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Old 08-26-2003, 01:56 AM   #1
wolfman
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Wrench Changing the ECTS (Engine Coolant Temp Sensor)

The ECTS is a two wire sensor used by the PCM to measure engine temperature and set engine/transaxle operating parameters accordingly. On 91'-95' SOHC and DOHC engine equiped "S" series Saturns, there is a SEPERATE sensor used for the gauge. On these cars, the ECTS is the TWO WIRE sensor located just below where the upper radiator hose attaches to the engine. (The other ONE WIRE sensor nearby is used for the gauge) On 96'-02' SOHC and DOHC engine equiped "S" series Saturns, the ECTS is in the same location, but also operates the temperature gauge. (The other one wire sensor is deleted)

To change the ECTS in either case you'll need:

13mm DEEP WELL socket (6 point variety recomended)
and a socket wrench.
Perhaps a pair of needle nose pliers

Obtain the "NEW style" all brass ECTS from SATURN, it will come ready to install with nothing else needed.

DO THIS ONLY ON A COLD ENGINE!

Proceed as follows:

Remove the air snorkle running from the front of the car to the throttle body. (Or air filter housing on 91'-94' SOHC)

Locate the ECTS as described above, the electrical connector is held on by a plastic connector with two little "ears" on it that grip the lip of the ECTS. It can be hard to see. To remove the connector, SQUEEZE the plastic hood about 3/8 in. BELOW WHERE THE WIRES GO IN with either your fingers or needle nose pliers and GENTLY pull away from the engine. DO NOT PULL ON THE WIRES! If the connector does not easily release, reposition your fingers (or the pliers) and squeeze/pull again. Eventually you will find that "magic spot" and the connector will come off quite easily.

Inspect the inner portion of the connector for any signs of corrosion. If corroded, it should be REPLACED (Available from Saturn) but cleaning it can sometimes do the trick.

Remove the coolant resevoir tank cap to relieve any pressure in the system, then put it back on TIGHTLY to avoid excess coolant loss when the sensor is removed.

HAVE THE NEW SENSOR READILY AVAILABLE BEFORE THIS STEP!
Using your 13mm deep well socket, remove the old ECTS from the engine by turning it counter clockwise. Keep the socket as straight as possible over the sensor. (When it comes free from the block, some coolant will spill out, DON'T PANIC)

Quickly thread the new ECTS into the hole BY HAND to minimise coolant loss and prevent crossthreading.

Using the 13mm deep well socket, tighten the new ECTS into the engine by turning it clockwise. Keep the socket as straight as possible over the sensor to avoid damaging it. Keep turning until you feel it "bottom" in the hole but DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN IT!

You reconnect the electrical connector by placing it over the end of the new sensor and then GENTLY pushing in on it while SLOWLY rotating the connector. When everything lines up, it will then just pop into place.

Reinstall the air snorkle.


NOTES:
Coolant loss will be minimal but messy. You should NOT need to top up the coolant as less than an once or so will leak out. You "can" rinse off or mop up the spilled coolant if you wish (recommended) Keep PETS AWAY some (green) antifreeze is POISONOUS to them but tastes "sweet".

You "should" reset the PCM after changing this (or ANY sensor) this does NOT require any special tools, just disconnect the NEG battery cable for about 15 secs.

When remeoving the electrical connection from the sensor, TRY using your fingers FIRST (a little contortionary talent helps) use pliers as a "last choice"

DO THIS ONLY ON A COLD ENGINE!

...
Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

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Old 08-26-2003, 09:11 AM   #2
Luke
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Fm Wolf
Quote:
DO THIS ONLY ON A COLD ENGINE!
The best way to insure this is to start the project the following morning.

...
> 95 SL 2 = 649,619 Miles 40.4 MPG, as of 4/19/11. My manual Radiator Fan Switch, courtesy of Wolfman's patient installation guidance, continues to be.......invaluable <

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Old 08-27-2003, 12:20 PM   #3
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Very helpful, thank you Wolfman! One question: How much should I expect to pay for the new ECTS?

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Old 08-27-2003, 12:31 PM   #4
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$12-$15

...
Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

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Old 08-27-2003, 08:47 PM   #5
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~$20 when I bought mine from saturn.

...
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Old 09-05-2003, 12:28 PM   #6
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So the ECTS's threads don't need any anti-seize?

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Old 09-05-2003, 02:39 PM   #7
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You should not have to change this again, and if purchased from Saturn, the new ECTS threads will already have a sealant applied to them right out of the box...so as posted it's ready to install.

...
Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

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Old 10-01-2003, 05:28 PM   #8
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If your local dealership is charging ridiculous prices you can order the ECTS from www.saturnparts.net which will get you a sensor shipped from Saturn of Colma, California for $11.27 plus roughly $5-6 UPS ground shipping.

...
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Old 01-18-2004, 09:57 PM   #9
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Let me reiterate what Wolfman said

DO THIS ON A COLD ENGINE

I did this yesterday and let thew engine cool down for about an hour and half or so. It was still warm to the touch. Warm does not equal cold. I pulled the ECTS and had a rag ready to catch the few onces of coolant I knew where going to spill out. Well about three quarts later it finally stopped spewing. I got coolant all over everything!

Also, like Wolfamn said, be careful removing the electrical connector. I ended up braking the old ECTS in half. Which freaked me out as I almost thought I wasn't going to be able to get it out.

Anyway, after I replaced the missing coolant I noticed that the new ECTS made a huge difference on the idle smoothesness of the car.

