1995 Saturn SL1 hesitation, lurching

Discussion in 'Saturn S-series' started by Roger Ehrlich, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Car: 1995 Saturn SL1 SOHC, standard transmission, 4 cyl.
    Mileage 237,000 Km

    Symptom: Hard to describe here but perhaps as “hesitation”? Either while
    running or at idle, engine seems to hesitate. More noticeable on the
    highway, pressing the gas pedal the car will on occasion jerk, lurch,
    sputter, or hesitate…. It is not continuous, but only very brief and at

    My thoughts:
    It does not appear to be the clutch slipping. It does engage well, I can
    slowly accelerate uphill engaging the clutch with no lurching at that point.

    I last changed the fuel filter at 142,754 Km (July 2004). The Haynes
    manual suggests the fuel filter be changed every 48,000Km, but I talked
    with a mechanic and he suggested every 100,000Km is OK, so I’m about
    near that. The fuel pump sounds OK, nothing particularly different than
    usual. I have used fuel injector and fuel system cleaners over the
    years, maybe 2-3 times per year. I also have used oil supplements,
    Bardahl B2, during the last 2 oil changes, (done every 5-6000 Km). I
    hear and feel the hesitation from the engine both at idle and when driving.

    The injector coils, cables and spark plugs are OK. I have had a failed
    coil before and recognize the power loss that occurs when this happens.
    This is not similar.

    I failed the emissions test in Dec 2008, and got the conditional pass. 2
    tests failed for NO, revealing that the catalytic converter needed
    replacing, which I haven’t done yet. The O2 sensor was a little lean but
    was within spec. The exhaust seems to have no block from what I can
    observe, perhaps it’s partial.

    Suspension, steering, brakes are all OK.

    Any suggestions?

    Much Thanks in advance.

    Cheers, Roger
    Roger Ehrlich, Apr 19, 2009
  2. Roger Ehrlich

    Bob Shuman Guest

    NO failure on the emissions could also indict the EGR valve which are known
    to fail at about 100K miles. You also do not say when the plugs and wires
    were last changed. These are easy to do and if not done recently could be
    the source of your hesitation. Lastly, from your comments, the fuel filter
    is overdue for replacement, and the air filter should also be changed every
    12K miles too.

    Bob Shuman, Apr 20, 2009
  3. Thanks Bob

    The EGR seems to be in good shape, I cleaned it back in Dec'08 and the
    spring is good. The plugs (RC14YC), wires and PCV valve, were also
    changed in Dec @ about 230,000Km. The air filter was changed in Aug'08 @
    223,000Km. I'll get the fuel filter changed.

    Cheers, Roger

    air filter was also changed in Dec
    Roger Ehrlich, Apr 20, 2009
  4. Roger Ehrlich

    Scott Guest

    My vote is for the CAT.
    I replaced mine at 165,000 Miles on my '95 SW1. Same symptoms, and
    that loud coffee can full of rocks noise on accel.
    If you do go this route buy a DIRECT FIT that comes with the pipe that
    bolts onto the exhaust manifold. It will save mucho time and
    frustration. Check Rock Auto for the "Walker" brand.

    Scott, Apr 20, 2009
  5. Thanks Scott
    Will do, since my CAT needs replacing anyway before the next emissions
    test I'll get it replaced. .... looked up the Walker CAT on

    May as well get the fuel filter changed too. If that gets clogged the
    engine is starved of petrol. I do not seem to be at the severe point yet
    were there is a strain on the fuel pump. I've heard that before back in
    2004, which was resolved by a fuel filter change.

    I replaced my EGR before in 2004 too. The symptoms then were stalling
    when decelerating the car down to a stop. I'm not experiencing that.

    Cheers, Roger
    Roger Ehrlich, Apr 20, 2009
  6. Roger Ehrlich

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Clean up the throttle body while you are doing the other work. A dirty TB
    usually results in an erratic or misfire during idle, but not during

    Bob Shuman, Apr 21, 2009
  7. Resolution & Cause:
    Bob suggested also the spark plug cables…..

    I regularly check & replace the plugs & cables…. Cables in Fall’07,
    plugs in Dec’08.

    Spark plug cable for cylinder #3 was momentary open circuit, thus
    sporadic misfires; damaged connector broke off burning at connector to
    spark plug. Resistances of both the ignition coils and other cables were
    in spec. I’ve had open circuit problems with the spark plug cable for
    cylinder #3 (the short cable) twice before (brand Niehoff). Thus cable

    I also cleaned the throttle body, it was in good condition and I do this
    regularly. I also examined and cleaned the EGR valve again, some carbon
    (expected) but the spring was in good shape.

    Car runs fine now.

    I’ll change the CAT & fuel filer in the near future.

    Thanks & Cheers, Roger
    Roger Ehrlich, Apr 24, 2009
  8. Roger Ehrlich

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Great! Glad to hear that you could keep that 14 year old vehicle running
    .... As I recall, yours is pretty low mileage so as long as you don't live
    in the rust belt, you should be able to keep it going a few more years!
    Just keep the oil full and the engine should keep on going.

    Bob Shuman, Apr 29, 2009
  9. Roger Ehrlich

    Roger E Guest

    Actually my mileage is quite high..... > 237,000 Km .... and I live in
    the great rust belt of Canada..... our Saturns have the plastic body
    panels though.... I occasional get some rust on the door rocker
    panels.... but treat everything with rust inhibitors.

    Just to elaborate folks....

    Sorry but the symptom was hard to describe. It was not really a
    continuous hesitation.... I've had that before when a coil or spark
    cable fails outright... I had good power and acceleration.... there was
    a random lurch like the car was losing power for less then a second then
    would continue....

    It was the Spark plug cable for cylinder #3 that was momentary open
    circuit.... it was failing... I could see the burn mark at the failed
    electrical connection point in the cable as when I removed it to test
    the plug connector broke off and was stuck on the spark plug..... I
    could see the burn mark on it too.

    Just to help other folks with the library of knowledge for auto

    Take care folks.

    Cheers, Roger
    Roger E, May 1, 2009
  10. Roger Ehrlich

    Meph Guest

    Where is the EGR valve on the SL1? The EGR valve on my '93 SL2 is
    clearly visible, but I have no idea where it is on my '96 SL1.
    Meph, May 19, 2009
  11. Roger Ehrlich

    Doug Miller Guest

    Driver's side end of the cylinder head.
    Doug Miller, May 19, 2009
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