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Old 12-05-2018, 09:51 PM   #1
2NDSOUT
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1994 SL2
1999 SL
Question Fuel Gauge Question?

Car Stats:
1999 SL
5 Speed
208700 on the clock.

This is a question that may have already been answered before; but here goes.

I've owned my current Daily Driver, a 1999 SL; since April of 2015. The car has been a solid commuter car.

This is more of me keeping an eye on my Fuel Gauge. But there have been a few times in the time I have owned this car - I can count 5 times, where the Fuel Gauge has been incorrect, once it gets down to 1/4 of a tank.

My "Low Fuel" light comes on as a Test, when I start the car up; and it has notified me before, about Low Fuel; but the 5 times that I recall- one of them being today, The Low Fuel Light didn't come on, to notify me that the tank was low. As a matter of fact- the Fuel Gauge has always been between 1/4 and E; the few times that I have run out of Gas. Granted I know it's not the best to run down to completely empty, but the few times that I have run out of Gas, it has been on the way to the Gas station to get Gas!

I'm guessing that I wil begin the process of getting Gas from now on, once I hit down on 1/4 of tank. I can't really complain; this car has run pretty good. I got 396 miles off of this last tank of Gas- doing 80% Highway and 20% city driving.

Any thoughts? I thought I remember reading that the Low Fuel Light is supposed to go on when you have 2 Gallons of Gas left?

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 12-05-2018, 10:17 PM   #2
gveinot
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2000 SL2
Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

my 2000 SL2 activates its low fuel light lamp when the gauge is right on the empty line. Its been like that since we bought the car new in Dec 1999. The sending unit in the tank is a just a variable resistor that will wear out. If you have not owned the car from new there is a chance a previous owner has replaced the stock sending unit with an aftermarket one and the aftermarket ones are not as good as the factory ones, some very cheap. The accuracy is the low cost versus the factory ones is not as good. I have only ever driven about 20 miles with the low fuel lamp on.

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Old 12-05-2018, 10:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Beware of trusting that low fuel warning light, it just might not come on when it burns out. I used to trust that light, however, it did burn out once on me in a most awkward spot.
My 1973 Fiat Spyder 124, stalled under the old Chicago post office....you know, that's where the Eisenhower expressway travels through the building like in a tunnel...bad place to stall, no shoulder, no gas (at that time) within a mile, long before cell phone too, and on a Sunday night. BUT lesson learned; I have never, ever, ever, run out of gas again in the 45 years since.

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Old 12-05-2018, 10:30 PM   #4
2NDSOUT
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1999 SL
Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Beware of trusting that low fuel warning light, it just might not come on when it burns out. I used to trust that light, however, it did burn out once on me in a most awkward spot.
My 1973 Fiat Spyder 124, stalled under the old Chicago post office....you know, that's where the Eisenhower expressway travels through the building like in a tunnel...bad place to stall, no shoulder, no gas (at that time) within a mile, and on a Sunday night. BUT, I have never, ever, ever, run out of gas again in 45 years since.
Yeah, that is a not so good place to stall out... I get what you are saying.

In 20+ years of ownership on these S-Series Cars, the current car- has been the most "Sensitive" on the Fuel Gauge; if that makes any sense. Like I mentioned before, it's been a solid car.

The few times I have been low on gas to the point of needing to get gas- has been on the way to the station when the car has run out.

I don't always run the car all the way down, but the few times I have- it's bit me in the rear...

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 12-06-2018, 02:26 AM   #5
jpsuli
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1997 SL2
Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
My 1973 Fiat Spyder 124, stalled under the old Chicago post office....you know, that's where the Eisenhower expressway travels through the building like in a tunnel...bad place to stall
Hey, the first time I trusted my fuel light was right off the Eisenhower . God, pushing my Saturn was the most embarrassing thing at 6 AM and I ran out in a middle turn lane 50 feet away from a gas station.

My fuel gauge is garbage, full to 1/4 is actually half of my tank and then the rest of the tank is the other half. One day I'll actually fix it.

...
'97 Saturn SL2 @ 134k

Breakin' stuff as we go.

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Old 12-06-2018, 12:25 PM   #6
alordofchaos
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

On some other car makes, cleaning the grounds helps the erratic / incorrect fuel gauge readings.

I think it was madpogue that used to say the best low fuel warning light was the trip odometer.

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
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Old 12-06-2018, 01:03 PM   #7
fdryer
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

For entertainment, this topic was brought up here; http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=159332. Apparently from members, the low fuel light will vary on how much fuel is left before running dry. There are several ways to handle when to refuel; drive until the low fuel light turns on then stop at the nearest gas station within 10-20 miles, never go below 1/4 tank and refill, if driving the same route weekly and the odometer records consistent mileage per tank - refill at a conservative mileage matching fuel tank needle position. Adjust to stay on the conservative side to never run out of fuel. If the low fuel light becomes intermittent then rely on mileage (presuming odometer works) to determine when to refuel. If a tank goes 400 miles, refuel at 375 or 350 so a cushion prevents running to empty. If its too much to remember, a post-it note, label or marker in plain view is made so a glance at the odometer/fuel gauge/note tells you when to refuel.

