Thread Number: 74901  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Saturn LW300 woes..
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Post# 987131   3/18/2018 at 13:21 by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Man, been trying to track down a hard starting issue and I am simply flabbergasted at how many component(s) could be the cause.
Here is a list...oh scratch fuel filter, replaced and still hard to start. Currently I have ordered a new crankshaft position sensor, and since added "Evap purge solenoid" to this list.
The spark plugs were an epic ordeal to replace for the first time in this cars life (16 years 58k miles), and a first for me working on the motor in this car. If one is charged $200+ labor for the job the mechanic earned every penny imo.
Imagine that, 6 silly spark plugs? Special inverted torx sockets a must btw. Bloody knuckles should also be expected.

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This post was last edited 03/18/2018 at 16:35

Post# 987153 , Reply# 1   3/18/2018 at 15:58 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

Unfortunately not one of GM's better was a real mash-up of parts from around the world with the Saturn polymer body draped over it....

Post# 987166 , Reply# 2   3/18/2018 at 17:50 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Have you hooked a scan tool to it to check if it threw a trouble code?

Post# 987168 , Reply# 3   3/18/2018 at 17:52 by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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I do have a scan tool, no codes...yet.

Post# 987170 , Reply# 4   3/18/2018 at 18:53 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        
I do have a scan tool, no codes...yet.

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I remember having a starting problem in one car (among too many other problems, which ultimately doomed the car). I did some online research, and found that one common cause was a sensor. I think crank position, but that doesn't matter. What got me was that there were people saying that the sensor in this particular car could act up, and the only way to rule it out for 100% certain was to replace it. I don't know if they were right, but I assume they know more than me (which isn't hard to do). I recall shuddering at the idea--the sensor was something like a 2 or 3 hour job. I multiplied that by the going labor rate (I don't feel I have the ability and I certainly don't have the tools to do it myself). $300 or whatever...which might not fix the problem... 


Of course, a mechanic could start by ruling out things that are easier/faster to check.


One other "joy" on this car was another starting problem that it always had during the time I owned it. If the car sat for more than a couple of days, it would be hard to start, and ran poorly. Once warmed up, it would be back to normal. A cold start the next day would be just fine. This car had belonged to the wife of a mechanic, and he said it was hugely frustrating for him. His wife had the same problem I did, and she'd come to him to complain. But, by that point, she'd driven it enough that the gremlins had gone away.  He'd get in, and the car would behave. (One suspects that he could probably have banished the problem if he got really aggressive. But it probably didn't feel worth it, given that the car ran just fine when driven regularly.) 

Post# 987221 , Reply# 5   3/19/2018 at 06:59 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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The injectors themselves?  Fuel pressure regulator?  My GMC Jimmy was having a problem dying...I had to drive it with two feet to keep it running, no big deal since my VW is a stick anyway so easy to drive with two feet.  But anyway, it was the idle air control valve.  I changed that and it's been fine ever since. 

I used to change spark plugs in our previous Devilles with the 4.9L V8 by lying on my back under the car and reaching up to the back of the engine....

Post# 987228 , Reply# 6   3/19/2018 at 08:32 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Take Asko lover's advice;

try a good in the tank fuel injector cleaner, if that doesn't help, a fuel pressure regulator is about $20 and takes 5 minutes to change. Very easy.
Is the air filter very dirty?
My buddy has a Caddy Northstar. It was hard starting, and stalling. One shop analyzed it and wanted $1,200.00 to change about everything on the fuel system, coil pack, and sensors. Guess what it was? Fuel pressure regulator.
GM mark of excellence. (kidding)
The Saturn L300 wasn't that bad. My sister had one after her SC coupe. She liked it. The engine is of Opel 60 degree V6 lineage, as was the platform of the first or second generation Vectra.

Post# 987437 , Reply# 7   3/20/2018 at 17:51 by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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This car doesn’t stall. It does start better if you tun the key on position before cranking and wait for about 10 seconds. The car also lacks slow off the line.
The ful pump was replaced rcently as the original one was leaking. I am begining to think the replacement pump is not up to snuff. The pump is in tank and costs about $200 to r & r.

