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Old 06-21-2018, 03:43 AM   #1
crankfive
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1999 SL1
Default '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

Hello!

This is my first post in this forum but I've been a lurker for some time now. I'm not very knowledgable myself but I'm slowly learning as various issues have popped up.

Lately, my '99 SL1 has developed very poor acceleration. From a stop, I can floor the gas pedal, and the car takes a good several seconds to reach what feels like normal power. I've also experienced a noticeable drop in gas mileage; for years I was used to about 300 miles/tank but in the last couple of weeks I'm reaching empty at close to 275. Occasionally I will feel some very hard shifts too. I noticed the poor acceleration first but the mileage and shifting issues quickly followed. My Service Engine Soon light has also been on during this time.

A bit of background:
1) For quite some time, the car has had issues with the EGR valve getting dirty, clogged, and stuck, throwing a code that turns the Service Engine Soon light. Knowing this, I've gotten very good at removing and cleaning the valve. I've gotten into a routine of doing it every couple of months when I see the light come on, and this almost always turns it back off.

2) In January of this year, before any of these issues with acceleration and mileage, the car started shifting very hard on almost every acceleration/deceleration. I took it to a well-regarded local transmission place, and the owner (who has worked with a lot of Saturns) quickly diagnosed an issue with the "valve body." He replaced it for me and that fixed the issue. Only recently has the car begun to shift hard again, but this time it's much more infrequent and not always as severe.
Seeing the SES light and starting to experience these issues, my first thought was to clean the EGR valve like normal. In my experience a stuck EGR hadn't caused acceleration problems for me yet, but not knowing any better, I figured it couldn't hurt to start there.

However, I was surprised to find the EGR valve still mostly clean from the last time I'd serviced it, with the pintle moving completely freely. Normally in the time since I'd last cleaned it I could expect some blockage, but it was fine.

Another thing I found odd was that when I turned on the engine for a few seconds with the EGR removed (a tip I've followed to clear loose carbon from the line that leads into the valve), the engine did not rev up loudly as expected. It stayed at a pretty normal RPM.

I put the EGR valve back on and decided to get a code scan at AutoZone, and it came back with TWELVE codes I was not expecting. Here's the list (yes some codes were listed twice):
  • P0341: Camshaft Position Sensor Signal Range/Performance
  • P0134: HO2S-11 (Bank 1 Sensor 1) Circuit Insufficient Activity
  • P0405: EGR Position Sensor Circuit Low Input
  • P0130: HO2S-11 (Bank 1 Sensor 1) Signal Range/Performance
  • P0340: Camshaft Position Sensor Circuit Malfunction
  • PO732: Gear 2 Incorrect Ratio
  • P0741: Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid Circuit Performance Or Stuck Off
  • P0782: 2-3 Shift
  • P0341 Camshaft Position Sensor Signal Range/Performance
  • P0732: Gear 2 Incorrect Ratio
  • P0741: Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid Circuit Performance Or Stuck Off
  • P0782: 2-3 Shift
A little overwhelmed at first, I tried doing some research and it seems that a faulty camshaft position sensor (indicated by some of the codes) could definitely cause the symptoms I'm getting. I also saw a lot of suggestions on other threads in this forum that a clogged catalytic converter might cause these.

Could all of my issues (and this hefty list of codes) really come down to an issue with just one or both of these components?

I should note I'm still under warranty for the valve body replacement on the transmission, but after my latest research it seems the problems may lie with one of these other components.

With my tools, time, and know-how being limited, I'm probably going to end up seeking professional help for this, but I wanted to tap the knowledge and experience of the forum so I could walk into the shop a little more confidently!

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Old 06-21-2018, 07:06 AM   #2
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2001 SL1
Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

How many miles on the car, how long have you owned/driven it?
An SL1 should be well over 40 mpg on the open road.
Has anyone erased the codes and if so, do they return?
I don't see how a CPS code would do anything like you experience.
Most likely, it is either just idiot codes (not really an issue and should be erased) OR maybe clogged catalytic converter.
Usually once something 'happens' and the computer sets a code, there are multiple ghost codes set just because a sensor 'sees' a hiccup or something but most likely it was really nothing....so I would just erase all codes and let the car start afresh and see.

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Old 06-21-2018, 09:58 AM   #3
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1998 SL2
Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

I agree, clear the codes by pulling the PCM-B fuse and reinstalling, then see what comes back
Quote:
Originally Posted by crankfive View Post
A little overwhelmed at first, I tried doing some research and it seems that a faulty camshaft position sensor (indicated by some of the codes) could definitely cause the symptoms I'm getting.
That would be impossible as your car does not have a camshaft position sensor

common mistake:
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=142693

Best way to research is to limit your search results to this forum and go code by code for whatever comes back.

For example, search using this string in google:

P0134 site:saturnfans.com

The red, italicized, underlined part above restricts your results to a specific site; just put each code one by one to replace the "P0134". Otherwise, you get results for other cars or models that may not apply to your car

(even restricting the site can lead to things like L-series, Ion, or VUE issues, etc., that don't relate to your car)

maintenance information would help, too - as you'll note in the thread I linked above, spark plugs and wires were a possible issue in the P0341

edit: sometimes the codes show twice because one is a pending code

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Old 06-21-2018, 12:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

Camshaft Position Sensor codes on these cars are a result of fouled plugs, worn out/aged spark plug wires, bad coil packs, and possibly a faulty ICM.

ANY of these things will power losses and loss of fuel economy.

Here is the indicator to start with the ICM replacement:

The idle did NOT change when you applied a vacuum leak of having removed the EGR valve, thus leaving a LARGE HOLE for extra air to be sucked in.

