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Saturn S-Series Starting Problems



  • i've had my '95 Saturn SL 1 or 2, i can never remember, for a little over a year now, and every once in a while, it would not start, then i would try again, and it would start. but at the begining of this month, it just died. it wouldn't start, and my dad tried jumping it, tried pushing it and popping it in 4th gear, but finally we had to tow it. $300 and a new starter later, and it dies again yesterday. so i had to tow it again, and $153 and no more ignition-kill switch later, and it does the same thing tonight! i have to call my mechanic in the morning, but can anyone help me? i read somewhere that sometimes the fuel injector on these cars goes, and that causes starting problems, but i'm your typical girl, i only know how to start and drive a car, nothing else. please help!!!!
  • kdkaykdkay Posts: 2
    Many of you are experiencing the same strange problem as I was.1995 Saturn would start fine one day and the next it would not. This went on for several months and I could not find the problem....nor could anyone else.I finally found the answer.My fuel pump relay switch was bad.It is located in the fuse box next to glove comp. Simply swap it with one of the others in the fuse box and see if it starts. Also I had a problem with the cooling fan not working for quite some time and that ended up being the Temperature Control Switch and the Temperature Control Sensor, not sure which was causing the problem but I recommend changing both, they are only $9 Each and take about 5 min to change.They are on the driver side of the motor near the top rad hose.I was even told that they could affect your cold starts as well since they send a message when engine is cold to feed more gas. The combination of these 3 things solved both my always starts and cooling fan now works. Hopefully this will help atleast some of you..I know how frustating these problems were for me.
  • skausskaus Posts: 11
    Hi All
    Yesterday I was 95 miles from home and I had a transmission leak from the filter.
    I lost 3 qts of oil. I replaced the filter and put 3 qts back . The reason I looked under the hood was 2 fold. I kept stalling at my destination and the ABS light was on. The engine would stall only if I applied the brake pedal.

    Six hrs later in panic mode ,having to drive 85 miles back home I found 1 solution.
    Remove fuse from brake and I made it home. If I but the fuse back in and press the brake pedal the engine will die .

    Okay my transmission was soaked with oil. I cleaned off all oil. I checked the wiring harness and it was clean .

    **In front of transmission are 2 sensors or switches.
    If I look at wiring diagram it shows Brake transmission safety interlock ,Brake sense switch and stop light switch all in series. Could one of these be my problem?
    Another thing when I step on brake pedal the dash board left and right signals light up dimly .
    Please let me know what you think. Thanks
  • I believe it is "B" the CKP. aka crankshaft position sensor. Just curious, how did you get Crankshaft position sensor in there as on of your choices???
    Whether you jump started it or popped the clutch is inconsequential. What it needed both times is just a little time to cool down. The CKP sometimes overheats as it ages but its rare and tech's just haven't come across it. As it heats up the electrical properties change. The Impedance, measured in ohms, changes too much beyond tolerances to operate.
    Many messages in this string are, I believe, the same problem.
    I know, I had the same problem. Even had one tech tell me he thought it was the automatic transmission. :shades:
  • My Saturn doesnt have much of a problem the thing is when i try to start it it chugs and sometimes doesnt turn on. . Should i hold the key turned and continue chuggging it or stop cuz it might mess up the car. Also i think the problem could be old spark plugs is that the problem? This is my first car and i would like to know as much as possible in maintaining it. Its at 119,660 miles.
  • Just bought a 99 SL2. Had same problem many of you describe, sometimes would start right up and usually would take many attempts of cranking over before finally starting. kday post was exactly the cure, switching the relays. Now car starts right up every time. I researched extensively many forums and there were about 10 things I was gonna try that other people suggested. However, I logically determined that many of these were not the cause, and here is why:
    1- if the starter cranks but the engine won't start ( and then sometimes does) its not the starter.
    2- once the engine finally starts and then runs fine, its not the fuel pump, or ignition.

    I determined the most likely cause was something keeping fuel from reaching the engine to start it. And so it became an electrical switching type problem, and as mentioned previously, once started it runs fine, so not something that would keep it from running altogether, like a bad fuel pump.

