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Old 04-29-2013, 07:28 AM   #1
Cbednara
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Default Low compression cylinder 3

We recently bought what we thought was a cheap saturn (99 SL2 with 85k miles) We knew the folks selling it and are pretty sure they would not mislead us. After a few months it started running rough and check engine light came on. The mechanic said problem is that cylinder 3 only has compression of 30. I suspect to fix it would cost more than we paid for car. It is really just a 'around town' car so we would like to just do what we can to maximize the time before it dies. It runs ok once it you get e rpms up. Is there an easy way to just run on 3 cylinders? I am concerned with the unburied gas getting into the oil.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Low compression cylinder 3

Unplug the injector to cylinder 3. Need needle nose pliers to get it out, you squish the little metal bars on either side together and pull.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Low compression cylinder 3

what he said. i ran my wagon that way for a few months before swapping motors and it was alright. it'll be slow, it'll vibrate, the gas mileage won't be great, but for tooling around town it'll be fine.

the DOHC motors are notorious for burning exhaust valves in #3 when there is a chronic lean condition (usually a plugged fuel filter or weak fuel pump). if you want to fix it, your best bet is to replace the head or do a motor swap. but if you choose the repair route you'll have to figure out why it burned the valve in the first place or it'll just keep burning valves.
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Low compression cylinder 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
Unplug the injector to cylinder 3.
Is this unplugging the electrical or fuel line from the injector? I am pretty sure you mean an electrical connection, if so, does this stop all the fuel from entering the cylinder? What is the long term harm of keeping it this way other than less than optimal performance, especially under load?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: Low compression cylinder 3

I believe fetchitfido means disconnecting the injector electrical connection.

With such low mileage and very low compression on cylinder #3, swapping injectors around can isolate whether its an injector or burned valve issue. Moving a suspected injector (not likely but possible) should result in the injector affecting the cylinder its used on. No change with cylinder #3 using another injector means the problem is either piston rings or valve damage. While disconnecting the injector will help temporarily for local driving, long term solutions are available for consideration. Repairing a burned exhaust valve, while costing a hundred dollars or more, depending on who does the work, this solution (if a solution) may allow holding onto the car for much longer with little more invested to maintain running condition.

One of the first things done was not only to detect a low compression on any cylinder but to perform a 'wet' test - using some motor (tablespoon) oil into cylinder #3 and trying a second compression test. A higher number would mean the valves are fine and none burned but the piston rings are worn/damaged/stuck. If compression remains low then the exhaust valve is most likely burned and require a cylinder head repair by any good machine shop capable of engine repairs. Repairing a cylinder head will restore full engine function.

Disconnecting the injector wiring won't harm the engine as no fuel is being used for the dead cylinder. The rough running is what you'll put up with while deciding on a course of action.
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