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Saturn S-Series: code p0101



  • Is the problem at warm start after sitting a while or a cold start after sitting overnight? Once the car is started with help of pedal, the car is perfect after that, i.e. idles perfect and no drivability issues at all, etc?
  • Problem is after sitting for quite a while. Like at school all day or overnight. Once started all is fine, runs great and no issues. I did find some posts in the Saturn Forum that said i should try swapping the Fuel Pump Relay and the HVAC Blower Relay. There were actually a couple posts about that. Will try that tonight and see what happens. If you have any further suggestions they would be appreciated. Thanks.
  • I tend to not think it is the relay. If my memory serves me correctly, when ignition is put in "on" position before cranking, the buzzing of the operating fuel pump may be heard if you have someone at the back of the car. Opening up the fuel cap may help hear it better. If no cranking takes place in 5 seconds or so, the fuel pump stops and restarts when cranking. By then you know the relay is fine. If the problem is presistent until you use the gas pedal, I tend to think problem is elsewhere, especially after repeated cranking with no start. What I mention now is counter-intuitive, but the Saturn ECU is very sensitive to electrical noise. A bad alternator caused similar running problems for another car, but the closest other incident I could recall was on a Saturn in which the battery terminals were loose. Plenty of battery contact to crank and all, but the ECU had trouble from the loose connection anyway. Twist the two connectors and see if they are obviously loose, if not, we look elsewhere. I'm assuming no error codes to report. A really bad loose connection on battery, even though enough to crank, sometimes cough up U1300 code. For now, check the battery connection (also look for acid leak, GM-Delco battery prone to leak with side post battery).
  • No error codes. No battery leaks.

    Fuel pump can be heard. I went ahead and checked the pressure. It stayed constant at 48 pounds. I had already switched the relays before seeing your reply.

    The battery cables did not move when twisted. The ground cable was not loose but it was not as tight as it should have been. It took no effort at all to loosen the connection. The positive connection had some corrosion. Cleaned both battery contacts and cables and reinstalled.

    Will see what happens in the morning. Your help is greatly appreciated. Will post and let you know what it does.
  • OK! You are thorough. I am retired and drive inter-state a lot and keep my '02 SL1 in perfect shape always. I attacked a few problems over the years on my car alone. What you are describing, with help of elimination process, sounds awfully like the start of the intake manifold gasket leak. The ills of a fully developed problem may not show up for half year or more depending on how many miles you drive. When engine is cold, the gasket leaks more and excessively dilutes the air-gas mix, but gasket seals up somewhat when head is hot. The leak initially is not enough to create a real problem after starting, but give it a few weeks and it may. Are you experiencing the following?:
    1. Tiny trace of coolant smell coming from exhaust or very gradual loss of coolant?
    2. Extra tough starting on the colder mornings.
    3. Look at the engine at hot idle. Do you see a slight jitter as if one cylinder has a slight miss. Listen for corresponding pop on exhaust too (misfire).
  • I have not noticed any of the items you listed for the intake gasket. Coolant has never been low and cannot notice any smell with the exhaust.

    Good thing is since my last writing to you the car has started fine. The last things i did were to clean the ECT plug well and put some dialectric grease on it. Cleaned and tightened the battery terminals. Cleaned the throttle body (did not remove for thorough cleaning). So far so good, hope it stays this way.