...
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Old 01-19-2004, 10:39 AM   #10
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FM Luke

Quote:
The best way to insure this is to start the project the following morning.......

...
> 95 SL 2 = 649,619 Miles 40.4 MPG, as of 4/19/11. My manual Radiator Fan Switch, courtesy of Wolfman's patient installation guidance, continues to be.......invaluable <

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Old 03-06-2004, 08:23 PM   #11
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My son and I (mostly him, I just oversaw it) did one on his '94 SL2 this afternoon since it always started hard and ran rough when cold. The old one had a big crack in it, yikes! Put the new one in and it started right up and idled like it should. Didn't reset the PCM because we ran out of time, but will do that tomorrow.

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Old 04-13-2004, 08:55 PM   #12
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I just happened to stumble across this thread.
When I looked under the hood, sure enough mine was leaking. It was leaking so slow that it didn't leave any drips on the driveway. There was only dried "crusty" coolant around the sensor.
I paid about $12 from Saturn of Rochester for the sensor. It is good to go now!

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Old 04-28-2004, 08:55 PM   #13
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To you other shadetree mechanics make sure you follow Wolfmans advice and use a 13mm 6 point socket. I had the cooling system drained as I was changing the thermostat also. I tried to remove the sensor with a 1/2" 6 point (the same right?)WRONG! Most times the 1/2" and 13mm interchange but not here. Had to wait for the wife to come home so I could make a trip to Sears for the right socket. Don

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Old 05-17-2004, 08:13 AM   #14
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Default Replaced ECTS

Well, yesterday was a fun day...

I had bought my ECTS to replace on my wife's 92 SL1 and finally had the day to do it, with no rain or anything. I had been telling my wife about replacing the ECTS for about a month, and yesterday was the day. I had downloaded Wolfman's procedure, which was helpful...except for when I got to taking the old ECTS out and putting the new one in....

I took my wife to work, so her car was sitting with a cold engine for 24 hours. She didn't drive it at all Saturday night going into Sunday, so I could replace the ECTS. I went and bought a deep well 13 MM socket for socket wrench and went to work...

When I got back and started in on her car, and took the old ECTS out (which was ALSO a Brass ECTS...but the car ran hot...explain that one!!) Her entire contents of Antifreeze leaked out all over the engine...I was just anticipating a few slow leaks...not a gushing stream of antifreeze!!!! Her entire coolant tank had to be refilled (luckily I had bought a container of Prestone earlier that morning). Her coolant was a beautiful bright green...so I know that there are no leaks or contaminations. Now my question is, why would the entire content of antifreeze leak out and not just a little, I know that it obviously flows through the engine block, but why would this happen even on a completely cold engine?? I did EVERYTHING per wolfman's post.

Anyone have an idea?

The car runs better now and idles around 1000 RPMS and runs cooler, the fan kicks on to cool the engine down when the needle hits right at about the 3/4 mark past the half way point.

...
Bryan

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Old 05-17-2004, 08:38 AM   #15
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Idea

I recommend changing this sensor at the same time the coolant/antifreeze is changed. First drain the coolant/antifreeze from the cold engine (radiator and engine block). Unscrewing the cap on the overflow reservoir will relieve pressure and allow most of the coolant/antifreeze to drain. Then swap the temperature sensors. Some coolant/antifreeze might still come out so have some rags handy - but it shouldn't be pints and pints that flow out after removing the old sensor.

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Old 05-17-2004, 09:57 AM   #16
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Default Re: Replaced ECTS

Quote:
Originally posted by 2NDSOUT
Now my question is, why would the entire content of antifreeze leak out and not just a little, I know that it obviously flows through the engine block, but why would this happen even on a completely cold engine??
If you took off the overflow tank cap, air can enter the system and the coolant will gush out. If you had left the cap on tight, then coolant would only dribble out of the ECTS threaded hole in the block.

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Old 05-17-2004, 12:29 PM   #17
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Default Re: Re: Replaced ECTS

Quote:
Originally posted by bigbird
If you took off the overflow tank cap, air can enter the system and the coolant will gush out. If you had left the cap on tight, then coolant would only dribble out of the ECTS threaded hole in the block.
I can attest to that, did mine the other day, didn't take off the overflow tank cap, nice gush of anti-freeze all over the engine. Then i remembered that i had forgotten to do that. A lesson learned i guess. Taking off the cap will allow the pressure to equal out.

Do you just wash the engine off w/ some water from a hose to get it clean? My dad said to take it to the car wash and use the pressure washer on it.. i'm worried that the pressure would cause damage??

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Old 05-17-2004, 01:07 PM   #18
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Default Re: Re: Re: Replaced ECTS

Quote:
Originally posted by ZoomEquipd


Do you just wash the engine off w/ some water from a hose to get it clean? My dad said to take it to the car wash and use the pressure washer on it.. i'm worried that the pressure would cause damage??
I agree with you. The less pressure the better. Just use a garden hose and rinse off all the antifreeze.

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Old 05-17-2004, 10:39 PM   #19
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Here is a trick I am supprised to not have found on any saturn form i have visited and every saturn page I have visited has advice on installing the ECTS (all of us saturn owners know is a common problem with out beloved saturns)

Follow Wolfman's instructions with the Driver Side of the Car Jacked up so the Coolant does not flow out at you while you are changing the ECTS. I take full credit for this ECTS Installion tip and I thought of it before the second time I had to change the ECTS on a sautrn.

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Old 05-17-2004, 11:36 PM   #20
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I'll try your suggestion when I change mine, DrPimper. Thanks! I'll report my findings here. I should be doing it next weekend.

...
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