1996 Saturn SL1 - Service Engine Soon Light

Discussion in 'Saturn S-series' started by Bob Shuman, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Vehicle: 1996 Saturn SL1 115K miles, 1.9L SOHC Engine
    Background: Recently tuned w/new wires and running extremely well for its
    Symptom: Check Engine Light Illuminated. Goes out when battery disconnected
    to reset, but will come back on after driving within 5-10 miles.

    I do not have an OBD scanner and know that this is the only way to determine
    why the light came on. I would prefer not to pay dealer diagnostic fee if
    all that is wrong is a simple Oxygen sensor or something else that would be
    simple to replace myself.

    I'd appreciate thoughts on possible cause if anyone else has encountered
    this same problem. If I don't get any input, I had planned to just replace
    the O2 sensor since I know on other vehicles this wears out by 100K and I
    know from service records that it has never been replaced. Thanks in
    advance for the assistance.

    Bob Shuman, Jul 22, 2003
  2. A new O2 sensor at that mileage would not be a terrible idea (assuming it's
    fairly cheap, which is likely the case), but there's really no way to know
    if that's what's causing the light to come on without a scanner.

    I'm told that some places, like AutoZone in the US, will scan codes for you
    for free..
    Robert Hancock, Jul 22, 2003
  3. I really have no idea, but I have that exact same car and had a Check
    Engine Soon light go off at around 85000km.

    I had a (as Saturn put it) bare spark plug wire, resulting in a misfire.
    Replaced it (and another as you can only buy them in twos (again, Saturn
    says) and now it's all good.

    Chris Cameron, Jul 23, 2003
  4. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest


    Thanks for responses. The wires were just changed about a month back when
    my son purchased the car used. As I indicated previously, the engine runs
    very smoothly and if one of the plugs was misfiring (plugs, wires, coil,
    pickup/sensors for ignition) in a 4 cylinder, I think it would be much more
    obvious. (This is why I am leaning toward an oxygen sensor or possibly even
    a restricted EGR valve.)

    I called around and learned that the price for the O2 sensors (I learned
    there are two on this model) range from $70-$85 for the exhaust manifold one
    and $90-$115 for the one located near the catalytic converter.

    I do not own a OBD diagnostic computer, but have considered purchasing if
    the cost is approximately the same as the diagnostic charge at the local
    Saturn Dealer (about $50 minimum). Can someone provide some advice on these
    and/or make a recommendation? How much do these run, where do you recommend
    buying from, and with what other vehicles are they compatible?

    Also, on the Oxygen sensors, has anyone had bad luck with any specific
    brands? The reason I ask is that there is some bad-mouthing of Bosch after
    market sensors in another auto.maker newsgroup. Should I stick with the
    (presumably Delco) sensor from the dealer which are slightly more expensive?
    Which one is more likely to have failed if this is the cause? Any thoughts
    or prior experience you can share here?

    If I don't get many responses by the end of the day then I will probably
    just end up taking it to the dealer to diagnose and then decide on a course
    of action once I know what is being indicted by the computer.

    Bob Shuman, Jul 23, 2003
  5. Bob Shuman

    Max Guest


    Head to an Autozone. They'll scan your car for free. At my local one
    they have a unit under the counter for just that purpose. If you don't
    have an Autozone, call the various parts stores. There's a chance one
    of them might do the same thing. If not, I'd pony up for a diag at the
    dealer. Until you know what code is being thrown, you have no idea if
    it's something easy or hard, major or minor.

    Max, Jul 23, 2003
  6. ....I get a weird miss and hesitation every now and then when one of the coil
    towers gets enough corrosion on it on my 97SL2.
    Jonnie Santos, Jul 23, 2003
  7. Bob Shuman

    Napalm Heart Guest

    Napalm Heart, Jul 23, 2003
  8. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Thanks. One more thing to look at when I check the plug gap.
    Bob Shuman, Jul 23, 2003
  9. Bob Shuman

    Larry Smith Guest

    I just replaced the plug wires. Plugs are gapped at .040. Autozone did a
    scan here in WNC and it showed the dreaded PO 341, which is not even listed
    in the Haynes manual. So I read up on PO 341, which says the cam sensor is
    defective, although there is no such thing as a cam sensor for this engine.
    Whew. Would I buy another Saturn?

    On top of that the radio still has spark noise. I used the dielectric paste
    on the contacts after cleaning them, and yes they had corrosion on 2 of the
    towers. The powdery corrosion came off with some rubbing with steel wool.

    I will NOT take my 96 SL2 to the local dealer. The devil with them.
    Larry Smith, Jul 24, 2003
  10. These vehicles use a compression-sense ignition system which replaces the
    function of a cam sensor, it determines which cylinder of each firing pair
    is on the compression stroke by measuring the firing voltage difference.
    Code P0341 indicates that the cam signal received from the ignition module
    had too few or too many pulses per crankshaft revolution. The service info
    states that P0341 can be set because of high resistance in the plug wire,
    connections, or spark plug.

    Basically, P0341 is a symptom of your problem, not the cause.
    Robert Hancock, Jul 24, 2003
  11. Bob Shuman

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    That is indicative of the cylinder 1 and 4 wires not being routed correctly.
    Kirk Kohnen, Jul 24, 2003
  12. Bob Shuman

    Napalm Heart Guest

    Saturn recommended plug is NGK.


    Napalm Heart, Jul 25, 2003
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