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Saturn S-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • I have an SL2 2000 model. I had to take the gauge cluster out. When I put it back noticed that my Tac and Water temp gauges,needles droped, is there a reset button, or anything I did wrong, that would cause this? Thanks for the help.
  • help please i bought a new lock cylinder from dealer and got the directions on how to do the relearn. have tried it serval time and still not working. the security light stays on does not flash
  • I've been trying to pin down a problem on my '01 SL1 (240K+ miles). I replaced several parts in the last 6 months:
    Intake manifold gasket (thanks to these forums, I found out mine was bad)
    both O2 sensors (the first one is probably a year or so old now)
    MAP sensor
    fuel filter
    new plugs - old ones were very white and outer electrode was severely worn

    I have two problems (maybe related). The car runs excellent at startup and until the engine warms up to operating temp. Then, it suddenly changes completely once it is at operating temp.--it stumbles when accelerating, and on the highway it loses speed on the slightest of hills. I'm currently running without the first O2 sensor connected, because I found that it minimized some of the stumbling. The second problem occurs when it is hot outside (above say 85-90)--it will go down the highway OK (sometimes with poor oomph on the hills), but when you slow down in town--it dies. If you coast for about 5 seconds or so and leave it in gear, it starts back up again. And it will do this repeatedly at lower speeds.

    I think the two problems are related somehow. If anyone has had similar troubles or has advice on something to check, I would greatly appreciate your help. Matt
  • I have a 96 Saturn SL2, the horn was not working. I bought a universal horn, but the problem is that it only has 2 prongs to wire it and my car has a 3 prong relay. I have attempted to wire it but have been unable to get it to work. Does anyone have any idea how this can be done? I have to get the car inspected and it will not pass without horn.
  • 442dude442dude Posts: 373
    Hi Matt,

    Your EGR valve likely needs to be cleaned - common problem with all of the symptoms you describe

    Follow this link

    link title

    John :shades:
  • Hello!

    So ... I have a 97 Saturn SL1. The rear door on the driver side just won't open.

    When I unlock it, it sounds like it is unlocking, and when I pull on the inside handle, it seems to be pulling something, but the outer handle seems to not be engaging anything.

    I managed to get the inside door panel off, but I cannot see or reach back to where the latch mechanism is.

    Is there any way I can get this door open?!?

