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Old 11-04-2008, 02:13 AM   #1
Cortana
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2001 SC2
Wrench Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Ok, this has me baffled.

Friday: I drove home normally. Nothing odd happened. The car ran fine.
Saturday: Removed defective aftermarket car deck for warranty work, replaced with the Saturn original CD player that it came with. Did not drive
Sunday: Did not drive.

Monday: Car turns over normally. engine shoots up to normal starting RPM then falls down to idle... and completely falls through it without pausing, stalls. I figure I just did something dumb like let off the ignition too early, so I start it again. Same thing. I start it once more, this time holding down the accelerator while I start it. Engine turns over, shoots up to ~4300RPM, then seems to hit a glass ceiling and drops down to ~4000RPM, then flutters back and forth as if it was hitting a governer. Engine runs rough, loud.

I let it settle down for a second, suspecting an engine flood, then slowly hit the gas. It raises normally all the way up to 4300RPM, where it once again reaches that point, then falls to 4000RPM. The more gas I apply at this point, the faster it oscillates between these two values, as if it's being held back. It really feels like the governor is kicking in.

At this point I'm thinking maybe something's just caught in the fuel filter, so I drive it around the block. It seems to have normal, power, and in gear it goes all the way to the red line without the least bit of hesitation, but is loud and feels rough (perhaps just because it was flooded?). I give the engine a good workout and warmup, park it, and check... it still seems to hit the glass ceiling of ~4300RPM.

Color me confused.

I got a ride to work, and experimented more later. The roughness seems to have cleared up mostly, but it still sounds louder than normal in the 3000+ range (This might just be a, exhaust issue that developed at the same time). I think it's a bit rougher than normal, but I could be imaging it.

Here's a bit more info to chew on.
  • The aftermarket deck I installed myself. it's a JVC. The original wiring harness was not hacked or altered, so all I had to do was remove the old deck, remove the harness, and plug the factory one back in.
  • I have a CD changer and sub installed. Neither of these are hooked up to the factory deck. The wiring was pulled through into the passenger side kick panel. None of it is hooked into the car. I've already tried moving the wires to ensure nothing's shorting or grounding out.
  • The only code being thrown is P0442, which has been with the car since I purchased it.
  • I noticed the SECURITY light was on. This didn't really click until later. The factory stereo works fine though, and the alarm/etc seems to be functioning normal as well. It might be because I'd pulled the ABS fuse while it was on for test driving (The ABS kicks in all the time, so I keep the fuse out,... but I put it back in to dump codes so I don't have to sift through 20 codes telling me I pulled the fuse)
2001 Saturn SC2, 100k miles, DOHC. No mods, engine looks clean, no signs of damage or wear on the spark wires, ignition module is clean, oil was changes 1200 miles ago, oil level is good, no leaks, all fluids are normal. The only thing remotely wrong under the hood that I saw is the belt is squeaking.

Does anyone have some insight on this? I'm afraid the ECU might be going off the deep end.
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

~4k is the rev limiter, which only kicks in while you are not moving. it's a "feature"
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you can't mulch at those speeds man, that's too fast
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

+1. This has nothing to do with the CD player

Replace your ECTS. That is probably why your car stalled the first time.
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Old 11-04-2008, 11:44 AM   #4
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1994 SC2
Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

I had something like this happening to me and it turned out to be my IACV, you should check this out.
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tehwarrior View Post
I had something like this happening to me and it turned out to be my IACV, you should check this out.
No, they shouldn't "check it out" because it will do nothing for the symptom described. The OP is hitting the rev limiter, which is built into the S Series so stupid people don't sit there redlining the car in neutral or Park. Completely and totally normal operation for the car. Play with the IAC valve all day, it isn't going to make a bit of difference for what the OP is describing.
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Old 11-04-2008, 06:45 PM   #6
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2001 SC2
Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
Completely and totally normal operation for the car.
So I should be concerned instead that prior to this, the limiter wasn't working?

While troubleshooting idle issues earlier in the year I would frequently push it up well past 4500rpm out of gear for testing (It had a habit of "crashing" through the idle point and stalling, or to a near-stall). This is the first time I've ever seen it hit the limiter.

EDIT: Also, the car is manual. I seem to have forgot to mention that.
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Old 11-04-2008, 06:54 PM   #7
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1995 SL
Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

it should hit the limiter whenever you are not moving. if you are moving, it should not.

you can sometimes get a little past if you really hammer, but it'll then drop down
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you can't mulch at those speeds man, that's too fast
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

TO REITERATE:

Its a neutral rev-limiter, capped at approximately 4000RPM, to prevent damage to the powertrain.
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Old 11-05-2008, 11:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
No, they shouldn't "check it out" because it will do nothing for the symptom described. The OP is hitting the rev limiter, which is built into the S Series so stupid people don't sit there redlining the car in neutral or Park. Completely and totally normal operation for the car. Play with the IAC valve all day, it isn't going to make a bit of difference for what the OP is describing.
I'm sorry Certified Saturn Technician, I missed understod what he was asking, you don't have to get so upset....my bad.
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Old 11-05-2008, 11:59 AM   #10
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2001 SC2
Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Well, the limiter problem is more or less figured out now.

I'm guessing the limiter is based on data from the wheel speed sensors? If so, I know at least one of them is bad on my car (The ABS kicks in abnormally), which could explain why I've not seen this limiter before, and now it's once again gone.

As for the starting issue, it's not returned since, but I'm going to run some fuel injector cleaner through on a tank of high octane gas just to be on the safe side.
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Old 11-05-2008, 12:29 PM   #11
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

The rev limiter is based on the VSS. It can't use the ABS wheel speed sensors, because cars without ABS don't have them.
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:49 AM   #12
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cortana View Post
It really feels like the governor is kicking in.
you're a smart one, aren't ya?

and i thought it was a little overboard for a saturn engineer to even think that somebody would be dumb enough to floor it in neutral on start up and that everybody would know not to do that, just naturally. you've just lowered the bar for all of us. thanks!

you have, however, discovered the neutral rev limiter on the car. congratulations...


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Old 11-06-2008, 08:38 AM   #13
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cortana View Post
I let it settle down for a second, suspecting an engine flood, then slowly hit the gas. It raises normally all the way up to 4300RPM, where it once again reaches that point, then falls to 4000RPM. The more gas I apply at this point, the faster it oscillates between these two values, as if it's being held back. It really feels like the governor is kicking in.
my Saturn S-Series Owner's Handbook says: The maximum rpm is limited in "P" (Park) or "N" (Neutral) to 4000 rpm by your vehicle's computer. This is to prevent damage.
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Old 11-06-2008, 10:10 AM   #14
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

BTW, no-load reving like that will do damage to the engine if you do it enough. I would suggest not repeatedly testing the rev limiter.
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Old 11-07-2008, 10:43 PM   #15
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

the real damage happens when you're revving to 4000 rpm then drop the clutch on a manual or neutral slam an automatic the oe firehawks don't care for that sort of abuse.
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Old 11-09-2008, 12:11 AM   #16
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Default Re: Suddenly capped at 4300rpm... but only when not in gear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eRic 02sc2 View Post
the real damage happens when you're revving to 4000 rpm then drop the clutch on a manual or neutral slam an automatic the oe firehawks , diff pin, and various other parts don't care for that sort of abuse.
fixed.
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