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Old 07-26-2011, 12:06 AM   #1
saturn hippie
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2001 SL1
Default Seized engine

I have a 2001 SL1 with a SOHC and the engine has seized on me with about 95k miles on it. Looking over the engine i found oil leaking from the head gasket, and possibly from the seal behind the vibration dampener pulley. When i drained the oil, only about 2 quarts were in the block. The kicker is i changed my oil not 2 weeks before this happened (didn't put any funny stuff in with it). When it died at a red light on a 90 degree day i didn't notice any noises (of course with a carload of rowdy people one is not paying much attention to the engine XD). I pulled the spark plugs out and tried to get the engine to crank over by hand and broke the socket adapter i was using in the process. I figured it might be a bearing on the crank or something of that nature inside the engine gone wrong (considering half my oil was missing). Pulled the oil pan off and no dice on seeing anything out of the ordinary on the bottom end. I have no idea what is going on with it and come to you looking for help. Looking to rebuild it if it's worth it.
On a side note, there is a TON or carbon build up on the pistons and in the valve train.

tl;dr
engine seized, what is the most likely culprit and best fix.
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:27 AM   #2
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Seized engine

As the cost of doing a rebuild will be about 1000.00 I would be looking for a good used engine. It will be much cheaper. As a guess you ran low on oil due to the heat and oil consumption which resulted in stuck pistons. So, if that is the case you have to replace all the pistons along with everything else. Use this to search for engine, SOHC (VIN 8) and see what you find in your area. http://car-part.com/ Within 100 mile of where I am at they are available from 315 to 450 which is much cheaper than a rebuild.

Not the cheapest guys on the block but they are knowledgeable and have low mileage engines at prices less than the rebuild. http://www.saturnautosalvage.com/

Depending where you are located the lower prices are $150 or so. These things can be shipped for not a great amount of money either.
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:43 AM   #3
saturn hippie
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Seized engine

Thanks for the info. I am in the hampton roads area in virginia, the ones listed here are on average 650 or so. some as low as 350. Another question, Is it better to keep with the SOHC or would there be any benefit to putting a DOHC in?
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:06 AM   #4
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Seized engine

The amount of revision to the electronics and other bits to install a DOHC would make it more cost effective to stuff a decent SOHC motor in yours and sell it then take the $$ and buy a good DOHC car. What you want is a low mileage motor with a an A condition grade. The rebuild cost of a SOHC and DOHC is to all practical intents and purposes identical. If you run that search for a VIN 7 engine you will see the difference in scarcity and value. One of the items to consider is the overall condition of your car. You did not say if it is a manual or automatic. A manual is generally a more desirable car. You can swap out an engine in a weekend even if you have never done it before.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Seized engine

I helped with a swap on an 88 toyota corolla a few years back (took 3 days) and have done some major engine work in the past. This is an auto transmission, and the body is in excellent condition, a few scratches in the paint and the headliner has just started to peel away in the back, but those are minor.
SOHC it is. Now to start calling yards in the area to see what they have available. Thanks.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Seized engine

OK, sounds like you have a handle on this. When you get ready to swap it out there are easy and hard ways. We have a checklist for the easy way.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Seized engine

If you don't mind pulling a donor engine out also. You should look for a picknPull or U-pullit type of Junk yard. They usually selll the engines for a lot less, but its up to you to know if its a good engine. I will usually look for a car that is wrecked in an accident, as its provably has a good engine. Versus a car that was brought to the Junk yard cause it ran like a POS.
Of course look for mileage on the odometer if possible. Or oil change stickers to get the mileage. You could pull the pan off and look at the bearings too. Getting a used engine can sometimes be hit-and-miss at a JY. I have been successful at picking them out so far.

Have you pulled off the rod caps on your engine yet, to see if it was the rod bearings that seized? I had that once. When I loosened the rod cap bolts I was able to turn over the crank. I ended up rebuilding the engine. Cost was about 800, but I drilled the holes in the pistons, so hopefully it wont run out of oil like they all do.
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:32 AM   #8
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Default Re: Seized engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue92 View Post
....run out of oil like they all do.
No, they all DON'T. Only the ones driven by people who don't check and top up their oil do (as with any car). Luke burns a quart every 400 miles, and now pushing 700,000, I doubt he's ever "run out".
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Seized engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
No, they all DON'T. Only the ones driven by people who don't check and top up their oil do (as with any car). Luke burns a quart every 400 miles, and now pushing 700,000, I doubt he's ever "run out".
OK, maybe I should have said, they all will run out of oil if you dont keep topping them off. Or unless you have rebuilt them, with the drain holes in the pistons.

