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Old 11-20-2018, 11:27 AM   #1
theunpaidBill
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Default I think I need a thermostat

So I have 2 Saturns, a 99 SL1, and an 2001 SC2.

My SL1 runs consistently at the 1/4 tick mark on the temp gauge.

My SC2 has been running at the point shown in the picture below, but I think it should be running at the 1/4 tick mark which I marked with the red arrow.

Can anyone with an 2001 SC2 confirm that mine is running below it's normal temp?
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

Ideally, should show 3/8, roughly between the 1/4 and 1/2 mark.

That said, your temp gauge is not a precision instrument and they don't all read the same. Ways to tell if you need a tstat vs your gauge is just off:
  • Use a thermometer in the return stream of the surge tank/reservoir at the passenger fender
  • Use an OBD II reader with live data, read coolant temp
  • Turn on heat, should be able to get really hot air from vents

...
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Old 11-20-2018, 12:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

A GEN3 S Series (which your SC2 is) should run approximately as seen in this photo.



You're GEN2 S Series (99 SL1) should run a bit lower as in this photo.



If you're running at the 1/4 or less then you have some issues.

The original ECTS (Coolant Temp Sensor) installed in both your vehicles had a resin tip which over time is prone to cracking and leaking coolant onto the connector. A faulty ECTS and/or connector sends the wrong signal to the PCM which is responsible for fuel management. It usually reads cold and therefore increases fuel. The engine is running rich and this creates a lot of carbon deposits and poor fuel mileage.

Thermostats also fail over time and when they do they leak and lower the operating temperatures. The lower operating temperature also causes a rich condition affecting fuel mileage and carbon deposits.

Checking the ECTS is relatively easy with minimal coolant loss. It's recommended to change it to a brass tipped sensor. If your ECTS connector has been fouled then it should be changed as well ensuring the connections are soldered and shrink wrapped rather than crimped. The ECTS is just below the EGR valve on the left side of the engine (drivers side). Open and close the coolant resevoir to depressurize the system. Remove the air intake to access the sensor. Disconnect the connector by pinching in the 2 sides to release the tabs and check that it is clean and not fouled. If fouled then replace with a new one. Remove the ECTS using a deep socket and check the tip. If resin then change it to brass; if brass it is likely still good but you can change it if you want since it is only about a $15 part.

To check your thermostat, from a cold engine start your vehicle then place your hand on the lower radiator hose just after the thermostat. If it gets warm within 1-2 minutes then your thermostat is leaking. It shouldn't allow coolant through until close to operating temperatures (185-195 Celsius). If a replacement is required the recommended part is a Stant 14279.

...
2001 SL1 MT (423,500 km @ 10/2018)
1999 SL2 MT (267,940 km @ 10/2018)
2011 Suburban LT (116,506 km @ 10/2018)

Past Saturns
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2001 LW200 MT
1992 SL2 MT

:canada:

Last edited by trottida; 11-20-2018 at 12:24 PM..

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Old 11-20-2018, 01:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

^^^ oops!
That's one very hot engine for sure!

You meant 185-195 Fahrenheit i'm sure

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Old 11-20-2018, 02:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

I improved my temperature by replacing the ECTS connector. I would check there first.

...
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Old 11-20-2018, 04:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
^^^ oops!
That's one very hot engine for sure!

You meant 185-195 Fahrenheit i'm sure
Yep, good catch. I'm sure I've made that mistake several other times on this forum and nobody has called me out. Celsius seems to roll off these Canadian fingers easier than Fahrenheit. However, I can't spell either of them without auto correct. That would be 85-90 Celsius or as you stated 185-196 Fahrenheit.

...
2001 SL1 MT (423,500 km @ 10/2018)
1999 SL2 MT (267,940 km @ 10/2018)
2011 Suburban LT (116,506 km @ 10/2018)

Past Saturns
1993 SW2 AT
2001 LW200 MT
1992 SL2 MT

:canada:

Last edited by trottida; 11-20-2018 at 04:11 PM..

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Old 11-20-2018, 04:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

I find it easier to use 'F' or 'C' and save misspelling for other words my tablet likes to create out of the blue. I use finger gliding over the tablet screen's pseudo qwerty keys as google selects the word. 'Are' becomes 'ate' is one example. Some may see gross errors in my posts if I don't continually proof read tablet spelling/ word substitution.

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Old 11-21-2018, 11:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

Thanks for the info everyone. Based on what I learned here plus some testing I think it is probably the sensor, not the actual thermostat, which is infinitely better IMO. I hate changing thermostats. As far as I know it's 220K miles with the original sensor, so that's a good bet.

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Old 11-21-2018, 11:55 AM   #9
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

If the sensor has been replaced with the brass one, I would suspect the connector first. Look for corrosion.
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Old 11-22-2018, 04:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

Speaking from experience ( I've owned 17 Saturns)

Gen 2 and 3 gauges will read the same - and ideally should appear as in the photo Trottida posted.

I' ve learned to trust the gauge. Somebody at Saturn' s QA department really did their job. In every case where the gauge read off ( always cold) - the thermostat was either damaged or the springs worn - causing it to open improperly. I have a thermostat test pot - and test all thermostats installed - even new ones.

...
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Old 12-03-2018, 03:02 PM   #11
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

I replaced the temp sensor this weekend and that fixed it. Post-repair picture of temp gauge attached.

Thanks to those who suggested checking the sensor, that's much easier to replace than the thermostat.
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Old 12-03-2018, 05:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

To be absolutely sure, verify heater operation. Faulty thermostats won't provide heat in real cold temperatures. Many addressing the infamous coolant sensor issue also found their t-stat seals melted, allowing coolant to seep around seals resulting in tepid heat in winter. Replacing the coolant sensor only addresses the faulty sensor. The melted t-stat seals from overheated engines ran engines cooler with many suffering from lack of heat in winter temps. Once the t-stat was replaced, some complained of too much heat. That can be addressed by low speed blower and/or adjusting the temperature selector or dial. Most welcomed the heat in freezing temps.

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Old 12-03-2018, 07:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

Another way to tell if your thermostat is bad is to watch what kind of mileage you get. I remember before I changed my thermostat, I knew about checking the heat but it was my first winter with a Saturn. So for all I knew, the heat I was getting was normal. My low mileage was what made me sure it was a bad thermostat. Now that I have a new thermostat though, my heat this winter is wayyy better that last winter.

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Old 12-03-2018, 09:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

In addition, using a reader to display coolant temperatures can help too. Measure coolant temps before starting (a cold engine should be close to ambient temps) and after a full warm up (185F-200F). Even with full heater operation, temps should not go below 180F except in freezing temps with high blower speed.

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Old 12-04-2018, 09:21 AM   #15
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Default Re: I think I need a thermostat

From previous post #3 ....

Quote:
To check your thermostat, from a cold engine, start your vehicle then place your hand on the lower radiator hose just after the thermostat. If it gets warm within 1-2 minutes then your thermostat is leaking. It shouldn't allow coolant through until close to operating temperatures (185-195 Celsius). If a replacement is required the recommended part is a Stant 14279.
This is the easiest and quickest ways to know.

...
2001 SL1 MT (423,500 km @ 10/2018)
1999 SL2 MT (267,940 km @ 10/2018)
2011 Suburban LT (116,506 km @ 10/2018)

Past Saturns
1993 SW2 AT
2001 LW200 MT
1992 SL2 MT

:canada:

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