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Old 11-20-2021, 11:49 PM   #1
dj1111
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Default Strange P0300 occurrence

2000 SL2, manual trans, 164,000 miles.

First, about 3 weeks ago the fuel pump, fuel filter, spark plugs and a couple of other throttle body parts were replaced. And the throttle body was cleaned. Car has been running great since. Today I finally got through the tank of gas so I went to fill it up. Added 10 gallons. Left the gas station to head to breakfast and about 2 blocks down the road the car started running bad. Very little power, almost stalling and the check engine light started flashing. The exhaust also smelled bad. I managed to limp the 3 miles home and hooked up the scanner. There was a pending P0300 code random misfires. We then got in the van and proceeded to breakfast. After getting home over an hour later I started the car and it still ran poorly. I then revved it up to about 4000+ rpms a few times and it started running fine. Later I drove the thing around town for about 25 minutes and it ran fine.

When I was filling the tank the gas pump started running really, really slow. As if the gas was just trickling out. Took forever to fill the tank. I drove back to the gas station after breakfast to mention my experience with the pump, and my car running like crap after filling, when I noticed a tanker tuck filling the underground tanks. It wasn't there before. I started to wonder if I got some bad gas like when the pump was running so slow the underground tank was nearly empty and sucked up some water, or??? I don't know, was just wondering.

Anyone have any other thoughts on this? Thanks in advance. This car has never done this before in the 16 plus years I've owned it.
...
When I was younger I drove a lifted 4x4 truck with over sized tires. Needed a ladder to get into it. Now in my 60's I drive an SL2 and need a ladder to get out.
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Old 11-21-2021, 11:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

The dregs of tanks cause such problems; as you note, water + debris.

Sometimes - if symptoms persist - pumping out the vehicle tank, or at least renewal of the fuel filter, are warranted.

Otherwise, a dose of Chevron fuel additive, 'Techron' can restore normalcy.
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Old 11-22-2021, 03:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Thanks for the reply TomM96. Yes I was planning on putting some cleaner in the tank. Most of them say start with a nearly empty tank then fill it after adding the contents of the bottle. It's currently about 11 gallons full. I wonder how it would work just pouring the can in the almost full tank? I could pour it in and bounce the back end of the car for about a minute LOL.

I could empty some into my 5 gallon can with my hand siphon. Sounds like no fun. I could put the back tires on my ramps to get the gas tank higher and hopefully use gravity to siphon it.

Yesterday morning we tried driving the car to church and about 2 miles into it, it started running like crap again. Same symptoms and a P0300 code. Later that day I moved it to the garage and it started and ran fine. Grrr.

I really like this car and it has been a very dependable 16+ years. But it's soon to be 22 years old. And it is not a comfortable highway driver for my 65 year old butt and has become a bit unreliable and untrustworthy. It's only driven in town now cuz I don't trust getting too far away from home. We are thinking of replacing it with something newer (or new with a warranty).
...
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Old 11-22-2021, 04:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Have you checked fuel pressure? Maybe all you need to do is change the filter...
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Old 11-22-2021, 05:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Fuel pressure at the rail is a steady 56~57 lbs. I will try to check it when it's running bad.
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When I was younger I drove a lifted 4x4 truck with over sized tires. Needed a ladder to get into it. Now in my 60's I drive an SL2 and need a ladder to get out.
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Old 11-22-2021, 06:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Oh and after I tested the fuel pressure I left the gauge attached and came back about an hour later and there was still 51 psi of pressure. So it would seem the injectors are not leaking.
...
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Old 11-22-2021, 06:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Unless that gas station makes the news headlines of dispensing contaminated gasoline to every vehicle filling their tanks, it's not likely only your tank to have contaminated fuel.

Catalytic converters don't last forever and often disintegrate internally to choke exhaust flow. The infrequent problems of catcons can create unusual and erratic engine running problems.The easiest test for a damaged catcon are banging it and listen for loose cat guts and/or removing the exhaust manifold O2 sensor for a brief drive.

Banging catcons should not result in rattling of the internals. Removing the upstream O2 sensor for an alternate exhaust path can reveal either the same symptoms or sudden improvement in engine running at idle and during a short drive with a loud exhaust sound. Allowing the exhaust an alternate exit before a suspected blocked catcon should restore engine performance almost immediately. A soup can diverter on the sensor bung might be needed to direct hot exhaust away from plastic parts nearby during a brief drive around the block. Either the engine suddenly performs better or not.
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Old 11-22-2021, 06:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

I replaced the complete exhaust system including the cat about 3.5 years ago. The oxygen sensor after the cat failed and while trying to remove it I broke the exhaust system in half. It was time. Can't imagine the cat would be clogged especially since we don't put many miles on this car as compared to our minivan. And it's always garaged.

As an example, during the height of Covid, we were putting on less than 1000 miles in 6 months, the time intervals I change it's oil.
...
When I was younger I drove a lifted 4x4 truck with over sized tires. Needed a ladder to get into it. Now in my 60's I drive an SL2 and need a ladder to get out.
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Well, it won't hurt to try testing for a damaged catcon. Ruling out the easy things is part of troubleshooting.

