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Old 09-03-2010, 02:53 PM   #1
johnandjessica
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Question 96 SL1 dwont stay running

! HELP !i have just recently bought a 96 SL1. it was sitting for over a year an was going to be scrapped so i got a deal on it. it has 180ooo kms (im in ontario) automatic single ohc. i tried to boost it at the sellers but i didnt want to blow my computer by excessive cranking through booster cables so i took it home and put a good battery in it (the old battery would make my cables HOT). it has a remote starter but im quite positive i disabled it with the tiny topggle switch under the dash (mechanic mode?) . now i put a little fresh gas in it and it will start, kinda. it starts rough at first and only if i hold the throttle open a little it will start. it will "spit fire" but wont start unless i hold the throttle open a bit more than an idle. it will not idle without assistance. anyway when i do get it running, and try keeping it running, it only runs smooth for maybe 15 seconds max then dies and wont start again immediately, but it does re start after trying ten minutes later.... my old temp sensor (ects?) was reading warm when it will barely run so i put a used replacement in from my step-fathers parts yard since saturns apparently have issues with this sensor, it was one of my first suspects. this one works better i think but im having the same running problem. i know old gas isnt good so im gonna run some injector cleaner/ fuel conditioner through it with some more fresh gas, but it does run on whats in the tank now. i think it may be a clogged cat-converter or just the fuel perhaps clogging up in the filter or injectors? it has a small exhaust leak but im not sure if it is behind the converter where it wont help the clogged converter issue. there is a "tire valve" on the fuel line above the filter where u can test your fuel pressure and when i press it after the fuel pump runs, a small amount of clean looking fuel pressure sprays out. i know fuel is getting to the injectors, im just not sure if its enough to keep it running and maybe thats why it stalls out (starving) or maybe its building pressure up to the cataylatic converter untill it stalls? why wont it idle? i'll post more after i try the 'sea-foam' injector cleaner and more fresh fuel...
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

our spark plugs and wires are brand new
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

1-The coolant sensor must be a brass one, not the plastic (round nosed) one. Be sure the connector isn't corroded from leaking coolant.

2-Pull the air cleaner tube off and clean the throttle body of crud.

3-The fuel pressure test valve should have a healthy spray of fuel coming out when the valve is depressed. Since the engine runs it shouldn't be an issue for now. A fuel pressure gauge could be useful for more accurate pressure readings.

4-Look over the ignition system and remove the coils and module for a general cleaning.

5-An easy test for a clogged catcon would be to remove the front O2 sensor as an alternate exhaust path. If the engine suddenly runs better, its the catcon.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

the coolant sensors i have, have brass threads but a round plastic plug. a new one is only 18.oo at carquest. i'll get a new one soon. i noticed the temp guage i replaced had a slightlyhigher reading than this one when the engine was cold. (also the temp guage goes to the midde or around running temp when un plugged). the coil pack looks a lil expanded from the plates rusting/ corroding. humidity is high most of the year in southeastern ontario. appreciate the help
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

removing the o2 sensor is easy, and would let the exhaust go somewhere, (probably right on the rad but never-the-less) but the car runs rough already, that wont affect how it runs/ make it harder to run?
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

The important part is the tip that goes into the engine's head. That, and the connector (cleaning a corroded connector does not work, ask me how I know )

You can see the round nose resin one fdryer is talking about on the right in this pic
OK, I fail at linking to pics. click on my pictures and find the pic there

I'd also check the airbox and filter since it has been sitting. I pulled out a bunch of crud out of my 97's air box, and about a pound or two of old mouse nest out of the resonator. The car had been sitting for three years. I have never had a problem with running on old gas (including the 97's 3 yr old gas) so I don't think that is your problem.

If you suspect the cat being clogged you can give it a whack and listen for a rattle, or remove the front O2 sensor and see if it idles better (will be loud though, so don't do it at night) - this gives the exhaust another way out
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Old 09-03-2010, 05:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

Excellent observation of the faulty round nosed plastic coolant sensor. Don't use it. The brass one is all brass with a blunt nosed tip.

Try the new coolant sensor first and see how the engine runs. Rich running and flooding are the characteristics of the faulty plastic coolant sensors. Anticipate a flooded engine requiring a short run to clear out the excess fuel as the engine is fed the correct air/fuel mixture from the improved sensor.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

