Have a 1998 manual trans. Saturn SL with 169450 miles.. about 50 miles ago she started stuttering from front to back while in 4th gear going about 35 mph... also in 5th gear going 70mph. Help?


Asked by Mar 21, 2013 at 06:28 PM about the 1998 Saturn S-Series 4 Dr SL Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Have a 1998 manual trans. Saturn SL with 169450 miles.. about 50 miles ago she started stuttering from front to back while in 4th gear going about 35 mph... also in 5th gear going 70mph.  We were told by a mechanic that we probably had water in our gas tank, so we were told to put 2 containers of "dry gas" in the tank and run it... we did that and NO change.. then we ran another 2 containers thru and still no change.  I must also say that it did not happen all the time, not consistent, but becoming more frequent though.  We took her to a mechanic friend (a retired GM mechanic) and he did a complete tune up... spark plugs, wires, air filters, etc... the car was purchased used with about 115000 miles on it  so this was the first "tune up" we have done.  there were 5 codes on the service engine soon, and all but one dropped off... when she first purchased the car she was getting close to 40 mpg.. then the SES light came on and it says it is the 02 sensor and it has been replaced and cleaned out several times (even though it looks brand new (not dirty)) however, the SES light comes back on shortly thereafter.  When the mechanic did the tune up he said that there were two 45 spark plugs and two 60 spark plugs...  not sure why except it must have had a firing problem before we purchased it... we just got the car back and it is already (after about 40 miles) stuttering forward to back while driving... any help would be greatly appreciated

8 Answers

cv joints going bad if front wheel drive....ujoints if rwd-


no, checked, but they are not the issue, it's different than that... we believe it has something to do with the firing (or lack of) with the engine... definitely a shutter, once in 4th gear traveling at 35mph she was shuttering front to back and so we put her in 3rd gear to show she did not want to be there ( the shutter/ stutter is similar to (but much harsher) when you have to high a gear for the speed and she is struggling) but when placed in 3rd gear she hollered for 4th. One other thing it did, before tune up was... sitting, running, after traveling across the interstate, in neutral with the parking brake on, waiting for someone to arrive... she lost her rpm's almost to zero, then retrieved them back and acted fine... it was at night and her lights dimmed almost out...happened once before tune up...Another time I was driving at 35 mph in 4th gear and came to a light... stopped...started back up and the speed was 35 and she did not repeat the issue at all... arg...we were really hoping that the complete tune up would fix it..

169,000 is kinda a lot of mileage. Have you got a trail of documentation going back so you can see if oll changes, belts and hoses, timing belt/chain was looked at/replaced at 80,000, these were 'protected' miles and under warranty for much of it's life so far...the reason I ask is that having to change sparkplugs because the old ones are fouling up is an intennable situation and must be dealt with. Quite surprised that given these conditions, we are still able to hop in and drive for a spell-...so, a compression test to see which cylinders are getting filled with oil, we could look to the valve guides, with any luck a simple top-end rebuild will fix-ya---needs some more investigation...hopefully won't mean an engine job.

my 95 toyota is pretty much in the same boat, 145,000 and sounds like a coffee can filled with marbles when cold, but warms up to normal sounding...still confident that it'd do fine drivin' to LA from SF (if I could afford the gas) with this...tired motor, but I've been told 300,000 is what we could expect if this engine was properly maintained....phooey, the previous owner was a thoughtless bastard pulling out the warning buzzers and leavin' the electrics a mess-....the air conditioning still works...is my second vehicle. perhaps this too will be your second vehicle if it has been getting to be not-trustworthy. Your problem sounds expensive to mend- bump it down to second-car status unless you'd like to be saddled up with some healthy repair bills-


post up the remaining trouble codes that are showing up. We can help you once you do that.

...well we will look 'em up and tell us, hey the thingy is choked, blast the thingy clean for a good time...etc.


I do not have the codes right now... the car is at the mechanics for the weekend and he is replacing the coil packs (something he did not replace due to expense when he had just done a tune up and filters change...) we will see if that helps and if not, what error codes she throws... may take a few days once we get it back as it is not constant, and will not have it back for a couple more days from now. Thanks for your thoughts on how to fix the car.

1 people found this helpful.

you are very welcome, StarrDust!

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