    Thanks for all the help
  • My saturn has a problem with idle speed.. It idles about 1100 rpm, sometimes this goes up and down.. Sometime when I come up to a red light or down shift it'll stall out... It was doing this most of the day yesterday, and this morning I went to start it up and it didn't want to start or stay running.. I finally got it started.. It stalled out at every light for about 30 min, and then it was fine except for it was ideling very high... I had a friend come over with a snap on scan tool, but there was no code... I don't have a clue what to do now...
  • It sounds like the usual intake manifold gasket leak. But there should have been a code registered. It sounds bad enough to stall the engine and should have registered something in the OBD-II. I take it there was no check engine soon light? If no Check engine soon light, then there is no code.
  • there was no engine light on... No codes stored in the computer... I don't know what sensors would control the idle... It doesn't idle rough. This doesn't happen every time...
  • Assuming car runs fine when you are moving and driving with foot on gas, the matter does appear to be idle. Having a problem for first 30 mins tells me the car must've warmed up, so issues related to faulty cold idle control does not sound to be the issue. It is warm idle issue. There are special effects with Saturn S if the battery connection is faulty for any reason. Long story. Check your terminals that the side posts did not come loose.
  • The other possible problem is bad PCV. This problem may not be detected by OBD-II if not enough to misfire. During idle, the PCV is to see high vacuum and sucked closed, but if air is freely allowed to flow from crankcase into the manifold when there is no flow, you should see higher idle speed from MAP sensing the perceived air flow. As there is a idle signal from the throttle position sensor, the MAP may be limited to what it could do to achieve proper mix at idle. A test for this is to pull off that short hose between intake manifold and the engine valve cover. Use a cap plug or equivalent to cap the hose nipple at the intake manifold. In general, if car is fine when not in idle mode, tendency is that there is a vacuum leak issue. All the sensors would be working for proper operation during driving, and when problem only at idle (high vacuum), you will expose problems with air leaks or air flow that is unwanted.
  • I cleaned the battery terminals, checked the pcv, it had no effect... Now the rpm's are up at 1500 at idle... If the pcv is bad, when i plugged the hose what would the effect be if that was the problem?
  • OK. Good on the battery check. If you remove the hose between intake manifold and the head cover, and plug the tap at the intake manifold, idle will return to normal of that is the problem. During idling (high vacuum), PVC should be closed and no flow at all, so you would be forcing this issue. You could also leave the cap on forever, but the issue is that the bypass gasses if builds up, will enter upstream in the other hose to the snorkel, and your air throttle will be all gummed up with oil. Best to have air come in from the snorkel (another hose on the side) and let the oil and gas fumes to to manifold at the hose to the PCB valve. The PCV valve is white and attach as a nipple on the head cover.
  • The PCV valve is actually black. I got it mixed up with another car. Just looked at my own car. If pulling PCV hose off at intake manifold and plugging the hose nipple at the intake manifold does not change anything, the other possibility, though not likely, is the idle control valve. If this is the case, you would see high idle, but none of the stalling and rough idle issues you mentioned. An abnormally opened idle control valve simply means faster idle and some wasted gas, but should run well otherwise. Given the 1,500 rpm idle speed, I tend to doubt PCV. It doesn't let that much air through but worth checking.
  • booboo6 - maybe you can help me too! ?
    My symptoms are eerily similar to your post above (#66):
    1. Tiny trace of coolant smell coming from exhaust or very gradual loss of coolant?
    2. Extra tough starting on the colder mornings.
    3. Look at the engine at hot idle. Do you see a slight jitter as if one cylinder has a slight miss. Listen for corresponding pop on exhaust too (misfire).
    For the sake of completion, let me run down the whole story, briefly.

    01 SL2, poor cold start condition. will start if I floor the pedal, but only after letting it crank for longer than it should need to. After starting, I need to keep my foot dancing on the pedal, as the RPM's will get low, as if it is about to die. After a few (15-20) seconds of this, I can finally stop holding my breath because it will idle without dying. After it is warmed up, I can turn it off and it will immediately restart as if everything is fine. The longer it sits, and colder it gets, the more difficult it is to fire. Once the gears are engaged (standard), and the rpm's up, it's fine. while engaging first gear, from a stop, I have to use more throttle than typical. other gears are fine, presumably because there is less strain. Have not tried significant hills.

