Question about 2002 Saturn SC

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Losing lots of oil on forward backside of engine, especially when running.

I bought this 2002 Saturn SC-1 with around 55,000 on the engine. It was running fine when I bought it. I've owned it now for about a year. I just happened to check the oil during a gas fillup a couple of months after I bought it and it was over 3 quarts low! Since then I seem to leave puddles of oil all over the place. I had it up on a hoist and I thought it was coming from the oil pan, but I'm not convinced. I sprayed it down with brake cleaner, added 1/2 quart (was low) and some fluorescent dye and drove it home. (30 Miles) Apparently that was too far because when I checked it with a UV light, the oil was caked all over the suspension just underneath the alternator. I tried to trace the Dyed Oil up to the source but I couldn't find it. I decided to start the car, put it in neutral to see if I could observe leakage that way. I was getting a steady drip from just behind the Alternator, but still couldn't find the source. I'm wondering if the serpentine belt would act as a conveyer bringing the oil up to the top of the engine. I'm baffled. With 1 1/2 inches to work with on the passenger side of the engine compartment it's a challenge to troubleshoot. I'm thinking about brake cleaner again, removing the right front tire and wheel well cover and pressure washing the engine to start from scratch. It does not appear that there is any oil leaking from the valve cover gasket. I can't see the upper left corner of the timing chain cover because of the steering pump bracket and drive pulley obstructing the view. There is not any oil in my spark plug ports. Do you know of any inherent oil problems with this particular engine? Thanks in advance.

P.S. One of the tech reps, satanssaturn told it it could be the valve cover gasket and it could be the timing chain cover. He was helpful, but his answer didn't give me any more insight than I already had.

Posted by Ron Daylo on

  • Ron Daylo May 11, 2014

    After having a shop mechanic replace a suspected flywheel cover gasket, the car was still losing oil at that corner of the engine. I called the mechanic and he told me "You probably have a leaking head gasket." After a few more months of ignoring the problem and just replacing the lost oil, I finally decided to check the head bolts to see if they had possibly vibrated loose. While checking I found out that the head bolt hole closest to the leak was stripped, and half the bolt was still in the bottom part of the hole. I ended up drilling the hole a little oversized, and installing a helicoil. I installed all new head bolts and retorqued everything. Alas, I am still losing oil, but now I can't see where I'm losing it. I'm still driving the car, and refilling the oil sump every time I gas up. Oh well, I guess I'll drive it until the car dies!



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Locate and check the oil pressure sending unit. A trip to Autozone, or Advance or one of those parts houses can give you the location. These things can pump a lot of oil in s short time.

Posted on Aug 13, 2008


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I just went through the same ordeal with my 2002 Saturn SC-1. I don't know if your SL1 has a 1.9 Litre engine, but if it does then maybe my ordeal will help you.
My SC1 was getting great mileage until it started idling above 2,000 RPM. I'm curious if you are still getting 38 mpg because my gas mileage went down the toilet!
Initially I thought my problem was electrical, so I changed all the plug wires and changed out no 1/4 coil because my code reader said I was getting a misfire on No. 1 and 4 cylinder. That didn't change so I replaced the the Ignition Module, still high idle. Then I replaced the Idle Air Control Valve; still no change. Next I pulled off all the fuel injectors and sent them to Witchhunt to have them cleaned. Still no change. Still idling at 2,000 to 3,000 RPM. I happened to read on the Saturn Forum Website that if an Intake Manifold Gasket is faulty, just spray some brake cleaner on the backside of the motor and if it stumbles, there's your problem. If you've eliminated all the possible variables than that had to be the problem. I changed the gasket and it runs great! I'm back to 38-40 MPG and I idle at 700 RPM. I would try the Brake Cleaner on the backside of the engine and see if it stumbles. If it still does, then your mechanic didn't do a good job or you can easter egg like I did!

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