Post# 987439 , Reply# 8   3/20/2018 at 18:08 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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Turning the key to the run position to cycle the fuel pump to build fuel pressure is a classic symptom of a failing/weak fuel pump. I had it a few years back on my 97 Chevy Blazer. Id cycle the key two or three times and it would start normally. If I tried to start it w/o cycling it would crank but not start. Usually after getting it started first time in the morning it would be okay until it sat for many hours. Then it would bother again. I installed a new pump and no more problem. If your Saturn uses whats commonly called a spider in the intake for fuel delivery it could also be that it's leaking, causing it to lose pressure, which will cause the same symptom.

BTW...Wonderful modern stuff to work on. Years ago the fuel pump was bolted to the side of the engine. Easy to get to and replace when needed. Having the pump in the tank makes it a joy to replace. I didn't go the PITA route of dropping the tank like recommended. I removed the back seat and cut a hole in the floor to gain access to the pump.

Sorry, had to rant a little.

Post# 987511 , Reply# 9   3/21/2018 at 06:53 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Hey Ken,

I had the same thing go wrong with my 2001 GMC Jimmy but I had zero symptoms.  We went to the lake one night, launched the boat and floated all night,  pulled the boat out of the water next morning and drove home.  Parked the Jimmy and went to bed.  Got up and went out to start.  Checked fuel pressure with gauge and it was way too low.  Priced pumps and labor...ordered new Delphi pump on Amazon for $150 and spent a day dropping tank and replacing.  Wasn't too hard just tedious and had to solder new updated connector on.  But fired right up!  I read online from forums to avoid Autozone and Advance Auto parts fuel pumps because they are crap so went with Delphi who makes the Delco one for GM.

Post# 987515 , Reply# 10   3/21/2018 at 08:14 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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I also got a Delphi pump from Rock Auto. They have great prices only you have to pay shipping which can be a little high. But many times even with shipping total cost is less than your local parts store.

Post# 992112 , Reply# 11   4/25/2018 at 16:53 by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Still working on sorting out this Saturn. Today went down to my mechanic and he installed the new crank position sensor which I had hoped would solve my didn't. That's the third time the fix that worked for other people describing similar problems with this same model car, didn't work for me.
EGR valve was first, engine temp sensor next, now the crank position sensor.
He cleaned the MAF sensor, the intake, checked the fuel pressure, and fiddled around with various other things. Finally after he noticed it usually started much better on the second try he decided it was probably the fuel pressure regulator. When he pointed it out to me it's location on the motor I also noticed a cracked vent hose, so that too may improve things.
If he is right (have to order part) then I wasted about $200 in parts and labor costs, and hours of my own labor trying to sort this thing out replacing some parts needlessly. No doubt one of the most annoying car problems i can remember dealing with.

This post was last edited 04/25/2018 at 22:11
Post# 992173 , Reply# 12   4/26/2018 at 07:28 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

it will be a good car for a college student, etc.
Ever heard of "One owner car guy"? He is in San Diego, and Montana. He has lots of youtube video's under "cereal marshmallows".
Buyer beware, always!

Post# 992178 , Reply# 13   4/26/2018 at 08:33 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
It does sound like some sort of problem with fuel delivery.

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And you have my deepest sympathies. When I was having problems with my '98 Buick 3.1, I got the same list of do this, do that, do the other thing.

I've got the tools and ape-long arms, so was able to work through them. The crank position sensor replacement helped - those things are apparently a weak point of GM's Excellence in Engineering (cough, cough), but what finally did it was something totally different.

You'll get it. There are pressure tests, by the way, before one spends the money. Not even difficult or expensive - they should start there.


Oh, and here's something which might be causing this and you might not have checked it - the anti-theft systems GM used throughout the '90s up to 2005/6 sometimes would not trigger a security display but still not activate the fuel pump every time. That could be part of it.

Post# 992188 , Reply# 14   4/26/2018 at 09:43 by RevvinKevin (Between Mickey Mouse & the Queen Mary (So. Cal.)        

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Robert, I hope this new fuel pressure regulator solves your problem!


