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Old 06-25-2018, 12:50 PM   #1
74hardtail
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Default Saturn SL2 help needed

2001 SL2, auto, 123000 miles.

Heading to work and the car started to run badly. The SES light began to flash I turned around to go back home. If I tried to accelerate the car would want to die but if i took my foot off the gas it would idle fine so I idled home.

I checked the code and it was a P0300. Trying to start the car again I could not get it to run.
Changed plugs and wires. Checked and had spark between towers on the coils.
Changed ECTS and connector.

After that, the car was difficult to start but when it finally did it would run for a few seconds and die. It would start right up from then on but die after a few seconds.

I changed the fuel filter/regulator with a Wix 33100. The car started and idled fine but ran badly, sputtering and popping from intake when i pressed the gas.
After starting it a few times it seemed to be running good. I test drove it and every so often it would sputter and want to die when you stepped on the gas. The last test drive it was running fine no codes or problems.

This morning it has the same problems: hard to start and when running wants to sputter pop and die when you step on the gas. It also had white smoke from the exhaust for a few seconds.

Any ideas on what I need to check next? Thanks

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Old 06-25-2018, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Catalytic converter could be blocked, remove the O2 sensor on the manifold make sure you make a metal coffee can deflector or the hot exhaust will melt the plastic around . If it runs the pre cat right ater the manifold could be blocked up.

Do a search on the site for blocked Cat you will find help.

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Old 06-25-2018, 02:13 PM   #3
74hardtail
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

I took out the o2 sensor on the manifold. The car started right up but sputters and wants to die when i step on the gas. When I release the gas pedal it idles fine again.

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Old 06-25-2018, 03:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

P0300 is for cylinder misfire: Random

This means all cylinders of more than one are detecting misfires.

Get a used coil pack and ICM from a local junk yard, change the plugs and wires out.

www.car-part.com

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Old 06-25-2018, 03:22 PM   #5
74hardtail
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Thanks for the replies. I did change the plugs, wires, fuel filter, and ECTS.
I no longer have a code but still have the same/similar problem. Should I still change the coils since I no longer have the 0300 code? Thanks

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Old 06-25-2018, 05:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Well, I'm thinking the fuel pump is going bad. Don't just rush to throw a new one at it though, check pressure with a gauge. Even if you have to buy a gauge to have it handy as the problem pops up, it will cost less than continuing to blindly throw parts at it. You want to connect the gauge and leave it in place, with a hose long enough that you can mount the gauge where you can observe it as you are driving along and the problem happens.

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Old 06-25-2018, 08:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by 74hardtail View Post
Thanks for the replies. I did change the plugs, wires, fuel filter, and ECTS.
I no longer have a code but still have the same/similar problem. Should I still change the coils since I no longer have the 0300 code? Thanks
If you have no SES diagnostic trouble codes, I suggest a compression test. This engine doesn't have the mileage to put me in the suspicion of a burnt valve or cracked head gasket, but for the cost of a compression tester and a fuel pressure tester, these two parts will save you plenty of money over the life of the car, by saving you from throwing parts at it.

And yes, depending on the cost of a USED coil pack(which will include the Ignition Control Module), I would get a replacement coil pack.

NOT just the coils, because this appears more like a fried ICM.

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Old 06-25-2018, 08:52 PM   #8
74hardtail
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

After a test drive I now have a P0171 code. Is this an indicator of a bad fuel pump too?

I will get the testers tomorrow and check the fuel pressure and compression.

I will also get a pulled coil pack and ICM to put on the car.

This is the first major problem I have had and I appreciate the help

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Old 06-25-2018, 08:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Another question.

I replaced the fuel filter with a Wix 33100 through suggestions on a post about replacement filters.

I see now that there is an updated post that only OEM or Wix 33731 should be used.

Should I spend the money to replace the filter again?

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Old 06-25-2018, 09:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

In addition to checking fuel pump pressure (borrow one from Autozone if you can), borrow a compression gauge too. Autozone and Advance Auto are seeing the benefits of loaning tools (customers buying parts where tools are loaned). No one obligated to buy parts from them but when waiting for parts and wanting to get a car back in operation....

A quick spark test, with plugs removed, would be disconnecting the fuel pump fuse so injectors can't feed fuel while someone cranks the engine. Leaving plug wires off (be sure to note firing order) coils, observe for spark jumping across both coil towers. Good consistent spark on both coils verifies the icm and both coils are fine. A used set of oem icm and coils from junk yards have been shown to be cheaper from many members here.

