2002 Saturn SL1 High RPM w/ WEAK acceleration.

Tiny
MJJDECLUE
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 SATURN SL1
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 137,000 MILES
My 2002 Saturn SL1 has been very poor with acceleration and with maintaining speeds for about two years now. After every intersection stop, my car is always holding others back for 3 times as long as any other driver, because it takes so long to acellerate. Sometimes, when going up a hill, around a 90 degree turn in a rural area, for example, the RPM will climb up above 4k. When driving on the highway, if there is only a slight incline not even percievable to the eye, I will need to keep easing my foot on the pedal (to no avail), until finally it jumps from about 2k RPM to over 3k RPM. During this process, I will have lost 5 to 10 MPH of speed. I simply can't drive in the left lane anymore.

I notice that oftentimes it feels like there is much tremor/action going on under the hood, but the car is just not thrusting. It's as if the engine is running in circles around itself, and doing nothing for the rest of the car. The SES light will come on for months, but then will go off again for months, and at first it seemed to be due to colder weather, but now it does it even in the summer. I also notice that sometimes when I attempt to break, there will be a delay in breaking because little bursts of thrust occur, and I can seem to feel the engine wanting to keep acellerating RPMS. This naturally results in my needing to gently and repetively tap my breaks (though this particular issue seems to happen less often, and more so in cold weather.)

I have also noticed dark stains which appear like "steam stains" around the outer perimeter of my fuel tank door.

I have already had the fuel injected and the filter changed, new transaxel fluid, new spark plugs, new battery, and many other services, to no avail. I have changed the oil religiously since I have own the car.
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Saturday, August 14th, 2010 AT 8:55 PM

14 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
First of all thank you so much for your donation. Let's start with you going to a auto parts store like auto zone and getting your code's read. Let me know what the code number's are and we will go from there.
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Saturday, August 14th, 2010 AT 9:09 PM
Tiny
MJJDECLUE
  • MEMBER
Thank you for the quick reply. Because of my work schedule, I don't believe I'll be able to make it to Autozone during hours until this Wednesday.

Hopefully, by then, I will be able to get and post the codes. Otherwise, I will asap.
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Saturday, August 14th, 2010 AT 9:19 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Alright let me know when you have the codes. Also is this a lack of power or does it cut out when you expernice your problem?
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Saturday, August 14th, 2010 AT 9:34 PM
Tiny
MJJDECLUE
  • MEMBER
Codes:

P0128
P0442

I don't notice a complete cut-off of power. It just seems that it has to work extra hard and burn more RPM's while the mileage climbs up very slowly.
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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 AT 1:35 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The P0128 is for the thermostat you need to change it and also Change the coolant temp sensor and inspect the connector going to it if it's corroded then you will have to change that too. Your code P0442 is evap small leak that can be from a loose gas cap or you left the cap off when you filled the car with gas. Also inspect the gas cap seal for cracking if it's cracking then you need a new cap. Now for your lack of power What kind of spark plugs did you put in the engine?Have you ever changed your spark plug wire's?Does the lack of power happen all the time when hot or cold?When it start's happening will keep happening?Have you checked your fuel pressure when it's happening?You changed your fuel filter right?
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Monday, August 16th, 2010 AT 1:16 AM
Tiny
MJJDECLUE
  • MEMBER
I changed the coolant temp sensor yesterday, and I did not notice damage on the wire connector. This made no difference whatsoever in the behavior of the car. I have ordered a thermostat and quality gas cap to come in the mail. I will perform these jobs and keep you updated.

I changed the spark plugs and the spark plug wires 12 months ago. This was an entire year after the car started displaying these symptoms, so I don't believe them to be a result of the new spark plugs or wires. The change of plugs and wires, as I recall, did not make any difference for the performance, which obviously frustrated me. I am not sure as to what kind of spark plugs they were. I don't have the receipt information anymore, but I recall getting them from Autozone, and not buying the cheapest ones (probably the best quality ones they had), so whatever they typically sell is most likely what I used.

Notably, I recall when pulling out the old spark plugs, that they looked very clean and undamaged. Granted, I'm not experienced, but I held them up to the picture samples in my manual which demonstrate different kinds of damage, and I found no such sign on the old spark plugs.

Back to the power issue: the cold vs. Warm weather sometimes seems to effect the 'acceleration bursts' that occur when hitting the breaks and the switching on and off of the SES light, but to clarify, weather does NOT appear to effect the weak acceleration and lack of engine power. When I start the car, it is weak, and has been weak for two years - No exceptions whatesoever. There is not a single moment of a single day of any season out of the year when my car will actually accelerate as it should and maintain highway speeds without requiring rough use of the gas pedal. It is always, always weak. It's weakness does not turn on and off, at least not that I have perceived.

I suppose I need to learn how to "check the fuel pressure, " and as for the fuel filter. I had it changed 20 months ago when I had the fuel system injected. I remember after I drove away from Jiffy Lube, I perceived a slight improvement, but I'm wondering if this was strictly psychological and a result of my desperate hoping, because within the very same evening or next day, I recall the car was running absolutely weak again.

I will change the thermostat and install the new gas cap asap and get back to you.
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Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 AT 12:28 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
I just needed to know if you had put in platnuim plug's if you did take them out and put in a standard plug the saturn S models carbon fowl the tips of those plugs because the plug tip doesn't run hot enough. To check fuel pressure it's pretty easy. There will be a line running up to your fuel rail with a cap on a port that is where you check your fuel pressure. You can rent a fuel pressure gauge at auto zone it will screw onto that port then you start your car and see what the pressure is. You could also have a plugged cat. You would have to take it to a exhaust shop when it had no power to see if you had too much back pressure.
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Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 AT 3:02 PM
Tiny
MJJDECLUE
  • MEMBER
I got the thermostat in the mail.

But I've been working during daylight hours every day for seven days in a row, and will have college classes immediately thereafter, for another 5 days in a row.

I should be able to install the thermostat this coming sunday (not tomorrow, but next weekend). I will bear in mind all the things you said and get back to you then.

Thank you.
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Saturday, August 21st, 2010 AT 4:25 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Alright sound's good keep me informed also check your fuel pressure.
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Saturday, August 21st, 2010 AT 5:14 PM
Tiny
MJJDECLUE
  • MEMBER
Unfortunately, I can't work on the car today. I'm struggling in my physics and trig class, and the remaining two courses require alot of reading and writing.

I have to stay on top of my homework.

I'll hopefully get to work on the car next sunday, or the one thereafter. I'm really wishing now I'd begun this business much earlier in the summer, when I had the time.
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Sunday, August 29th, 2010 AT 1:06 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Sounds good let me know when you have time.
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Sunday, August 29th, 2010 AT 3:28 PM
Tiny
GREGWOJNAROWSKI
  • MEMBER
Hi, I have exactly the same problems, including stains outside the gas door. Saturn l200 2003 4cyl 107k miles. Was there a solution to this?

Desperate. Thank you.
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012 AT 12:32 AM
Tiny
GREGWOJNAROWSKI
  • MEMBER
Oh no cel codes or light except one came on last year for bad gas cap but it went away after taking it off and putting it back on
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012 AT 12:34 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Please start a different question and I will be more then happy to help you. Your car is completely different engine transmission common issues all different then your car.
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012 AT 5:17 AM

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