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Old 09-26-2021, 02:48 AM   #1
Gerheardt
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Default Is this the end?

Hello everyone! I'm back after a lot of time, as i usually do, because i need help once again. What a douche, that Gerheardt!

Ok, so here's my story, which will lead to my current issue.

In summer 2020, i converted my automatic 1995 SL2 to manual and i still want to thank everybody in here that guided me through this great adventure. The car went fine and was a real joy to drive until yesterday.

After about a week without driving my car, i received a part which caused the car to be on stands under the passenger side. I replaced it, put the car down on its 4 wheels and half an hour passed. I went eating. After the supper, i went for a ride but something was wrong. The engine lacked power, hesitated (especially in higher gears at lower velocity + giving more throttle). The more i rolled, the worst it became. I've been able to come back home after 20-30kms, but it was really not going well!

I waited for the car to get colder then began to do some tests. The issue reminded me an extreme version of when my 99 Tercel had tired coil packs, so i cleaned all contacts/grounds, verified that everything was in good shape and well connected. I looked in my receipts and history, the spark plugs are 4 years old, 44 000kms (They're at half their usual lifespan). I have no check engine code, at least nothing new. I have that pesky code 26 that is there at all times with the 95 Dohc manual ECU, but not with my old 95 Dohc auto ECU).

Only clue i have so far is that spark plug 1-2-4 are pale as a sheet of paper and number 3 is darker than expected. It's actually the shade the 4 used to be, like barely too rich.

Fuel filter is not old, gas is fresh and the last time i drove the car, it was going fine and it was 1-2 weeks ago only. Nothing changed on the car since that last ride excepted for the front shock assembly and the car being tilted on his driver side for a week or 2. I put new gas at 1/4 of the ride just in case and it changed nothing. The engine seemed to run colder than usual, then i stopped the heater inside and it seemed back to normal. The weather was humid and rainy, just as the last time i used the car 1-2 weeks before. Today it was dry and warm and even tho i cleaned and inspected the ignition parts, the car still acts very bad.

It sounds like a Subaru in the worst conditions, but it seems to be less obvious when the car is not turned on for a long time. Engine oil is at level, nothing odd there. Coolant is at level and nothing odd there either.

Catalytic converter untouched (Since it was raised from a side, someone could have tried to stole it and fill the hole with something i guess)

Any idea of what is going on? I tend to think my injectors decided they had enough after 320 000kms, but what do i know! After all, if my fuel pump was not pushing enough or the fuel regulator was faulty, i would have 4 identical spark plugs, no?

Thank you to anyone able to help me. I fear my engine already suffered damages, sadly

Here's a little pic of my poor car after all those years:

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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 09-26-2021, 03:23 AM   #2
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Default Re: Is this the end?

Sorry to ask stupid questions, but: have you checked the air intake/filter? I only ask because I did not see it mentioned.
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Old 09-26-2021, 04:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is this the end?

Yeah! I thought about it and the filter is almost new and nothing is clogged.

I just looked at each injector's resistance (impedance in english?) and they're all at 2.6ohms. The Haynes manual says it should be between 1.5 and 2.5. I guess they're ok? I will test if i hear them with the old screwdriver trick tomorrow. I also noticed under intake runner 3 a plug that is oily a lot. It has a white (or yellow?) lined green wire and and orange one too. What is it? EDIT: My Haynes manual told me it's the crank position sensor. Could my issue be related to this? It's not easy to reach, i doubt to be able to clean/inspect/test it :/
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms

Last edited by Gerheardt; 09-26-2021 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 09-26-2021, 08:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is this the end?

The swap guide, which I'd believe over anything Haynes prints, says 2-4ohms on the injectors for '91-'95.

Sounds more like something plugged the catalytic converter rather than someone removed it. An easy test is pulling the front O2 sensor out of the exhaust and going for a test drive, if it's better then there's a blockage in the exhaust (some cat-con failures result in a plugged muffler too).

Billr is always suggesting a compression test for the oddest symptoms, but the stated symptoms make sense for a compression test too. Under 180psi means time for a rebuild, any uneven (more than 10% different) cylinder means time for a rebuild and from what I've experienced and read on here the engines are noticeably unhappy with less than 150psi (haven't seen anyone post about a running engine with less than 135psi).
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Old 09-26-2021, 03:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is this the end?

I'll take a look at the catalytic converter test, then. The compression test will follow, but if the compression is bad, i fear it will reveal the result and not the cause...

Last time i checked, it was 190 on all 4 and the 4 spark plugs were showing a little bit too rich. Those were good times
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 09-26-2021, 04:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Is this the end?

I did the no O2 sensor test. Noise apart, it changed nothing. Anyway the air flow that was going out of the tailpipe before the test seemed normal to me.

I tried my previous ECU from the time the car was automatic and it didn't go better. I sadly forgot to try to look for the codes it may have found other than transaxle ones.

For the compression test, i may take it later tonight, but i don't see how it could lead to clues on what's going on. Probably just clues of what this problem caused to the engine.

