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Old 07-31-2018, 12:32 PM   #1
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2001 SL2
Default Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

I was doing about 70 mph last night and had just pulled off onto my exit when the service engine light came on, immediately followed by the battery light, which was immediately followed by the red engine/oil light. Needless to say, I turned it off and pulled over right away (luckily had a nice wide graveled shoulder).

There was no noise, and there were no earlier symptoms to make me think something was out of whack. The dipstick showed about 1/2 quart low, so I hope the engine isn't toast. The lights were working okay, so if the engine's not shot, it doesn't appear at first glance to be the alternator, either.

I had it towed to the shop where they are looking at it today. Any ideas on what could cause the cascading lights? The red engine light totally freaked me out!
...
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2001 SL2 manual - original owner - remanufactured engine at 228k miles, December 2015
1992 SL1 manual - bought used in '93, totaled in '00 at 170k miles, drove it cross-country a lot!
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:43 PM   #2
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

All of those indicators are driven from the BCM via a serial data link. Best guess is the BCM has decided its time to fail, randomly.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:47 PM   #3
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Sounds like your ignition simply just turned off.
Hate to ask this, but since you did not say; did you try to restart the car after gliding to a stop? If you did, then the tow is understandable.
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:14 PM   #4
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2001 SL2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Thanks for the quick replies!

If it's the BCM, where's the best place to get one? I saw a remanufactured one on Rock Auto.

If it's the ignition switch turning off, wouldn't all of the dash lights come on like they do when you start the car? Also, no, I didn't try to restart it, and the engine was still running when I shut it off.

Even though it showed oil on the dipstick, with the red engine light on I would never try to start the car until the problem is found. I blew up a motor in my youth, and I don't want to repeat the experience! It was my first car, a 1967 VW squareback with an air-cooled motor and dual carburetors.
...
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2001 SL2 manual - original owner - remanufactured engine at 228k miles, December 2015
1992 SL1 manual - bought used in '93, totaled in '00 at 170k miles, drove it cross-country a lot!
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:40 PM   #5
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2001 SL2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Just got off the phone with the mechanic - he said it's showing a million codes related to data, so OldNuc, your idea seems to be right (as usual! ). The mechanic also said it's now running like a top and of course not showing any lights at all. I will keep you posted on how the story ends.
...
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2001 SL2 manual - original owner - remanufactured engine at 228k miles, December 2015
1992 SL1 manual - bought used in '93, totaled in '00 at 170k miles, drove it cross-country a lot!
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Old 07-31-2018, 02:46 PM   #6
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

The BCM has either 2 or 3 connectors. Disconnect battery negative and pull each and clean with contact cleaner Only. Wipe off the board connectors with a soft rag and cleaner. It is located under the top dash cover, careful with the tabs. Remember how many connectors as there are only 2 different Saturn BCM modules, 2 or 3 connectors. Options must match if swapping and using security reset to marry to the car.
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Old 07-31-2018, 03:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Quote:
Originally Posted by Upstate Saturn View Post
The dipstick showed about 1/2 quart low, so I hope the engine isn't toast.
1/2 quart low is nothing.

I bought a 97 saturn SC2 and didn't check the oil for the first two weeks, when I finally checked it I found it only had a few millimeters showing on the dipstick. Car was fine.

You pretty much have to run it dry to kill a saturn : P
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:24 PM   #8
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

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Originally Posted by Upstate Saturn View Post
...........Even though it showed oil on the dipstick, with the red engine light on......
Red engine light?
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Old 07-31-2018, 09:54 PM   #9
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2001 SL2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Red engine light?
The oil pressure light...

Also, in one of the posts above it was mentioned that I shouldn't worry as long as there is oil on the dipstick. But I thought you could have a good oil level and still damage the motor if you lose oil pressure. Am I missing something? I realize that in this particular case that doesn't apply, but I am curious.
...
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1992 SL1 manual - bought used in '93, totaled in '00 at 170k miles, drove it cross-country a lot!
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Old 07-31-2018, 10:25 PM   #10
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Ok, clarification made clear. What you described from the first post is most likely the engine died while driving at 70 mph. If you ever noticed, when turning on ignition and waiting a few seconds, all the instrument panel lights turn on then turn off leaving seat belt (if not fastened), battery and oil light. The battery and oil light will not turn off until the engine's started. The opposite occurred as you may not have noticed the tachometer going dead when you saw the engine, battery and oil light turning on - the engine died. Ignition was still ON but the engine died as you coasted off the road. You won't hear anything if you have the radio turned up to drown out the boring daily drive. The only clues are the tach needle suddenly dropping dead, battery and oil light since the engine needs to be running to turn off battery and oil light. The tach is dead until the engine's running and dead when the engine dies (as you may not have noticed). At high speed, power steering is lost too (engine not running) but you won't feel the loss of power steering until slowing down below around 15 mph when steering becomes stiff from lack of power steering. The engine died, period. The question is why?

