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Old 06-27-2020, 08:39 PM   #1
loueradun
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Dizzy Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Main question:
I seem to be having a no spark condition that I believe is related to the CPS. I get 0.5v from the harness plug for the CPS while the car is being cranked, and 800ohms when not. I don't get any RPM value on the dash or through my ODBII tool when the vehicle is being cranked. Does this mean the computer is not getting the signal from the CPS sensor (possible wiring harness or PCU)?

Background:
The car is a friend's 2002 Saturn SL2 with 132k miles. It had the transmission fluid and filter replaced as well as the engine mounts replaced when it was purchased in late 2017. I believe it has had an issue with a vacuum leak causing a high idle since it was purchased, and the transmission has always "slammed" a bit. Unfortunately my friend has not had the funds to address the issues. It's also always burned a little oil, but nothing crazy.

Last week I got a call that the car wouldn't start. They had a check oil light and had been adding oil and not doing proper oil changes for the last year or so. They figured it was dry of oil since it wouldn't start at all and added a whole 5qt jug . After it still not starting they called me and had it towed to my house.

The car had about 10 qts of oil which I immediately drained and replaced to proper levels and was also leaking transmission fluid all over when I tried starting it. The transmission fluid leak was from the filter and a few twists of the filter resolved the leak for the time being. It looks like the transmission mount underneath the airbox is trashed so I assume it became loose from vibration. From what I understand, the car was never run with the 10 qts of oil in it, but was cranked a lot. I assume the compression is good as the engine sounded fine with the exception of vibration and high idle just a few weeks ago.

I tested for spark by removing all 4 wires and cranking the engine with no arcs between the poles. All fuses are good (tested in car for continuity and with test light), and I hear the fuel pump prime when the ignition is turned on. Although I do mildly smell fuel after an attempted crank, the plugs did not seem fuel soaked when removed. Cylinder 1 looked like it had been running lean and 4 was rich, but the plugs looked overall okay (thinking maybe an intake gasket causing the high idle condition).

I'd like to get this car running for my friend if possible, preferably without throwing a lot of parts at it. I'd like to replace the engine mounts and sort the idle problem as well before she destroys the transmission, but getting it started is my priority right now. I'm pretty mechanically and electrically inclined and from what I can tell everything points to the computer not getting the RPMs and sending the signal to the ICM and injectors. We did install a new CPS for good measure but it did not have any change on the symptoms.

I've gained a lot of useful info from here already, and I'd really appreciate any help anyone can offer.

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Last edited by loueradun; 06-27-2020 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

At least the engine bottom is well oiled............ Draining the excess helps. The oil pressure sending unit may be faulty with oil level full. While there may be a possibility of a damaged oil pump, it might occur if the sump was dry for a long period of engine running. That's something you may have to deal with if the engine can run.

Normally, crank sensor resistance should be between 800-1200 ohms. Spark, injector pulses and fuel pump operation are controlled by the pcm. The crank sensor provides precise timing signals to the pcm so injectors and spark are timed correctly. A faulty or intermittent crank sensor kills pcm operation - no spark, no injector pulses, no fuel pump. Crank sensors output ac signals.

This may be a faulty crank sensor.
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Old 06-27-2020, 11:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
This may be a faulty crank sensor.
That was my original thought as well, hence why the CPS was replaced (might also note that the original CPS removed was well oiled). As far as I can tell the CPS is working fine, the ohms read 800 just like the OEM one I had replaced. I am also reading 0.5v AC from the CPS sensor, while the engine is being cranked which leads me to believe it is working, however my lowest multimeter setting only reads within an accuracy of 0.1v in AC mode.

What worries me is the computer reports no RPMs on the dash or from the ODBII plug, which from what I understand should come directly from the CPS sensor, is that correct? Do the purple/yellow wires from the CPS travel anywhere before the PCM? I'd like to confirm they have the proper resistance as close to the PCM as possible.

I was able to get +12v from the pink wire going to the ICM with the ignition on so I believe that should confirm that the fuses are in good order, although I'm not sure if there is any point to even looking at the ICM and coil packs at this point if the computer can't detect the engine is turning over.

Last edited by loueradun; 06-27-2020 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Check for injector pulses with a meter or 'noid light, and check for the fuel pump coming back on when cranking. If both of those are absent, then it is likely a problem with the CKP circuit (including PCM and wiring). However, if either of those happen (injector pulse or FP), then the lack of spark indicates problem with the ICM. Was I clear? You need to check that the FP comes back on after the normal two-second "priming" run at key-on. that priming run doesn't count, you need to let that time-out before cranking and checking the pump.
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Old 06-28-2020, 08:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
Check for injector pulses with a meter or 'noid light, and check for the fuel pump coming back on when cranking. If both of those are absent, then it is likely a problem with the CKP circuit (including PCM and wiring). However, if either of those happen (injector pulse or FP), then the lack of spark indicates problem with the ICM. Was I clear? You need to check that the FP comes back on after the normal two-second "priming" run at key-on. that priming run doesn't count, you need to let that time-out before cranking and checking the pump.
This makes a lot of sense. And in my many tries turning it over yesterday I do seem to recall hearing the pump re-prime after each attempt so maybe I jumped the gun on the CPS sensor and it's wiring. You give me a little hope still. It was not getting any RPMs on the guages that had me throwing in the towel.