I drove from NY to Oklahoma several times over the years, each time staying there for several months. I miscalculated and ran dry on I40 just before OKC. Gas gauge was fine. Imagine a New Yorker in a Datsun 280-Z on the side of I40 on a nice summer day as traffic passed by, everyone chuckling at the idiot running out of gas. Back then, cb radios were popular for traffic updates and 'bear' spotting. I made a plea for gas on my cb radio and waited until a wrecker came by with a five gallon gas tank. That was $30 or $35 for service. Gas was around $1.25(?)/gal. I try to avoid repeating this mistake.

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Old 12-06-2018, 02:03 PM   #8
trottida
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1999 SL2
2001 SL1
Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
On some other car makes, cleaning the grounds helps the erratic / incorrect fuel gauge readings.

I think it was madpogue that used to say the best low fuel warning light was the trip odometer.
Speaking of Magpogue, it occurred to me that we haven't seen him around here in a while. I wonder what's up? Last activity was in September 2018.

...
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

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Old 12-06-2018, 02:50 PM   #9
Goggles Pisano
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Wolfman has a good tip for a fuel gauge that reads too low...

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Old 12-06-2018, 03:42 PM   #10
alordofchaos
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by trottida View Post
Speaking of Magpogue, it occurred to me that we haven't seen him around here in a while. I wonder what's up? Last activity was in September 2018.
Guessing a bit of burnout?

I hadn't seen a post by madpogue in a while, either. Only on post in 2018 and that was in OT. Only 5 posts in 2017. I think I missed seeing most of madpogue's posts because I was on and off pretty busy myself, then.

I'm guessing after you have been around for a while, you are seeing the same questions and issues over and over. New posts will fall into one of two categories:

1) I've seen that one posed a hundred times and answered the same question a few dozen times myself, not gonna do it again.
2) Well, that's new and I have nothing to add because it is so unusual



It is nice to see a few of the other old regulars posting again.

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 12-07-2018, 06:23 PM   #11
Saturn Night
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gveinot View Post
my 2000 SL2 activates its low fuel light lamp when the gauge is right on the empty line. Its been like that since we bought the car new in Dec 1999. The sending unit in the tank is a just a variable resistor that will wear out. If you have not owned the car from new there is a chance a previous owner has replaced the stock sending unit with an aftermarket one and the aftermarket ones are not as good as the factory ones, some very cheap. The accuracy is the low cost versus the factory ones is not as good. I have only ever driven about 20 miles with the low fuel lamp on.
This +1 ^^^^^

When the resistor gets corroded or damaged, it will not read correctly or trigger the warning light.

The fuel pump should be pulled and replaced with a known-working JY unit, which can be tested by leaving the key in the "ON" position & simply plugging the dry pump in and waiting for the needle to move down to "E". The float arm should be at the lowest position.

Do NOT cycle the key with a dry pump, as this will burn up the replacement pump FAST!!!!.

www.car-part.com can be used to source a used pump for the car, 2NDSOUT

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

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

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Old 12-08-2018, 08:11 AM   #12
2NDSOUT
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
This +1 ^^^^^

When the resistor gets corroded or damaged, it will not read correctly or trigger the warning light.

The fuel pump should be pulled and replaced with a known-working JY unit, which can be tested by leaving the key in the "ON" position & simply plugging the dry pump in and waiting for the needle to move down to "E". The float arm should be at the lowest position.

Do NOT cycle the key with a dry pump, as this will burn up the replacement pump FAST!!!!.

www.car-part.com can be used to source a used pump for the car, 2NDSOUT
At this point- I'm not too worried about replacing the pump or the Sending Unit. The Saturn has over 208K miles on it- and has given me a solid 3 years of Commuting Service (well over 60K miles in 3 years).

I honestly can't complain.

The Saturn is taking a "retirement" anyway; to being a backup semi-daily driver.

Since I have inherited my Father's 2007 Mazda6 Sport Edition, the Mazda is going to be my daily driver; while my 99 Saturn Sedan will be used for short drives to the Grocery store, etc.

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 12-09-2018, 06:57 PM   #13
Saturn Night
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Default Re: Fuel Gauge Question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2NDSOUT View Post
At this point- I'm not too worried about replacing the pump or the Sending Unit. The Saturn has over 208K miles on it- and has given me a solid 3 years of Commuting Service (well over 60K miles in 3 years).

I honestly can't complain.

The Saturn is taking a "retirement" anyway; to being a backup semi-daily driver.

Since I have inherited my Father's 2007 Mazda6 Sport Edition, the Mazda is going to be my daily driver; while my 99 Saturn Sedan will be used for short drives to the Grocery store, etc.
Well, being in southern Ohio, you should be ok. They had a few recalls for the Takata airbags and the subframes rotting out on '07s. At least it doesn't have the 2.3L engine, which is known for main-bearing failures.

Fuel tanks, on the California-emissions vehicles, are prone to rotting out. They are still made from steel, surprisingly.

https://www.cars.com/recalls/mazda-mazda6-2007/

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

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