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1996 Saturn SL1- Car Died

So I purchased a Saturn SL1 in February and the car has worked great for me up until last week. I’ve always had some problem with the exhaust and a fast idle, and I was going to get a diagnostic done on it this week. I’ve also always had my check engine light on since the sensor is broken. Last week I got an oil change and they told me I had sludgey oil, so I had them add the cleaner to try and correct it. But almost immediately after that my car started to sound weird, like the engine was straining and my oil light was on. I returned to the shop and they told me nothing was wrong with the oil.

The light remained on and the car was still sounding pretty bad and I also had another warning light on which was showing the coolant symbol, but my heat gage looked normal. Yesterday I heard some sort of knocking sound and when I hit the gas the RPMs went up really high but my car was barely moving, and then the engine just quit. Some people told me they think my accelerator might have died, but I’m personally clueless when it comes to cars. I’m getting a diagnostic done today but until then I’m just anxious to know what it might be. Thanks

OK, first thing, your diagnostic code is probably P0507 which is caused by a leaking intake manifold gasket, a real common problem with this engine.

When they put the “cleaner” into your engine, it probably loosened up enough sludge to clog the oil pick up, from that, you lost oil pressure which turned on your light. There wasn’t any wrong with the oil, it just wasn’t getting to the vital parts in your engine.

Since you continued to drive it with the oil light on, parts starved for oil began to knocking. You now have ruined the engine.

This engine is not one know to sludge up. Any engine can sludge up if the oil is not changed often enough, but with this engine, you really have to go a long time between changes so this engine was probably doomed before you got it.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I have a Saturn with 235k miles on it and it has been a pretty good car so far.

They told me that the engine was gone today, so what you just said really shed some light on what exactly was going on with my. Thank you very much, and I junked the car today.

Sorry for your loss. Lesson learned, don’t use additives in your oil. Better luck next time.

I’m getting an uncomfortable vibe here. Did you have your oil changed, and get advised that you needed to add additive to the system, from a quicky lube? Did you yourself check the oil level when the oil light came on?

It’s pretty clear from you description that Keith is correct, your negine has seized from oil starvation. I’m just wondering if it was properly filled in the first place and if there was a leak left in the plug installation or the filter installation that allowed the level to drop and the seizing could have been prevented by checking the level as soon as the light came on.

I think head gaskets commonly fail on these Saturns too. Head gasket problem could have led to low coolant, overheating, and dead engine.

No they don’t.

Because of its cost, I am generally not in favor of leasing. You may be the exception.