94 Saturn SL1 running Rich/trouble starting

First let me say I pretty much auto retarded. My 94 Saturn SL1 is running way rich. It won't really start. I was having trouble with hard starts
so I took it to my neighbors trusty mechanic. He looked at the plugs and they were old etc. He recomended a tune up at $125.00 where he would replace the plugs and fuel filter. When I picked it up from the mechanic it started fine and I drove it home. 2 hours later it wouldn't start. After some cussing and what not I kept trying and I finally got a really hard start that seemed like it wanted to stall. I drove it to the mechanic and he looked at it for a while. He was real busy and it was a Friday afternoon. Well at quitting time he called and said he still hadn't figured it out, that it was running rich (way rich). I then realized how the last couple of weeks my gas milage went from about 23 in the city to 16.
So, the mechanic said he couldn't get to it til Tuesday and I've been looking on the internet trying to figure out anything. I called a Saturn dealer and a rather polite yet flustered fellow said it sounded like the Enginge Coolant Temperature Sensor. From what I've been reading that sort of sounds right, but then again I am an auto retard.
I bought the car 2 1/2 years ago with 118k miles on it. It has always ran hot. Sometimes it starts to overheat so I flip on the heat and the air condition button at the same time and it usually goes right down. I always figured there was some sort of electrical glitch that messed with the cooling fan. After reading a lot of the posts, I think it might be tied in to this problem. This year I've already changed the water pump and alternator. It's been a costly year, especially since I bought the car for really cheap. I don't want to keep pumping money into it, but I'm so broke there's no way I could afford a new car so.....I can either bring it back to my neighbor's trusty, but busy mechanic who hasn't figured it out yet (I've already given him $125.00 for a tune up and I don't think he even changed the oil.) Or I can go to a Saturn Dealer where they said it sounded like the Engine Cooling Sensor and estimated a $110.00 to fix.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and sorry about rambling on.
Rob
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sounds like the same problem i am having. might have to do with the EGR system. do you smell gas when you start up your car? and also do you have any engine codes or SES lights.
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I do smell gas when I TRY to start up my car it usually takes time to start it.
I don't really know what engine codes or SES lights are.
What is the EGR? And how much would that cost me?
Thanks for the reply
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SES light is the light that comes on your dash light area that says Service Engine Soon. it should come on when you first turn the key to the on position. i think we really do have the same problem if you are smelling gas. my guess is that we have some sort of EGR(exaust gas recirculation) system vacuum leak. and probably leaking the exaust fumes that we keep smelling. its nothing serious and its probably a quick fix. there is a website that i did some searching on how one guy did it(http://wright.cs.uakron.edu/saturn/code32-26.html ) but does your Service Engine Soon light come on? if it does you need to go to autozone and get a GM code key and find out your engine codes in your cars computer. then you will get a more better idea of what you have to do. i just went there today and got one. and i did have the code 32 which involves the egr system. keep me updated.
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In article
snipped-for-privacy@charter.net says...

Must of got cut off at your end, it said CTS. Coolant temp Sensor. More below.
In article <ddba3562a21d0c7bcdd00e944b5dbef4

Forget the dealership. You can goto autozone, advance auto parts, etc etc and pick up a sensor for 20 bucks. Some teflon tape, a socket, a ratchet, some coolant for top off, and less than 10 minutes later its done. Your mechanic might be willing to do that for 10 bucks... It probably wouldnt hurt to have your egr (as kent brought up) cleaned out with some carb cleaner.
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oh yeah Kent I read your post it does sound similar. I also disconnected the battery and reconnected it and nothing happened, but I am a complete novice.
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In article

