Question about 1999 Saturn SL

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Oil on the bottom of spark plug on two of them. lack power and idle running high.

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You need to replace the valve cover gaskets

Posted on Aug 01, 2008

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Once you solve the oil on spark plug problem (it usually never completely goes away....you just have to take your spark plugs out and clean them occasionally), check things like the idle air compensator. If it is dirty and isn't moving properly, then the idle will be high. If the PCV valve sticks, the idle will be high. If your temperature never gets above 1/4, the idle will remain high (idle air correction valve will keep the idle high because it senses a cold engine....and it is working properly). If your temp doesn't get over 1/4, then you probably need a new thermostat. The stock thermostats have rubber gaskets that go bad and allow coolant to leak past the valve. The temperature sensor could also be bad, but if you put a meat thermometer in the overflow tank and it doesn't read over 180 degrees, then the thermostat is more likely to be the problem.

If you have oil on the actual firing surface of the spark plugs, then the cylinders are leaking oil, either past the valve stems or past the oil control rings. Saturns are natural oil burners. You can take the spark plugs out and pour a small amount of Marvel Mystery Oil into the cylinders. Let the cylinders soak for 1/2 a day or more. This can free up the rings and remove excessive carbon (but if the rings are worn out, it won't solve much). Turn the engine over a few times with the plugs removed to flush out excessive oil. If you put the plugs in right away and there is excessive oil, the engine will hydrolock and will be very difficult to start. Once you do put the plugs back in, expect to see huge clouds of smoke from the tailpipe for a mile or two of driving. This is normal.

Lack of power could be caused by a dirty air filter, dirty injectors, poorly gapped plugs, fouled plugs (including oil on the outside that'd short out the spark), a faulty oxygen sensor, a faulty throttle position sensor (if this sensor is bad, the engine won't respond properly to throttle changes), or possibly a dirty MAP sensor. Also, a faulty (leaky) EGR valve could both cause a lack of power and a high idle. Finally, a plugged fuel filter or a faulty pressure regulator could cause a lack of power, but doesn't usually cause the idle to run high. Start with the easy things and work your way towards the more difficult things.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008

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