  • Dom57Dom57 Posts: 2
    Lately when I start my car (SL2 – 2000) in the morning the Security light is flashing, Service Light is lit and the Service Engine Soon light is lit and the car turns over but won’t start. sounds like its out of gas. I have the passive security system only. So I turn the ignition switch to run over an over until the security light stops flashing then goes out. This is when the car starts approximately 3 to 5 min. worth of playing time. While the car warms the security light and the service light comes back on an the car runs with no problems. If I turn the car off and re start it the lights clear and don’t come back on. Went to auto zone while the lights were lit to check and there were no codes that come up.. Does any one know what this could be? Is this an easy fix or do I need to bring this to the dealer? Thanks for any help
  • I have a 1997 Saturn SL1 5 speed manual. When i start it in the morning i get a loud annoying vibration coming from the engine when its cold, and i have a idle problem where the idle shoots up when i change gears, worse when it's cold. anyone know why i'm having this problem? the car has good pick up and has no kind of hesitation when i give it gas. i have 154,000 on the car.:confuse: also after driving awhile when i shut it off for a few minutes and go to start it, it stumbles and stalls once. not always but most of the time. hmm?
  • fisbow71fisbow71 Posts: 1
    #3 exhaust valve replacement i have c clamp and top and plier style valve spring compressors none will work because of the extra housing design on the exhaust side where can i find one that works on this engine?
  • billjabillja Posts: 2
    Hi, I had a problem with rough start,high idle,had to floor gas pedal to start sometimes.I saw on a forum to replace the engine coolant temp sensor.I got
    one at autozone for $10.50 and installed it,took 5 mins.This did not help at all.
    I then replaced pcv valve,plugs and wires (they were due to be replaced anyway)
    also the O2 sensor.Car ran better but still had same problem starting.Took car
    to have engine diagnose.Turns out the temp sensor I put in was after-market,
    and Saturn had made an upgrade,I needed the temp sensor with the upgraded
    cable harness from Saturn,cost $60.00, $170.00 for diagnose and labor.Now car
    starts and idles great.Suggest calling Saturn about replacing the ECTS.
  • rbillieuxrbillieux Posts: 36
    Car pain in [non-permissible content removed]--replace all sensors same symptoms only worse-surged to 50 mph -if antifreeze level down it can do that plus rough starting. Sticking--found out egr valve needs cleaning or replace. Carbon a problem it builds up fast. po404 code cost about $ 100 and clean throttle body too. Why does carbon keep bulding up in egr? Bpb B :lemon:
  • 442dude442dude Posts: 373
    Carbon builds up in EGR b/c the 1.9L motor likes to burn oil. Its an easy fix - take it off, toothbrush to the pintle & make sure it moves easily up and down - spray it with carb cleaner if needed to get the carbon off and replace it - do it once every 6 months and you'll never have a problem. Don't let the mechanic sell you a new EGR.
  • hillgalhillgal Posts: 1
    I've owned a lot of cars, but never a Saturn. We ran across one that looks like it's right off the showroom floor, runs like a top. The only thing is it is idling at about 1100 and is normal when moving. I looked this up and it said to set to 450-650 and I found 4 things that could cause this. Would you recommend just resetting the idle speed or what?
  • billjabillja Posts: 2
    If you still have car make sure you install the engine coolant temp sensor with the
    Saturn upgrade and cable harness.I installed a $10.00 autozone ECTS and it didn't work right.When the upgraded one installed (get it at Saturn) my problems were solved,rough start and high idle,alot of smoke coming from exhuast.
  • 96slvin896slvin8 Posts: 1
    About a year ago I purchased a used 96 SL sedan with SOHC engine and 5 speed. Did some basic maintenance, coolant flush, new plugs (Bosch Platinum 4s) and wires, new tires, muffler, and minor TLC. For most part, LOVE the car and drive it enthusiastically (i.e. don't follow the upshift light, rev above there regularly). When I took the car to a mechanic for a tuneup (after my work and repairing two minor exhaust issue/leaks), I was surprised when the mechanic told me the Bosch plugs were TOO HOT for the engine, and he, without my approval, replaced the new Bosch 4s with OEM type plugs (ACDelco, may be single electrode platinum) then tuned it.

    From some research I did prior to purchasing the Bosch plugs (and after consulting coworkers/mechanics at the local auto center where I work PT), I can see where the Bosch plug may burn somewhat hotter than an OEM, simply because it produces a more uniform burn "kernel" at ignition, thus being more efficient and producing more power (and heat) for the same amount of fuel. I understand that the heat range of a plug is important to the overall performance and longevity of an engine. Was I wrong to assume that the Bosch plug specified for my vehicle would be the same heat range as the OEM plug? If "yes", why would Bosch do so if it may damage the engine parts, in the long run? Should I switch back to the Bosch 4s, or something in between the OEM and the 4s, say Bosch Platinum 2s?

    Sorry for being long-winded.

    BTW, I'm new to this forum and really appreciate the depth of knowledge here. I'm a shadetree mechanic and appreciate my car for the relative simplicity of many repair tasks. Will be replacing the primary O2 sensor tomorrow as I, just today, had my car send me the P0133 code.

    Thanks again for all of the wisdom this board contains!
  • Hey all, my SL1 has ~87,000 miles and is starting to make a lot of noise. No check engine light, doesn't seem to burn oil, drivability is the same as always. By the sounds of it I may have a similar problem to lilbirdy and elyons on page 5, but there wasn't an apparent resolution posted here.