My money's on the engine cooling sensor. Replace it first. You can do it yourself if you have a 13mm deep socket wrench. I think it's 13mm, at least. It needs to be deep. The sensor's about $15 dollars at an auto store, or a few more at the dealer.
What this sensor does is tell the computer how hot or cold the engine is. It doesn't work the temperature gauge, that's what the one wire sensor near it is there for. It DOES work the fan, however. If the computer thinks the car's cold, it'll run richer and of course, use more gas. And it won't turn on the fan, because it thinks the car's cold. Naturally, it'll always be trying to start in "It's REALLY cold out" mode. BTW, if the car floods out, place your foot to the floor, and crank the engine for a few seconds, while holding your foot down. This activates flood clearing mode in the computer - it basically won't shoot any gas in.
You'll notice too that your idle speed is a bit high, I bet.
The sensors - you have two - are on the right side of the engine, under near the EGR valve (3 inch round UFO shaped thing to the right of the head).
Follow the electric harness, you'll see there are two connectors going into devices screwed into the engine's head. One has one wire, the other has two. You need the two wire one replaced.
Disconnect the battery's negative terminal, and then with the engine cold, feel the terminal on the two wire sensor. It's got a ribbed portion. Squeeze it and gently wiggle it around, and you can pop it off. Be careful not to break the wires, or you'll need to get the plug replaced too. You'll feel the connector loosen up a bit when it's ready to come off, and it'll slide right off pretty easy.
Use the socket to loosen and remove the sensor - some antifreeze will pour out, though not too terribly much. You'll have to top off the car afterwards.
Screw the new sensor in. I think you're supposed to use a thread sealing compuond. Don't go crazy tightening it, but don't leave it too loose or it'll leak. The book says 71 INCH pounds. This is about 5 foot pounds.
re connect the plug - it'll only go on the right way, and when it does, it'll slide on asy, then *snap* in place. Gently pull on it (don't squeeze), and if it stays on, you're good.
Put the negative cable on again, and then start the car and check the coolant.
It should start easier, and run a lot better.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.usermail.com says...

Very helpful post Phil but I think its larger than 13mm. I was just thinking, he might be able to just plug in a new sensor without having to do anything else and while the engine is cold start it. The new sensor would then give the ecm the correct ambient temperature value of a cool engine. If it starts right up then that would certainly be it. A easy diagnosis if thats as much as he's able/willing to himself.
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My suggestion would be to spring for the $30 or $40 fee that a Saturn dealer charges for diagnosis. Usually they can plug into the PCM and tell exactly what's wrong. If it saves you from buying ONE part based on guesses (and I've read a lot of them here), it has paid for itself.
Lane [ lane (at) evilplastic.com ]
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Visit my Saturn Car Audio and Performance Page at http://www.evilplastic.com



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Thanks a lot for all the advise!! I'm going to Auto Zone first thing tomorrow and getting a new sensor then the fun begins. I hope that's the only problem. Just in case I end up battered and bloodied as I attempt this myself how much would a mechanic charge. Does $110 sound about right?
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just keep us updated.
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my guess is that it probably has nothing to do with the engine coolant sensor. you shouldnt base your decision just from talking to some guy on the phone from saturn. he has never seen your car or he doesnt even know whats happening. you should really see if you have the service engine soon light on and find out the codes first, but do what you want.
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Keep in mind that the air tempaerature sensor will affect the quantity of fuel going in.

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Thanks Everyone.
I found out that my car had a recall concerning my seatbacks which were F-ed, so I took it in to the Saturn dealer and they fixed my problem and the seats.
A new Engine Coolant Sensor and a new Temp Gauge. It turns out it was definately the Engine Coolant Sensor. So far it runs good.
Cost me $140.00 tax included.
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First of all, if your saturn runs hot it would be advisable to change the coolant sensor for sure. Don't forget it is a '94. But be advised that the fan will probably only start turning to cool the motor when the temperature gage hits about three quarters way up. Give it a trial run. Let your motor run idle until the temperature gage is a little over three quarters up. If the fan don't start then this could be one problem. If it starts it's not your coolant sensor. I have a 94 SL1 and that is how she runs. Even my mechanic had trouble convincing me of this, but now I know. Then, if you have big variations in the weather as hot and cold, or cold damp, you might want to chack the AIR TEMPERATURE SENSOR.... As this transmits the temperature of the air flowing through the intake, it also adjusts the quantity of fuel needed for the given temperature. If it is giving a colder degree of the air to the system, it will increase/decrease the quantity of fuel going through to your injectors, in turn affecting your fuel mileage.
Godd Luck
dedjoker de snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com

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Will the idiot light come on before the gauge gets to 3/4 and the fan finally comes on? Twice last week the temp/oil/T-fluid idiot light came on when the gauge was about 1/8 or less; turns out I was a little low on oil.
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