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Old 08-23-2021, 04:34 PM   #1
tismon
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2003 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default L200 RPM Surge with A/C

My 2003 L200 2.2L has started to surge ~1500RPM whenever I turn on the A/C. It'll last for 5-10s and then stop for a minute before cycling again.
The A/C is charged and the air is cold while this is going on.

I've read a long list of possible explanations for this and am at a loss on where to start.

So far, I've cleaned the throttle body some and the MAF sensor. A few months before this started, I did have my brake boost replaced (vacuum related?), but the A/C has been working fine during that time.

Is there anything specific to these Saturns that might give me a place to start looking?

​​​​​​​Thank you
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Old 08-23-2021, 05:24 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

*Any mods to the engine?
*What's coolant temperature on the gauge? If you have a reader capable of displaying actual temperatures, what is it with a warm engine?
*What's idle rpm when ac off?
*Mind sharing your list of possibilities?
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Old 10-06-2021, 09:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

Hey fdryer,
Thank you for the response. This has been on the back burner since I have an old truck that I can drive in the meantime, but I'm determined to get this car to 200k (~5k away). I apologize for the radio silence.

I've slowly been working on this as non-toddler time is short. At one point, my battery died (needed replaced anyway), but that reset the IAC adjustments and after putting in a new batt, it ran great for a day. Both regular idle and when engaging the A/C. After that, the problem came back a few days later.

Over the weekend, I replaced the IAC and cleaned the throttle body some, but foolishly forgot to disconnect the battery. So it of course misbehaved. I disconnected it and had to let it sit for a few days until I got some time again. Yesterday, I reconnected it and it worked great again.

So I'm now giving it some time and will try again with a test drive. Will report back.

EDIT: To answer your questions:
1. No mods
2. I didn't check the temp, but when I tested this more initially, the surging occured both at the beginning of a test drive and at the end, but only when idling. When at speed with ~3k+ RPM, it either didn't happen or wasn't noticeable. So it happened when the coolant was cold and at running temp. It has not varied much while running.
3. ~1k RPM
4. After IAC, I plan to look into the TPS and replace the MAF. I sprayed the MAF with it's special cleaner, but no change.
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Old 10-06-2021, 10:30 AM   #4
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

A quick google revealed these possible answers;

https://www.autoblog.com/2016/12/08/...-conditioning/

https://www.yourmechanic.com/service...-on-inspection

Between the two links, the consensus appears to be that the system could be undercharged or overcharged; the accessory belt that drives it is worn, throttle body dirty and a few other causes, some of which may throw a Check Engine Light.

Before you begin throwing parts at the car, it could be worth spending some of that money on having the AC system checked by an AC Professional. They will be able to determine the level of gas in the system and also if there are any leaks and the operation of the AC Compressor. It is likely to be money better spent than guessing the faulty part.

One thing you could yourself is check the condition of the accessory belt (serpentine belt). They don't last forever and the belt tensioner because it takes up the slack can mask the belt condition for some time. If the belt is worn/cracked, then don;t just renew the belt, change the tensioner as well.
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Old 10-06-2021, 11:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

@Florida

I did leave that out, foolishly. I did have the freon checked and it was right on the money. The compressor is original and probably doesn't have a lot of life left, but it does work well while running and the belt and tensioner are in good shape. I did change those just a few years ago. That was my first move, but it didn't give any new tips.

Thank you for the suggestions and links. I'm checking those out now.
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Old 10-06-2021, 01:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

I wonder if the dead battery wasn't the contributor to these problems and chasing problems was the result. As you know, our cars, trucks and suvs have more electronics relying on the alternator after engine startup. A battery on its last legs may burden the alternator by loading it down, bringing overall voltages below a certain level when electronics become erratic. Approximately 10 vdc would be the borderline between operating and erratic behavior. Normally, after starting up the battery is no longer needed where the alternator supplies all the electrical needs of a vehicle while recharging the battery. 14.5vdc would be indicative of a good alternator output with a good battery.
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Old 10-06-2021, 02:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

Disconnecting the battery is important for many jobs, but I would not have thought it necessary changing something like the iac. For things like that, you'd simply unplug at the connector. If instructions state disconnect battery, then do so. The component would then need to relearn.

When you disconnect the battery, quite a lot of 'memory things' are lost. When the battery is reconnected, the car has to start relearning. That relearning only comes with driving the car. For example your transmission learns your driving habits and sets its memory to your driving style. If the battery is disconnected, the tranny loses that and has to learn all over again and initially can result in less than smooth shifts.

So the moral of this is stop disconnecting the battery at every situation.

On most cars, the rpm will increase when the ac kicks in as that system puts the engine under greater load. I am not familiar with the rpm on the L200, but on the L300 V6 it's more than idle rpm with no ac on.

