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Old 08-21-2015, 07:59 PM   #1
ultravioletnk
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2000 SC2
Heart the story of phoebe

phoebe is my 1995 sl1. as built, it was silver, devoid of power anything save for a/c, and had an automatic transmission. unlike rings, which i grew up in and was well cared for, i bought phoebe well into its life. it came to me bone stock and rather significantly neglected. as such, there's a bit more of a story to my time with it, which i've thus far been chronicling in the thread "What did you do to your S-Series today...". that thread, however, isn't really the place to put a coherent story together, so i'm copying the posts to here as well. read on below!

...
rings - 1996 sl2 - purple and gold ~215kmi
janus - 2000 sohc2 - very sunburned red and purple ~170kmi
phoebe - 1995 sl1 - silver and teal ~240kmi
FOR SALE - 2002 sl1, sky blue 124kmi

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Old 08-21-2015, 08:01 PM   #2
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Default i got another one <3 | 07-30-2015, 05:40 PM

it was actually yesterday, but i bought another s-series! it's a silver 1995 sl1 with an auto. base as it gets, no power anything (though for some reason it has a/c)... but it was $150. total. i've named it phoebe, after the moon of saturn. here's the story of how i met it. it's a bit of an adventure, so i split it into a few sections.

the ad

i've been keeping tabs (literally ) on saturns popping up on craigslist for a few months. partially because i know multiple people who are looking for cars, partially because i love saturns and was looking for a project car. a couple of my friends have caught on and started looking as well. a few days ago, one of them messaged me a link to this car for $200. the ad read as follows:

"PLEASE READ IT ALL!! I have a 1995 Saturn s series car that has some problems. It does have good parts on it. Tires are only a few months old. I just replaced the spark plugs and was changing the oil. Bought the wrong oil filter somehow. Anyway it doesn't get much power and sounds like the #1 cylinder head is knocking on the block. Just not sure. If you get the right oil filter and put it on, you can drive it home. Or bring a tow. Could be the cat. converter too. Give me a text or email. Thanks"

it didn't seem like the seller knew much of anything about what was going on, so i was optimistic about things. i responded and arranged to meet up to check it out.

the meetup

i ended up having to come by rather late, as i'd been busy all day. i made sure to bring a good flashlight!

the seller didn't seem to be very familiar with the usage of google. when he changed the oil, he obviously didn't check the location of the oil filter before removing the first thing that looked like one. when i showed up to look at it, there was a puddle of transmission fluid on the ground and no transmission filter. i checked, and of course the oil filter was completely untouched. i had to work hard not to start laughing. as the oil filter was fine (and i didn't think things through very well) i asked the seller to start it. the engine started readily, albeit with a little sputtering and knocking, as well as a rather high idle and a note that was very lawnmower-esque. as an unfortunate side effect, which i really should have forseen, the transmission promptly spewed what fluid remained in it onto the ground. i emphatically shouted to stop the engine and felt like an idiot. flush complete, i guess! i had, however, confirmed what i particularly cared about... the engine ran better than i'd thought when reading the ad.

i poked around a bit more before deciding that i would buy the car. i asked if $200 was a firm price and the seller said the junkyard offered him $150 so he'd take that. we shook hands and i left excited.

the drive home

i headed over during the day the next day, with a friend and a tow rope. i can tell you right now that my first mistake was trying to do this with rings, my 1996 sl2. i bought the car, put the (clean!) title in a safe place, and then headed to get a new filter and enough atf to refill it (good thing i got the full 7 quarts too!) for more than 1/3 of the price of phoebe itself... it cost ~$65. transmission fluid is expensive! it's probably a good thing it got changed, though... the stuff that spewed out was none too red.

once i got back, i installed the filter without any issue whatsoever, but i was faced with a dilemma... as rings is a manual, i had no clue where the transmission fluid fill cap on an auto is! i spent a minute looking for it before checking this excellent forum and discovering that i was to use the dipstick tube. good thing i brought a funnel! it took 6 quarts to fill the transmission up sufficiently, so at least almost all the fluid in it is new.

