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Old 11-06-2011, 10:54 PM   #1
aa4lr
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Thumbs Up Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Last week, my wife parked the White 1999 SL2 Automatic in our car port. The next day, when we went to start it, the engine turned over pretty easily, but nothing happened.

I wasn't able to do anything much about it until Saturday, and I started looking up articles here on SaturnFans. After about an hour, I had a pretty good handle on the diagnostics: Fuel pump heard running at switch on, plenty of fuel pressure at the fuel rail Schrader valve, pulled the 4 and 1 spark plugs -- no spark, checked for voltage at the ignition coils -- ok.

At this point, it was beginning to smell like a CPS problem. Although the Richpin videos showed the CPS being removed after the starter was taken out -- that seemed like a lot of trouble. I jacked up the car and put it on jackstands. I must say that I hate crawling under the car. There's something about the thought of having 400 lbs of engine inches above my chest that's unnerving. Even on the jackstands, I also put the extended jack underneath the car, and also 2x4s under the wheels, just in case.

The CPS is not a problem to remove without removing the starter, provided you can work entirely by feel. And be careful you don't short out the terminals of the solenoid with your tools -- one of those has live battery voltage on it.

With the CPS out -- easy check with a voltmeter. Bingo -- open CPS. Quick trip to the auto parts store for a replacement and the car runs easily again.

One interesting issue. When I replaced the number 1 and 4 spark plug caps on the ignition coils, I apparently reversed them from their original positions. I certainly don't understand why it would make a difference, but with the positions reversed the car would exhibit an odd hesitation when you would first open the throttle for acceleration.

Put them back, and the SL2 runs like always.

Thanks everyone, for all the help in the archives. Saved me an expensive trip to the mechanic.
...
Bill Coleman
2001 Saturn SC2 Auto (3/13-...) "Yellow"
1999 Saturn SL2 Auto (11/09-...) "White"
1995 Saturn SC1 Manual (9/08-...) "Gold"
1994 Saturn SL1 Auto (7/94-1/04) 144,000 miles "Green"
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Congrats on being a hero and saving "her" car!

Quote:
And be careful you don't short out the terminals of the solenoid with your tools -- one of those has live battery voltage on it.
Haven't done the CPS yet...any reason one could not disconnect a battery cable before doing this?

-LR
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:17 AM   #3
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Haven't done the CPS yet...any reason one could not disconnect a battery cable before doing this?
+1 Radio pre-sets and PCM stored settings are nothing compared to arcing the positive terminal!
...
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:02 AM   #4
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+1 Radio pre-sets and PCM stored settings are nothing compared to arcing the positive terminal!
True enough! But, at this point, I was already under the car.

Being aware of it, I was careful with my tools and did not have a problem. If you are careful, you shouldn't have a problem either. But removing the battery negative lead before starting this wouldn't be a bad idea at all.
...
Bill Coleman
2001 Saturn SC2 Auto (3/13-...) "Yellow"
1999 Saturn SL2 Auto (11/09-...) "White"
1995 Saturn SC1 Manual (9/08-...) "Gold"
1994 Saturn SL1 Auto (7/94-1/04) 144,000 miles "Green"
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Congrats. This web site is golden for people who have the patience to work on their cars.
...
2002 SL2 Manual - new in November, 2001
As of 09/30/17: 223,751 Miles - SOLD
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by aa4lr View Post
...And be careful you don't short out the terminals of the solenoid with your tools -- one of those has live battery voltage on it.
Not a smart thing to do. When a grounded conductor contacts the positive terminal at the solenoid, more than seven hundred amps can flow through the short. The flash unleashes extreme heat and molten metal including copper. You risque not only burns but poisoning from the copper which is absorbed in the skin. Also, if the short happens to be long enough and hard enough, the battery can explode.

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...I jacked up the car and put it on jackstands. I must say that I hate crawling under the car. There's something about the thought of having 400 lbs of engine inches above my chest that's unnerving. Even on the jackstands, I also put the extended jack underneath the car, and also 2x4s under the wheels, just in case.
Glad to hear you took extra precautions here. If using only two jackstands, always be sure to block both sides of the wheels to prevent rolling.
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:52 PM   #7
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+1 Radio pre-sets and PCM stored settings are nothing compared to arcing the positive terminal!
This. I personally ALWAYS make it a habit to disconnect the battery before ANY major electrical work (starter, alternator, computers, etc), because as others have said, one wrong move = flame on. heck you have to disconnect the battery anyway for an alternator job on a Saturn, since the fusible link connects to the positive connector on the starter.

Hell in newer Toyota Camrys (think 2004 to maybe present?), you're more or less REQUIRED to take out the battery, since it blocks all access the starter (but one BIG bonus is that it's RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU as you pop the hood open, rather than sitting lone behind the engine (or worse -- in the fraking INTAKE MANIFOLD, as the case is on a Caddy Northstar motor )); it's even like this on the V6 Camrys too.
...
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:03 AM   #8
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Glad to hear you took extra precautions here. If using only two jackstands, always be sure to block both sides of the wheels to prevent rolling.
Another good one, if you have a wheel off, slide it under a the sill near the jack. I had a buddy working on a CJ7 who had a welded jack stand fail. When the Jeep fell, he was under it. He got a gash on his forehead and lived to tell the tale.... and finish the axle repair. Not a minute prior to the event a buddy told him he should always put the rim there and slid it into place. I do it religiously now.
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:32 AM   #9
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Another good one, if you have a wheel off, slide it under a the sill near the jack. I had a buddy working on a CJ7 who had a welded jack stand fail. When the Jeep fell, he was under it. He got a gash on his forehead and lived to tell the tale.... and finish the axle repair. Not a minute prior to the event a buddy told him he should always put the rim there and slid it into place. I do it religiously now.
I always do this. Every time. You never can be too careful.

