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Old 11-08-2017, 06:16 PM   #1
Simon Rose
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2002 SL1
Wrench Thermostat Issue?

Hello ,

First off this forum has been a great wealth of knowledge, thank you all! My 2002 Saturn SL1 has been awesome to me for 5 years now. I have done most of the usual up keep with these cars and have been awesomely pleased with the resources online for repairs. This spring I had replaced the water pump while doing this also put in a new thermostat and radiator. Now that the weather is cold I am noticing the temperature gauge doesn't get past the quarter mark, after driving for a while it will creep just past. During the summer months it ran visibly past the quarter mark and even up to past the half way mark if idling in a parking lot or traffic. Is it possible that the new thermostat is faulty? Also I understand there was issues with the coolant temp senor in earlier generations of these cars but I am not sure this is even the issue as I think the newer models have the brass probe instead of the plastic or ceramic one. Thoughts? Suggestions? I was about ready to just chuck a new thermostat in it but thought I would stop here before doing something for nothing!

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Old 11-08-2017, 07:58 PM   #2
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Hi, welcome to the forum,
Now that it is getting cold up in Michigan, does your car throw hot air and keep you warm or no?
If it does, then maybe the gauge is just not reading properly (or ECTS issue).
If no heat, or lukewarm, then is the top radiator hose from the engine to the drivers side of the radiator HOT when the car is fully warmed up?
Speaking of the ECTS, what kinda gas mileage are you getting on the open road at highway speeds? Getting anywhere near 35 to 40 mpg?

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Old 11-09-2017, 01:10 AM   #3
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

How long do you let the car warm up before driving off?
While you are letting the car warm up, to what fan setting do you set the fan?

In my experience, it takes a good long while before these little Saturns heat up. Therefore, I let the car warm up 'til the temp gauge reads 1/4. I keep the fan setting low (I or II) while I start to drive until the temp gauge gets up to 3/8.

Once at 3/8, the engine should be able to keep temp no matter the fan speed. But if you set the fan speed higher (III or IIII) while the temp gauge is only at 1/4 or less, it probably won't get any warmer.

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Old 11-09-2017, 02:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

This either a faulty t-stat sticking open, faulty out of the box or the coolant sensor is faulty. One way to determine if the t-stat is faulty is whether or not heat is blowing out the heater. You should have plenty of heat once the engine warms up and if not or in doubt, connect a reader to display actual temperatures. Normal coolant temperatures should never be lower than 185F at any time whether using heat or not. Normal temps should be around 195F. While a faulty coolant sensor is possible, a faulty one usually exhibits some distinctive quirks; cooling fan never turns on in hot weather while the engine overheats as coolant overflows the coolant container as the temperature gauge never indicates any hint of overheating (needle hovering over the 1/4 mark), barely any heat in cold weather (due to the t-stat seal melting and allowing coolant flow preventing operating temperatures from reaching normal levels, flooding startups, difficulty in starting due to excessive fuel enrichment. Without a reader to display actual coolant temps, removing the sensor may reveal which one you have. In theory, Saturns made after '01 were fitted with the brass tipped sensor. The original round nosed plastic tipped sensor was used from '91-'01. Examples below. Another characteristic is the shape of the hex design with one being round shouldered and the other flat.

If the t-stat was incorrectly replaced, the rubber seal may have moved out of place to allow longer times for engine warm up while never allowing normal operating temperatures.
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File Type: jpg plastic-brass cts.jpg (82.8 KB, 2 views)

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Old 11-09-2017, 08:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Simon first off there are some things you should ignore because they're REALLY bad advice. Prime is this. DO NOT LET THE CAR SIT AND IDLE to warm up. Waste of fuel, causes raw fuel to wash oil off the cylinders, increases length of time engine actually takes to warm up further exasperating everything mentioned above.
Now, as for your car yes it does have the brass probe sensor. That being said while it reduces the odds the sensor is your issue it does not eliminate them. Though the odds are it's fine.
Yes these engines seem to take a little while to fully "warm" but not terribly so. My vote here is you may have a weak t/stat which begins opening too soon and causing the engine to run a little cooler than normal. I don't know why but the t/stat type used on the Saturn seems to be a weak link.
There is a stat recommended on the forum I think it's a Stant 14729 but check Old Nucs posts on this. I look mostly to him as the real knowledge base here (even though he can be a little abrasive at times LOL)
That being said I would definitely just replace the stat and I think all will be well. Be sure to refill and bleed the system properly with either the all makes/models/color type of coolant or DexCool. If you currently have DexCool in it (it's an orangish/red color) just stay with it (even though there are a few folks on here that will tell you your engine will self destruct, the sky will fall and the devil himself will come up and eat your young) don't listen to them. It's mostly all BS.
Have fun

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Old 11-09-2017, 09:09 AM   #6
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2002 SC1
Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Based on a sample size of 1 (my 2002 SOHC), what you are observing is normal. My car runs at about 5/16 of the gauge in the summer and at 1/4 in the winter. Heat is adequate. The third gen gauge reads lower than previous generations, and the SOHC engine just doesn't get hot when there is good air flow through the radiator.

