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Old 01-11-2010, 09:32 AM   #1
radioouman
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Ignition problem (Engine misses)

Hey guys,

Got up this morning and went to start my 2002 L100 (2.2 liter, 132,000 miles) and it was really hard to start. Eventually got it started but it was missing. I tried driving it but ended up with a bad smell... pulled off and found that the catalytic converter was red hot (glowing).

I took it back home and let it cool down. I pulled the ignition coil/control module and pulled the plugs and found that the third plug from the passenger side of the car was wet with gas. The rest of them were normal.

Any ideas whether this is an ignition coil or the ignition control module? How to tell?

Thanks!
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:25 AM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

There's the shotgun approach or the indirect troubleshooting approach; replace the ignition control module (shotgun) or troubleshoot beyond finding one wet plug. To do that would be to remove the ignition coil pack and plugs, reconnect them together but lay them out on the engine and ground all the plugs; have someone turn the ignition key to START and watch for each plug spark. All should spark but if any one doesn't, swap plugs around to eliminate the plugs. All you'll be left with is to choose either the ignition control module (the aluminum finned piece sitting in the ignition coil pack) or the ignition coil pack. If you read past threads you'll see that ignition control modules fail more than the coil packs.
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:46 AM   #3
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

Yep, it was the ignition control module. It is running great now!
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Old 01-15-2010, 03:38 PM   #4
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

OK, here is more info:

The ignition control module obviously failed. The new one got the car running right again. When I replaced the ignition control module, I pulled the craptastic Bosch +4 platinum spark plugs and installed NGK platinums. The car runs FAR better now. The difference is huge.

25 miles after replacing the ignition control module, the service engine soon light came on. I had the code scanned and it was the rear (downstream) O2 sensor. I pulled the old one and found that it had gotten so hot that it melted. I can post a picture later. I replaced it, and 25 miles later the service engine soon light turned off.

The light turned back on 120 miles later. The catalytic converter started rattling after this event and it seems to be self destructing. The code shows something like "exhaust bypassing the catalyst system is exceeding allowable limits".

I ordered a new catalytic converter and a new upstream O2 sensor (just to be safe).

In summary, the ignition control module failed and due to driving the car 2 miles with only 3 cylinders firing I damaged the downstream O2 sensor, the catalytic converter and likely the upstream O2 sensor. I have owned this car since new and it had the recall for the ECU reprogram to shut off injectors if cylinders are misfiring. However, it doesn't seem to have worked.
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:12 PM   #5
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

Hmm, I nor (most) anyone else around here haven't read about update programs shutting injectors when misfiring occurs; that would certainly end things abruptly and exaggerate the misfiring while flashing the SES light as a warning. The very few having misfiring issues also wound up destroying their catcon. Very few. Most members with misfiring issues simply repaired the problems without any more harm to their catcons.

I'm guessing that the combination of middle aged catcon (132k miles) and raw fuel fed into the cat/red glow cooked it. Its been said that they don't require too much effort to ruin them (as some have found).

I don't know what plugs are recommended for your engine but try and stay with OEM or their equivalent. Straying from recommendations can cause issues like misfiring.
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

Yeah, I shouldn't have driven it 2 miles like I did. That probably dumped enough fuel into the catalytic converter that it was cooked.

For anyone that has to deal with this problem, here is what I can tell you:
The OEM ignition control module says "Made in USA". The replacement that I got from Autozone is identical in every way except it says "Made in Singapore". It is very easy to install as long as you have the right size torx drivers.

My catalytic converter had a small rattle only when I started the car, at first. Over the next few days, the rattle got worse. It was noisy when driving around corners at speed, and then it rattled continuously at idle.

My rear (downstream) O2 sensor was destroyed. It is easy to replace and costs about $85 at Autozone.

I bought a catalytic converter with pipes and flanges from rockauto.com. It is a Walker part, and I could get it locally at Advance Auto Parts too, but since Rockauto's warehouse is only 1 day away by ground shipping, I ordered it and saved $50. Make sure you order the matching Walker exhaust gasket. (The original gasket at the exhaust manifold is a round piece that sits in a groove in the flange. The Walker replacement is triangular and matches the shape of the flange.)

