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Old 11-28-2021, 04:00 PM   #1
LiftingStrong
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Default Saturn Ion - Reduced Power Mode&Misfire

Hello,

I was getting a misfire and bad gas mileage, I checked the spark plug holes and see somehow the sparkplugs got fouled with oil in the holes after getting an oil change. Weird. Got a blower to blow out oil as well as brake cleaner to clean oil from the wells. I replaced fouled spark plugs and was getting a code for Cylinder #3 so replaced that ignition coil for good measure. That spruces things up a bit and it rides better.

Car drives but still get a sputter/hesitation on accelerations (usually going uphill) I grab a can of Sea Foam that I use in a new tank of gas (never used fuel system/injector cleaner ever). That seems to clear out a lot of misfires/hesitation but I'm still getting some misfiring even after that. I take another code and am getting Cylinder 3 as an issue. I take it to the mechanic near my house. He reports after an hour that it's just a fuel injector for Cylinder #3 being bad per his code reader. I pay and he replaces it.

Finally get a chance to drive around after I pick it up, noticed that my check engine light blinks quite often while driving versus just on acceleration before, that my engine got "smoky" (white smoke just popped from under the hood), weird but it still drives. I stop by Autozone for another Sea foam and dump that in the gas tank topping off the 3/4 tank of gas.

After that my car seems to enter Reduced Power Mode. Do a little research, maybe it's the throttle body. I pull that out, throttle body looks relatively clean but I clean it and spray it down and reinstall it. Did not fix reduced power mode. Kind of at my wits end. I can only imagine the mechanic might have done a rush job on the injector installation as I informed him the day of after picking it up that misfires were not cleared and gas mileague/check light seemed to get worse.

For reference my codes are:

P1516: Command vs Actual Throttle Position Performance (TAC MODULE)

Secondary DTCs

P0203: Cylinder 3 Injector Control Circuit
P0481 Cooling Fan Relay 2 Control Circuit
P2101: Throttle Actuator Position Performance

These are the codes I got after my car went reduced power mode.

Weird thing is after unplugging the batter for 15 minutes and plugging it back in I drove for a bit, stopped at the store, came out and turned it on to find out Reduced Power Mode subsided...only to come back in an minute or two.
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Old 11-28-2021, 05:39 PM   #2
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Default Re: Saturn Ion - Reduced Power Mode&Misfire

Year, mileage, any mods done for performance? Hard errors won't reset with battery disconnect or push button reset from a reader/scantool. All you did was disconnect battery power and the error returned, unsolved. This is a hard error. Other errors like inadvertently leaving a gas cap loose generating an error can reset on its own when the cap is tightened, engine restarted. OBDII performs self tests every time the engine is started, vehicle driven, detects errors, turns on the check engine or wrench indicator, resets automatically when correct repairs are made or remains lit for up to three ignition/drive cycles to ensure the error was corrected before turning off the cel.

Refrain from any more seafoam since it doesn't work. Personally, I doubt replacing the injector fixed the problem. This may be a mechanical issue that's contributing to one or more error codes that seem out of place. If one were to take error codes literally then the two throttle actuator errors point to replacing the throttle actuator assembly and replacing the cooling fan relay for its error code. Replacing the injector didn't fix anything and my guess is the repair shop threw a part at the problem on your dime. There seems to be more replacement artists (mechanics and dealer service shops) than experienced experts in EFI systems judging from threads reported here over the years. It's your choice to fire the parts cannon or find an expert in EFI systems to diagnose, troubleshoot and repair complex issues like yours.

Mechanical issues may be a well worn engine with possibly lower compression from worn piston rings or worn exhaust valve. Mechanical engine issues aren't seen with error codes and requires someone experienced spending time to perform more than casual diagnostics; cylinder compression/fuel pressure/spark tests, timing chain examination, etc.

Reduced power mode is the self diagnostic program detecting a serious problem with three main parts of the EFI system - electronic throttle, electronic gas pedal and ecm. Pedal tells the ecm where to move throttle, ecm commands throttle to move. Throttle feedback is sent to the ecm to ensure against a runaway engine. Pedal and throttle plate movement signals to the ecm must all be in sync otherwise any error can result in reduced power mode to restrict throttle/engine power to minimum, enough to limp off the road or home. Drive by wire throttle without a means to control or minimize any possibility of a runaway engine is handled by GM describing default programming of reduced power mode. Other manufacturers describe theirs in other words but perform similar functions if electronic throttle/pedal doesn't operate within a narrow range of parameters.

A simple way to check throttle/pedal coordination at home; simply turn on ignition, engine off, have someone move the gas pedal as you observe throttle plate movement. Pedal travel should be mimicked in direct proportion with throttle plate movement.
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Old 11-28-2021, 06:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Saturn Ion - Reduced Power Mode&Misfire

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Year, mileage, any mods done for performance?
2007 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe 2.4 Engine
No mods done for performance as far as I'm aware.
Over 200000 miles.