    My hat is off to kday for finding a fix that involves not spending ANY $$$ to repair.
  • hello all i hope some one has some insite to my issue.....
    okay have 1993 saturn sl1 recently engine light comes on but goes off after a few seconds then car stalled while in an intersection tried to start back up wouldnt start so i left and let it sit for a few hours came back car started with no problem drove is 15 minutes down the road stopped to get a bit to eat thinking it was a fluke went to start it suprise suprise wont start had to get a jump which took 10 minutes to do next day started it in drive way started right up but i was afraid of driving it for fear of being stranded again... any one have any ideas?????? :confuse:
  • As a good Aunt I thought I was doing my 16 year old Niece a favor by buying her her first car a 1993 Saturn. It's turned into a nightmare. I purchased it about a year ago and it sat in my driveway until her birthday in the spring. I would go out and attempt to turn it over every so often and it would be dead. I figured it was from sitting so I charged the battery. When it became a consistent problem I brought it to my mechanic who said it was the battery. A new battery later the problem was still not resolved. There seemed to be something draining the battery so I began pulling out fuses. I thought I had it narrowed down to the rear window motor. Spring came and my niece recieved her gift.
    Through the warm months the car was dead a few times usually in the morning. She would have it jumped and then it would be OK. Through the winter months it's a daily occurrence. It's been in and out of the shop. Besides the new battery it's had a new starter, alternator and radiator but no one can seem to figure out what this problem is.
    The only other thing when it sat in my driveway the roof actually leaked( I had it sealed) water definitely got down the doors into the window mechnisms. The rear motor never worked.
    Any input would be greatly appreciated.
  • Hi, my daughter has a 1999 Saturn, which only has 40,000 miles on it, so its in perfect condition (it was previously owned by my father). Anyway, when it is very cold, seems to be when uder 15 won't start. It's not the battery, it cranks fine. Had previously brought it to mechanic, who put it on computer diag and of course found nothing. I notice that I don't hear the Fuel Pump kick-in when I turn the is it possible that the pump "freezes up" ??? I have been told that its very unlikely that is happening...also unlikely that gas line is prob, and I have been using gas line anti freeze lately. Mechanic said that I may want to change Fuel pump if it keeps up, but we're talking about a 300. + job, since pump located in fuel tank....would hate to go that route, if thats not the prob. I've also tried rapping the fuel tank when this happens to see if I could give it a kick start. There is also a fuel pump relay somewhere. I guess I could try replacing that , although the Saturn dealer says that hes never seen one of those have problems. If anyone could give me a hint where that is located, I would appreciate it, as its not in fuse box with other fuses and relays. OK, If anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate it....Thanks !
  • kdkaykdkay Posts: 2
    I had the same problem with my 95 except it was doing it in the summer as well. It was the fuel pump relay. I didn't even buy a new one i just switched it with the HVAC relay and everything works fine. I have had some people reply and say that worked for them also, so yes they do go bad and computer diagnostics will not detect it. Did you check both fuse boxes? My 95 has a fuse box under the hood and under the dash next to glove box(which is where my fuel pump relay was). I'm not sure if mine just wasn't making good contact or what cuz my HVAC all work fine and that's where i put the relay that was originally the fuel pump one. Good luck to you, hopefully that is your problem and not the 300 fuel pump. If the car runs fine once it does start then it shouldn't be the fuel pump.
  • i'm having the same issue with my 1993 sc2, did you find out your problem yet, i'm changeing the fuel filter tomorrow hopefully that does it
  • jarquerjarquer Posts: 3
    unfortunately I changed the fuel pump and some other parts that had been suggested and it still is not working properly. I switched out the relay fuses like someone suggested and seemed to work for awhile, then back to the same old thing. I am gong to buy some new relays and see if that cures my problem. Good luck. :(
  • Well, I thought that switching the fuel pump relays was the cure. I WAS WRONG! The problem reappeared. Since then I have replaced FP relay and FP fuse. Also went in from driver side to wiring to fusebox (behind center console) to check for loose wires into fusebox as had been suggested. No help there. Next thing I was gonna try was replacement of CKP (crank position sensor) since they are inexpensive ($13.99 at autozone) and also I would get a look at the starter as you need to remove it to replace the CKP.
    I just happened by the library today and found one of those huge Motor Repair Manuals ( like 5 inches thick) for GM 99-01. There was an 8 part section on
    Engine Crank- No Start. problem= intermittent start
    connect to OBD and check malfunction history
    check circuit 402.
    ALSO, it said that when you turn the key to ON (not to start) the fuel pump should run for 2 seconds (every time) This I knew and when I go to start mine I have the radio off so I can listen for it- weirdly though, sometimes mine would start without hearing the FP make a sound. I would wait for the stupid chime to stop (5 dings) and then it would start most times.
    I am still looking for a way to turn off the annoying chime, but don't pull the chime fuse, it kills the whole ignition sysytem.
    So, I had surmised I had a problem with the fuel pump and/or filter, and I was going to take the car into the dealer and see if they can pull up the 'malfunction history'
    and tell me what the 402 thing is, along with checking fuel pump and fuel pressure.
    On the way home, as I got off the freeway and came to a stoplight, it now developed the infamous CHUGGLE at idle. Jeez, you had to keep the thing at 2500 RPM to keep it from stalling. Since then I went out to the garage twice and started it, but it needs to rev at least 2500 rpm to keep from stalling. That's where I am now.
  • I don't know what all years this covers, mostly later 90's (mine is '99) but check yours- there are 2 fuseboxes. One is under the hood, other is on PASSENGER Side of center dash console (radio, A/C) it is a plastic door with velcro. put your finger in the hole and pull it off. on the backside of the door is a chart with all the locations of the fuses and relays. swap the FP relay with the one next to it (HVAC blower). When you turn the key to on you will hear it click. Also, there is an FP fuse (should be 10 red) under the Rear Window Defogger relay. Pull off the defogger relay, then pull the FP fuse and check it. Sometimes when mine won't start, pulling the FP fuse and then reinserting it makes it start (weird huh?) CAUTION- when you pull the FP fuse, it will cause your radio to lose all presets and turn your clock back to 12:00.
  • racermouseracermouse Posts: 6
    I've just gotten out of surgery on the knee, so there won't be any car repairing again soon. I do have an update on the chuggle issue since my last post.
    I got a can of CRC carburetor cleaner (use some good stuff, not a cheapie so it can blast) and removed the throttle body and sprayed it out and the idle air sensor screw. Then I re-removed the EGR and sprayed it out also. Upon removal of the EGR , I found a little chunk of carbon deposit stuck in its needle valve, which turns out was the culprit. I had previously cleaned out the EGR with a toothbrush and this must have dislodged the chunk.

