Saturn is dying at 160K

Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
After many an OCI with an HDEO, I finally decided to order a bottle of ARX to see if I could get my wife's Saturn DOHC to quit using oil and bring compression back up. A few years ago and about 90K miles ago my wife (in school at the time) let the crankcase oil run down to only 3/4-qt capacity, I think that did it in. Car used to get "good" mileage in town and on our long road trips from CA to TX, now it struggles to get 20mpg city and 24-26mpg highway. Car also used to sneak up a little bit in traffic and in hot weather on the temp gauge, easily defeatable by turning on the A/C and having the aux fan help out....now, both fans are operational , switches are good, coolant is still good/no air bubbles, and it sits a good 1/4 sweep higher up on the temp gauge, no help no matter what...regularly wants to try and overheat. Transmission is also going, the Saturn guys say to have 3 shift modulator/valve assemblies-- one on the car, one off being rebuilt, and another rebuilt one kept in a safe place. We put in Royal Purple and a new OEM spin-on filter before a road trip to Denver in June (11K miles ago) and it really helped get it shifting for the first 3K or so, now its back to slipping and not shifting-- holding a gear and revving out to redline. I need to pull the valve cover this weekend anyway and reseal the cover up from a slight leak, will take my "pre-ARX photos" but not sure the car will last long enough....car is getting very difficult to drive. We're planning another trip to Austin coming up, and will be picking up her parent's '97 Accord as a temporary replacement for the Saturn. Thoughts? -JamesW
 
Messages
24,382
Location
Central Florida
Sometimes it is better to get rid of the Saturn, than to keep putting money into the car. My wife had a 94' Altima and the trans also started to slip. So before the auto trans gave out we traded it in for a 1 year old Honda Civic. To make a long story short, the Civic now has 125K miles and still gets the same gas MPG as it did when we got it with 11K miles. And the Honda has had zero problems. At 200K miles, I will get her a new Honda. [Smile] But I didn't want to spend $1000 to rebuild an old trans when I could put that $$$ towards a more reliable car.
 
Messages
659
Location
Minnesota
If you are having problems with the engine AND the transmission it puts you in a position where you've got two places that can fail and you don't know which will. Sounds like the transmission is biting the dust already and the engine really isnt happy either. If it was my car I would get something else. What year is the Saturn?
 
Messages
6,171
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
when i had a trans slipping badly in an older car the guy at the shop advised me to dump in two full bottles of the slick 50 high mileage trans treatment w/o draining any fluid. he said it should help the tranny last maybe another 6mos to a year. it helped BIG time. that crap allowed more pressure for the tranny i guess. i would never put slick 50 in an engine, but this thick grape-jelly looking stuff worked for my old tranny. just another thing to try and make the car last while you save up for something.
 
Messages
36,407
Location
ME
Are you still running your stock coolant temp sender? They've revised the part with a brass one that doesn't crack and corrode the connector with coolant. Sounds like your fan isn't coming on and you're running rich both causeable by the computer getting a false cold reading. RE the transmission they aren't THAT bad as automatics go and depending on junkyard quality you can get a new used valve body and install it yourself in a day if that's your cup of tea.
 

Solo2driver

Thread starter
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Thanks I have not looked into the coolant temp sender, I will check that out. Car is a 1995. I can't seem to get to the Saturns quickly enough at the junk yard, they are always so picked over. We'll see....we won't get any money for the car even though interior and exterior are nearly perfect and there are no visible external leakages, just put in new calipers/rotors/pads and new KYB struts, and alternator last year and battery a month ago! We'll see. I still use the ARX when it comes in, and maybe swing by Saturn and check on that temp sender. -James
 

Solo2driver

Thread starter
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Eh, not a "fan" of SaturnFans....some info on technical service bulletins but not a whole lot of "useful" information. Picked up a coolant temp sender a few minutes ago, we'll throw it in tonight...can't hurt, and it was cheap at Saturn Kearny Mesa. -JW
 
Messages
4,478
Location
Southern California
quote:
Originally posted by MN Driver: If you are having problems with the engine AND the transmission it puts you in a position where you've got two places that can fail and you don't know which will.
"which"? Try, "both". That car is fast approaching life support. It's like being told by your doctor, "Well, you've got an inoperable brain tumor and advanced congestive heart failure - but other than that, you're in pretty good shape!"
 

Solo2driver

Thread starter
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Transmission will probably make it if I opt to rebuild the valve body, as a new one at the dealer as I was quoted was $700.00 . I will look around either way, throw a little ARX in there as well (can't hurt). My Porsche isn't running so well right now (81-82 924 Turbo's came with a Digital Ignition/Timing Control box that was notorious for shorts and problems, and Porsche didn't send too many this side of the pond.), so it would be nice to drive the Saturn for a while when we pick up the Accord from Texas. *sigh*
 
Messages
11,284
Location
Spring HIll
There are aftermarket valve bodies. Do a LOT of homework at Saturnfans.com. Wolfman is the main tech guy there with tons of great pix on how to save LOTS of $$$ on Saturn repairs. I strongly suggest trying Auto-RX in the trans after trying out the reverse "slamming" problem fix (again over at Saturnfans.com) where you gently back the car against a wall, leaving it in reverse for a good 20-30minutes then draining the trans fluid. You probably don't need a trans rebuild, even if the dealer says you do! Cool thing about the auto trans is it's easily self-serviceable with the spin-off filter. Change the ECTS, thermostat, and clean the EGR and AIC valve under the throttle body (this doesn't need to be removed) with TB cleaner. Get a couple bottles of Chevron Techron Contentrate fuel system cleaner and run them back to back. This will cost you maybe $20 in TB cleaner and Chevron additive, and the rest is your time. I do suggest a deep-well 10mm socket to make life easier to get to the EGR valve. Good luck, you can fix this car for less than $150...
 

