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96 Saturn SL2

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New User

Feb 27, 2011, 3:56 AM

Post #1 of 4 (2387 views)
96 Saturn SL2 Sign In

I got a 1996 Saturn SL2 in April 2010, 4 cylinder, automatic. I have averaged about 15 miles per day on it since then. Currently at 148k miles.

When I first got it, I had my mechanic check the car out. He check the cylinder pressures and found that it had a lower pressure on cylinder #3. I think it was around 120 psi, and the other three cylinders where around 160 psi each. He basically told me, flat out, to drive the car till it dies or sell it before then.

A few months later, it started to make a pop noise in 2nd and 3rd gears. So I took it back to him, and he said it was the transmission now, and neglected to say anything about the cylinder pressures. We put some transmission fluid and cleaning additives into it, and it helped reduced when it made the crank/pop noise.

About 3 months ago, I think it was like the first cold day of winter, the car just started making a cranking noise. So I took it to my friends mechanic. He told me the computer read it as cylinder misfire on #3, and he check it and it was at 30 psi. He said its a burnt valve and its about 1500 dollars to repair it.

About a month ago, I had my parents friend(mechanic) look at it, and he said he would just replace the whole engine for me for about 400 dollars, but that's if he can find an engine, and has time to do it.

The check engine light is always on.
When I turn on the car, the idle is at around 800-1000 rpm in park.
When I start driving the car, it makes a loud cranking noise.
When I go above 30 mph, the loud cranking noise stops(or I, nor passengers, cannot notice it anymore).
It still has trouble in 2nd, but mostly 3rd, gear. I usually have to listen for the engine to rev and let go of the gas so it doesn't do the pop noise.
When I try to go above 40 mph, it feels like the car has no power, and takes quite sometime, without flooring it, to accelerate to 60 mph.
The check engine light tends to flash around 45-55 mph.
Once I get it to 60-65 mph, it runs fine. Can't notice any problems here.
When I put the car in park after driving it, the idle goes to about 2000 rpm.

So is this in fact a burnt valve, or is there probably way more issues with it?
Would Seafoam be a useful temporary solution until I can get it fixed, or would it increase the issues in the car?
Is it even worth fixing, or should I just park it and sell it?

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Feb 27, 2011, 5:31 AM

Post #2 of 4 (2379 views)
Re: 96 Saturn SL2 [In reply to] Sign In

No, Seafoam isn't going to suddenly give you compression in a cylinder that doesn't have any. The decision to fix it or not would have to be yours as we aren't there to inspect the car. If you could replace a motor successfully for $400, that would be well worth it but i seriously doubt you can do that.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

New User

Feb 27, 2011, 5:39 AM

Post #3 of 4 (2375 views)
Re: 96 Saturn SL2 [In reply to] Sign In

Alright, I will just drive it till it dies, or sell it for whatever I can. Thanks.

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Feb 27, 2011, 5:43 AM

Post #4 of 4 (2373 views)
Re: 96 Saturn SL2 [In reply to] Sign In

It already has a dead cylinder which means it's already dead and should not be driven. The Catalytic converter is going to get plugged solid very soon.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

96 Saturn SL2

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