    the History.
    -My car has had the engine light on for a long time now, it turns off occasionally, but usually it is on. Because I still got good fuel economy (30/34) and there were no unusual noises, I just accepted that that light was there to let me know that the service engine light bulb worked. :] not ideal, I know, I know.
    -Car has always idled high (15-1800, sometimes even 2000+, but it will slow down after it warms up to ~1100)
    -My boss (construction, so he sees my car running everyday) has mentioned that it sounds like it was not firing on all cylinders. Otherwise, I've never noticed the jitter of #3 above. I did r/r plugs and wires about a year ago per his recommendation, no change.
    -we had a couple of very cold days recently, and the car would not start after sitting for 3 hours. Push started on monday, tuesday it was fine, wednesday needed another push start, so I started changing out parts.
    -I changed the oil (routine service) and fuel filter at the same time. No change. however after this, i had driven enough on that tank of gas that I soon realized fuel economy was dropping (around 20mpg).
    --While at a park, afraid that it wouldn't start, I let the car idle for about 30min. We saw a small plume of smoke or steam coming from near the empty coolant reservoir (did not pinpoint), and the temp gauge was just over halfway. the gauge is typically just above C, even on long trips, and it was definitely not redlining. I rolled down the windows, turned the heat on high (brought the temp gauge down quickly), and bought some 50/50 mix at the nearest gas station. I only poured ~1/2 gallon in there, so the system wasn't totally drained. I have not had this happen again since (a few days ago). The coolant level was fine after I swapped out a cracked radiator a few months ago, and no leaks (I've been watching).
    -I changed the fuel pump. No change. However after starting my car this time, i noticed an excessive amount of smoke in the garage and began surveying the exhaust. I seemed to notice a small amount of antifreeze smell. the smoke almost had hints of white color. Not super thick, but hazy enough.

    I know that was long, but that's as thorough as I can be. Does that reek of "intake manifold gasket" per your post #66, or should I do some other trouble shooting? I'm about to take a life insurance policy out on the thing and push it down the stairs. Thanks.
  • oh, I'm at 133,000 miles. I couldn't get the codes read at Autozone because I couldn't get there early enough. will try tomorrow.
  • booboo6booboo6 Posts: 46
    You have the same problem. I'd bet on it. Your other details are symptoms of the same. Good news is the job is not hard. If you are closeby, say in MA? You could slow down fluid loss by keeping the coolant reserve bottle loose for now. There is really no real need to pressurized the coolant system if you do not pull trailer and your coolant temperature never goes above 200 deg! Hoses will last longer, and you will slow down fluid loss due to pressurization and leak at the manifold gasket. The gasket has deterioriated on you. There is coolant because a hose to your passenger area heater is through the gasket and through the intake manifold due to shortage of real estate for hose connections to the engine head. The gasket GM gave us is a POS fiberglass gasket. Does not shrink and expand like the aluminum parts that pinch it down. The gasket just fails all over after a few years. A new FelPro gasket is the right stuff, and only $18. Expect 3 hours to do the job.
  • booboo6booboo6 Posts: 46
    Your Check Engine Soon light is your emissions light. It has been on for a while likely due to detected misfire. Saturn engine should be completely smooth idle when in neutral/park. It should not gitter. When it does, those are moments that you operated on 3 cylinders. You should hear a slight pop at tailpipe, which is the afterfire detonation that got muffled. The code should be the P0301 as that is cylinder 1 misfired, the most likely seriously deterioriated seal (passenger side). You should also see P0507, triggered by your PCM's failure to gain control of your idle speed. It is a simple fix. Do once for rest life of car. Do before excessive unburned gasses from misfires mess up your catalytic converter.
  • I'm not very good at vehicle repair and no very little. I have a 2001 Saturn S-Series car. I noticed the last few weeks when (clutch) I put the vehicle in neutral it revs up between 2 to 3 RPM. Vehicle sounds very loud. When I go into first gear it works just fine, the RPM drops to about 1 or a little less. I get NO error on my dash and I have ALWAYS replaced my air filter. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • booboo6booboo6 Posts: 46
    Revving up to 2000 to 3000 RPM is way high. The Saturn's idle air control (IAC) may be suspicious, but I have my doubts. IAC opens during cold idle and opens a bit also during air conditioner operation to speed up the idle in varying amounts to stablize cold idle and handle A/C load. I have never seen it manage to get above 2,000 RPM even when my '02 SL1 operates the exhaust electric blower which I determined operates at cold start and the IAC is most wide open (about 1,700 RPM). SL's OBD-II is quite accurate and would have detected other issues that I could think of. An air leak like other threads here relate to common problem of intake air leak would cause unmistakable startup problems and lots of misfires that would easily trigger the P03XX code. As the IAC is not cheap to buy new one on hope that is problem, best to retrieve it and use carb cleaner to dissolve the mess and re-install.
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