99

Messages
631
Location
SW burbs of Chicago
Seeing you got 160K out of a economy car, I'd say it lived a full life. I wouldn't put another dime into it. Dump it and move on or else you're going to spend more repairing it than what the Blue Book says it's worth.
 
Messages
9,427
Location
Pensacola & Vero Beach FL
quote:
Originally posted by 99: Seeing you got 160K out of a economy car, I'd say it lived a full life. I wouldn't put another dime into it. Dump it and move on or else you're going to spend more repairing it than what the Blue Book says it's worth.
Purely rational and logical advice. Sometimes, however, owners decide to repair irrationally for emotional reason. This is not necessarily "bad" or "wrong," it's a matter of preference. There is one added dimension of risk to consider, which I've seen burn a handful of my clients in the past. Let's say your car is BB valued at $1000. You love it though, so you perform $3000 worth of maintenance or upgrades. Next week, some idiot not paying attention slams into you and destroys the car. Guess what -- the car is still only worth $1000 and that's all the insurance company will pay you. Any time you "invest" more than the value of a car on its upkeep or improvement, you're taking a major chance. Just a little food for thought. [Cheers!]
 

Solo2driver

Thread starter
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
It's a '95, no EGR valve anywhere to be found. The oil consumption has poisoned the cat and its time to replace the O2 sensor anyway....last emissions test only had it pass each section by a few ppm or less! Still needed, irregardless to whether to do it or not, as the maintenance still needs to be followed up. My wife drives 75 miles a day, and I'm not available to come and get her if the car breaks down. -O2 Sensor -Fuel filter -Valve cover gasket re-sealing -Clean TB + PCV valve + AIC -Add ARX (in the mail, waiting!) to fresh batch of Rotella T (already in car) -ARX in power steering, fluid replacement -Install rear struts (KYB GR-2, already have them) -Replace front upper strut mount bearings (very bad, causing irregular tire wear) This Saturn has NEVER had the reverse-slam problem, just leaks in the valve body causing irregular shifting. I find no need to do the service for that problem. The only thing I have found benefitial from SaturnFans was the listing of the TSB for oil consumption, otherwise I find mroe helpful info in the Haynes manual. This site aside (and another dedicated to the Porsche 924), its far to common to have bad information presented in most web sites. I'll replace the sender tonight and let y'all know what occurs. TB is sticking as well, need to clean that up too. -JW
 
Messages
33
Location
U.S.***
has anyone noticed how many newer saturns are already in the boneyards? there is at least 120+ 95 to 01 here in 2 yards most in there for damage other than cosmetic. most have 75k to 130 k still seems like a bad trend.
 
Messages
36,407
Location
ME
Yes, there are some saturns in the junkyards. As a saturn driver I'm "neither here nor there" judging my own cars by this presence as I benefit from a healthy junkyard inventory. I wonder if other makes get crushed upon receipt but saturns sit queued waiting for the plastic panels to get removed. Or maybe there's a market for their powertrains since they're relatively interchangeable. Or their initial owners weren't "car guys" and killed them prematurely. here's your egr, I have a sohc but your valve is in a similar place. http://photobucket.com/albums/v107/eljefino/egr.jpg
 

Solo2driver

Thread starter
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Installed the new coolant temp sender-- the old one had indeed cracked on the inside, and the connectors were all corroded. Refilled with coolant/water, cleaned up all of the connectors, and the car fired right up and sounds very smooth and quiet. Saturn runs very cool and the fans come on at the right times. Thanks for the help guys! My ARX arrived yesterday as well, I'll wait for the oil level to go down, and then add 8 oz and throw the rest in between the tranny and the power steering. Thanks again, I never would have looked into that coolant sender at all!
 
Messages
11,284
Location
Spring HIll
Have you changed the t-stat? I ran into a fuel dilution issue since it was running too "cold"...just a a bit over 1/4 temp to about 3/8 temp all the time. Seemed fine to me, but reading a few threads over at Saturnfans opened my eyes to the fact that the temp gauge shouldn't be doing that. I always thought that cooler was better. [I dont know] The installation of a new 185° t-stat had the temp gauge reading just under 1/2 now. I just finished the Auto-Rx phase and will sample sometime in December.
 

Solo2driver

Thread starter
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Haven't changed the thermostat, will do that with the next round of repairs (O2 sensor, belt idler pulley, fuel filter). I know the car shouldn't run that cool all the time, the problem before was that once it got up to the 1/2 way mark, it never leveled out and would run to RED.....with the wifey driving it, always have to remind her to take a peek at the gauge and if it was still trying to pass 3/4, hit the A/C button or just shut 'er down. College Friend: "Oh, I think its time to change the oil in my SC2, the little light just came on" Me: "Sarah, your SC2 doesn't have an oil change reminder light" Friend: "Then what's that one for?" Me: "Time to change your engine light!"
 
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