You may also want to check for any vacuum leaks in the system. If they are the original vacuum pipes, then with age they can crack and leak and also the plastic junction connectors can do the same. A smoke test into the vac system will always reveal if you have a leak. You did mention you'd had a brake booster changed recently, which relies on vacuum.
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Old 10-06-2021, 04:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

Are there any outstanding problems since replacing the battery? The iacv is a slave solenoid commanded by the ecm for every startup, warm-up, warm idle and deceleration idle when coasting from speed. In other words, it's controlled by the ecm at all times regardless of battery disconnect since the ecm controls its position for varying idle speed conditions.
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Old 10-06-2021, 04:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridasl22002 View Post
Disconnecting the battery is important for many jobs, but I would not have thought it necessary changing something like the iac. For things like that, you'd simply unplug at the connector. If instructions state disconnect battery, then do so. The component would then need to relearn.

When you disconnect the battery, quite a lot of 'memory things' are lost. When the battery is reconnected, the car has to start relearning. That relearning only comes with driving the car. For example your transmission learns your driving habits and sets its memory to your driving style. If the battery is disconnected, the tranny loses that and has to learn all over again and initially can result in less than smooth shifts.

So the moral of this is stop disconnecting the battery at every situation.

On most cars, the rpm will increase when the ac kicks in as that system puts the engine under greater load. I am not familiar with the rpm on the L200, but on the L300 V6 it's more than idle rpm with no ac on.

You may also want to check for any vacuum leaks in the system. If they are the original vacuum pipes, then with age they can crack and leak and also the plastic junction connectors can do the same. A smoke test into the vac system will always reveal if you have a leak. You did mention you'd had a brake booster changed recently, which relies on vacuum.
Yes, the procedure calls for disconnecting the battery because it apparently learns trim adjustments to get to the set 1k RPM idle based on sensor feedback. So the fact that the old sensor and the new one were different is possibly a good sign that the old was going bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Are there any outstanding problems since replacing the battery? The iacv is a slave solenoid commanded by the ecm for every startup, warm-up, warm idle and deceleration idle when coasting from speed. In other words, it's controlled by the ecm at all times regardless of battery disconnect since the ecm controls its position for varying idle speed conditions.
Yes, after the battery replacement, I drove it around and while it behaved correctly at the time, the problem did come back. Likely as florida pointed out, it had to be driven enough to relearn it's adjustments.

I need to take it out and monitor with the ODB to at least see when the emissions testing is complete. While it's completely unrelated, it might be a good marker for what "enough driven time" is enough to test it again and it's something that I can read easily with Torque.

Thank you both for the help
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Old 10-06-2021, 05:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

Quote:
Originally Posted by tismon View Post
...I've cleaned the throttle body some and the MAF sensor.​​..
With regard to a MAF Sensor, the ECOTEC 2.2L engine's emission system doesn't have one. I'm not sure what it was that you may have cleaned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
...*What's idle rpm when ac off?...
Quote:
Originally Posted by tismon View Post
...3. ~1k RPM...
FWIW, your RPM readings need to be considered in light of which transmission is in your car - automatic or manual. If automatic, is your idle RPM with the engine in gear or not, and was the temperature gauge reading at a normal operating level? A curb idle of 1K RPM with the engine at a normal operating temperature is too high and may indicate a vacuum leak. The fuel system is designed to increase RPM by about 100 over the normal curb idle when the A/C is turned on.
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Old 10-09-2021, 10:34 AM   #11
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Default Re: L200 RPM Surge with A/C

The one thing you determined is... when the problem is not happening, the car runs normal. It could be an intermittent vacuum leak.

Because the engine is less powerful than a 3.0L, I would look at the obvious things i.e. serpentine belt, idler and the AC Clutch. These items along with the AC compressor can cause noticeable surging while cycling. Have you inspected the plugs after the condition was observed? Could be a tell tail sign to point you in a direction or area.

This issue doesn't necessarily mean there is one problem. The vehicle is aging and with that odd completely unrelated problems can add up. Perhaps different problems are synchronizing to cause the surging.

Have you jacked up each tire to test bearings, brakes etc... I would smoke test the evap and fuel system and verify the gas tank and gas cap is sealing properly. Full tank vs empty tank can cause different performance. As well as the fuel pump... is it functioning at 100 percent? Cavitation of pumps can cause air to get into the fuel system. Likewise, a small hole in the fuel system can cause air to enter as well. All of which can cause engines to rev.

I look forward to learning something from this thread. You are doing a great job working through these problems. At this point, the diagnostics are wide open. It could be anything or everything. Nevertheless, very interesting!
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