i noticed the coolant sensors i have are a little different from one another. only the part that is not visble, inside the head. the part of the sensor that goes inside the head is round with a rounded tip like this ) on one (plastic?), and the other is round with a flat tip/ straight shoulder lke this ] (brass?) the one with the flat tip i could stand up with he plug facing up because the probe is flat. i think the internal probe is brass on that one. the other couldnt stand that way 'cuz it has a round probe which is usually in the coolant. i know my plug isnt corroded because i get 3 different temp readings from one sensor to another to unplugged. they read which tells me my plug is fine, as it looks to be. i found some rodent nesting beside the fuse box under the hood, but none in the airbox. now im narrowing my suspects to a clogged catalytic converter or fuel that cant keep up to the engines consumption, i think one of these is causing the stalling out. if it wont fry my rad or cause worse running characteristics i'll pull the front o2 sensor and see if it runs, i think its the converter... besides the fact that it needs assistance to start and idle, that one is a head-scratcher...unless the poor octane levels of the old fuel make it hard to start and idle?? i cant wait to put the injector cleaner through it, im doing that this weekend along with more fresh fuel and probably the o2 / cat-converter pressure test. we have an event to attend tomorrow and we are always busy so maybe sunday i will time
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

i have both sensors from your picture CHAOS, i now know the brass one, or the one i should use is the flat probed one, as i suspected. i just cant remember which is installed in the engine currently. i think i took the flat tiped one out after hearing about the faulty sensors, not knowing which was which at the time. also i think the ignition key switch is a little whacky, sometimes when i turn it backward, i hear a small back-fire click, like an instantanious touch of the starter, like a tiny back-fire or putt ? it is not my main concern right now but is odd, may be due to compresson in my exhaust / clogged converter? i can also remove the key in various switch positions like the 'acc' and 'run' positions. the donor car i got the other sensor from may have a good swtch if there is a key with it (scrap yard car) The donor car has a/c and many power options where mine does not.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:57 AM   #10
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

Look at the side by side pictures of the round nosed faulty sensor against the flat nosed brass one; the external shoulder of each one is different. One is rounded before the hex portion and the other is square shouldered. Use the physical profiles to determine which is which.

With the correct ects, run the engine and if it still stalls remove the front O2 sensor for the clogged cat test.
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Old 09-07-2010, 12:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

today, i made sure the proper coolant temp sensor was in the engine and i tried to run the sl1, but it turned over more than it fired. i removed the front o2 sensor and then it wouldn't even fire. i put the o2 sensor back in and it instantly ran ...... for about 4 seconds. then it stalled right out like i turned the key off... i tried loosening the o2 sensor to see if there was pressure there, but there was none. i tried to re-start the engine, it wouldnt. it fires and runs when it wants, so i havent bothered with the ignition system. ALTHOUGH, the oil hasnt been changed since we bought the car, it is above the "full" mark and when it got it on my hands, i noticed it smelled more like gas than oil. my guess is the previous owner couldnt get it running from sitting a year and severely flooded the engine? i dont think there is a hole in a piston or anything cuz it runs pretty smooth when it does run. i have only put $6.oo candian of fresh fuel in it, and havent tried the fuel injector cleaner yet either... i may get some tonight hopefully but we dont make alot of money, so just buying the car kinda drained alot of this months' spending money unfortunately. im dont know why it doesnt like to idle or why it just dies, or why it only starts when it wants, or why it doesnt start after it dies. Im getting very frustrated. it has spark. it has fuel. i took the o2 sensor out. my step dad said "ground the sensor with you cables, like it is when its in the exhaust" but there was no pressure when i removed the o2 sensor after it running and dying. and maybe it would only run with the o2 sensor in cuz maybe it does have to be grounded, but i didnt find any pressure in the exhaust after it running and dying anyway so i didnt try to remove it and ground it. unless its just a "restriction" in the converter which wont ''build pressure''. or maybe the oil being so full and contaminated with fuel makes it stall and die? but it must have gotten flooded from not starting from SOMETHING. but it wasnt the fact that it was flooded b4 they flooded the oil. they must have had some issue, they had the correct coolant sensor in it to begin with... i put the correct one back in after not knowing which was which. but the oil was contaminated and 1/4 inch above the full mark when we got it... its a no-brainer that the oil needs changing, but the engine runs... just dont know why it wont keep running. or idle. and it must have flooded from not properly running or starting from WHAT?
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:05 PM   #12
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

The easy way to tell about a flooded engine; either hold the gas pedal all the way to the floor while starting until the engine fires up or remove the plugs to see or smell raw fuel. If you pull the plugs and find them wet, blip the starter for a few seconds to blow out any remaining fuel in the cylinders before replacing the plugs for another try.
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:41 PM   #13
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Happy Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

