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Old 02-15-2008, 08:15 PM   #1
photoworks
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Default Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold

First: great forum - great cars. My 94 SL1 has been trouble free since I got it in 2003. Issue: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold. Took it to my trusty shop and they say: replace coolant temp sensor & sensor in coolant overflow jug. $500. Does this sound reasonable? I have skills. How tough? Should I check with a dealer shop?
Thanks for any help.
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Old 02-15-2008, 10:10 PM   #2
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Default Re: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold

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How tough?
Welcome:Not tough at all.If you have a 13mm deep socket and ratchet your in business.With a cold engine remove the expansion tank cap(were you fill the coolant)and reinstall.Remove the wire connector(the one with two wires)from the sensor by squeezing and pulling.Check the connector for corrosion,if any is found replace connector.Remove sensor(a small amount of coolant will be lost) and install new sensor. (PCM sensor)
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Old 02-17-2008, 04:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold

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sensor in coolant overflow jug
That should have ZERO effect on the performance of the engine unless it has failed completely and you run out of coolant. The only thing that sensor does is turn on a "Low Coolant" light in the instrument cluster. If that light isn't on and your coolant is not low then I can't imagine why they would recommend replacement.
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Old 02-17-2008, 03:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold

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Originally Posted by photoworks View Post
First: great forum - great cars. My 94 SL1 has been trouble free since I got it in 2003. Issue: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold. Took it to my trusty shop and they say: replace coolant temp sensor & sensor in coolant overflow jug. $500. Does this sound reasonable? I have skills. How tough? Should I check with a dealer shop?
Thanks for any help.
Im sure the shop meant the ECTS (PCM sensor) Why would they change the temp sending sensor for drivability issues? N E ways. You can change your own ECTS (PCM) sensor for a fraction of the cost like my buddy rich says. I got my ECTS for 12 buck @ auto-stoned. Get a 13 mm deep socket and change the S.O.B. if that doesnt fix your issue then give it to the shop to rip you off. click this link to find easy instructions on how to change it.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=37884
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Old 02-17-2008, 09:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold

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replace ... sensor in coolant overflow jug.
That sensor is not replaceable. You'd have to drain all the coolant and replace the overflow jug altogether.

Besides, that sensor won't go bad unless it's constantly hitting air (which means constant low antifreeze. Then, it corrodes.

Replace that ECTS and you're more than likely good to go.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:24 PM   #6
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Thumbs Up Re: Won't idle when cold; hard starting when very cold

Thanks to all for great help. And patience. Especially since I've discovered this ECTS issue has been discussed for years.

Richpin and mac: it was the easiest car repair I've ever done. Connector was immaculate and the part was $9. Autozone had no sealant on it, so I used teflon tape. It runs like a top! Still has crank windows and an 85 hp engine, tho. I still got more than I paid for.

virnin: Point taken. Didn't make sense to me either.

hit n run: Absolutely correct. In the shop's defense, I've used them for years and they've always made sense before. Replacing the jug is what I should have said.

BUT, they charged me $80 for the diagnosis.

Thanks for the new car!
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