I've had my car for almost 12 years now and it has always behaved this way.

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Old 11-09-2017, 09:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Sounds normal to me. Do you have the cabin heater running full blast? The heater core is a secondary radiator that's not regulated by the thermostat. In cold weather there is more than enough additional cooling provided to keep the car a the 1/4 mark at idle.
Once your toes are toasty try backing off the heat setting from full red to half blue/red and the temp should increase on the gauge.

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Old 11-09-2017, 09:38 AM   #8
Simon Rose
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2002 SL1
Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Thank you for all the input! I get good heat coming out of the vents, always run it below the second position unless it has ran for a while. The fans work great in the summer indicating the coolant sensor is working, perhaps the new thermostat is just weaker than the stock one I am used to? I get decent gas mileage, 28-30 town, 35-45 highway. Would it be advisable to replace the thermostat with one you guys recommend or just let it go?

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Old 11-09-2017, 09:55 AM   #9
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Rose View Post
Thank you for all the input! I get good heat coming out of the vents . . . I get decent gas mileage, 28-30 town, 35-45 highway.
The former is a sign your thermostat is working fine. I have two DOHC cars and they produce more heat than your SOHC. When the thermostat went out on my '98, I could not get satisfactory heat even after a 15~20 minute drive.

The latter is a sign your ECTS is probably fine. You'd see a drop in MPG because a bad ECTS will cause your PCM to add more fuel at idle to warm the engine up because it thinks it is cold (so you'd also see a higher idle, in addition to an MPG decrease)

Did your temp gauge display higher temps before the work? The temp gauge is not a precision instrument and a few people have their gauges showing at the 1/4 mark as "normal" (confirmed by thermometer, OBDII, etc.)

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Old 11-09-2017, 10:34 AM   #10
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Rose View Post
Would it be advisable to replace the thermostat with one you guys recommend or just let it go?
LET IT GO. The ONLY reason I replaced mine (when the car was about 7 years old) was because I was getting a code (can't pass inspection). Even then, I replaced it with one from Autozone (185 degrees model) and it outlasted the original in both time and miles. There was no noticeable difference in the MPG before/during/or after new one installed.

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Old 11-09-2017, 11:22 AM   #11
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSaturn02 View Post
There was no noticeable difference in the MPG before/during/or after new one installed.
Thanks for the reminder, I forgot to mention that I was tracking my MPG at every fill up. I did not notice that my t-stat had failed via the MPG loss; when I checked back, the loss was in in the 1~2 mpg range, small enough to be accounted for by variations in how I drive, weather, etc.

The bad ECTS was 40% off normal MPG, plus high idle, plus stalling. If you know anyone with an OBDII reader that reads live data, you can confirm the ECTS operation by plugging it in and seeing what temp the PCM is seeing.
I live about 20 miles SW of Lansing - if you are near there, I can plug mine in.

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Old 11-09-2017, 01:00 PM   #12
Simon Rose
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2002 SL1
Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

So while it has been confirmed the thermostat is functioning as well as the coolant temp sensor, today I got the low coolant light on my dash. There has been snow here and there was no drips of antifreeze in the snow, so I warmed up the car and started inspecting. The culprit is the brass return line for the over fill tank. A few years ago I had did the normal young car owner silliness of putting on a cold air intake and replacing the crank case vent with one the the off road filters. The filters metal ring has rode on the brass line all these years and it has eroded it down to developed a pinhole leak, just enough to hear when the car is off and hot. Could this affect the running temperature? Additionally this part seems to be completely unavailable no matter where I look. Solutions? Thank you again!

PS: Someone had asked if the car had ran warmer before, I always remembered it warming up and staying warmer a little quicker than what it does now but there has been so many factors changed in the cooling system (new coolant, water pump, thermostat, and radiator) that its hard to say which one would do it.

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Old 11-09-2017, 02:59 PM   #13
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

You mean where the de-aeration line that runs along the firewall exits from the plastic air intake?

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http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=228963

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Since you have snow, guessing northern MI somewhere

the line in question


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Old 11-09-2017, 07:39 PM   #14
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

I am in the Upper Peninsula otherwise I would be happy to use your scanner! The line is similar except on the SOHC it it a brass line running from the upper hose fitting (on the block) to the reservoir tank. Here is the only info I can find and the part does not seem to even exist any more.

www . wholesalegmpartsonline . com/products/gb/Saturn/SL/HOSE-Heater/2953240/21031145.html?partner=googlebase_adwords&kwd=&orig in=pla

It is part number "10" in the exploded diagram but I cant seem to track down a new one anywhere.

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Old 11-13-2017, 12:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: Thermostat Issue?

Might need to hit up a junkyard or have someone near a junkyard send the part to you. I'm not familiar with SOHCs .

#10 looks to be the line? I checked the Saturn part number for #10. P
Quote:
IPE. Engine Coolant By - Pass PIPE,ENG COOL AIR BL(01.159). Required: 01
For: Z 1.9-8(L24) (1995-2002) (1995 - 2002). Part Number: 21006909

https://www.wholesalegmpartsonline.c...roduct=2953240



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