I'm going to take another stab at it today, but if I can't get it at least started or the starting issue figured out by the end of the day we'll probably be making plans to send it to the junkyard. Hate seeing a car like this die, I really wish she'd taken better care of it. Lucky for her she knows she can appeal to my good nature and it's hard for me to let a good mystery go unsolved.

Thank you both for your suggestions, I'll let you know what I find out today.

Quick update: Went out and tried starting again this morning. I heard the pump initially prime, cranked for 5 seconds, and definitely heard something whirring after for about 3 seconds followed by a relay click. It didn't have exactly the same sound as the fuel pump priming so maybe I am hearing something else running after an attempted starting.

Going to need to sort how to reliably test the fuel injectors while cranking.
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Old 06-28-2020, 09:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Okay, so another update.

I am definitely seeing pulses to the injectors when cranking the engine, and I am also hearing the whir from the fuel pump after an attempted start. Given that I'm not getting spark on both coil packs, I assume this would point to the ICM?

Is there anything I can test on the the ICM before I go pull a part from the junkyard? I am getting +12v on the pink wire, and ground on the black/white from the 5 wire plug on the harness with the ignition on. Can I test for pulses on the brown orange or white wires going to the ICM while cranking? I'm not sure what sort of signal is being generated on these wires for the ICM to work. I do get 8k ohms across each of the poles on the coils.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Do you have a known good one you can swap?


Some auto parts stores will test for you - there is no other good DIY home test
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Do you have a known good one you can swap?


Some auto parts stores will test for you - there is no other good DIY home test
Unfortunately I do not. I'll have to see if any local stores do any testing. Of course the junkyards are all closed today since it is Sunday, but it looks like it can be had with the coils for $20-50 so that is good. I did remove the ICM and clean it up although it seemed in relatively good shape, just dirty.

Are there any other sensors that could be causing a no spark condition besides the ICM (for the moment I'm assuming the coils are good since neither are producing spark and it seems rather unlikely they would both die simultaneously).

Is there any way to verify the signals going to the the ICM while cranking? If I could verify that, I think that would pretty much only leave the ICM as the potential culprit.

Thanks for the suggestions guys, I have a little more hope today than I did last night.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:17 AM   #9
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

You should see some kind of AC action (pulsing) on the GRN wire and WHT wire to the ICM; those are the coil drive signals.

Ignore the BRN/WHT wire; it is the synthesized CMP signal and loss of that should not prevent spark.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Injector pulses are easily checked by removing a spark plug or more. Since injectors relies on the pcm, the pcm relies on the crank sensor. If you see or smell fuel on plugs, pcm and crank sensor are working. The crank sensor is wired directly to the pcm.

Spark is timed and generated from the pcm (relying on the crank sensor too). If spark is missing and fuel is seen.smelled on plugs, the ignition control module or wiring are faulty.

The pcm runs the fuel pump without crank sensor at ignition ON time for 2-3 seconds. When the engine turns over, the crank sensor outputs timing signals to allow the ocm to operate injectors, spark signals to the icm and turn on the fuel pump.
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:07 AM   #11
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
You should see some kind of AC action (pulsing) on the GRN wire and WHT wire to the ICM; those are the coil drive signals.

Ignore the BRN/WHT wire; it is the synthesized CMP signal and loss of that should not prevent spark.
Hi Bill,

I have a 5 wire plug going into the ICM (right beneath the coils). I don't see a green wire, were you talking about the orange (this is an automatic btw)

With the ignition on:
pink - +12v
black/white - ground
orange - 4.7v dc 9.2v AC
brown/white - didn't check
white - 4.7v dc 9.2v AC

When I crank the engine, the 9.2v AC will bounce around between 6-9v on the orange and white lines, so I do see a visible change.

Please note the tests were done with the plug unplugged from the ICM. I wasn't sure if I should be doing this test with the plug connected or not.

Also, I want to mention that I was able to see RPMs using my ODBII scan tool today (the battery may have been too low when I was testing yesterday), so I think we can officially rule out the CPS sensor and its wiring to the computer at this point.

I'm guessing this probably means the ICM is bad, unless anyone else has any further suggestions.

I called around to the local auto parts store. Advance had a tester, but they did not have the harness this particular ICM. Autozone and O'Reillys said they don't test them.

Last edited by loueradun; 06-28-2020 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 06-28-2020, 12:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

It's said that junk yard ignition parts, icm and coils, are less expensive than new, possibly aftermarket parts. In clean condition, used oem ignition parts are better - members reports.
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:20 PM   #13
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
It's said that junk yard ignition parts, icm and coils, are less expensive than new, possibly aftermarket parts. In clean condition, used oem ignition parts are better - members reports.
I talked to the owner of the car and the plan is to grab an ICM from a junkyard tomorrow. Still hoping Bill has some extra input on the signals from the PCM, but it would appear the computer was at least attempting to send some sort of signal to the ICM when cranking.