having gotten the vehicle back into "drivable" condition, i decided to take it for a test drive around the block. it stalled when i put it in reverse. unsurprised, i abused the poor transmission a bit more and neutral-dropped it into reverse. that got me into the road (with much knocking until i hit 1.5k rpm or so), and i was able to get moving in drive via the same means. once in gear and revved up a bit, i was actually able to get going all right, with no knocking or anything other than high-ish revs, so i decided to first try driving it home. that got me nearly all the way home, as the seller was only about a mile away, but there are some mean hills right around my residence and the poor thing was really starting to get hot going up one of them. getting a bit uneasy, i signaled to my friend in rings to pull off the road.

i hooked the tow rope to phoebe's front stabiliser bar without issue, but was a bit stumped as to where to attach it to rings. this is where i made my second serious mistake. i ended up choosing the left rear lateral link. to nobody's surprise whatsoever, that link is now bent. good thing they're everywhere at the junkyard. i did at least manage to get all the way to the last hill before where i live... but rings couldn't handle it. this is probably where the lateral link actually bent. as i had no desire to damage rings further, i unhooked the tow rope from it and parked it, then walked back to phoebe and considered options. before we had a chance to get a different vehicle to tow phoebe the remaining few hundred feet (seriously, the hill by my house is very steep) someone with a v8 jeep stopped and helped us finish the job. i'm never going to try and tow another vehicle with rings again unless i absolutely have to. and now, i know that i need to look harder for a good attachment point. suggestions on that are appreciated, as i haven't been able to find anything satisfactory.

now that it's home

it was very dirty when i got it, but i took a pressure washer to the whole car plus a can of brake cleaner to the engine bay and now i'll actually be able to identify any active fluid leaks. as a nice side effect, the sohc valve cover is REALLY gorgeous when sparkling clean. it makes me want to get the aluminium dohc valve cover for rings even more. i still need to deal with the interior (someone seems to have opened a shaken soda in the car ) but i'm already very happy with my new saturn friend!

now, as previously mentioned, it has a slight rod knock and runs terribly... which i discovered is because it's only firing on 2 cylinders! it turns out that one of the spark plug wires (cylinder #1) had degraded to the point that it was barely making contact with the coil pack post. as a result, lots of arcing was going on under the boot on the coil pack end, which ate a good deal of metal off the post and completely disintegrated the end of the plug wire. i pulled the boot off and a bunch of reddish sand fell out! there's enough metal missing that even if the coil pack is perchance still good, i wouldn't be able to reliably clip a wire onto it. as such, tomorrow i plan to head to the junkyard and pick up a couple coil packs, a plug wire, and assorted other (mostly aesthetic) stuff that phoebe is currently missing. i should also get a lateral link for poor rings!

future plans

my plans aren't set at all yet. i have a dream of converting a saturn to electric, especially as the gm ev1 was developed by the saturn division... that's a massive, very expensive undertaking though. maybe in 5-10 years when batteries get cheaper.

more realistically (and more near-term) i intend to do a dohc/manual swap and probably turbo it. i'll see how available/affordable the necessary parts really are these days and go from there.

for now, though, i'm not concerned with that stuff. currently i'm just working on getting phoebe running reliably so that i can have a car to lend to people. whatever the case, i'm very glad that rings now has a sibling, and i'm extremely thankful that this wonderful community exists to help me take care of it!

...
rings - 1996 sl2 - purple and gold ~215kmi
janus - 2000 sohc2 - very sunburned red and purple ~170kmi
phoebe - 1995 sl1 - silver and teal ~240kmi
FOR SALE - 2002 sl1, sky blue 124kmi

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

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Old 08-21-2015, 08:03 PM   #3
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2000 SC2
Default Re: i got another one <3 | 08-03-2015, 01:52 AM

and today i got it running much, much better! turns out that the base plate that the coil packs attach to had some kind of fault in it. i'd already gone to the junkyard the day before to pick up a whole new coil pack assembly and some plug wires, but i had only tried swapping the coil packs. today i got an inline spark test lamp, and i was able to immediately see that the left coil pack (cylinders 1 and 4) wasn't firing at all. swapped the base plate (and cleaned everything with brake cleaner while i was at it) and phoebe runs better than it ever has since i've met it! it can actually drive on the freeway with 4 people in it now.