I think it would be fair to say, that most causes of engine falure on the cars, is due to people not checking the oil, and topping them off, as needed. Unless you are familiar about Saturn's oil consumption, you probably dont realize you have run low on oil.

I bought my 92 SL1 new, and its was about 7 years later that I realized it was consuming oil at a fast rate. I used to bring my car in for oil changes, and one time the oil change guy said it was low on oil, to my surprise. I then started keeping an eye on it closer, and do all my own oil changes since. I check the oil every 2 weeks on my cars, topping them off.
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: Seized engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
No, they all DON'T. Only the ones driven by people who don't check and top up their oil do (as with any car). Luke burns a quart every 400 miles, and now pushing 700,000, I doubt he's ever "run out".
But having to check the oil that often is unique to Saturns. I have 3 other cars, 2 airplanes, boats, motorcycle and about a dozen small engines (mowers, etc) and the only one that requires such rigorous attention to oil level is the Saturn. Its a Saturn thing. Non-Saturn owners are not used to checking the oil every morning or even between oil changes. Its practice for owning an old Harley I guess.

-Robert
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:35 PM   #11
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Default Re: Seized engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturn hippie View Post
Thanks for the info. I am in the hampton roads area in virginia, the ones listed here are on average 650 or so. some as low as 350. Another question, Is it better to keep with the SOHC or would there be any benefit to putting a DOHC in?
Hey, I'm in Hampton roads too!

You could get this one. Not sure about the miles, but sounds like you could drive it home, pull the motor then part out the rest. I'd be interested in those rims! And I'll help with the job in return.

http://norfolk.craigslist.org/cto/2511049037.html
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: Seized engine

Well, it is actually a GM thing with certain engines. GM is nothing but consistent when they foul it up.

But not all Japanese cars are miserly with oil. I walked into the office one Wednesday morning and one of the younger engineers was sitting at his desk looking at chunks of twisted metal. It was bearing shells and twisted connecting rods out of one of those 6 cylinder screamer Hondas. Seems the normal oil capacity was 3 quarts and it had become a bit low during high speed motoring. He found out the high rpm oil consumption was a known issue with the engine. The car was not much more than 6 months old.
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:46 PM   #13
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Default Re: Seized engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Well, it is actually a GM thing with certain engines. GM is nothing but consistent when they foul it up.

But not all Japanese cars are miserly with oil. I walked into the office one Wednesday morning and one of the younger engineers was sitting at his desk looking at chunks of twisted metal. It was bearing shells and twisted connecting rods out of one of those 6 cylinder screamer Hondas. Seems the normal oil capacity was 3 quarts and it had become a bit low during high speed motoring. He found out the high rpm oil consumption was a known issue with the engine. The car was not much more than 6 months old.
My Pontiac 2.2L doesn't burn one drop of oil. Of course it also gets almost 10mpg less than my Saturn DOHC and has less power. Go figure. My newer Saturn has the Honda 3.5L motor which seems to be a huge improvement over anything coming out of GM.

As far as I'm concerned the Toyota 20R motor is the peak of engine engineering and they should have stopped there. With almost 1/2 million miles it didn't seem to burn any oil. I never did anything to that engine in 1/2 million miles other than change the oil and adjust the valve lash when I was bored.

-Robert
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:58 PM   #14
saturn hippie
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Default Re: Seized engine

Well i got the engine pulled, and much to my dismay my "helper" pulled off the connectors for my fuel injectors without labeling them! ARGH! Are their any identifying markers on the wiring for what cylinder they go to?
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Old 07-26-2011, 02:41 PM   #15
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Default Re: Seized engine

When you lay the harness back in place they will be obvious and correct. #4 is upside down.
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:27 AM   #16
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Default Re: Seized engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Well, it is actually a GM thing with certain engines. GM is nothing but consistent when they foul it up.

But not all Japanese cars are miserly with oil. I walked into the office one Wednesday morning and one of the younger engineers was sitting at his desk looking at chunks of twisted metal. It was bearing shells and twisted connecting rods out of one of those 6 cylinder screamer Hondas. Seems the normal oil capacity was 3 quarts and it had become a bit low during high speed motoring. He found out the high rpm oil consumption was a known issue with the engine. The car was not much more than 6 months old.
Vtech is also notorious for burning oil when they get a few miles under their belt.
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