I really appreciate everyone's help, hopefully we'll get it running. First point of interest is the engine mount under the airbox. She said she paid for it to be replaced in 2017 but I don't believe it. The filter loosened up from banging on the frame. You can see the marks on the filter (it was rotated 180) and fresh scrapes on the frame.

Pic of the engine mount and filter (couldn't get photo to attach)
https://photos.app.goo.gl/LaGgzMn2GbU98uQL9
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Old 06-28-2020, 03:00 PM   #14
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

My schematic only goes up to '98, which uses the same ICM; but the wire colors sure could have changed. What you describe on the ORG and WHT wires sounds about right, but I would check those again back-probing the connector with it connected to the ICM.

How about the + and ground, have you back-probed the voltages there while cranking? If a circuit is not under load, sometimes a voltage or resistance reading will give be misleading. (A false "good" indication)
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Old 06-28-2020, 03:23 PM   #15
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Post Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

2002 sl2 icm/pcm.

1995 sl1 236,300 2005>2018
1997 sl1 83,750 2014>????
check your oil!!
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Old 06-28-2020, 03:57 PM   #16
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

I like the NGK coils I bought for the 98.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...&postcount=213

The 99 has coils from my FLAPS and no issues in 8 years.
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Old 06-28-2020, 04:31 PM   #17
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

loueradun, take a list of parts with you when visiting the junk yard. Maybe the xmission mount is usable from another car.

As to snapshots, adding thumbnail attachment(s) was/is restricted to 150kb file size. Every cellphone and digital camera creates images in multi megabyte size and the only reason Saturnfans reject images. I use Windows Paint to resize a large file to less than a megabyte (in jpeg format) that's accepted here. Use whatever image software you're comfortable with if you can to add attachments here. Others doing the same as you posting images elsewhere with a link eventually loses the image as the site disappears after a few years when those sites are unable to continue. Attachments added here remains here. However, a recent change to a new server lost everyone's photos, snapshots, drawings, diagrams, etc. My photo album disappeared. An upgrade to improved software caused images from this site to disappear.
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Old 06-28-2020, 05:04 PM   #18
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
My schematic only goes up to '98, which uses the same ICM; but the wire colors sure could have changed. What you describe on the ORG and WHT wires sounds about right, but I would check those again back-probing the connector with it connected to the ICM.

How about the + and ground, have you back-probed the voltages there while cranking? If a circuit is not under load, sometimes a voltage or resistance reading will give be misleading. (A false "good" indication)
I knew that would influence the tests but it may be a little challenging to probe the wires with the plug connected. I'll see what I can do. My multimeter isn't exactly the best for this, the minimum AC setting is 200v so it is only accurate to 0.1v.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
loueradun, take a list of parts with you when visiting the junk yard. Maybe the xmission mount is usable from another car.
I'm not even going to bother grabbing the transmission mount from another vehicle. If I get it started I'll tackle that after. I actually have a set of rotors and pads for the vehicle sitting in my garage that I was going to be helping install before all this happened. I usually get my parts from RockAuto, and it looks like those mounts can be had for $5, not even worth my time pulling an old one if you know what I mean. If we get it running, I'm going to make a laundry list of parts and force her to let me fix the worst of it before I give her back the key. And show her yet again how to check the dipstick.

In retrospect it makes sense that the ICM would have been damaged from the excessive vibration... I mean the transmission was literally banging on the frame of the car as it was being driven and transmission fluid was all around in that same area. I think she's fortunate it stopped working before the transmission was run dry. I highly doubt that mount was replaced in 2017, but the transmission was definitely serviced in some fashion (date of 10/2017 was written on the filter). Sounds like she got scammed by that mechanic over a $5 part unfortunately. The mechanic certainly saw that mount when he was changing the transmission filter. I can't imagine a mount falling apart like that in just a couple years, it just looks too old for that. This is why I only work on my own vehicles.

Anyways, everyone's help has been invaluable, I'll keep you guys updated on what happens with the new ICM. Sorry about the outside link on the photo, I need to find some good image editing/resizing software for my phone I guess.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:33 PM   #19
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Well it was the ICM. $3 to get into the yard, $16 for a "new" one. Interesting enough, I don't believe the original ICM was on the car to begin with, it didn't have GM imprinted like the one I had pulled out of the wagon in the junkyard.

Now on to the rest of the issues... The engine runs nice and strong, purrs away, no hiccups or anything, but the current idle is about 1600rpm. I figured it's probably a vacuum leak or a bad intake gasket or something, however I noticed what looks like a vacuum line or something that was not connected when I pulled out the air intake. Does anyone know where this should go? (Pics attached, it's the hose with 2 holes at the end)

Thanks for everyone's help, our collaborative effort has saved it from the junkyard for at least a little while longer.
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Old 06-29-2020, 08:20 PM   #20
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Default Re: Electrical problem, no spark, CPS seems good, what have I gotten myself into...

Look for two matching holes, on the intake, near the throttle body.

Edit: actually on top of the throttle body.

Edit 2: upper right corner of the picture.
...
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Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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