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Old 02-12-2005, 01:09 PM   #1
bartcow
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Dizzy 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

My service engine light came on a while back, and the mechanic at the dealership said that it was the catalytic converter or the O2 sensor. But not having $1000 at the time, I put it off. Fast forward about a month. Driving 800 miles down to see the family, the car started jerking and heaving about 300 miles from my destination. I made it another 100 miles before it started bucking so hard that it would kill the engine. I was able to hobble to a hotel and wait until morning to get it to a mechanic. They reset the computer(!) and sent me on my way. I made it to my folk's house, and their mechanic confirmed that the catalytic converter and O2 sensor were out, and would have to be replaced. I had been thinking that it was the fuel pump or the fuel filter or the regulator, but who am I to argue with a mechanic and the car's computer? So after four days and $600, I get my car back. I start heading back home, and 200 miles down the road, it starts up again. I can go for about 20-40 miles at a time before it jerks so hard that I feel unsafe on the road and pull over. I would let it sit with the engine off for about a minute then go another 20-40 miles. Along the way I had the fuel filter replaced, and had a mechanic in Alabama admit that he was befuddled, and that it could be the fuel filter, but that would cost $500 and may not solve the problem. So I decide to hobble on home (after letting it sit overnight, I got about 80-100 miles before it started jerking again). My home mechanic said that the "new" O2 sensor was actually the wrong part spliced in to fit my Saturn. They replaced it for a mere $200, and sent me on my way. On the way home, it started up again.

Before I push this thing over a cliff, does anybody have any ideas? Does it sound like the fuel filter? Would the catalytic converter and O2 sensor made it jerk like that? The service engine light hasn't come back on (yet), and I don't want to keep sinking money into an 8 year old car if there's no hope. I've read in other posts that it could be the Crank Sensor, but everything else has been pointing to the fuel pump (however, as I've also been told that when the pump goes, there's no more "go", so I have my doubts there as well).

Sorry for the really long post, but me, my relatively car-smart dad and four mechanics from Mississippi to North Carolina can't figure it out. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Keith

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Old 02-12-2005, 02:14 PM   #2
Razorbak
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

How many miles are on the engine?

1997 fuel filters are supposed to be replaced at the 60,000 mile service. When they start to plug up, they make the car buck like that. Mine did that at ~65,000 miles. When I replaced the filter, the problem went away. It's not a difficult procedure to do yourself, and a new filter costs less than $50. Search the forums for information on how to change the filter. There are several threads dedicated to this issue.

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Old 02-12-2005, 03:01 PM   #3
JerryHughes
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

Hey bartcow,

Here is a page that may help you determine the codes on your car. If you don't know what codes they are referring to, perhaps you could post them here and someone can help you out. Otherwise, you should be able to find them in a Chilton manual, etc.


Also, yes, check out the "how to" section on this website for fuel filter replacement. It is not a hard job. I did it easily and I have hardly any experience with anything like this. Come to saturnfans.com BEFORE you ever go to your repair shop! Good luck,

Jerry

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Old 02-13-2005, 12:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

Bartcow,
Coupla questions: What did they do for the $600, exactly? And when you got the symptoms on the return trip, does the SES light come on?

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Old 02-13-2005, 01:11 AM   #5
bartcow
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

Hi,
The car just rolled over to 180,000 miles. The fuel filter is only about a week old now. The one previous was barely a year old. Sorry I left that part out of the original post.

They replaced the catalytic converter and the front O2 sensor (which turned out to be faulty) for nearly $600. Which is cheaper than what the dealer quoted me, but still...

Yes, the SES light did come back on once the problem started up again. Then it went off at one point, but came back on by the time I got it to the final mechanic. It hasn't come on again yet, but I also have only driven it sporadically and for short distances since I brought it home. I'm pretty confident that it would only take 80-150 miles going about 70 non-stop to reproduce the herky-jerky motion.

Thanks for all the tips! I'm no mechanic, so if it is the fuel pump or crank sensor, about how much should I pay for each, with labor? I may try to make friends with a mechanic (someone with whom I can pay in food, livestock, etc.), but I'll probably end up back at the garage.

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Old 02-13-2005, 07:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

Even with the SES light off, the code that most recently turned it on should still be stored. And it might well be different from what set it earlier. So get it read again, before you start throwing parts like a fuel pump or crank sensor at it.

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Old 02-13-2005, 08:07 PM   #7
BobL
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

The 97's had a history of bad fuel pumps.

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Old 02-13-2005, 08:54 PM   #8
JerryHughes
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Default Re: 97 Saturn Fuel System Problems?...Help!

Hey bartcow,

The fuel pump is in the gas tank on the 97's and can be kind of "involved" if you don't know what you're doing----like me. However, once again, check the "how-to" section of this website. The crank sensor is simple and would save you some money if you "plugged it in" yourself. Good luck,

Jerry

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