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Old 06-26-2018, 08:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by 74hardtail View Post
Another question.

I replaced the fuel filter with a Wix 33100 through suggestions on a post about replacement filters.

I see now that there is an updated post that only OEM or Wix 33731 should be used.

Should I spend the money to replace the filter again?
Yes. Get the correct filter. P0171 is too lean conditions in the engine. This WILL eventually burn out the pistons amd valves, from too much detonation.

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

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Old 06-26-2018, 09:16 AM   #12
74hardtail
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

I got a fuel pressure gauge and just did a check.

Specs: Key on, 55 then bleeds to around 52 in a few minutes.

Engine running, 60 but it jumps constantly between 58-62.

Raise the rpm over 2k and it levels out at 60.

Is this normal range and is the jumping around at idle normal?

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Old 06-26-2018, 11:44 AM   #13
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by 74hardtail View Post
I got a fuel pressure gauge and just did a check.

Specs: Key on, 55 then bleeds to around 52 in a few minutes.

Engine running, 60 but it jumps constantly between 58-62.

Raise the rpm over 2k and it levels out at 60.

Is this normal range and is the jumping around at idle normal?
Fuel pressure is WAY TOO HIGH. Get the correct filter. You are running lean. Pressure should drop considerably when the engine is revved, as fuel mixture enrichens and vacuum signal decreases.

1998-up Saturn S-Series fuel filters have an integral fuel pressure regulator, inside the filter assembly. This is why you MUST use only the recommended filter on the newer S-Series engines. Most aftermarket FPRs are not properly calibrated.

...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

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

Last edited by Saturn Night; 06-26-2018 at 11:49 AM..

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Old 06-26-2018, 12:45 PM   #14
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Should be 45-51 PSI, key to ON but engine off, and same at idle.

Odd that you are getting a lean code with excess fuel pressure - I would have expected a P0172 rich code instead

Anything else done recently on the car?

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Old 06-26-2018, 04:41 PM   #15
74hardtail
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

After a 140 mile round trip I have the correct filter/regulator installed, Napa 3731.
Now I have 42 pressure with engine off key on and 48 at idle.

The car started and idle smoothly. Test driving, the car stumbled a few times on acceleration and idled rough at one stop. Other than that it seems to run good and no codes yet.

So far I have changed plugs, wires, ECTS and connector, and fuel filter. Plan on getting a pulled coil pack and ICM to install.

Is there anything else I should do while I am getting the car back to normal?

Thanks everyone for your help. I wouldn't have gotten this far without the replies and the search function on this great forum.

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Old 06-27-2018, 07:42 AM   #16
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Have the catalytic converter checked after that misfire episode.

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Old 06-27-2018, 08:31 AM   #17
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Did you check for strong spark as fdryer mentioned?

In the category of, "probably won't help but will not hurt and should be done once in a while, anyway"
  • run a bottle of Chevron Techron fuel injector cleaner through a tank of gas
  • make sure the 1 & 4 wires run next to each other, parallel for most of their length - ditto for 3 & 2
  • remove the throttle body from the car, clean thoroughly (including back side of the butterfly)
  • remove EGR while engine is warm, start the car with the EGR off and let it run a second or two - should blow it out some
  • Take EGR, clean pintle and seat area, make sure it moves freely
  • Use or borrow an OBDII reader that can read live data. Check (with engine cold) intake air temp and coolant temp (should be within 5F of each other), and MAP reading, pressure for your altitude/temp
  • Check air filter - had a bird build a nest in one of my car's air filter over a weekend. Mice have also been known to take up residence in the box

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Old 06-27-2018, 09:11 PM   #18
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Default Re: Saturn SL2 help needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Should be 45-51 PSI, key to ON but engine off, and same at idle.

Odd that you are getting a lean code with excess fuel pressure - I would have expected a P0172 rich code instead

Anything else done recently on the car?
Fuel pressure is proportional to engine vacuum signal, as vacuum drops, the fuel pressure should also drop in the rail.

The pressure readings obtained with a fuel pressure gauge is the rail pressure.

The effective pressure is what should be higher, during periods of acceleration.

I had to look this one up, because I knew what my fuel pressure did on the gauge, but didn't know why. Even after reading this, I still barely understand it.

http://injectordynamics.com/articles...ure-explained/

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