I also tried to hear the injectors with the screwdriver trick but the engine is way too loud to hear anything. If they were broken i guess the car would not start and idle so easily and they would not give 2.6ohms of reading each, right?
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 09-27-2021, 01:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is this the end?

New test done: the water mist on the spark plug wires, coil and somehow the module under them. No spark visible at night...

Still wondering what the heck is going on.

My crank position sensor is covered in oil. Could a bad reading could result in such symptoms? If i want to test/change the said sensor, what is the easier way to reach it? By under the car? Side? Through the intake manifold?
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 09-27-2021, 02:16 AM   #8
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Default Re: Is this the end?

(That "edit" button being available only for few minutes is a real shame...)

I made some research and the oily connector and wires i see between the intake runners 3 and 4 is in fact my Vapor Canister Purge Valve / Solenoid. I really doubt this is my problem, but since the crank position sensor is very close in the oily area, i should definitively take a look there soon. I think i will be able to play there if i remove the air filter, the rubber air ducts and some parts near the EGR valve. The symptoms are similar to what a faulty crank position sensor can do, as YT mechanic videos says, so...

Any new idea or test to propose is still welcome, btw!
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 09-27-2021, 07:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Is this the end?

Usually the CPS is like the starter, works when it's cold but doesn't when it's hot. Same with the TPS though that's often more intermittent.

Check the fuel pressure as well. Not sure what the engine requires to run at all, but it needs over 30psi to run properly. Often a tired pump, failed regulator or plugged filter only allow 15-25psi which lets the engine run good at an idle and maybe rev to the neutral rpm limiter but then it runs like crap while going down the road.

If anything is oil covered that usually means the valve cover gasket has failed and with '91-'98's if it has the plastic cover it's very often warped. The best fix is swapping the aluminum cover on, but that's getting harder to find and may require new plug wires as well. Abusing RTV can help the warped area on the plastic cover but it's probably not a long-term fix.
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Old 09-27-2021, 08:12 AM   #10
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Default Re: Is this the end?

I'd start with a compression test. Simple quick and will give you a good view of the overall health of the engine.

Second I would spark test the coils. The difference in the plugs points to either a week spark or low compression.

Good luck
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Old 09-28-2021, 04:32 AM   #11
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Default Re: Is this the end?

I will probably do the compression test since i have all i need in hand. I'm still sure it will only reveal if the problem broke the engine and it won't give hints on what is wrong.

For the fuel pressure test, i sadly don't have a tester and my good friend who's a mechanic junkie don't have one either. I'm almost sure that if the fuel pressure was not good, all 4 spark plugs would look the same. My filter is recent so i would not consider that. Tired fuel pump and/or regulator could happen, but the only hint i have at the problem kinda debunks those theories. After all, if the pressure was low or too high, both the pump and regulator are on a single line. After the gas passed through the regulator, normally only the injectors themselves have the possibility to cause different results in the combustion chamber. Well, them and ignition, i guess. I could imagine the injectors closer to the regulator could have access to more pressure than the ones at the other end of the fuel rail, but my darker spark plug is the second closer.

I will test the CPS with the spark between the 2 tips of the left coil. Since i have the car, it's long to start when warm outisde and instantly starts at very cold weather. Apparently it smell gas too. With what happens right now, i would bet the CPS was always broken and now it's worse than ever.

Thank you for your help guys. I don't feel every tests you propose makes sense, but i really want to give them a try just in case, if i have the tools, of course. I will probably end up buying the damn gauge. One never has enough tools!

Ah, yeah! By the way i already have the aluminum valve cover. The gasket is changed under my ownership, but i could have done the job wrong. I would bet the oil is from the previous gasket or from a drunk-like guy putting oil everywhere while adding/changing oil. Cough cough
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 09-30-2021, 07:27 AM   #12
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Default Re: Is this the end?

And then the only hint i had vanished, but not the poor running condition. Spark plug 1-2-4 are now showing an usual mixture, number 3 is dark as the night. Compression is still at 190 at all 4. There is a pocket lightning between the electrodes of the left coil when i test the crank position sensor.

What the hell is going on... I'm really clueless. I have an appointment in October in a carburetor/injection specialist, but i would prefer to find the problem with your help. Any other idea of what i could test?
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms
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Old 10-02-2021, 12:02 AM   #13
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Default Re: Is this the end?

You guys seems to have abandoned, but i'm not doing so.

I tested the throttle position sensor minutes ago and it's fine. Receives 5 volts, ground is grounding, signal is coming back (0.5 to 4.5 volts, smooth variations of voltage making sense with the throttle position, even tested while gently knocking on it).

I'm really clueless on what's going on. Every part i tested that may be linked to such running conditions seems to be fine, but the engine's still not running well and the only hint i had vanished...

Nobody can/wants to throw another test at me that i could perform?
...
1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
2000 automatic Volvo S70 probably more than 400 000kms

Last edited by Gerheardt; 10-02-2021 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 10-02-2021, 12:41 AM   #14
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Default Re: Is this the end?

