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Old 09-21-2018, 05:42 PM   #1
Dw89
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Default 2000 SL2 problems

Hi folks. New member, former forum-lurker. Hoping to get some good advice!

So I've got a 2000 SL2 with DOHC LL0. I just got this car and it seemed to be running fine, now 3 weeks later I'm starting to have some issues.

My check engine light came on and my ODBII reader said P0133 (02 sensor, bank 1 - aka exhaust manifold 02). Ok. Order 02 sensors off RockAuto, put the upstream one in, and.... light is still on. Noticing a bit of a vibration in the idle as well (idling at about 900 RPM once warm). No idea what to replace next here. Thermo? EGR? MAP? MAF?

I also noticed that although I have no leaks under the car, and the oil on the dip stick looks ok that I am getting some very minor bubbling in the coolant (looks like soda-fizz but MUCH smaller). Also noticing that on shorter trips I have a bit of a foamy build up under the oil cap/in the PCV valve stem. Is my head gasket starting to go? My other vehicle, a 1995 GMC Sierra 1500 with 5.7L, does not have this issue. Not blowing white smoke out the tailpipe btw. Again, unsure what's going on with this.

When driving the car shifts and drives fine (manual transmission) and I don't notice any issues, no lack of power, seems totally fine. Loving this little car so far, besides the issues. It only has 162'000 Kilometres on it (yes, I'm Canadian) and hoping to double that before it dies.

Please help.

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Old 09-21-2018, 05:54 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Welcome to Saturn Fans!
Vibration, idle issues...might be time for a new set of solid copper plugs and a new set of plug wires.
Have you reviewed the 'Sticky' threads at the top of the S series? It is a plethora of excellent info...including the ECTS which may need replacement.

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Old 09-21-2018, 06:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Awesome Ill check that out. What brand of plug and wires are people going with on here? Honestly this is the first small car Ive ever owned and I always buy ACCEL plugs for my truck.

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Old 09-21-2018, 08:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Saturns have what's called a waste spark ignition system.
OEM plugs have a center copper electrode, best performance is with them, rather than iridium or platinum ones.

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Old 09-21-2018, 08:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Update. Changed upstream 02 sensor, still throwing p0133. Changed ects sensor. Still throwing code!!! Arghh so frustrating. Will change thermostat sometime when I get time to actually flush the coolant. Any idea if these things can run anything but orange DeX cool? I hear that stuff is crap.

Also any other ideas? Will changing my downstream 02 sensor help? I want my good mileage back!!!

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Old 09-21-2018, 08:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Bubbling in the coolant? The mpg has changed? Take compression readings before throwing any more parts at it. I also recommend doing a "block test" that involves sucking vapor in the cooling system through a dye that changes color if there are combustion products in the coolant. You can borrow/rent the test kit from you local FLAPS, paying only for the dye consumed.

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Old 09-21-2018, 08:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

I'll do a compression test. The coolant is very clean I checked it with a clean clear plastic hose. We dont have a FLAPS here. I live in a small town in the Yukon (in Canada beside Alaska) and we are like 18 hours from any big cities.

Last edited by Dw89; 09-21-2018 at 08:43 PM..

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Old 09-21-2018, 08:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

I also VERY much doubt it's a blown head gasket because I'm not loosing coolant OR oil. I have noticed that my engine temp doesn't often go past a hair over 1/4. I've got a thermostat for this sucker and will have time next week to do a coolant flush. Might as well try that too.

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Old 09-22-2018, 08:21 AM   #9
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Mileage reduced, low gauge temperature reading, sure change the thermostat but for the 2 reasons listed, I would only change the ECTS. This sensor alone will drop your gas mileage AND show low coolant readings. It's easy to do and really cheap (around $14 in the lower 48). But only use a 1/4" drive ratchet and go easy as you tighten into the aluminum block lest ya'll break it off.

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Old 09-22-2018, 10:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Oh, I forgot to say...

Put aside the OBD2 "reader", if it only reads codes, and use something that will display live-data. That will save a lot of guessing and needless parts-swapping.

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Old 09-22-2018, 04:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

What can I use to do a live reading?

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Old 09-22-2018, 10:06 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Does your OBD II reader display coolant temperatures or not. If not, either buy a Bluetooth adapter and download Torque to your cellphone and wait for delivery or use a meat thermometer inserted into the coolant container. Normal operating temperatures after ten minutes of driving or idling should be around 195F with the cap off.