i have made some progress today. i changed the oil in the SL1 and i got some more fresh fuel and injector cleaner (and treatment *seafoam*). I put about 40% of the seafoam injector cleaner/conditioner/treatment in the tank with the fresh fuel. the car started with some assistance, but quickly died again. i said to my girlfriend "watch it wont re-start now" and it wouldnt. so i showed her how to turn the engine over just briefly so i could check for spark at the wires without getting completely shocked. it ran so i assumed it would have spark... right? guess not. no spark on any of the 4 wires. ?so the engine would run, barely, then lose spark?? i thought maybe it had to do with the remote starter so i cycled it on, and off but there was no difference. "FDRYER" said remover the coils and module for a cleaning, so i did. i found alot of corrsion behind the coils and module plate. i cleaned all 3 pieces up well and the spots where the coil grounds to the engine too. after putting it back together i found no difference. no spark. the coils looked a little rusted and expanded, with 'separating plates', so i went back to the donor car again and found a surprisingly good coil pack. the coils and module looked fairly new. i installed them on our car and the difference was like day and night. it fired right up! no assistance, lots of power, and it will idle now. though it idles quite rough and shaky, and the check engine light comes on and off. it would never idle on its own before. i guess my cataylatic converter is ok and my fuel is keeping up to the engines' consumption because i ran it for several minutes at just under 2000 rpm, where it would run smoother than an idle. it doesnt like to idle smooth , and that is my next issue to solve. i guess you can put that seafoam in the vaccum lines, or in the oil, or in the fuel depending on what you want to do. i may try a touch of it in the oil and a drop or two in the vaccum lines to clean 'er all out.

so now, why does it idle so rough? it may just need a good run if it hasnt really had one in 2 years.... > ? ?
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

so i guess the flooding was caused by no spark to ignite the fuel, after the coil got hot, or after it ran for a second, it wouldnt spark? whatever the case, the fuel wasnt burning thus washing down the cylinders with gas, running by the piston rings, and into the oil :P judging by the way the oil level and smell was, they turned the engine over alot without it firing. the oil was loaded with fuel
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:15 PM   #15
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

The rough running may be for any number of reasons and will have to be sorted out. Finding faulty coils did a lot to get the engine running. With a poor idle there may be at least two reasons; possible faulty idle air control valve (IACV) or low compression. The compression test can tell you the state of general health of the engine. The iacv controls idling by adjusting the rpm according to engine temps. Normal cold engine start up should have the idle running around 1200rpm, gradually dropping back to 800-900rpm as the engine warms up. The varying rpm's are from the iacv.

You can search for a test for proper iacv movement.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:32 PM   #16
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Question Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

i took the sL1 around the corner to carquest (with a rough idle and leaking exhaust) because the check engine light comes on at an idle and they have a diagnostic code reader. they scanned the car for free because i buy stuff there, along with my stepfather spending alot of moulah there too. i had several codes come up (lovely) including a faulty TPS code (which i suspected since it wouldnt affect the already poor idle when i unlpugged it while running), and a faulty Cam position sensor code (i didnt even know were that was located on the engine), along with an exhaust pressure/leak code (duh, a anyone could hear that much), and random misfire code which im told may only be due to the faulty sensors (especially the cam sensor). i may try a used TPS from the donor car, for a chance, since they are $60.oo new and we are tight for cash this month. the cam sensor we will probably get new, if i dont have it fixed from bone-yard pars within a week, as they are only $25.oo new. just driving it around the corner today gave me with a good feeling that im making progress with the fact that she will run and drive now.

so where is the cam sensor on a sohc 96 sL1? im sure i'll discover its location on on of these informative forums if need be. im off to discover lol!
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:57 PM   #17
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

There are no cam position sensors on the S-series cars. The error code points to the ignition system; ignition module, coils, wires and plugs.

With the engine running in the dark, spray a light water mist on the ignition system and watch for sparks. Any sparking would indicate a weakness.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:51 AM   #18
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

Get the CODE(S) rather than the interpretations; the interpretations are intended to sell you stuff. With the actual codes (P0xxx), we can help diagnose what's actually going on. A code with a description mentioning a particular sensor does NOT necessarily mean it's that sensor that needs to be replaced.
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:55 AM   #19
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Dizzy Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

really? lovely... well the plugs, wires, coil module and coils have all been replaced. i will try to replace the throttle position sensor and go from there i guess. i was hoping it was just the cam sensor like te code indicated, maybe they meant the crank sensor? *!#@ !!!!!
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:16 AM   #20
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Default Re: 96 SL1 dwont stay running

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnandjessica View Post
really? lovely... well the plugs, wires, coil module and coils have all been replaced. i will try to replace the throttle position sensor and go from there i guess. i was hoping it was just the cam sensor like te code indicated, maybe they meant the crank sensor? *!#@ !!!!!
It's most likely not the crank sensor; they seldom throw a code, and when they fail, the engine just doesn't run, period. It's most definitely not the cam sensor, because there isn't one. It's possible the TPS is fine as well; once again, replacing a sensor mentioned in the description of a trouble code doesn't necessarily clear the code. Think of the sensors as "messengers"; the TPS might be doing its job properly, reporting a problem that's elsewhere. This is why the codes, rather than the interpretations, are important. Owners/drivers (and honest mechanics) use the codes to diagnose problems; FLAPSes use the interpretations to sell parts.
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