the transmission slips rather a lot (damn slushbox) so i got some lucas transmission fix (aka "stop-work/stop-run" ) and put that in it. it actually worked surprisingly well, and as i plan to swap an mp2 manual into it asap i don't care if the auto dies sooner or develops worse issues. i just wanted to be able to drive up hills without the clutch packs burning up the entire time until i do the swap.

i also swapped a lightly used brass ects (from rings, i replaced it just because but the existing sensor was fine) in, replaced a dead headlight bulb, put on a non-smashed nose badge, replaced a missing bumper reflector, fixed a mis-aligned wiper blade, replaced a hilariously dirty air filter, cleaned the interior some (though it needs more love), and did a compression test. i was actually amazed by the results of that: (#1: 130psi/#2: 120psi/#3: 127psi/#4: 145psi). i'd thought the engine was more on its way out than it is.

total cost thus far (i've been keeping track with a spreadsheet): $268.16. if i include tools i got to work on phoebe that will be useful for all car work (compression tester, spark test lamp, torque gauge) it comes out to about $300. now that's what i call one hell of a deal.

my next plans are as follows:
- replace driver's side front marker lamp
- clean interior until pristine
- fix and reinstall centre console, install stereo properly
- swap sl2 rear disc suspension in
- swap mp2 manual in
- ??? until sohc engine dies
- eventual dohc swap + turbo build

...
rings - 1996 sl2 - purple and gold ~215kmi
janus - 2000 sohc2 - very sunburned red and purple ~170kmi
phoebe - 1995 sl1 - silver and teal ~240kmi
FOR SALE - 2002 sl1, sky blue 124kmi

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

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Old 08-21-2015, 08:04 PM   #4
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Default phoebe got some love | 08-14-2015, 11:35 PM

the other day i "fixed" rings' bent lateral link by taking it off and hammering on it... i still intend to get a replacement but i don't want to spend much money or cripple a suspension at the junkyard. if you happen to have a spare driver's side lateral link (the one behind the hub, not in front) for the sway bar rear suspension, please do pm me. i also took out the seat and fixed my (inevitable) popped-off electronic trunk release switch. now that it's back to daily driver status, i moved on to work on phoebe today.

i went to the junkyard earlier and picked up a few odds and ends i'd been needing, especially a factory stereo connector (to undo the mess the previous owners left me) and the spare tire tie-down hardware, which had been missing. i also got a front marker lamp because the one i had was broken and held on with a non-stock screw.

then i came across a teal 1992 sl2 and i decided phoebe needed to join rings in being two-tone. i picked up the door handles, gas cap, and trunk lid trim from the teal car.

i installed them almost immediately once i got home. after that i wired in the factory stereo connector and plugged it into the aftermarket stereo that came in the car (all wired up to a proper factory => aftermarket adapter, of course). lo and behold, i now have a properly working audio system! the speakers sound like <excrement | i hate censorship> though. the front ones are stock and blown, the rear ones are dual (what a terrible brand) and also blown. ah well, at least the wiring's done. i should do some more cleaning but i've been procrastinating with technical improvements.

on a related note, one can really tell how much gm cheapened saturns even between 1992 and 1995... many fasteners that were on the teal junkyard sl2 are absent on phoebe, or are plastic clips instead of screws. also, the door handles on the 1992 use two fastening clips, while newer saturns (dunno what year they started, but at least 1995 onward) only use one. these sorts of things don't end up making much of a difference, but they sure do show what gm is willing to do to save money making anything.

phoebe remains loud and slow for now, but the process chugs along like its engine with your foot to the floor . next i need to get that sway bar suspension and mp2 transmission, and we'll see just how dead the poor sohc engine is. i'm probably gonna drive it like that (suspension + transmission swap, still the beater engine) while i work on building a kickass turbo'd dohc.

current status of my saturns:

phoebe - loud, slow, L24, MP6. says twin cam on the back just for lolz (and because it can see the future ). working stereo, terrible speakers. driveable, very efficient.

rings - quiet, fast-ish, LL0, MP3. excellent audio system with sub. party car . fun, 25mpg how i drive it.

i think i'll take some pictures and upload them soon. phoebe deserves a chance to show off!