Every internal combustion engine requires electrical power to operate the EFI system. To operate the EFI system requires power - battery, battery cables, their connections, alternator and drive belt system. Something in the power chain was disrupted and may come back to haunt you if the problem isn't exposed and repaired/corrected. It may be as simple as one of three battery connections, red battery cable to starter, battery negative to chassis and engine block, a loose connection to the alternator, a faulty or worn out alternator, loose or worn drive belt tensioner.

Oil level should never be associated with the oil pressure light. Even if the dipstick shows zero oil, there's usually three quarts of oil to allow engine running. This in not to be construed as an excuse to allow engine oil level to run below the dipstick. When the oil light turned on while driving, only one of two things occurred; the oil sending unit single wire broke or the engine died. You were driving when descriptions seem to be the engine suddenly dying. The fact that everything is normal means the wire from the oil pressure sensor isn't broken. The oil light turns on and off as usual. The battery light turns on and off as usual.
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Old 07-31-2018, 10:28 PM   #11
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

If you lose oil pressure the amount of oil in the pan is of no concern as it is not getting to the bearings and lifters. If there is no lifter clatter then it is a decent guess the switch or BCM has failed.
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:05 PM   #12
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2001 SL2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

My mechanic also came to the conclusion that the engine probably died as others have stated here, but that I didn't notice because of the other lights and the radio playing. As mentioned earlier, there were several codes related to data links, so he checked everything and cleaned all the connections. That cleared the codes and it ran fine.

On my way home, I was again at highway speed when the car died without making any noise. I had the presence of mind this time to notice that the tachometer did drop to zero. I pulled off to the side and tried to restart her, and she turned over fine, but wouldn't start. I got towed back to the shop.

The mechanic checked it the next day, and it wasn't showing any codes. So he did the highly sophisticated 'tap on it' test and determined that the crank position sensor was no good. The car now has a new one, and I got home fine last night without having to hang out with any tow truck drivers.

I hope that's all it was, and that I won't have to see the mechanic for a while. But I can't complain - he did all of the checks and connection cleaning on the data system for free. The mechanic has one of those little hole in the wall shops where you can go in the back and look under the car if you want to. And during this last round of troubles, he wrote down the name of this website (and Old Nuc), so that shows he's open-minded. Maybe he'll buy a Saturn soon and join us! 😁
...
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2001 SL2 manual - original owner - remanufactured engine at 228k miles, December 2015
1992 SL1 manual - bought used in '93, totaled in '00 at 170k miles, drove it cross-country a lot!
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:36 PM   #13
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

While my next remarks may seem like rubbing it in your face, the crank position sensor was on my mind but your descriptions wouldn't lead me to it. I'm not one to shotgun guesses where I tend to ask as many questions requiring two way communications that may involve testing to whittle a problem down. Fortunately for you, your mechanic seems to know his way around EFI systems to determine a faulty and very troublesome intermittent crank sensor. Unless a person is very knowledgeable about EFI systems, crank sensor failures can be one of the most difficult parts to diagnose since it works (the engine runs with absolutely no problems) then fails at random only to work again after awhile. Awhile - engine hot when failure occurs, cool down when it works, repeating. I know because mine failed the same way.

The crank sensor is the electronics version of a heart beat. When it's dead the EFI system is dead. When its working the EFI system runs. There's a small list of things to test to determine crank sensor failure, mainly tests for fuel injector and fuel pump operation. Both fail at the time a crank sensor fails, both work when a crank sensor works. The crank sensor is the heart of EFI systems.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:24 PM   #14
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Oh... and... Fill your oil to the top of the XXXX's or max at "U" or "L" on "FULL".

Not sure about you, but I can HEAR when my engine is just 1/3 quart low.
It sounds slightly "raw".

Fill it up like stated above & it's all homogeneous sounding.
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Old 08-15-2018, 03:27 PM   #15
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2001 SL2
Default Re: Hwy speed: service light, then battery light, then red engine light

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
While my next remarks may seem like rubbing it in your face, the crank position sensor was on my mind but your descriptions wouldn't lead me to it....
As they say in South Carolina where I used to live, "You're fine!" This is an incredibly helpful forum and I'm thrilled that everyone is willing to devote so much time to others' problems. Thanks to all for your replies and yes, Pitcher, I will keep my oil topped off - I normally do but it must have gotten away from me this time.
...
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2001 SL2 manual - original owner - remanufactured engine at 228k miles, December 2015
1992 SL1 manual - bought used in '93, totaled in '00 at 170k miles, drove it cross-country a lot!
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