Emergency Question about the check engine light on a Saturn SL1

I am thinking of buying this Saturn SL1 (2002, w/90,000 miles for $4500)

and I told her I would pay for her mechanic to check out the fact that the “check engine” light is on. He did so, and told me over the phone that he thinks the light on Saturns is indicating something electrical, because he has checked out everything and there is nothing going on with the engine. He told me that the check engine light on a Saturn is different than other cars, and is an electrical issue. I felt confused and was still left wondering - Why is the check engine light on? and…Why should I pay this mechanic $100 when he did not seem to actually complete the investigation of the problem? He simply told me that he could not figure out what was wrong.

Is it a 1.9L engine? if so i’m familar with that engine. Most of the time it’s a temp sensor, they go bad even after 1 little over heat.

Ask for the trouble code and post it here. The mechanic will have a code reader and if not, he/she is not a good mechanic. People here will help to interpret the code. Don’t buy a car with the check engine light until you know why. If the mechanic won’t give you the trouble code, then walk away from the car or get the code or codes read yourself. If you do buy the car knowing what the trouble code(s) is(are) from what they tell you, have the code of codes put on the bill of sale so they are more likely to give you an honest answer.

My code reader cost me $50 a few months ago.

With a trouble code posted you will most likely be coming right out of the chute with a repair bill of an unknown size waiting for you.

Otherwise take the car to an Autozone store and ask for the code or codes to be read free of charge.

Are you saying that the light is coming on by mistake-like it has broken…or is the temp sensor a separate thing that has to be fixed?


That is great info. Thanks!

I’m just saying the commons causes, but it could be anything. Check it out, have that code.

Personally, I would not give 4500 for a going on 7 year old SL1 even without the engine light problem.
As to what you were told by the mechanic, that sounds pretty dubious at best and a CEL on a Saturn should not be any different than any other car.

As mentioned, run this car by a local AutoZone or an equivalent auto parts house and have them pull the codes for you. It’s free. Post any results back here. This CEL could be something relatively minor or it could be major and if her mechanic cannot figure it out he is either clueless or he’s lying in an attempt to cover up some bad news since you refer to him as “her mechanic”.

If he charged you a 100 bucks for looking at this CEL and says he does not know then he owes you all or part of that 100 back if he did not or cannot provide you with any codes. Just because the engine appears to run fine does not mean everything actually is fine. JMHO anyway.