If you haven't replaced the exhaust recently, the three bolts at the flange behind the catalytic converter will be badly rusted. I just installed a new exhaust 5 months ago, so my bolts came out easily. You should get a new flange gasket here too.

Otherwise, this is a pretty easy fix. Three nuts at the exhaust manifold and three bolts at the flange behind the cat. Also, remove the O2 sensor just behind the cat.

When I got my catalytic converter out of the car, it was just a bunch of small pieces rattling around. It seems like once these start to fail, they go quickly.

My upstream O2 sensor failed after this adventure, but it was easy to replace too. Just remove the heat shield covering the exhaust manifold (two studs) and the O2 sensor is easy to get to.

I really like working on these cars with the 2.2 liter because they are just plainly easy to work on. Lots of room to get at everything!


I swear that when it was recalled, that's what they told us they were going to reprogram the ECU to shut off injectors on a misfiring cylnider... anyway, here is the official recall:

Recall ID # 03V231000 - ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:IGNITION:MODULE - Hide Details
Recall Date: JUN 23, 2003
Component: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:IGNITION:MODULE
Model Affected: L-SERIES
Potential Units Affected: 239993
Recall Date:
JUN 23, 2003

Model Affected:
2002 SATURN L-SERIES

Summary:
ON CERTAIN PASSENGER VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH 2.2L L4 (L61) ENGINES, A FAILURE OF THE IGNITION CONTROL MODULE MAY CAUSE DETERIORATION IN IDLE QUALITY, REDUCTION IN OVERALL ENGINE POWER, AND THE VEHICLE MAY BE HARD TO START. CONTINUED OPERATION OF THE VEHICLE AFTER SUCH AN IGNITION MODULE FAILURE WILL RESULT IN THE ¿SERVICE ENGINE SOON¿ LIGHT FLASHING, AND MAY LEAD TO SECONDARY FAILURES OF THE CATALYTIC CONVERTER, OXYGEN SENSOR, AND EXHAUST RESONATOR.

Consequence:
FAILURE OF THE RESONATOR WILL CAUSE INCREASED EXHAUST NOISE. PROLONGED OPERATION OF THE VEHICLE FOLLOWING A RESONATOR FAILURE MAY LEAD TO A FIRE.

Remedy:
DEALERS WILL (1) REPLACE THE IGNITION CONTROL MODULE, (2) REPLACE THE IGNITION CONTROL MODULE AND SPARK PLUGS, OR (3) REPLACE THE IGNITION CONTROL MODULE, SPARK PLUGS, AND UPDATE THE POWERTRAIN CONTROL MODULE CALIBRATION. OWNER NOTIFICATION BEGAN ON AUGUST 4, 2003. OWNERS SHOULD CONTACT SATURN AT 1-800-553-6000, PROMPT 3.

Potential Units Affected:
239993

Notes:
GENERAL MOTORS CORP. 03033/03-C-06
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:01 PM   #7
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

You referred to the Bosch plugs as craptastic, are they really that bad? I am trying to decide between Bosch +4 and NGK G-Power or Iridium IX as replacements for my L200.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

I ran the Bosch +4 platinums for 32,000 miles. At first they seemed fine, but gradually the power went down. I noticed that it had less power but it was gradual. There was a huge improvement when I installed the NGK platinums.

Autozone carries the NGK platinums for the 2.2 liter engine for $2.99 each. For that price, I wouldn't even consider another brand. NGK's are OEM and I would stick with them.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:02 PM   #9
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2004 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Ignition problem (Engine misses)

Quote:
Originally Posted by radioouman View Post
I ran the Bosch +4 platinums for 32,000 miles. At first they seemed fine, but gradually the power went down. I noticed that it had less power but it was gradual. There was a huge improvement when I installed the NGK platinums.

Autozone carries the NGK platinums for the 2.2 liter engine for $2.99 each. For that price, I wouldn't even consider another brand. NGK's are OEM and I would stick with them.
When were NGK plugs ever OEM (ie: installed at the factory) in the Saturn L series 2.2 litre engines?
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