A relative bought a Mazda RX-7 at the height of its popularity. Due to high thefts, it was stolen three times. The car was garaged for several years after the last theft and a decision was to return it to operation and sell it. The four barrel carburetor was disassembled and cleaned of deposits from the vehicle sitting unused. Once started up and driven, it developed another problem. The catcon disintegrated and slowly choked off exhaust flow. Probably from sitting so long in a garage then falling apart internally as the car was driven. A temporary 'test' pipe was installed and the car suddenly had all its power back. No O2 sensors back then.

My muffler on my L300 fell apart after ten years, <80k miles. The replacement lasted around five years. Another replacement muffler has about three years on it. Car now around 116k miles.
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Old 11-24-2021, 10:11 AM   #10
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Another quick update. I drove the car to a local store yesterday. It started fine but several times it started the misfire thing but cleared up after a few seconds. While at the store I picked a 4 pack of Iso-Heet with fuel system cleaner for a little more than $7. Before leaving the parking lot I poured a bottle in the tank. Started the car and it ran like crap with flashing CEL. Got about 3 blocks down the road and it started running fine and did for the rest of the drive. For now I'm going to assume there was some water in the tank and see what happens. I will be using the car this morning, hope it goes well.
...
When I was younger I drove a lifted 4x4 truck with over sized tires. Needed a ladder to get into it. Now in my 60's I drive an SL2 and need a ladder to get out.
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Old 11-24-2021, 03:24 PM   #11
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Welp I think I'll rule out water in the tank. Used it this morning for several errands and it started and ran great. Then about 15 minutes into it, it started running bad. And it kept running bad for the rest of the ride. At home I checked the fuel pressure while it was missing and it was fine. The same code P0300 was pending. I then tapped the cat whit a rubber mallet and could not hear any rattling. The exhaust system is very solidly secured to the car so there is little wiggle room. I removed the ox sensor in the exhaust manifold and had my wife start the car. It still ran poorly. Let it run for a few minutes less ox sensor and it never got better.

So while looking at the engine shaking I wondered now what. Hmmm when was the last time I changed the spark plug wires. Looked at my records and wow it was July of 2007 65,000 miles ago. So is that too long set of wires LOL? I'll replace them seeing as it is about time anyway. Could changing the plugs a few weeks ago help to wear out what little life may have been left in the wires? And it always seems to start misfiring once it warms up. Cold starts it always runs fine.
...
When I was younger I drove a lifted 4x4 truck with over sized tires. Needed a ladder to get into it. Now in my 60's I drive an SL2 and need a ladder to get out.

Last edited by dj1111; 11-24-2021 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 11-24-2021, 06:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

One more post then I'm done with this car today. New wires did little to help. I did a resistance check on them and they were within specs but I figured 14 year old wires should be changed.

Once again while watching the engine shake I noticed it was a steady shake. Like it was the same cylinder or cylinders misfiring steadily. So I dug out my old Craftsman (purchased in the late 70's) timing light. It turns out there is no spark in the 2 middle cylinders. Both of those wires come out of the same coil, the one to the right facing front of the vehicle. The 2 outside cylinders have steady sparks those wires come out of the left coil.

I've never dealt with coil packs or electronic ignition in general other than changing plugs and wires. Is it safe to assume the coil packs should be changed? Are there other things to look at first that control the packs?

I see coils are not expensive so replacing them both is no financial problem.
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Old 11-24-2021, 07:48 PM   #13
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

With the O2 sensor removed and the engine still running rough instead of clearing up immediately eliminates the catcon.

Spark plug wires don't have expiration dates and no one has proven spark plugs damaging plug wires except when pulling plugs wires off indiscriminately. The only test for ignition systems are direct replacement of parts; plugs, wires, ignition coils, ignition control module. Presuming plugs aren't dropped onto concrete to break the ceramic insulation and plug wires aren't mishandled leaves coils and icm suspect.

Possibly the best time for isolating possible intermittent ignition system problems would be a spark test while the rough engine running still occurs to try isolating the ignition system. With a rough running engine, pulling off plug wires from both ignition coils then starting may reveal one or both coils not sparking across towers. If one coil doesn't show spark, switch coils around. Either spark shows the same coil not sparking as the intermittent faulty one or the other coil not sparking and pointing to an intermittent ignition control module.
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Old 11-24-2021, 09:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

I put on NGK coils. I like them.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...&postcount=213

I've had to replace coil packs on both my Saturns.
...
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Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 11-24-2021, 11:09 PM   #15
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

I have had plug wires go bad just from rubbing against something from engine vibration. On the DOHC the wires lay right on the hose clamp for the upper radiator hose, as I recall. But, could be just about anywhere, and the insulation does not have to be rubbed all the way through.
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Old 11-27-2021, 11:11 AM   #16
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

OK DJ1111

Good troubleshooting >> progress <<

A good test involves swapping the two ignition coils that
protrude from the Ignition Control Module, being very careful
that the plug wires Stay where They belong.

