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Need Help with 2000 Saturn L Series

2000 Saturn L Series Station Wagon 73,772 miles

The Check Engine Soon light was on this morning but when on highway today and at 70MPH the Service light came on and then the Reduced Power light.

Couldn’t drive past 5MPH but when I turned the key off and back on the power returned but the tranny was Slamming into gears. I made it back home but where to go from here.

What do you think?

I think, no, make that, “I know”, that you need to have the car’s OBD system checked for stored trouble codes. The inability to drive faster than 5 mph indicates that the car has gone into, “limp home”, mode, which indicates a potentially serious problem. (Serious=very expensive)

My suggestions are as follows:

Check the transmission fluid level, color, and odor.
“Slamming into gears”, is NOT a good sign, but it is possible that this is merely the result of a low level of fluid in the trans.

Be sure to check your Owner’s Manual for the correct procedure for checking the trans fluid, and make sure you determine the correct fluid for this transmission. More than likely, it is one of the iterations of GM’s, “Dexron” fluid, but it is vital to find out for sure before adding any fluid to the trans.

If adding trans fluid doesn’t help, or if the fluid level is normal and the fluid is both red in color and not burnt-smelling, then the problem may not be in the transmission.

In any event, only by having the car’s OBD system checked for stored trouble codes can anyone have an accurate idea of where to begin to look for the source of the problem. If you go to an auto parts store, such as Auto Zone, Advance Auto, O’Reilly, or (possibly) Napa, this will be done, gratis. Then, you can come back to this thread to post the exact codes that were found.

Thanks, I’ll get on that this weekend and get back to this thread. I was told by a friend that it might be the MAS which stands for Mass Airflow Sensor which is affecting the richness of the fuel or whatever. I’m low on cash and don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a car that essentially doesn’t even exist anymore. I might be inclined to use it as a trade in but I don’t really have the resources for monthly payments. I’m in my later 60s with limited income.

The way to waste the most money is to blindly replace parts without doing any troubleshooting. You can get the codes read for free at many car parts stores, that would be the first place to start. Be sure to get the actual code, not their interpretation, something like P0300 or something like that. We can help you better that way.

Find out what codes are stored in the engine/trans computer to get a direction to go in. Might be engine related, might be transmission.

The code indicated a fuel richness issue. The mechanic changed the Mass Airflow Sensor and the problem seems resolved. The station wagon is the LW2 model V6 DOHC and I was told that the manifold must come off to change the spark plugs. Sounds pricey.
Thanks for the input.


The MAF may have been contaminated.

FWIW . . . my chilton labor times says 3 hours to replace the plugs. So, that means 3 x the hourly labor rate, plus parts. Those labor times are merely a guideline. A shop may charge slightly more.