Mechanics

ENGINE DIES AFTER A COUPLE MILES

1998 Saturn SL1

Engine Performance problem
1998 Saturn SL1 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Manual 163000 miles

The engine will die after driving for about 2 miles. It started out going about 20 miles and then 10, then 5 and now 2. If it sets for a few minutes it will sometimes start again but only last for a few minutes. Yesterday I had codes indicating it needed a new O2 sensor and engine coolant sensor so I replaced them with parts from a non-Saturn parts store. I checked the spark plugs and replaced the plugs and wires today with genuine Saturn parts. It ran for about 2 miles and then stalled. The check engine light did not come back on today but it still showed a low voltage from the O2 sensor code.
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Slheider
January 29, 2010.



First off thank u so much for ur donation it really helps to keep this website helping people. So what are the numbers of the codes u are getting now and what was the number of the code u got for the coolant temp sensor?Also which o2 sensor did u replace front or rear?Also when it dies do u have Time to check for spark u would be taking two spark plug wires off that are side by side off the coil and watching for spark when it doesn't start. Let me know.

Saturntech9
Jan 30, 2010.
The first codes I got were P0117 (Engine coolant temperature circuit low input) and P0140 (O2 sensor circuit no activity detected (bank 1 sensor 2)). That is when I replaced the coolant temperature sensor and the front O2 sensor on the exhaust manifold and reset the codes. When it continued to die, I got P0300 (random multiple cylinder misfire), P0140 (again) and P1133. Then I replaced the spark plugs and wires and reset the codes. Today, the service engine light was not on but I connected the tester again and got P0131 (O2 sensor circuit low voltage (bank 1 sensor 1)). After I ran it to test it again and see if other codes come up, the P0131 code cleared itself but it still sputters and dies after the engine is warm and no more codes have come up. When the engine is warm and dies, it will start and run rough with no power to move the car unless I turn it off and let it set for a few minutes. As the car cools down it will start and operate near normally for a several hundred feet and then sputter and die again. If it cools down completely I can get up to 2 miles before it looses power and dies. Did we replace the wrong O2 sensor? I do not think I have time to check for spark, because it will start but run rough if I try to start it right after it dies. I appreciate your help.

Tiny
Slheider
Jan 30, 2010.
Hey on ur p0117 I dont think it was ur coolant temp sensor when that code sets it means ur computer is reading -35f or less it reads -40f when ur sensor is unplugged.I think whats happening is u may have bad wiring from ur coolant temp sensor making ur computer think ur cars engine temp is super cold making it run real rich. The hotter ur car gets the less fuel it needs so it runs super rich.I think ur best bet is to get a hold of a scanner that can read engine temp on ur car and make sure its reading the correct temp and not alot colder then it is. Also check that wiring comming from the sensor. As far as the p0140 u changed the wrong one u replaced the one in the manifold which is usually a p0133 code. The p0140 is the rear o2 sensor 2 the one down by the cat its a heated one. The p0300 random missifire just could be caused by the poor running of the engine right now. Another thing that causes the real lack of power when it warms up is a plugged cat. But lets look at ur coolant temp sensor wires because of ur codes. Let me know what u find.

Saturntech9
Jan 30, 2010.
What kind of scanner do you recommend? Are you suggesting one with more sophistication than the one I have or one that just records temperature?

Tiny
Slheider
Jan 30, 2010.
I don't know what kind of scanner u have. They have scanners that just do the basic code reading then they have ones that can read engine data. If have one that can read engine data then ur good to go. If not u will have to find someone that can read engine data and scroll down to engine temp and see if it's reading correctly.

Saturntech9
Jan 30, 2010.
If the engine coolant temp sensor is not working properly or the wireing is faulty, will the temp gauge on the dash also show low temperatures?

Tiny
Slheider
Jan 30, 2010.
Yes it will read low there's only one sender for the gauge and the computer temp. But it won't tell u if it's reading crazy low like -35f or below. Let me know what u find.

Saturntech9
Jan 31, 2010.
I replaced the cat O2 sensor and my neighbor has a scanner that shows engine temperatures. When the car gauge read about 1/4 the sensor read about 160F. When the car gauge stopped rising at about 1/2, the scanner read 212F. It seams the system loop opens at about 160F and that is when the engine starts dying.

I tried submitting this info earlier but was not sure it went through so I did it again.

Thanks

Tiny
Slheider
Jan 31, 2010.
Well using the gauge as a refrence point and comparing what the gauge reads compared to the scan tool it will always match no matter what even if it's wrong.U only have one coolant temp sensor which runs the gauge and the computer so u can't compare one to the other they both could be wrong. The best way to check it is with a infrad temp gun letting the engine warm up and shooting it at where the upper hose goes onto the head. Watching if the scan tool temp matchs the temp gun temp. Maybe ur friend that has that scanner has one. If all that checks out then I suspect that ur ethier losing fuel pressure when it gets hot or u have a bad cat that is broken loose and when it gets hot it expands and blocks the exhausts. The way u would check the fuel pressure loss is hook up a fuel pressure gauge let it warm up loose power run rough see what the pressure reads if it doesn't read between 40-50psi get back to me and let me know what it reads. If it reads ok then hook up a back pressure gauge to where the front o2 sensor goes in the exhuast manifold let it get hot when it loses power runs rough etc raise the rpms up too like 2000 rpms and see what the back pressure reads. Let me know what u find.

Saturntech9
Feb 1, 2010.
I also put an oven thermometer on the upper rad hose (not real accurate, I know) and it was reading 130F. I appreciate your advice but I do not have the time or equipment to keep testing more things so we are towing it to a repair shop and let them take it from here.

Tiny
Slheider
Feb 1, 2010.
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