If the issue (misfiring) follows the coil, that indicates the coil is
in need of repair; else the plug(s) may be fouled.
I have experienced several instances of fouled plugs in my
Saturns; generally they clog when cold, but fire after warm-up.

The fact that your car misfired when hot is a classic symptom of electrical failure.

.......................

I might also suggest a new set of plugs for clarity (hold onto the
old ones until the problem fixed).

I might suggest patronizing a different gas station for a while.
Even the newer fiberglass tanks often fail after about 15 years.
...............................

It might pay to check the spark:
Either use a calibrated gap, or just examine the spark across a
grounded plug. It should be a menacing/Hot Blue. A yellowish
spark is a weak-wimpy spark.

Several people have needed to replace either coils or IgCtlMod.

The Ig coils have specified reistances to check, in addition to the
Go-Nogo functional test at different points in the IgCtlMod.

I can send a new coil or two, if decide that's what is required
tbhpmciAThotmailDOTcom....


I would tend to try a boneyard for a used OEM IgCtlMod, if needed,
although reports of the Asian replacements are OK. I would ask
that the parts be demonstrated Good, rather than sign a ticket
with limitation that 'electrical parts cannot be returned'.

If the body of the car is not rusting away, the 164kMi is a 'spring chicken',
although the alternator may soon need renewal -- I Hope the coolant has been refreshed!

Last edited by TomM96; 11-27-2021 at 11:17 AM. Reason: fergat un
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Old 11-27-2021, 08:08 PM   #17
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Thanks TomM96 for the info as well as all the others that have helped. And TomM96 I replaced the plugs a few weeks ago.

Well here's where I'm at. Is it wrong to hate your Saturn because it's running so good? Explanation. Wednesday we were out for a while with the Saturn and the last thing we did was go to a car lot to look at possible replacements. About a half mile from the lot the car started running like crap again. I just drove on and stopped to talk to a sales guy for a little while. It then ran poorly all the way home. While home is when I replaced the wires and did the spark test. I was running out of time before Thanksgiving Eve church so I quickly swapped the coil packs with each other in hopes the car would run poorly so I could see where the misfires went. Hopefully from the 2 middle cylinders to the 2 end cylinders. Well it ran fine after the swap. After church I took the Saturn for a ride to warm it up (we took our van to church). It warmed up and ran just fine. Thanksgiving day we used the car in the morning and it ran fine. Friday we drove it, and it ran fine. We took it to breakfast this morning and took an extended ride home, it ran fine. Later this afternoon I drove into town and drove 18 miles all over the city, IT RAN FINE. Grrrrr.

Before I swapped the coils it always started running bad about 2 to 3 miles into each ride.

I don't know if swapping the coils refreshed the connections where they plug into the control module or what. I'll look for the resistance numbers for the coils and test them tomorrow. Maybe one or both will be on the edge of tolerances. We will drive it to church tomorrow.
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Old 11-28-2021, 01:08 AM   #18
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

When I had a bad ICM on a '93 SL2 it'd run fine for 1ft-10 miles, then the same cylinder would die. Thought it was coil packs, figured out which one was dying and would just swap it out until I finished off my stash (10+ lol), then reused one just to see. The reused one worked for 5+ miles so I was like "WTF?", then just swapped out the ICM and didn't have a problem again.

Dunno if that's been tried...based on my experience I'd go for another ICM before coil pack(s).
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Old 11-28-2021, 10:25 AM   #19
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

Quote:
Dunno if that's been tried...based on my experience I'd go for another ICM before coil pack(s).
I've been leaning towards a new ICM but wanted to see what happened after I swapped the coils. I'll drive it for a while and see what happens.

I drove a 1985 Chevy Celebrity for over 13 years. One of the best cars I ever owned. About 3 years into ownership it started stalling after it got really warmed up. When it died I could leave it sit for about 20 minutes and it would start up again. Finally it died on the interstate when my wife was driving with my 3 year old son. I was at work so we just had it towed to the local Chevy dealer. Turned out to be the engine control module. They were prone to heat failure. After they replaced it we never had the same problem again. This is what's making me think it's the ICM not liking heat.
...
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Old 11-28-2021, 12:11 PM   #20
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Default Re: Strange P0300 occurrence

> if swapping the coils refreshed the connections

Not unlikely. My experience with these ignitions is limited, but there
are hints of temperamental ops or subtleties yet-unexplained.
Given Fetch's comment, I would suggest a spare module+coil+wire
assembly (with 4 fasteners) for 'insurance' on 'longer runs'....

.....

re Celebrity module heat fail--

During early 80s I operated one of about ten (1-ton) Ford trucks in a lines construction job. Gradually, each truck suffered ignition module failures, some initially intermittent. Mine finally gave out late Friday afternoon, in
late February, after a two week cold spell.... In each case, the new
replacement modules worked without failure.


An acquaintance worked at a local airport car rental shop, cleaning the
vehicles between use(1980s). Concerning the new under-hood electronics, she commented, "I wouldn't trust those cars even to drive to the deli!"
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