From your posts, is the engine misfiring to the point you can easily hear it, or just lacking power?

Plenty of things left to check really... you are just getting started.


Since you mentioned temperature, how cool is it running?


I might take a peek at the EGR. You can block it for free, and they can wreak havoc on mixtures and temps.

Also consider that since it's a '95, it's slower to set a code on many things, but also easier to fool at times. You can disconnect the ECTS and force open loop as well as force the fan on. If it's injector related that might confirm or deny injector operation.
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Old 10-02-2021, 10:17 AM   #15
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Post Re: Is this the end?

I don't see mention of possible intermittent ignition control module ???

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Old 10-02-2021, 12:40 PM   #16
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Default Re: Is this the end?

44,000 km is near the change interval. What plugs are installed?
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Old 10-02-2021, 11:42 PM   #17
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Default Re: Is this the end?

@Signmaster: The engine seemed to run a little colder than usual when i had the 20-30kms ride where i barely came back home. When i shut down the heater, it went back to normal (1-2 needles under the middle mark). The engine sounds a little off at idle, but nothing seems problematic until it rolled a lot, then it almost sounds like knocking.

I don't think it misfires. No code for that. The more the engine is warmed, even if not under load, it's more and more in lack of power. When it's just started, it's going rough, but not to the point that i fear not getting back home.

I had EGR codes before and it instantly lights the Check Engine. I cleaned it and the code vanished as instantly. It makes me think that if something unusual was noticed by the ECU, it would pop up the CE light quickly. I mean more noticeable issues like knocking, EGR, misfiring, but probably not small EVAP leaks.


@SRGW It's one of the first tests i done. I cleraned the thing, tested ohms and it also recieves mist of water while testing the coils and wires and nothing seems problematic from that module.


@Cheyne: Those are Denso Platinum at 0.04 of gap, as suggested in the manual and the parts store. They're supposed to last double that MINIMUM.



I will go take a ride in few minutes, just in case it actually fixed itself. It could happen, especially since the spark plugs now shows 3 ok spark plugs and a black one. Seems more promising and usual than 3 paper white ones and a barely too rich one.

If it's still doing it, could a video showing it on the road and under the hood may be worthy for you to help me?
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1995 manual Saturn SL2 320 000kms
1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
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Old 10-03-2021, 12:32 AM   #18
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Default Re: Is this the end?

Ok, so i came back from a ride. The weather is similar to when i had my 20-30 kms ride, but so far the weather doesn't seem to matter on what's going on. This time, i rolled around 3-4 kms. Here are a (i hope) better description of the issue.

When i crank the engine, it starts instantly. At idle from the engine bay, nothing seems off. From the exhaust tip, it seems ok, from the RPM gauge too.

I then take the car and the first 200meters the car goes as usual. After that 200meters, it slowly becomes hesitant and irregular. So far, only the feeling inside shows something is off. The rpm seems normal even though the car is switching from lack-o-powa to normal and is shaking me a lot inside. Really, it's like some vtec kicked in on a 50hp car to go up to 124hp.

When the engine starts to warm up, like 1/3 from 0 to middle mark, the engine also starts to rumble like a Subaru and become even more lacking in power. I again almost didn't got back home. I had to start at a stop sign under a hill and it kept stalling. It was starting with more difficulty after a stalling. I had to do a 180, try to reach some speed, then climb the hill from the other side. I'm not so good with manuals, but i'm used to this car and the fact it was constantly stalling was due to a lack of power, not from my lack of talent.

The following video shows how it was going at idle after the small ride. I switched between the gauges, the exhaust tip and the engine bay. When the rpms are raising, it's me playing with the throttle, just in case we could hear the Subaru rumbling as i heard it in the car. After the 20-30kms ride i was able to hear it from under the hood, but not this time, sadly.

I hope it may help you all to help me: https://youtu.be/Jrd4UQKhJEM
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1995 automatic Toyota Tercel 28 000kms
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Old 10-03-2021, 08:22 AM   #19
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Default Re: Is this the end?

Should probably take those junk plugs out and put NGK V-Powers, or some other cheap copper plug, in. Platinum's usually wear out in about 500 miles in these cars, not sure why people keep buying them.
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Old 10-03-2021, 11:30 AM   #20
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Default Re: Is this the end?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
Should probably take those junk plugs out and put NGK V-Powers, or some other cheap copper plug, in. Platinum's usually wear out in about 500 miles in these cars, not sure why people keep buying them.
+1 on this. The wrong type of platinum plugs can play all kinds of games with these cars.


I'd also still do the EGR block. At times on the early cars it will set a code quickly, other times it won't. I experienced this on my car, and it was hit and miss one time but much more minor the other. That car was also a 1995.

If you can't check fuel pressure right now, at least all the vacuum line off the regulator and see if it smells of fuel. That pretty much always indicates that it's shot.
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