"Hesitating" Car fixed last March - now the problem is back!

Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
  • MEMBER
  • 1995 SATURN SL1
  • 156,200 MILES
I'm female and know nothing about cars. I have a 1995 Saturn SL1 with around 156,200 miles on it. At the end of 2010 my car started hesitating while driving, like it was going to cut off. It was worse when I accelerated. I did some internet research on what it could be, and in March 2011, took a short list of possibilities to the shop and told the mechanic to fix all of it. Overkill? Maybe, but I didn't have time for trial and error. Here's what they did:

Fuel System Cleaning: Chemically clean intake system and combustion chamber
Chemically clean fuel lines, fuel rail, and injectors w/ an additive added to the fuel tank.
Chemically clean throttle body, throttle plate and air intake bore
Replaced spark plugs, spark plug wire set and all secondary ignition wires
Replace fuel filter
Synthetic oil change

Problem solved! They advised me to never use Arco gas, which I always have. Since then I use either Chevron, 76 or Shell.

But now the same problem is back.

It seems to be worse when it's cold outside, but it still hesitates even if the weather and/or the car is warmed up. I recently took it to the same mechanic who said they can't find anything wrong with it. And, no, I didn't ask him what they checked. They changed the oil and oil filter, and I needed to have the valve cover gasket replaced, which they said probably wouldn't solve my problem. They were right. A few days later after my tank was almost empty, I put some fuel injector cleaner in it, and it didn't do anything. I have no problem starting the car. Putting the car in neutral every time I stop keeps it from hesitating. No service lights come on and there are no odd noises.

Now what? I need to take it back, and I really could use some advice on what to tell them to check next. Starting with the cheapest options first.

Thanks so much for your time!
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 4:07 AM

20 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
What type of spark plugs did they install?Hopefully not platnuim plugs?They carbon foul in those engines.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 8:02 AM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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I just called the mechanic. They used standard platinum ngk spark plugs. Does this mean I need new ones already? It would be great if it was that simple!
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 5:32 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
You need to put stock copper ngk plugs in the engine the S model saturns just dont run well with the platnuims they carbon foul the tips of the plugs.I would start by changing the plugs and also inspecting the coil towers where the spark plug wires go on the coils for corrossion. Also a bad coolant temp sensor can cause a hessation and its common for the coolant temp sensors to go bad on those S model saturns.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 5:39 PM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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Oh, another thing and I'm not sure this matters. I've had a slow oil leak in my car for several years that I can't afford to fix. So I just keep watching the fluid levels.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 5:42 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Where is the oil leak coming from.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 5:44 PM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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I want to say the oil pan, but I honestly don't remember. I do remember it's going to be very expensive to fix (maybe $800?) I'm such a girl when it comes to keeping track of my car.

BTW thanks for your quick responses!
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 5:54 PM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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I see that copper plugs have designate "heat ranges". How do I determine what to use? Just want to make sure the mechanic is doing the right thing.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 6:26 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Ngk number bkr4esa11 thats the spark plug number it takes. Also I would change the bottom coolant temp sensor with two wires going to it. Also inspect the inside of connector if the terminals are green or blue instead silver the connector needs to be replaced also.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 7:44 PM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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Great! Thanks for the info! I have an appt this weekend so I'll post how that turns out.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 9:36 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Keep me posted.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 11:02 PM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
  • MEMBER
How's this for an update:

Since yesterday my car won't go over 30mph, up even the slightest incline, without serious shaking. Like it's having a nervous breakdown. It shakes on level ground but not as bad. When I go downhill, I can go the normal speed with no shaking. And, again, putting it in neutral when stopped still keeps it from hesitating or shaking.

Does that narrow down the possibilites?
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Friday, January 13th, 2012 AT 4:49 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Do you have any codes in the computer.
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Friday, January 13th, 2012 AT 10:48 PM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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I can't imagine how I would begin to find that out! I changed my appt to 8am tomorrow, so I'll find out from my mechanic then.
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Friday, January 13th, 2012 AT 11:13 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
I would check for codes in the computer and do a back pressure test to rule out a plugged cat. Thats wherw I would start.I would also check plugs wires and the coil towers for being crodded. Also colant temp sensor and connector.
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Saturday, January 14th, 2012 AT 8:00 AM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
  • MEMBER
Good news: it was only a spark plug. Bad news: The 3rd cylinder in the engine is what is causing it to go bad. So it's only the beginning of yet another car problem.

I just bought a new car earlier today, and I know nothing about that. I hope I did the right thing. Thanks for all your help.
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Sunday, January 15th, 2012 AT 2:59 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
So was the number 3 cylinder plug oil fouled?
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Sunday, January 15th, 2012 AT 5:12 AM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
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Badly. They put the new plug in and the car ran great.
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Sunday, January 15th, 2012 AT 7:16 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Spark plugs are a lot cheaper then another car.
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Monday, January 16th, 2012 AT 12:31 AM
Tiny
BUYTHEBUY
  • MEMBER
He said that the cylinder prob was going to keep burning out (or whatever the term is) that plug, which means every few months I'd have to spend $100 to get them to change it. Plus my car is legally "salvage", it has been wrecked for years, and I already knew I had serious probs with suspension, transmission, that oil leak I mentioned, a power steering leak, and I need 4 new tires.

So, it was time for a new car anyway.
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Monday, January 16th, 2012 AT 9:34 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
A hundred to change one plug thats way too much But if the car was that far gone then sounds like you made the correct decision.
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Monday, January 16th, 2012 AT 9:38 PM

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