2001 SL1 rattles and dies on cold start

Tiny
MISSOULAREDHEAD
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 SATURN SL1
  • 92,000 MILES
My SL1 makes a horrible rattling noise (sort of like the valves are shuddering in their seats, maybe?) When I first start it for the day. All fluids are full, and there's no history of burning oil. Lately, on top of the rattle (which, by the way, is worse if I'm on a hill or if it's cold out), it requires me to up the RPMs over 3000 for about 30 seconds, or it dies. Once it gets going, the car runs great, although the gas milage isn't what it used to be. But the rattle is making me crazy.I'm terrified I'm going to throw a rod or something.
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Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 AT 5:08 PM

9 Replies

Tiny
DRCRANKNWRENCH
  • EXPERT
It sounds like there could be an internal engine problem. If the timing belt has never been replaced it could have jumped a tooth and thrown the timing off. There may be some valve damage if it hit a valve as your engine is a "Interference" engine meaning it does not shut down when there is a failure with the timing belt.
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Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 AT 5:11 PM
Tiny
MISSOULAREDHEAD
  • MEMBER
But wouldn't the SES or Check Engine light come on? Very occasionally, the low radiator fluid light comes on, and then goes out after about a half mile. And it doesn't run rough, nor does the idle fluctuate (although it does when the A/C is on for a while.)
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Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 AT 5:15 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Just to add to this one the engine doesnt have a timing belt it has a timing chain. If it jumped it would never run smooth it would have rough idle they may smooth out at higher rpms. The cold start concern sounds like a bad coolant temp sensor really common to go bad on those. Also need to inspect the inside of the connector going to it if the terminals are blue or green instead instead of silver then the connector needs to. Be replaced also. What happens is the coolant temp sensors go bad and read colder then actual temp causing too much fuel to be sent to the engine. The sensors also crack and leak coolant into the sensors corroding the connectors. As far as the noise is it coming from top end or bottom end of the engine?Does the noise go completly away after starting it or can you still hear but just a lot quetier?As far as the low coolant light being on are you sure the coolant isnt just a little low?I like to fill those cars up to the seam of the coolant bottle.
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Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 AT 5:41 PM
Tiny
MISSOULAREDHEAD
  • MEMBER
I checked all the fluids this morning, and yeah, the coolant overflow is a little low. But that's easily fixed. The sound just comes from the engine. Hard to pinpoint where, exactly. I even checked the mounts, and they're all solid. The noise stops after I get going, though. Unless I'm backing down my parents' driveway (I'm going slow, and it's a steep hill), and then it lasts until I get off their driveway and onto the flat road.
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Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 AT 9:08 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The sounds going to be a tough one iam not there to hear it but have you checked to see if the upper motor mount by the coolant bottle is torn or collasped?I have seen those cause a issue of a noise when cold and gets quieter when it warms up.
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Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 AT 10:01 PM
Tiny
MISSOULAREDHEAD
  • MEMBER
I have, and it's not. But I'm going to take it somewhere and get the codes read and see what's up. I'll post them when I get them.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012 AT 12:35 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Alright keep me posted.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012 AT 1:32 AM
Tiny
MISSOULAREDHEAD
  • MEMBER
No codes came up at all. Rats. But this morning, it took 3 tries to start it (the third time, I put my foot on the gas up to 2000 rpm for about 2 minutes before it took). Radiator light came on during that time. And when I stop, it revs to about 2000 rpm twice. When I put it in park, it revs up to 3000 for about 20 seconds, then falls. I'm still thinking it's either an idle sensor or, as you say, saturntech9, the coolant temp sensor. I'm going to try disconnecting the battery for a while, see if things reset?
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012 AT 6:18 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Just change the coolant temp sensor there only like 11 also inspect the inside of the connector to it. If the terminals are blue or green instead of silver replace the connector also. They may solve the idle and starting concern. Also that year single cam saturn engine is known for the intake manifold leaking around the number 1 or 2 cylinder intake port. Where the gasket meets the head. Let it idle spray around the number one and two I take port which the number one is over by the power steering pump. Use carb spray if engine rpms go up down the engine stumbles or dies then you have a leakki g I take gasket. Also inspect the pcv hose that goes from the intake manifold to the valve cover inspect it for holes and being colasped. If you see ethier replace the hose. Let me know what you find.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012 AT 7:15 PM

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