Question, is it hard starting all the time, hot or cold?   Or only after it sits a few hours?  (edit: I missed that you noted it's sluggish off the line.  Does power improve as RPM's build?)


My best friend has an early-mid 2000's Chevy truck which had an issue like this.  If it sat more than 10-15 minutes after driving, he'd have to crank & crank (15-20 seconds) before it would start.   After replacing the fuel pump (non-OEM), he would like you, have to turn the key on about 10 seconds before cranking and it would then start.


Bottom line in his case, it was a check valve in the fuel pump, allowing the fuel pressure to bleed off after sitting 10-15 mins.  The replacement aftermarket pump check valve worked better, but not perfect.  So after living with it for 9-10 months, he sprang for an OEM pump and it now starts as it's supposed to every time.



Post# 992210 , Reply# 15   4/26/2018 at 13:32 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
GM had some very good

engineers. They weren't the problem. Bean counters were.
heard of magnaquench? GM engineers invented it. Shrank magnets in motors by 2/3 the size.

Post# 994807 , Reply# 16   5/21/2018 at 10:08 by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Wow, new fuel pressure regulator AND a new MAF sensor, and it's still not working right.
Now I am down to fuel pump check valve, vacuum leak, or something else.
The idle is completely stable so I doubt vacuum leak, so next up, in goes a $10 inline fuel check valve.

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Post# 994815 , Reply# 17   5/21/2018 at 12:18 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
A vacuum leak

doesn't always cause a rough idle. Often just a higher idle, or a whistle.
There is one other item not on your list there. Air mass flow sensor in the forward throttle body or air intake on the engine side of the air cleaner.
Sometimes the throttle body plate just need cleaning.
I just said farewell to our 2003 Impala 3800. Donated to charity. Original plugs even, and still fires right up. 155,220 miles only.
I see people driving cars around not even firing on all cylinders, so if that Saturn runs and doesn't stall, it may well serve a needy person dependable point A to B transportation until their luck turns for the better.
I once had to drive an AMC with bad door hinges, and springs. Parted that one out.

Post# 994832 , Reply# 18   5/21/2018 at 15:05 by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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What you are referring to as "air mass flow" I am calling it's been taken care of.
The throttle body/plate has been cleaned, and the idle is not high, except after cold start for a moment as is normal.
When the mechanic put the new fuel pump in the tank he may have disturbed sediment which in turn is now interfering with the fuel pump check valve operation. My hope is by simply adding a post tank check valve I will save the cost of dropping the tank again.

Post# 994883 , Reply# 19   5/22/2018 at 04:50 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

how about the BMP sensor? Fuel filter should collect sediment, unless it's clogged.
Get what you can for the car if you are selling it. Not worth all that much.
Our kids had an L 200, and the exhaust smell was aweful. They didn't want the baby riding in it, so they donated it.

Post# 994962 , Reply# 20   5/22/2018 at 19:30 by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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BMP, what does that stand for?

Post# 994989 , Reply# 21   5/23/2018 at 08:11 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
BMP sensor means

barometric pressure sensor. As air density changes with pressure and humidity, so should the air/fuel ratio. Otherwise, rough idling occurs, more severe than when the other sensors are adjusting to the changes in ambient, and operating temps. and humidity.
The optimal "stoicheometric" air to fuel ratio for a gasoline engine is 14.7% to one percent fuel.

Post# 995003 , Reply# 22   5/23/2018 at 10:27 by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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As I said, i don't in any way have a rough idle so it would seem the bmp sensor is ok.
I am not selling the car, I am trying to fix it. At 58k miles, It has another 100k to go.
But thanks for your ideas, I obviously need better ones than what I have had so far!

Post# 995014 , Reply# 23   5/23/2018 at 13:39 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Ok, are there

changes in idle speed? Surging?
I dunno, you may have to live with that.

Post# 995015 , Reply# 24   5/23/2018 at 13:45 by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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The idle is fine, I have no problems whatsoever with idle...let's just stop any and all thoughts about idle. This was never about idle.
It will on occasion start and stumble at an extremely low idle, and input from the gas pedal will stall it. Restart and all is fine, or you can wait it out and it will recover on it's own without needing restart.

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