What would happen if an earthquake started right as you were under the car?
...
Bill Coleman
2001 Saturn SC2 Auto (3/13-...) "Yellow"
1999 Saturn SL2 Auto (11/09-...) "White"
1995 Saturn SC1 Manual (9/08-...) "Gold"
1994 Saturn SL1 Auto (7/94-1/04) 144,000 miles "Green"
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:32 PM   #10
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I always do this. Every time. You never can be too careful.

What would happen if an earthquake started right as you were under the car?
I work a lot under cars, on my back. You can never be to careful or safe, chocking wheels, placing a removed tire under the car, and jackstands AND jacks in place are good ideas. It is like working on a scaffold, I am not afraid of heights, just afraid of falling...
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:43 PM   #11
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It is like working on a scaffold, I am not afraid of heights, just afraid of falling...
I'm not even afraid of falling, just afraid of landing.....

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Old 11-08-2011, 08:47 PM   #12
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Default Re: Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Everyone's fears are different. I'm not afraid of death - living the rest of my life in a wheelchair or grossly maimed? Now that scares the crap out of me...
...
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:15 AM   #13
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Default Re: Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Enough bad things happen without taking chances because of laziness, ignorance, show casing, pride, etc.

Madpogue, you remind me of an interview with an aerobatic pilot whose airplane engine failed soon after take off. He also commented how falling was easy but landing was hard.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:56 AM   #14
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Thumbs Up Re: Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Good info, I really like my rhino ramps, and not only for the front, but both on 1 side or back the rear on!!
...
Ryan

00 SW2 White, auto, 88k miles, 5/18/2019 $200, DD back up tow vehicle
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:10 PM   #15
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Hell in newer Toyota Camrys (think 2004 to maybe present?), you're more or less REQUIRED to take out the battery, since it blocks all access the starter (but one BIG bonus is that it's RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU as you pop the hood open, rather than sitting lone behind the engine (or worse -- in the fraking INTAKE MANIFOLD, as the case is on a Caddy Northstar motor )); it's even like this on the V6 Camrys too.
The Caddy with the Northstar, pretty much the polar opposite of the S Series imo. Had an uncle that died and had to help sell his El Dorado w/ the 32V Northstar. Pretty fun car to drive when it was working well. When it wasn't, just throw your wallet at the mechanic.
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:39 PM   #16
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Good info, I really like my rhino ramps, and not only for the front, but both on 1 side or back the rear on!!
Dang. I have a set of these! They are at the wrong house, of course, but are much easier to use than the jack stands.

The only bad thing about them is you have to run the engine, and then when you are under the car, you have to be careful about the hot exhaust system.

Of course, Rhino ramps are useless if you are trying to change or rotate tires....
...
Bill Coleman
2001 Saturn SC2 Auto (3/13-...) "Yellow"
1999 Saturn SL2 Auto (11/09-...) "White"
1995 Saturn SC1 Manual (9/08-...) "Gold"
1994 Saturn SL1 Auto (7/94-1/04) 144,000 miles "Green"
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:04 AM   #17
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Dang. I have a set of these! They are at the wrong house, of course, but are much easier to use than the jack stands.

The only bad thing about them is you have to run the engine, and then when you are under the car, you have to be careful about the hot exhaust system.

Of course, Rhino ramps are useless if you are trying to change or rotate tires....
Couldn't you jack the car and then put the ramps under the tires?
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:36 PM   #18
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Couldn't you jack the car and then put the ramps under the tires?
Why? It takes maybe one minute of running the engine to get it up on the ramps. It'll be plenty cool within five minutes.
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Old 11-12-2011, 01:14 PM   #19
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Why? It takes maybe one minute of running the engine to get it up on the ramps. It'll be plenty cool within five minutes.
That works fine if the engine is running, trans work fine, etc. I have no problem doing it. I normally use the jack stands though.
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Old 11-27-2017, 09:23 PM   #20
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Dizzy Re: Dead Saturn SL2 Success Story

Can you believe it is six years later, and this car did this same stunt again?

However, I had completely forgotten about my experience before. I was in such a rush this time to have the car looked at, that I had it towed to a good mechanic, and they diagnosed it today as a dead CPS. That sounded familiar, which had me doing a little searching, only to find my own story of the SAME car!

I'm surprised the CPS doesn't last longer than six years. You'd think they would last a couple of decades.:
...
Bill Coleman
2001 Saturn SC2 Auto (3/13-...) "Yellow"
1999 Saturn SL2 Auto (11/09-...) "White"
1995 Saturn SC1 Manual (9/08-...) "Gold"
1994 Saturn SL1 Auto (7/94-1/04) 144,000 miles "Green"
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