Troubleshooting SES light and codes

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Dan, Feb 22, 2004.

  1. Dan

    Dan Guest

    The Service Engine Soon light came on on my 1996 SL2. Retreived codes

    P0341 Camshaft position sensor circuit range/performance
    P0133 O2 sensor circuit slow response (Bank 1 sensor 1)
    Upstream oxygen sensor response slower than minimum
    required switching frequency
    P0108 Manifold absolute pressure/barometric pressure circuit high
    Manifold absolute pressure sensor input above acceptable
    maximum voltage

    I understand that the P0341 could be a cylinder 1 or 4 plug/wire/coil

    Upon chcking this out, I find the cylinder 1 spark plug well is flooded
    with engine oil. So this indicates a leaking valve cover gasket.
    Could this preesence of oil contribute to setting the P0341 code?

    Is it likely that the manifold pressure really is high (low?). Could
    this be related to the leaking valve cover gasket?

    Could a plugged PCV valve cause this?

    Is there one likely failure that cascades?

    I don't want to replace the valve cover gasket only to blow it out
    again. I will replace the PCV valve too.

    Thanks for any useful suggestions.

    Dan, Feb 22, 2004
  2. The oil covering the #1 spark plug could easily cause the P0341. You should
    check/replace the PCV, though I doubt that caused the valve cover gasket to

    As for the other two codes, if you can check the output from the MAP sensor,
    it shouldn't be above 4.2 volts with the engine idling. It could be that the
    sensor has a damaged vacuum hose that's letting air in, or the sensor could
    be bad. The P0133 suggests your oxygen sensor is worn out - if the car has
    high miles it could well be, but I'd resolve the first two problems first
    and see if the code comes back.
    Robert Hancock, Feb 22, 2004
  3. Dan

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    Given the age of your car, I'd suggest the following:

    1) Replace the valve cover gasket. I think (I'm not sure) that you have the
    black plastic composite valve cover. If this is the case, replacing the
    gasket it easy. Buy it from the dealer (it's rubber, NOT a bead of silicone
    RTV). You'll also need a bit of RTV to deal up the "T" joints - they're the
    parts farthest away from the engine near the timing chain. This will clear
    up the oil leak.

    2) Replace the wires and plugs. The wires are probably shot, and plugs are
    cheap. You can get the BKR5E11 plugs from most auto parts places for about
    $1.50 each. Gap to 0.040". If your under hood label says 0.060", it's flat
    out wrong.

    3) I don't know how the Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor code would
    be related.

    4) You probably do need a new O2 sensor on the car too. Replace it.
    Kirk Kohnen, Feb 23, 2004
  4. Dan

    Dan Guest

    Thanks for the responses. Do I need new plugs? The current ones only have
    about 10k on them. The valve cover gasket was replaced by the mechanic at the
    same time. I hope I can get more than 10k from the replacement. I think the
    wires are original, so replacing them is not unreasonable,even though they
    don't looked degraded.

    Do dealer supplied parts really have a performance advantage? They seem to
    come at a significant price premium.
    Dan, Feb 23, 2004
  5. Dan

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    If they've been soaked in oil, and there's been any electrical discharge
    along the insulator of the plug (perhaps because of conductive crap in the
    oil), then it's a good idea to replace the plugs and the wires. You change
    them both at the same time, because if there is any arc-tracking on one
    (either the plug or the wire boot) then it can cause more arcing when it's
    replaced. The arcing will put an arc-track on both.
    I think you might have answered your question before you asked it... Hang
    (I am presuming you have the black composite valve cover. I think the 96s
    use them. I'm SURE the 97 SL2s do). The dealer gasket comes with four rubber
    donuts - one for each spark plug hole. They fit in very well. When I
    replaced mine using the dealer parts (after about 70 k miles as I recall)
    they worked just fine - no problems, and my two Saturns that I did the work
    on have about 30k and 50k miles since I replaced the valve cover gasket.
    Now, if your mechanic did the work 10 k miles ago, either he did a very poor
    job, or the parts that he used were very poor.

    In my younger days, I tried saving money by getting the "best" price on
    aftermarket parts. As I've gotten older, I've discovered that the dealer
    parts always seem to be the right ones, fit well, and it only takes one
    shot* at fixing the problem. On the other hand, I've had to do repeated
    repairs on things when I've used the "less expensive" parts. You decide.
    But, make sure you find out whether the valve cover gasket failed 10k miles
    later because it was an aftermarket part.

    * Except for the SL2 Saturns' propensity for eating a new alternator every
    30,000 miles or so. As long as you realize that, for the older Saturns,
    alternators are a consumable, you'll be fine...
    Kirk Kohnen, Feb 23, 2004
  6. Dan

    Bill Turner Guest

    Uh-oh ;-)

    Is this a general consensus? I just got an older wagon & want to be
    prepared. Just replaced the battery...
    Bill Turner, Feb 23, 2004
  7. It's a mixed bag. Some guys get 100k out of them. On my 97SL2 I'm on my
    3rd alt and 3rd battery in 7 years and 87,000 miles here in Southern
    Jonnie Santos, Feb 24, 2004
  8. Dan

    Dan Guest

    OK so I sprang for the Saturn valve cover gasket kit. ($35 with tax). Yeah, it
    fits perfectly. But, honestly, probably the only thing wrong with the set I
    threw out is a crummy job of torqueing by the mechanic. It looked exactly like
    the new one.

    Oh, and 89 in-lbs makes a lot more sense when you realize that it's also 10
    Dan, Mar 1, 2004
  9. Dan

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    OK so I sprang for the Saturn valve cover gasket kit. ($35 with tax).
    Yeah, it
    Throw out the crummy mechanic too.
    Kirk Kohnen, Mar 2, 2004
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