    So the sound kicks in around 20mph and maxes out around 50mph, and gets a little less noticeable at higher speeds (or maybe just the usual sound of rushing air at highway speeds drowns it out.) It's completely uncorrelated to how high the revs are, what gear it's in, turning corners, etc. As elyons said it seems to be coming from just on the other side of the dash, a little bit on the driver's side of the vehicle. I would describe it as somewhat similar to the regular engine sound but louder, and with a rougher vibrating sound to it. I changed my spark plugs a couple months back just as regular maintenance; the sound wasn't apparent at the time. Another thing I've noticed lately is improved fuel economy. I commute on the highway and monitor my gas mileage closely, always have been around 42mpg but lately it's been closer to 47mpg! That's great and all but I'm wondering if it's running too lean? Another habit I've had in trying to get great mileage is putting it in neutral on long, downhill stretches on the highway. Is there any way that could be impacting this?

    Another thing I'm not clear on, will a scanner produce any codes if the check engine light isn't on? Any input would be much appreciated, I've already learned a lot from all the previous discussion.
  • :cry: :sick: Hi,
    1997 saturn wont start when a/c fan and a/c buttons are on position can start first time in morning a/c can be left on position and fan can be left on . but once the car is running for a while with a/c on can not restart car unless i shut a/c down and turn fan off help. i was told it needed a fuel pump,fuel filter, alternator(generator) etc.etc. its just a pain to have to shut fan and ac off before i can start it or not use the /ac in florida noway.
  • I just changed a clutch on a 96 sl-1. After putting engine and tranny back in, I have 2 connections that I cannot find where they belong. 1 connection has a grn/wht and a pnk wire and the other has ppl and yel. Engine turns over, just won't fire. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • Hi, billja. I have a similar problem on my '96 SL-1. Over a year ago, I replaced the thermostat, flushed the cooling system and also did the Temperature sensor while I was at it. And yes, I got one from Autozone cheap. Almost immediately I had issues. The temp gauge went up to the halfway mark as soon as I started it, and the electric fan also started as well. The fan has only come on when I use the A/C in the summer, so I thought this was odd. I thought it was a fluke and let it go a few days. It was NO FLUKE! Good thing I kept the old sensor, and I put it back in and had no trouble for a long time till recently. One day about a month ago, I started the car(in cold weather here in Pa)and on came the fan. Now the car heated up quickly as it usually does, but the temp gauge barely moved. I got out and put my finger on the 2 wire connector on the sending unit, and the fan went off immediately and the gauge went up to its normal position and I had no problems. Now today, after it sat for about 4 days, the same thing is happening, and the cooling fan wants to run again! I have a feeling I have a bad connector issue here, not so much a sensor. I remember I had trouble getting that plastic thing off the sensor, and it did come off hard last year. I called my local Saturn dealer and it seemed to me that he knew there was an issue with these connectors and they have them in stock for about $25. I will probably go pick one up, but I'm wondering if I should get a new sensor while I'm at it. I wonder if the one for the '96 and '97 are different? What does ECTS stand for? Is it Electronically controlled Temperature Sensor? I may not get around to do this until spring!!
  • I had a similar EGR issue with my '96 SL-1 over a year ago. I didn't have an OBD2 scanner then(I do now) and the engine light kept coming on. My former boss at the time used to buy Saturns and fix them up and sell them. He said they were great cars. I've had mine for nearly 3 years now. He read the code at the time and it was an EGR problem, and he said he just might have a couple of them in his garage at home. He still had a large number of parts, he told me. So he brought 2 of them in and I took them home and the next day put one in, using a new gasket, then we cleared the code. All was well for a couple of days, then the same code again. Put the second one in and maybe a week later, the same thing. So BOTH of the used ones were duds. Autozone wanted $150 for a new one, and Saturn was even higher than that. So I got one from a salvage yard not very far from me. This yard specializes in Saturns. For 40 bucks, I got one that was so clean it looked like it came from an auto parts shelf. Been in ever since, and I have had no recurring issues with it. Just thought I'd share this with you. Happy New Year to all!
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