Question about 1998 Saturn SL

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My 1998 manual SL2 Saturn vibrates after I initially start it. It intermittently runs a bit hot until I turn the air conditioner on, and then the gage goes down. It also revs high at times, smells like something is burning and the engine light goes on. The car doesn't drive as powerful as it used to.

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  • conesf May 24, 2011

    Thank you for your prompt response, but I thought I would get a more definitive answer other than take it to be diagnosed. The engine water levels were fine and the radiator fluid has been changed over the years numerous times. Please note that the car has less that 29,000 miles on it, is out in the elements and is not garaged. Also, 2 engine oil gaskets blew 2 years ago and recently as well.

  • conesf May 24, 2011

    Yes, this solution appears to be very helpful and I will have my mechanic do the necessary repairs.

  • conesf May 30, 2011

    I just wanted you to know that my mechanic followed your advice and so far so good. I've since taken the car on short and long distance rides and none of the symptoms have returned. “Thank you” so very much.

    May I ask, would you replace a clutch if it squeaked? It works but that noise drives me crazy. Please note that it happens when the weather is hot or very humid only.

  • conesf May 30, 2011

    Thanks again for your prompt response. I trust you and will have someone follow your instructions and hope for the best. I hate putting money into an older car but.... Thanks again.

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Saturns need to have the Engine Temperature Control sensor replaced every 30,000 miles, the original ones have a plastic tip that easily break, causing incorrect temp readings. This is a critical component to the engine management system, so replace it, only about $10. In addition, because of your symptoms, replace the thermostat and get a Stant, it is OEM, so not get a cheepo unit. You need to have the engine scanned for the check engine light, and get the actual code for more help-the reason it runs cooler with the air on is it forces the engine fans to run, but that does not fix the problem and if you overheat that engine, you will end up having to replace either the engine or the car.

Posted on May 24, 2011

  • mike mountain May 24, 2011

    It is not a diagnosis, you have what is a KNOWN ISSUE with your car-and since you NOW tell me it has only 29,000 miles, I am certain you need to replace the ETC sensor and the thermostat-that is if the headgskets aren't AGAIN blown (you failed to mention that too)-I have a 99 Saturn with 181,000 miles, I do know these cars' weaknesses, and I am certain that, at a minimum, you need to REPLACE the ETC and the thermostat, with OEM and not cheap parts store knockoffs. You may as well also have the compression tested to see if you have a blown head gasket, and check the antifreeze for oil and the oil for antifreeze-NOT a diagnosis, these are positive and proactive plans of action to fix your car.

  • mike mountain May 30, 2011

    jIf the squeeking noise is the throwout bearing, it is only going to get worse-but try this first-have the mechanic or someone who is handy, remove the front carpet mat and sit on the ground by the driver seat-cover the floor area with rags/towels and spray the pivot of the clutch petal frame with PB Blaster, working the petal to see if it improves it. It might be the source of your squeek, if not you have a hydrolic clutch so it would require removing the trans to install a throwout bearing, no the end of the world but if it annoys you you should be able to find a trans shop that would do that for less than $200.

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Since the engine light is on that means the ecm has detected an error code. Take it to an auto zone or similar auto parts chain store where they will run a diagnostic scan for free and they will also tell you what part/s need replaced. Also check the coolant level to be sure it is full and you may need the radiator cleaned and flushed especially if you live in an area where there are a lot of bugs that could be clogging the fins of the radiator.

Posted on May 24, 2011

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