Quote:
Refrain from any more seafoam since it doesn't work. Personally, I doubt replacing the injector fixed the problem. This may be a mechanical issue that's contributing to one or more error codes that seem out of place. If one were to take error codes literally then the two throttle actuator errors point to replacing the throttle actuator assembly and replacing the cooling fan relay for its error code. Replacing the injector didn't fix anything and my guess is the repair shop threw a part at the problem on your dime. There seems to be more replacement artists (mechanics and dealer service shops) than experienced experts in EFI systems judging from threads reported here over the years. It's your choice to fire the parts cannon or find an expert in EFI systems to diagnose, troubleshoot and repair complex issues like yours.
Well it's strange because up until I went by the mechanic it was at least driving just fine, abut with a minor misfire here and there. Now it's straight up emitting a bit of smoke, idling hard and in low power mode while driving. It's so weird how after the injector change it's running worse than it did. Abut the low power mode didn't manifest until I filled up the gas tank oddly enough. I already did replace the cooling fan relay (20 dollar switch, easy change) and the throttle body I just took out and cleaned so I can only really think the shop did a faulty job or just used an off-brand (I'd done a search and it seems cheap fuel injectors can create rough idling/driving) cheap fuel injector rather than the GM manufacturered version (I've already ordered that to arrive Tuesday morning and will be dropping my car off again at this shop for a refund and refix.)

Quote:
Mechanical issues may be a well worn engine with possibly lower compression from worn piston rings or worn exhaust valve. Mechanical engine issues aren't seen with error codes and requires someone experienced spending time to perform more than casual diagnostics; cylinder compression/fuel pressure/spark tests, timing chain examination, etc.
I'm not thinking that's the case in all honesty as the issues only manifested after the faulty oil change which offered misfires. Before then it was driving just fine about 3 weeks ago. You could be right and it might be worth considering, there's just few mechanics who seem to actually be on their A-game in that regard of properly checking as it sounded like they just ran based off codes and nothing more.


Quote:
Reduced power mode is the self diagnostic program detecting a serious problem with three main parts of the EFI system - electronic throttle, electronic gas pedal and ecm. Pedal tells the ecm where to move throttle, ecm commands throttle to move. Throttle feedback is sent to the ecm to ensure against a runaway engine. Pedal and throttle plate movement signals to the ecm must all be in sync otherwise any error can result in reduced power mode to restrict throttle/engine power to minimum, enough to limp off the road or home. Drive by wire throttle without a means to control or minimize any possibility of a runaway engine is handled by GM describing default programming of reduced power mode. Other manufacturers describe theirs in other words but perform similar functions if electronic throttle/pedal doesn't operate within a narrow range of parameters.

A simple way to check throttle/pedal coordination at home; simply turn on ignition, engine off, have someone move the gas pedal as you observe throttle plate movement. Pedal travel should be mimicked in direct proportion with throttle plate movement.
I'll have them check this Tuesday morning as well just to be safe, I'm currently staying at home alone due to my father being out of town so I couldn't check this alone unfortunately.

Last edited by LiftingStrong; 11-28-2021 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 11-30-2021, 02:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Saturn Ion - Reduced Power Mode&Misfire

Without a second person helper, a brick pressed against the gas pedal should suffice. Approximating pedal position should correlate with throttle plate position by experimenting with several pedal positions and observing whether or not throttle plate position mimics pedal position to determine if this master/slave relationship is correct. A precise method requires a reader or scantool displaying pedal and throttle position.
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Old 11-30-2021, 07:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: Saturn Ion - Reduced Power Mode&Misfire

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Without a second person helper, a brick pressed against the gas pedal should suffice. Approximating pedal position should correlate with throttle plate position by experimenting with several pedal positions and observing whether or not throttle plate position mimics pedal position to determine if this master/slave relationship is correct. A precise method requires a reader or scantool displaying pedal and throttle position.
Turned out to be a wire (fuel line wire?) that was the issue. Apparently the wiring in the engine is showing itís age. Might be good to look into installing a new wiring harness or at least getting older wires replaced?
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Old 11-30-2021, 09:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Saturn Ion - Reduced Power Mode&Misfire

200k miles on a 14yr old car and normal weathering can create age related issues like dry rot in wiring and plastic not covered in new vehicle warranty programs. Tread lightly on brittle wiring.

Most GM fuel pump wiring for EFI systems has the engine computer commanding a fuel pump relay to power up on pins 85 and 86 (relay coil). Closing contacts 30 and 87, sending 12v to the fuel pump (connected to ground). Fuel pumps do not announce their demise when they fail. My L300 fuel pump decided to die one state away in winter conditions at night while returning home. Jumpering across pump relay socket terminals 30 and 87 sends 12v to power a fuel pump immediately regardless of ignition switch position. Depressing the fuel rail's fuel test valve should result in fuel spraying under pressure (cover with a rag). A fuel pressure gauge can display operating pressures.
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