...
rings - 1996 sl2 - purple and gold ~215kmi
janus - 2000 sohc2 - very sunburned red and purple ~170kmi
phoebe - 1995 sl1 - silver and teal ~240kmi
FOR SALE - 2002 sl1, sky blue 124kmi

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

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Old 08-22-2015, 08:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: the story of phoebe

Uhm, what fluid + filter did you purchase that cost you $65.??
Around here, it would have cost me $35 at most.

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Old 08-23-2015, 01:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: the story of phoebe

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Uhm, what fluid + filter did you purchase that cost you $65.??
Around here, it would have cost me $35 at most.
valvoline maxlife atf, 7 quarts... and a wix filter. all from the local o'reilly. the valvoline was the cheapest atf they had. i thought it was expensive myself but with the car itself being so cheap i wasn't really worried. at least the slushbox is in about the best shape it can be before i swap it out.

...
rings - 1996 sl2 - purple and gold ~215kmi
janus - 2000 sohc2 - very sunburned red and purple ~170kmi
phoebe - 1995 sl1 - silver and teal ~240kmi
FOR SALE - 2002 sl1, sky blue 124kmi

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Old 08-24-2015, 12:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: the story of phoebe

Nice, a love story

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 10-27-2015, 12:54 AM   #8
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Default some updates

well things keep moving along... i got a red 2000 sc2 and named it janus. it isn't currently drivable. i'll start a thread on it when i get a chance

my boyfriend has been driving phoebe since shortly after my last post, and things go pretty well. the last time he was over i did an oil change (which was long overdue, should've done that sooner after getting it running again), rotated the tires, and swapped out as much power steering fluid as i could (it's really not a fun system to work on) for atf. so far it's happier, seems a couple of the stuck lifters unstuck and quieted down. the steering is much smoother now, i'm going to do the same thing to rings soon.

however, since the oil change, phoebe's tendency to stall when coming to a stop has gotten worse. it seems to be improving with more driving but i'll have to check the iac valve sometime. i really can't tell if there's an issue i'm overlooking or if the ecu is just a bit dumb.

in general, it's ready for winter and doing well! the heater works MUCH better than rings' does... i forsee some messing with rings' heater core before the cold really hits.

phoebe is still getting 35mpg on a regular basis! and it's about to roll over 240,000mi... hopefully Malex (my boyfriend) will get to drive it past 250k with the dead-ass original engine!

...
rings - 1996 sl2 - purple and gold ~215kmi
janus - 2000 sohc2 - very sunburned red and purple ~170kmi
phoebe - 1995 sl1 - silver and teal ~240kmi
FOR SALE - 2002 sl1, sky blue 124kmi

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Old 03-09-2016, 10:44 AM   #9
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Default Re: the story of phoebe

Just something to possibly look for on this Phoebe stalling at idle issue.

It's important to not whether it happens in park or neutral, or whether it is only in drive, etc..

Reason I am saying this, is it is POSSIBLE that the lock up torque converter is kicking on.. These cars with automatics are notorious for having issues with the wiring harness, and connections that plug into the top of the transmission.

Most common symptom is slamming into gear, and really jarring shifts.

That is due to what is called the PWD (?) I think solenoid connection. Basically, the wiring harness isn't sending the signal to this solenoid to pulse the pressure so as to ease from Park/Neutral into Reverse/Drive. It's supposed to drop the pressure by pulsing the flow of hydraulic pressure through the valve body during transitions between gears, and from neutral to gear so there's no shock to the drive train. This same faulty wiring connection can also trigger the lock up torque converter, or fail to send the signal to shut it off when coming to a stop, and stalling out the engine.

Just something to check for..

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