    Even though I am still chasing the starting problem, since cleaning out the throttle body the car runs like it has a new engine. and the weirdness continues....
  • racermouseracermouse Posts: 6
    The next thing I was going to try was to replace the CKP (CPS) Crank Position Sensor, but I didn't want to start replacing part by part until I found the problem. So I went to a shop and had them do a diagnostic and OBD scan.
    Code 336- CKP sensor fault code signal intermittent.
    So I went to AutoZone and picked up one SU-185, only $13.99. This repair will be around $200 if you have a shop do it.
    Now I am 2 weeks out of knee surgery with a knee immobilzer on, and I crawled under that car and did it in 2 hours, WITHOUT removing the starter.
    NOTE: The bolt that holds it into the engine block was so loose I unscrewed it with my fingers. This most likely contributed to the failure of the CKP.
    If anyone out there wants to do this themself and need more info email me I can tell you how I did it w/o removing starter. Also, I got great info from a Youtube video. There is a guy that has over 120 Youtube vids on saturn repairs of all types, and he is very good.
    my email :

    repair vids>
  • krisbj22krisbj22 Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Saturn SL sedan. Frequently, I'll take a short drive to the store, the bank, etc. park, turn the car off, come back 15 minutes later, turn the key and nothing happens. The battery is fine, the radio runs, all lights turn on, door locks function, but the car will not turn over. Absolutely nothing happens.

    I have noticed that it seems to be related to the temperature. It only seems to happen on warm days. I've taken it in to be looked at by both the dealer and a private mechanic. They all seem to think it's the starter, but I don't agree. The car starts just fine most of the time.

    Anyone else have this experience or have any insight?
  • hey krisbj22, while researching my problem, (and I did alot of research!!) I found that Saturns typically run hot. This of course causes many engine parts and accessories to prematurely fail. It is well known in the Saturn repair circle that starter windings develop dead spots and solenoids burn out frequently. If you are of the mechanically inclined, remove your starter and solenoid and take it to your local Autozone where they will bench test it for free.
    Good luck!!
  • paul03paul03 Posts: 4
    Help me please! My girlfriend bought a 95 sl1 and It ran fine for a while exept for a wierd idle when she stops. I checked the vaccume lines and there all fine. Just recently she was having trouble tring to start it. She has to push the gas pedal to the floor to get the car to start. When she goes into reverse or forward the car stalls and frequently stalls while she drives it. I told her to turn the key to the run position and wait 10 seconds then start it ,and that only works sometimes.By the way the car does not have a check engine light on if that helps any. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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