1996 Saturn SL2 Battery/Service Engine Lite

Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 SATURN SL2
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 108,000 MILES
For the past 2 years I have had 3 batteries put in. The car wouldn't start several times - got it tested - was told it was a bad battery. Now my SE lite is on again - got it tested again - was told it is a bad cell in the battery even though it is charging at 100%. He did not have the car running when he checked this - was that ok? The car is still starting and running fine right now. Why does my car continue to "short out" the cells in the battery? Also got new starter and alternator within the past 2 years. Had MANY mechanics look at it & can't find the cause. I do have an oil leak and was told once it could possibly be leaking onto the battery or connections somehow. Help!
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Monday, July 13th, 2015 AT 9:53 AM

13 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
You check the battery with the car not running so was correct.I cant see a oil leak causing this unis it shorted out the battery. So where are you buying your batteries?Also you said your service engine soon light was on what are the exact code numbers not code descriptions you have in the computer? I haven't seen those saturns eat batterys unless you had a alternator issues a draw on the electrical system somewhere. It would be extremely uncommon.
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Monday, July 13th, 2015 AT 12:52 PM
Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
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Thank you for your response. The code that came up today is "P0440 - Evaporative Emission System-Confirmed." They said it could be an oxygen sensor? But for the past 2 years with "bad" batteries, my SE lite also came on, so I thought it was because of the battery.

When they tested my battery it came up "charge is low" - it's only 10 months old. It's a 5 year battery from Walmart, but before that I bought one at Firestone and the same thing happened. Something is causing my batteries to go bad/charge low. They checked the starter & alternator and they are fine.

What do you think the code means, and what should I do about the continuous low battery charge?

Thank you very much for your response.
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Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 AT 3:41 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Th P0440 has nothing to do with the o2 sensor see if both the vacuum lines are hooked up to the evap canister purge solenoid its under your intake manifold. You have a parasitic draw test done on the battery to see if you have a excessive draw with the key off.I really haven't seen those cars just eat batterys and I have worked on more of those cars then any other car in my life.I worked for saturn for over 16yrs. Also those Walmart batteries dont seem to last long. So did the battery test say good battery low charge?
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Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 AT 10:29 PM
Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
  • MEMBER
I have attached photos of the engine. My husband is not sure where the evaporated canister is. Is his finger pointing to the intake manifold?

The battery test said Voltage=12.48U "Batt'y charge is low & must be charged to determine condition". One note-I did have a reconditioned alternator put in last fall-if that could have anything to do with it? But I am going to have the parasitic draw test done also.

Thank you.
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Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 AT 8:59 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
No he is pointing to the air filter lid the intake manifold is right behind the valve cover where you add oil. There aluminum tubes that make up the intake manifold. If you look thru the intake manifold tubes you should be able to see the canister purge solenoid And if both vacuum hoses are attached to it. If the alternator is testing good also the diode trio in the alternator is testing good then the alternator is good.
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Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 AT 12:56 PM
Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
  • MEMBER
Just a little background - I have spent a little over $4,000 on this car in the last 2 years and have to start drawing the line somewhere! I bought the car new in 1996 and now have paid more into it than it's worth, but it only has 108,000 miles on it. I talked to a local mechanic & he told me the P0440 code is very common and it would cost $100 just to check it. I then asked if I could safely continue to drive the car without getting this fixed, and he said yes. Is that true? Safety & saving money is my main concern.

About the battery - I just had the parasitic draw test done - they told me if it measures over.05 then it was drawing. It registered.02-.03 and said it's OK. He said the alternator seems fine - but now need to check connections, etc. Since the battery charge continues to be low. So I think this is where I need to put the money into. Do you know of anything else with the battery situation I need to have checked?

Thank you so much for your responses!
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Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 AT 3:19 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
As far as the p0440 code for that car not so common thats why I had to think about it and then asked you to make sure both vacuum lines were hooked up to it. As far as it not hurting anything by not fixing that is true. But with the light always on if another code comes along that could damage something then it could be masked by the light always being on. Also again those cars aren't known for eating batterys that would be really rare. As far as the battery testing low charge you may have intermittent charging issue. Does your battery light ever come on while driving?
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Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 AT 6:58 PM
Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
  • MEMBER
That's true with the light being on it could mask something else. I guess my only other thought is that I am hoping the car will last another year, and then sell it. I really have to pick & choose now what I can afford to fix, as long as it is safe to drive. The SE light has been fluctuating the past couple days - right now it is off, so I'm hoping it's not too bad!

Yes, my battery/temp light has come on/off intermittently while driving over the last 2 years, the period when I've had the 3 different batteries. It is also off right now - went off after I got a new radiator 2 weeks ago. I just found out about a shop that only works on starters/alternators/batteries and who are supposed to be good at "finding things" gone wrong - they said they will look at it & run tests for free. I'm really hoping they can find the cause.

You have been very helpful and I appreciate your time - hopefully I can take it from here!

Thank you.
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Thursday, July 16th, 2015 AT 1:36 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
You must be talking about the low coolant light you mentioned you had a coolant leak. If the battery light is coming on then there is a charging issue somewhere.
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Thursday, July 16th, 2015 AT 7:37 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
He did have the car running when he checked the alternator correct?
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Thursday, July 16th, 2015 AT 7:38 PM
Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
  • MEMBER
My temp lite was on because I had a leak in the radiator - a 2inch crack - just got a new radiator 2 weeks ago, so it should be alright now.
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Monday, July 20th, 2015 AT 6:37 AM
Tiny
SATURNCRAZY
  • MEMBER
I'm going to another place tomorrow that does nothing but work on starters/alternators/batteries - said they've been doing this for over 40 years. Hopefully they'll know the correct way to check this!

Thanks
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Monday, July 20th, 2015 AT 6:40 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Keep us posted on what they find.
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Monday, July 20th, 2015 AT 12:20 PM

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