Mechanics

SL1

1994 Saturn Other

I have a 1994 Saturn SL1 with an automatic transmission and 89,000 miles. The car was running fine, and then it suddenly died. I coasted it over to the side of the road and tried to restart it, but the engine would not turn over. My girlfriend was following me and said that the car did not smoke before it died. I thought perhaps the battery was dead, so I cleaned the terminals (bad move because it released any engine codes I might have had). The car would still not start, so I towed it home.

The battery turned out to have a full charge, so I removed the starter, jacked the front wheels off the ground, put a large wrench and breaker bar on the front pulley bolt, and tried to manually turn the engine over, but it would not budge. I drained the oil in the engine and tranny, and there were no metal shavings or broken pieces in it. I inspected the timing chain, and it is not broken.

I put the transmission in park (with the front wheels off the ground) and when I turned one front wheel, the other turned in the opposite direction. I put the tranny in drive, and when I turned one front wheel, the other did not turn.

That is as far as I have gotten. I have no idea why the engine won't turn over and appears to be froze. Incidently, when the engine died, the car did not sputter and jerk. It was running fine and then suddenly the engine died in an instant. Does anybody have any suggestions of what might be wrong with the car?

Thank you
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Jonness
November 5, 2006.




From what you described, sounds like your engine has siezed up (this usually happens if the car is overheated) check you have coolant in your radiator. I would also retry putting a large breaker bar and socket on the crankshaft pulleyand try turning it, but before you do, remove the spark plugs (this will prevent compression from building up and will make it eaiser to rotate the engine. If it still doesn't turn, you have a siezed engine. Good Luck
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Tiny
Bob G
Nov 10, 2006.
Thanks for you reply. I couldn't budge the engine using a large breaker bar when the spark plugs and starter were removed. The odd thing about the seizure is that the radiator was topped up with anti-freeze/water (50/50), the engine oil didn't have any traces of metal in it, and the car seized in an instant without smoking. Also, the temperature gauge read normal, and the engine did not appear to be overly hot when I popped the hood immediately after the car died. The car didn't make any strange noises either. It seemed to be running fine one second and seized the next.

Perhaps something mechanical came loose inside the engine and jammed it up in there? I'm fairly familiar with engines, but I'm completely unfamiliar with automatic transmissions. Do you think that somehow the transmission or torque converter could cause these symptoms?

Thank you

Tiny
Jonness
Nov 12, 2006.
The only other possibility, is if the engine oil wasn't changed regularly, then the oil would lose its viscosity, then the oil would not lubricate the main and rod bearings. You might want to drop the oil pan, then loosen the rod bearings first, then try the breaker bar again, then if it still doesn't turn, try loosing the main bearing caps. When the bearing don't get proper lubrication, then the bearings (which are actually shims that go around the crankshaft) heat up and weld the connecting rods to the crankshaft. Now you'll either need to install a new crankshaft kit, which wich comes with the crankshaft and new bearings or change the engine.

Tiny
Bob G
Nov 15, 2006.
Thanks for your reply.

The oil was changed every 3000 miles for the life of the car and had just been changed prior to the freeze up.

Hopefully, your advice of loosening the rods will allow me to get then engine turned over enough to get it separated from the tranny. That should make it easier to pull I would think.

This isn't the type of thing I expect from a car with 90k on it that has been pampered, but I've read elsewhere that Saturns with low mileage are often problematic.

Tiny
Jonness
Nov 15, 2006.
Yes if you loosen the conecting rod & Main bearings you should be able to turn the engine to unbolt the torque converter (if it's an auotmatic) If you loosen the bearings and it still does'nt rotate then thats not the problem, don't pull the engine unless you sure it's the bearings.

Tiny
Bob G
Nov 17, 2006.

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