1997 Saturn SL2


Asked by Dec 18, 2012 at 07:40 AM about the 1997 Saturn S-Series 4 Dr SL2 Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Latley when climbing a hill the "service engine soon" light comes on and starts blinking, the car seems to lose power, but it still climbs the hill, but when you reach the top of a hill in the flat, the light goes out and the car sems to be normal. It just happened twice, then this morning I started to climb the same hill and the car seemed normal. Could this be a ignition problem?

18 Answers


It's probably one of your emission sensors. Get the code read and post the numbers and we can diagnose further.


Tom, I rode the car home yesterday after the "service engine soon" light was blinking, and there was no code registered.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

That's becuase you need a scan tool to pull the code out of the cars computer. Autozone and other local auto parts stores will do this for free.


Tom, I used a scan tool, I guess the blinking service engine light didn't register the error in the computer because the light didn't stay on, or on long enough or because it was blinking, then it turned itself off after a couple of minutes.


The only time the engine light blinks is when the catalytic converter is at risk of being damaged. Generally caused by a misfire and if the scanner isn't pulling codes then there is an issue with either the scanner or your cars ALDL. Going up this hill may be allowing a spark plug wire to shift into an exhaust manifold and its creating a misfire. Any time the check engine light comes on there is a code stored and that code stays stored for a certain number of drive cycles depending on the type of code. Even if the light is off there may be codes stored in the history waiting to get erased during a drive cycle.


John, what does ALDL stand for? looks like I should check my plugs & wiring, plugs have 60,000 miles on them although they should go 100,000 miles they are the platinum type. The car ran fine today no issues climbing.


Assembly Line Data/Diagnostic Link. How steep of a grade are you climbing?


The grade is about 15 - 20 percent, I also noticed that it has been raining alot lately, and both times the car acted up it was wet & raining. The last couple of days it's been dry out and I have no issues with the car. I'm starting to look at maybe the wires are breaking down, although I put in wires about two years ago, wires from Advance Auto (lifetime warrenty).


John, I'm sorry, I was way off on that "grade", I finally looked at the hill sign, the grade is 4 1/2% up a 5 mile long hill ( rt 80 going into the Pocono's). It was pouring this morning and I had no issues with thecar. There goes that theory. I just can't trouble shoot.


Like tom said we need those codes. We need to know what the engine is doing. When you installed those wires did you put them exactly where the old ones came from? I have seen plenty of people do tuneups thinking that the wires don't have to go back into the holder in the back of the engine. I have also seen the holder break and people don't put them back into it. Either way the wires move and can rub on the hot exhaust melting through the wire causing a mis.


One more Q, how much gas is in your car when its doing this? If your at a quarter tank you may be starving the engine for gas.


As I remember, Dec 17th, Monday night I filled it up, so when it first happened the 18th, Tuesday morning,the tank was just about full, it hapened the next morning the 19th on a much shorter hill for only a few seconds, that was only a half mile from my house (engine was still cold). It hasn't happened since.


Sounds like it could be a bad fuel pump. Going up hills, you're not getting enough fuel pressure and its leaning out so the PCM is trying to compensate. If thats the case, replace it asap. Also do a compression check to make sure you didnt burn any valves.


Well, it turned out to be an easy fix, I checked the plugs after it started to miss quite often under load, the book calls for an .040 gap the gap was more than twice that, one plug had some oil another white powder (Champion), all were pretty much worn. Replaced them with Bosch bdl platinum no-gap plugs, and to be safe brought back the lifetime warrenty plug wires an got new ones. Car has been running great since then, all. thanks for the help.


The platinums will wear out in about 10-20k. Copper core plugs are the way to go with these cars. Glad it was an easy fix


The general motors HEI will melt down the standard copper plugs in a few months. The plats will last much longer.


whatever you say, scooter.


saturn corp recomended ngk after numerous test. won't set random misfire codes

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions


Looking for a Used S-Series in your area?

CarGurus has 782 nationwide S-Series listings and the tools to find you a great deal.


Search Saturn S-Series Questions

Saturn S-Series Experts

#1 Alex Nazarian
Alex Nazarian
Reputation 1,490
#2 helpmeplease
Reputation 1,030
#3 fabian_09_21
Reputation 840
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Honda Accord
780 Great Deals out of 87,936 listings starting at $1,150
Used Ford Focus
534 Great Deals out of 56,855 listings starting at $800
Used Honda Civic
515 Great Deals out of 89,462 listings starting at $1,299
Used Toyota Corolla
705 Great Deals out of 73,106 listings starting at $1,950
Used Toyota Camry
815 Great Deals out of 90,820 listings starting at $850
Used Chevrolet Cavalier
1,072 listings
Used Chevrolet Malibu
850 Great Deals out of 81,350 listings starting at $995
Used Honda CR-V
806 Great Deals out of 59,900 listings starting at $900
Used Hyundai Elantra
480 Great Deals out of 52,858 listings starting at $1,995
Used Dodge Neon
695 listings
Used Volkswagen Jetta
405 Great Deals out of 37,862 listings starting at $1,385