Much like that of removing a spark plug wire to test for a dead cylinder as I did when I burnt the exhaust valve in my #3 cylinder, adding a vacuum leak changes the MAP voltage signal and thus should have changed the idle.

www.car-part.com - source a used coil pack assembly from a wrecking yard.

Once the misfires are cleared, the shifting will return to smooth. Rich and lean conditions, as well as misfires, will cause intermittent harsh shifting issues on the automatic transmission.

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"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 06-21-2018, 07:59 PM   #5
crankfive
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1999 SL1
Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

Ok, to answer some questions for those that have asked:

The car should hit 200,000 miles this week. It's been in the family since new, I drove it throughout college, then I took it across the country where I've been the sole owner for about 3.5 years.

I went ahead and removed the PCM-B fuse to clear the codes as recommended, and within a minute or two of driving the SES light came on again.

7 codes this time instead of 12
Again, some codes are coming up twice. I'm also just listing them as they were reported to me even though I now know the car does not have a Camshaft Position Sensor:
  • P0782: 2-3 Shift
  • P0341: Camshaft Position Sensor Signal Range/Performance
  • P0732: Gear 2 Incorrect Ratio
  • P0741: Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid Circuit Performance Or Stuck Off
  • P0341: Camshaft Position Sensor Signal Range/Performance
  • P0732: Gear 2 Incorrect Ratio
  • P0741: Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid Circuit Performance Or Stuck Off
My only reasoning behind the clogged catalytic converter theory was other posts on this forum where people said that it can cause my symptoms and be disguised as transmission issues, but now I'm not sure.

In response to Saturn Night - yes, actually the idle not changing when I removed the EGR valve was something that happened and seemed very odd.

It seems based on what I'm hearing that plugs and plug wires might be worth looking into?

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Old 06-21-2018, 09:04 PM   #6
Cheyne
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2000 SL2
Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

New wires and NGK copper plugs or equivalent for the PO341 as a baseline. Before troubleshooting the transmission codes, you need to be sure of the charging system: battery, belt tension, alternator. You could also have AutoZone check the battery and alternator unless you have a multimeter. The transmission shop did the valve body, but when was the last time the fluid and filter were changed?

With all of the EGR problems, the intake side of the port may be clogged but I would wait until later to address it with the other codes you have.

Has the ECTS ever been changed to brass? Where does the temp gauge located on the dash read?

I believe the plugs for the SL1 are NGK BRK4ESA11 off the top of my head. Someone else can correct if I'm incorrect. Listing should be on Rockauto.

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Old 06-22-2018, 01:11 PM   #7
crankfive
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1999 SL1
Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
Camshaft Position Sensor codes on these cars are a result of fouled plugs, worn out/aged spark plug wires, bad coil packs, and possibly a faulty ICM.

ANY of these things will power losses and loss of fuel economy.

Here is the indicator to start with the ICM replacement:

The idle did NOT change when you applied a vacuum leak of having removed the EGR valve, thus leaving a LARGE HOLE for extra air to be sucked in.
Since you seem to be saying that the idle not changing in a vacuum leak (such as when I removed the EGR) is indicative of a bad ICM, would you say it's better to just start there than with the spark plugs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheyne View Post
New wires and NGK copper plugs or equivalent for the PO341 as a baseline.
What would be "equivalent" to this brand of plug? Just any copper plug? What makes these superior?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheyne View Post
The transmission shop did the valve body, but when was the last time the fluid and filter were changed?
The transmission shop did this when they replaced the valve body in January of this year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheyne View Post
Has the ECTS ever been changed to brass? Where does the temp gauge located on the dash read?
To my knowledge it has never been changed. The temp gauge on the dash has never really gone past normal range. I think it usually hovers around a quarter of the way up on a long drive. Would this component have something to do with the symptoms I'm experiencing?

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Old 06-22-2018, 01:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: '99 SL1 - Poor acceleration, drop in mileage, rough shifting, and 12 codes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by crankfive View Post
Since you seem to be saying that the idle not changing in a vacuum leak (such as when I removed the EGR) is indicative of a bad ICM, would you say it's better to just start there than with the spark plugs?
Two separate (but related) issues

you have to address both, but separately, rather than one first as a fix to the other.

I didn't even notice that you mentioned idle not changing with the EGR off. My bad.

Running rich, such as with a bad ECTS or with plug/wire issues, can lead to more soot in the exhaust, which can lead to more soot in the EGR paths . . .

Quote:
What would be "equivalent" to this brand of plug? Just any copper plug? What makes these superior?
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=165275

you're looking for the same geometry and heat range as the recommended coppers. Platinum tend to be fine wire, as your picture shows. In the thread linked, you can run the double-platinum plugs OldNuc mentioned and they would be fine as they are not fine-wire tips.

It's just easier to say "get coppers" than it is to say "avoid fine wire platinum plugs, but you can use this one type of platinum plug"
Quote:
To my knowledge it has never been changed. The temp gauge on the dash has never really gone past normal range. I think it usually hovers around a quarter of the way up on a long drive. Would this component have something to do with the symptoms I'm experiencing?
Very possibly.

A bad ECTS can lead to poor acceleration, drop in mileage, hard starting, etc., without throwing any codes at all (ask me how I know). It is one of the sensors that the computer uses to determine how much gas to use, and a bad one will cause the car to run very rich. For your year, the temp gauge would normally be in the 3/8 range, not 1/4, and fan will turn on roughly at the 1/2 mark (the temp gauges are known to be inaccurate, though)

If you search for "ECTS" on this site, you will find about 10 million hits

For a $12 part that takes two minutes to replace, it causes hella problems. It can also cause the ECTS connector to go bad, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cucm7QGlsYs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUwCTJRqnAk

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