Help with 2001 Saturn 2.2 L100 long distance diaagnosis

So daughter drove to school and car would not start when leaving school.

Starter would crank and engine would not fire.

Starter motor deemed bad and replaced because was messed up, no missing teeth on flywheel noted.

Starter cranks motor but still won’t start, no compression after compression test.

Her buds think broken timing chain, and motor replacement.

I would have to guess a broken timing chain, is this an interferance engine? any insights from your experience?

This is an interference engine.

When the timing chain fails, damage to the engine can occur.

Just like with a timing belt failure.


On my Corolla I can look inside the oil fill hole and every easily determine if the camshaft is moving along with the crankshaft. The problem with doing it of course is that it may further damage the engine, presuming the camshaft isn’t actually rotating like it should. But you might could just slightly bump the crank with a breaker bar on the crank pulley bolt, and see if that bump motion translates to the camshaft or not. Assuming your Saturn is set up like my Corolla where you can see the camshaft through the oil fill hole.

I did suggest that don’t want to give up on the car yet, thanks

These cars are not known for broken timing chains. The car cranks but doesn’t start and the STARTER gets replace? Why? It cranked so why change the starter?

Why would you guess a broken timing chain. Why consider the worst possible no-start? What led anyone to think this?

Tell your daughter to have it towed to a real mechanic to diagnose the problem.


I’m guessing the reason for a timing chain problem is the no-compression finding. Are there other reasons for no-compression in any cylinder finding likely besides a timing chain problem? When it ran ok on the way to school, but failed to start for the return trip, and no other symptoms noted during the drive to school?


Her bud is a mechanic at a gm dealership, $180 for the starter motor but symptoms unchanged. Granted he may not be the best mechanic, my but he is trying, extremely trying I guess.

No other symptoms noted on the drive to school. It was her grandmothers car and has done brakes tires trans service new exhaust etc., be a shame to have to dump it at this point with only 70k miles

Even if the timing chain conked out, that wouldn’t necessarily imply the entire engine is toast.

I missed the “no compression” line. I get it now. I’d peek in the valve cover to see if the cam is rotating. The car’s not worth an engine replacement so it can’t do anymore harm if you spin it over.

We’ve all seen engines that crank over just fine, but don’t start, due to zero compression

This is sometimes the case after a blown headgasket and/or severe overheating

Is there a chance the car was in fact overheated, but the daughter forgot to mention that?

Another thought . . . any chance the flexplate is cracked all the way around, near the bolts? Sure, the starter will crank over the ring gear just fine, but the crankshaft itself will not turn over


First question I have to ask is the “mechanic” who diagnosed the starter as the problem the same one who did the compression test? I think you know where I’m going with this.

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The mechanic is the same one, I know where you are going with that, @db4690 it is a 4 mile drive for her to school, have her check coolant, overheating seems unlikely will mention the flexplate, Thanks all

OK, after looking for a replacement car for duaghter in college looking at a Hyundai sonata 2006 with 128k for $3950, pending inspection of course.

Now this is my money buying it for her, but she is at if we are going to spend that much I would rather get a new engine, rather than a new car 78k miles on Saturn and was grandmothers car.

Tomorrow pulling valve cover to see if valves on 2002 saturn 4 cyl with timing chain are moving @db4690

I did find a used 01 saturn, body damage for $450, good engine supposedly. But really thinking I should do a rebuilt engine if that is what she wants to do.

Suggestions for rebuilt engines suppliers you have found good please.