   #7
StrongFire
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2001 SL2
Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

Thanks to everyone for your replies!

How am I measuring the coolant temperature? I have a scanner plugged in OBD2 port. So the pressure cap is not removed. Thanks to guyg for the data.

What have I done to this point? The radiator was replaced earlier this year. Also, I ended up replacing the cooling fan after I ran several tests to try to get it to start including removing it and connecting it directly to a 12-volt power supply. New fan works great when it is on.

I think I will try replacing the pressure cap first and then working on replacing the ECTS in a couple of months. A few weeks ago my daughters Cavalier was overheating. It turned out that the problem was a pressure cap that wasn't on tight enough. She hasn't had any problems since then. Her cooling fan came on at 212, which is one of the reasons why I was trying to find out the temperature that would trigger the cooling fan to come on.

Again, thanks to everyone giving me the benefit of your knowledge!

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Old 08-23-2015, 07:26 PM   #8
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1997 SW2
Default Re: ECTS - Is this normal?

Evidently once the car has been overheated the gasket in the pressure cap is dislodged, not allowing the system to build pressure to prevent boil-over and must be replaced. It is not recommend to use 50/50 anti-freeze a higher concentration does better. Search for posts from Oldnuc about flush or fill procedure.

Last edited by guyg; 08-23-2015 at 07:32 PM..

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