2002 Saturn SL2 Won't Start




Just this morning my wife’s car decided it no longer wanted to start. We thought it might be the fuel filter b/c the car has just over 100K miles, so we changed that, but still no luck.

Ran diagnostic check and nothing popped up except for a low coolant temperature.

The car will crank but won’t turn over. So the battery is fine, fuel system seems fine, any ideas? Thanks in advance!


How old are the spark plugs and wires? How is the fuel filter? Could this be weather related (like being cold)? Full fuel tank or empty?


Fuel tank is full & the fuel filter was just changed this afternoon. It shouldn’t be weather related, b/c we keep the car in the garage. I had a buddy look at it and he said we’re getting a good spark, in fact I want to say the spark plugs were replaced in the last few months. Wires though, I couldn’t say.


Your wires will be fine, I’ve got over 200k on my 2002 SL. Since you have spark, your timing chain should be OK, that would have been my first guess if you didn’t have spark.

It could still be the timing chain, not broke but skipped a gear unless the spark timing is correct. Now that leaves three things, compression, fuel or the computer. No code is not a good sign, a bad computer may not give any codes.

First, check the fuel disconnect at the fuel rail. Its a quick disconnect fitting. If the fuel pump is OK, there should be a short squirt of fuel when you disconnect it. I don’t recommend disconnecting it and turning the key to the run position, you will get fuel all over the place and it will be dangerous.

If you have access to a compression meter, or would like to get one, do a compression test. If you buy one, get one with a hose that screws into the spark plug hole. They don’t cost too much and are handy to have.

If you have gas, compression and spark, but no start, call a tow truck, you could end up spending a lot of money on unneeded parts before you get it running.

BTW, if your garage is cold enough to freeze water, you could have ice in your gas lines if the gas has any moisture in it.


The garage is cold, but above freezing. I should clarify, there is a code P0128 - low coolant temperature, but that shouldn’t keep it from starting should it? So I think the computer is OK.

I also think the fuel pump is OK, we can hear that hum of fuel moving when you turn the key. So I think that’s out.

I thought it might be the timing chain too, it sounds like its going to turn over, but just won’t.

Something tells me I am going to have to have this towed, unless you guys have any more ideas.


The engine computer (PCM) controls how much fuel is injected into the engine partially based on the engine coolant temperature reported to it from the engine coolant sensor. Your cooling system sensing system is having a problem (P0128). Here is a short article on P0128, and what to do about it: http://www.obd-codes.com/p0128