2002 Saturn SL2 Needs gas pedal to start, runs fine after

Tiny
MACGYVERS2000
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 SATURN SL2
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 150,000 MILES
Car has been running relatively well until early this week. Initially it wouldn't start when the key was turned. It would chug and sputter a few times, but it wouldn't fully turn over. I gave it some gas, and once it was running continued to run. I've done that on two or three more occasions since then with no change in symptoms. It makes no difference if the car is warm or cold. It's idling around 700-800 rpm (give or take, doing this from memory).

The car MAY be a bit rough at idle from time to time, but it could be a bit of paranoia on my part. Shifting can be a bit rough when the car is cold, and that loosens up some as the transmission warms up. On the day before this started, I was parking the car. I shifted into reverse to get the car into position, it hesitated a bit longer than usual, then a surprisingly huge CLUNK before it shifted into reverse. I put it in drive and moved forward, then back into reverse to make sure my transmission was sitting in pieces ahead of me, but it shifted normally after that.

The throttle body has the amount of deposits one would expect with 150k miles, so I picked up some TB cleaner (haven't used it yet). The last year or so the car has been eating a fair amount of oil (2+ quarts between 3k+ oil changes), but I'd like it to last at least through this winter.

I'm leaning towards the MAP sensor ($50), and considering the low cost of an ECTS ($9), I'm considering swapping that out, as well.
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Thursday, November 12th, 2009 AT 4:20 PM

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Tiny
MACGYVERS2000
  • MEMBER
I also wanted to add.

The engine seems to get to temp in the normal amount of time, about 3/8ths on the temp gauge, so maybe replacing the ECTS is irrelevant. When I first tried to start the car, after cranking several times for several seconds, and then giving it some gas, there was a small cloud of white smoke. I have not checked to see if that cloud appears every time, but if it does, it's obviously not big enough for me to notice from inside the car (I don't see a cloud in the rearview mirror).
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Thursday, November 12th, 2009 AT 5:42 PM
Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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Engine coolant temperature sensor is exactly what I thought while reading this.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/30961_saturn_CTS_2.jpg



They tend to crack (on left) and cause a variety of performance problems. I would think that it has been replaced with a brass one by now, but worth at least pulling it out and examining it.

This engines can go thru oil, bump the oil to 10w30. Helps...doesn't cure it.
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Thursday, November 12th, 2009 AT 6:02 PM
Tiny
MACGYVERS2000
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I'm told the ECTS was changed to brass by the late 90's, so my 2002 has the brass version.

Will the engine have any issues pumping the thicker 10W, especially during the colder winter months here in Maryland? I've considered it in the past, but the manual pushes 5W.

On a side note, my gas mileage up to this point has been surprisingly good. I average 34-36mpg, with that being 80-85% highway.

It's still raining here due to the hurricane that blew in a ton of bad weather, so I won't get to touch the car until tomorrow at the earliest, possibly not until Sunday when the weather gets up to the high-60's (I can't work in cold weather, fingers cramp up). The more I know and the faster I can crank everything out in one shot, the better off I'll be.
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Friday, November 13th, 2009 AT 9:32 AM
Tiny
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You won't have a problem with 10W30. I have a tougher climate here in Buffalo, and that is what some folks do here.

Replacing the pcv valve may help the consumption.

This is the only engine I can think of that I would try a engine flush on. The Sticky rings in these Can be freed with a flush. Different products are available including Mac's Engine Flush, Eagle, valvoline makes one. The procedure you want to follow is to do the flush, change it and the filter. Run it and change them again.

You might want to plug a plug or two and get a look at them for a wet condition or oil saturation.

On the shifting, Is the oil clean and full? How old is the filter?
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Friday, November 13th, 2009 AT 7:51 PM
Tiny
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Woo hoo! Success! :Banana:

I decided to tackle the TB since it's so easy. Opened it up and what did I see? Practically a pristine inlet! Other than a small smear of carbon on one edge, it looks like it was wiped out during my last visit to the Lube Shop. Makes me wonder why they're always trying to push a full air system cleaning "because of all of the carbon build up in your TB".

Okay, on to the plugs. Ooh, those don't look so hot. On second thought, they look [u:3b60758d87]really[/u:3b60758d87] hot, as in white crust all over. Man, that engine must have been cookin', probably what led to so much oil burn over the years. Spec'd for 0.040, the [u:3b60758d87]best[/u:3b60758d87] gap was 0.050 and the worst was 0.080. So, threw in some new plugs, gapped correctly, and crossed my fingers.

Car didn't even hesitate to turn over. Vroom! Started right up, sounded smooth and clean. We'll see if mpg goes up (or if it slows down on the oil burn), but it was already averaging 34-36, so I would be surprised.

I looked over the service records my SO kept for it (before I met her). The stealership was charging her to clean the fuel system, air system, etc. Every 10k miles! Spark plugs were changed at 30k mile intervals, right up until she stopped going to the stealership. About 90k miles. So, those plugs were in there for 90k. No wonder they looked worn out.

I'll switch to 10W30 on my next change, and I'll pick up a new PCV valve next time I'm near the auto store. When you say "sticky rings", what do you mean? Are the rings not sealing against the bore because they've somehow contracted and stuck that way?

I misspoke earlier. Saturn switched to the brass ECTS in 2001, not the late 90's. Either way, I'm good.

I'll have to dig through the records again to see when the tranny fluid was changed, but I seem to recall it being done last year. A bit of research tells me the tranny clunk in reverse is a very common problem with Saturns (Google "Saturn reverse slam"). The suggested solution, in a nutshell, is to change filter/fluid, add in some detergent additive, chock the wheels, and leave the car idling in reverse for 20-30 minutes. This supposedly breaks up the grime in the reverse and 2nd gears (which share a common path in the valve body), both of which I've noticed harder than normal shifts. If this is done before irreparable harm has already happened to the valve body, you're good to go. I may give it a go.

At least the car runs now.
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Saturday, November 14th, 2009 AT 2:15 PM
Tiny
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Very cool!

90K on those plugs. Good greif.
At least we made some ground.

That is really great MPG, it won't get better than that. That is exceptional.

I think cleaning the throttle body every 10,000 is a good idea, but probably overkill. I like to go 20,000 on my cars, but suggest it to my customers. Once carbon builds, it is tougher to remove chemically.

The white crust is probably oil burning. Do a search on oil burnt plug condition and compare it.

Can't say I ran into the reverse problem that I can think of, but good to know about for future reference.

Really interesting that both the engine and transmision have fluid quality issues. Another reason to maintain.
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Saturday, November 14th, 2009 AT 5:29 PM

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