If the coolant sensor was never replaced, remove it for examination. The round nosed ones fail by cracked plastic. The flat nosed brass one is the correct replacement. And if yours is the round nosed sensor, it may have damaged the thermostat by melting the rubber seal, letting the engine run cooler than ideal. If you want heat, checking the coolant sensor is a must. Once you're assured of the brass sensor, operating temps should go above the 1/4 mark but if the t-stat was ruined by the factory coolant sensor, replacing it would be wise if you expect heat.

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Old 09-22-2018, 11:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

I'll for sure be replacing the thermostat next week. I'm working 12s until Wednesday. I just want this check engine light off! P0133 still! I'll have to check plugs next. And compression.

I know to pull the fuses for ignition and fuel but do I have to disconnect anything? Also should I do compression tests when the engine is hot or cold?

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Old 09-22-2018, 11:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

A picture (or pictures) is (are) worth a thousand words...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg plastic-brass cts.jpg (82.3 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg t-stat 1.jpg (119.6 KB, 6 views)

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Old 09-23-2018, 12:25 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Hot or cold makes no significant difference on compression readings. Yes, just remove the injector and ignition fuses. Also, be sure to hold the throttle wide-open when cranking to take compression; that does make some noticeable difference in compression.

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Old 09-24-2018, 11:36 AM   #16
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1998 SL2
Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dw89 View Post
Update. Changed upstream 02 sensor, still throwing p0133. . . . Any idea if these things can run anything but orange DeX cool? I hear that stuff is crap.
What O2 sensor did you install? I recall some of them did not work well in the Saturns (Bosch universal comes to mind).
Denso or NGK/NTK direct-fit should work - I got mine for $25 off ebay

Any long-life universal coolant will work, Prestone, Peak, etc. Probably is covered in the sticky thread, but buy 1 gallon full strength antifreeze. When you flush, about 1 qt of fluid remains trapped in the heater core.

What I did is replace the tstat housing loosely but without the thermostat. Fill with distilled water (roughly 1.8 gallons), run briefly to circulate. Drain again, install tstat and housing, fill with the 100% antifreeze, top with distilled another 0.8 gallon). Run until tstat opens up, top off as needed.

edit: pulling the PCM-B fuse from the block under the hood, by the battery, disables both spark and fuel - also clears the code

Quote:
Also noticing that on shorter trips I have a bit of a foamy build up under the oil cap/in the PCV valve stem.
probably condensation, moisture that does not get burned off on short trips

...
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Old 09-25-2018, 02:34 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

100% antifreeze? Not a 50/50 mix?

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Old 09-25-2018, 03:23 PM   #18
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Quote:
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100% antifreeze? Not a 50/50 mix?
Yes, 100% strength. I think I missed part of what I meant to post, but I mention it again a little later

Quote:
fill with the 100% antifreeze, top with distilled another 0.8 gallon
One gallon of 100% antifreeze, topped with distilled, plus the water that is left in the heater core, gets you close to 50/50 (IIRC, actual is about 55/45)

If you flush the system with water, then fill with a 50/50 mix, that remaining water in the heater core drops down your final mix to something like 40/60, probably OK for many climates - but it gets cold enough sometimes where I live, that it is not ideal

...
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Old 09-25-2018, 03:23 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dw89 View Post
100% antifreeze? Not a 50/50 mix?
It will be close to 50-50 once you top off with distilled water.

...
RIP my 2002 SL1, totaled 9/18/2012... found its replacement (2002 SL) 9/26/12, traded it in 5/10/2018 (199,604 miles).

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Old 09-25-2018, 03:44 PM   #20
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Default Re: 2000 SL2 problems

Had to search a bit, but the cooling system holds 7 qts.

1 gallon of 100% plus the rest water = 57% antifreeze, 43% water - should be adequate for the Yukon

If you flush with water, you have a quart of water in the heater core (the water is trapped unless you remove a heater core hose under the firewall to engine area). Adding 50/50 to a quart of water already in the system is adding 6 quarts total of 50/50. This is equal to adding 3 qts antifreeze and 3 qts water. Final mix is 3 qts antifreeze and 4 qts water, or 43% antifreeze and 57% water.

...
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