Saturn 2001 SL1 Intake Gasket - Am I driving a time bomb?

I posted previously about my SES light coming on and Saturn diagnosing a bad coolant sensor, and at the same time, a leaking intake gasket. The sensor has been replaced, but the light is still on due to (Saturn says) the leaking intake gasket. I may or may not have the gasket fixed. So, what say you–am I driving a “time bomb”? Is the car likely to fail? Or will it simply perform worse as the gasket leaks more?

Many cars of that age need one type of repair or another. Unless you are considering trading it in for a new car you are probably better off getting it fixed. Yes it is a time bomb as things will get worse instead of better. There may be another remedy if they care to post or you can search and find other possibilities for a cure.

No one can really say much of anything unless you report the actual codes that were stored in the computer. Maybe the folks at Saturn just don’t know what they are talking about. Unless you need warranty or recall service you don’t need to take it to a dealer. Why not go get a second opinion from a local, independent mechanic?

I’m having trouble coming up with the kind of code that would first have someone guessing a coolant temp sensor, and then leave them at an intake gasket after that. Of course, if they do know what they are doing there is little need to guess. There are ways of finding out. But no on can say much about it so if you want opinions here then get the codes and post them - the format is P1234.

Worse as in, it will continue to suck in more air until “too much to run”, right? But is that likely to take a while? Am I likely to end up at the side of the road cursing the intake gasket I didn’t replace immediately? Keep in mind I’m asking about generalities, and understand that anything said here is general advice, not a guarantee.

No - it is unlikely to suddenly make the car stop running. Until…it starts leaking coolant into the oil (if it isn’t already) and destroys the engine. An air leak will make it run poorly, but it is not your worst enemy.

I have an 02 SL and I’ve replaced the intake manifold gasket twice now. The second time I used a felpro instead of the OEM gasket, I think it is a better choice. The dealer tells me that the OEM gasket has been redesigned but didn’t have one to show me.

The gasket is not supported well around the No. 1 cylinder. The felpro is stiffer so it doesn’t get sucked in as easily.

The usual symptom is a high idle and the code P0507. It causes a rough idle and lower fuel economy. It gets worse with time but it only gets so bad. Thats when the one whole side of the gasket gets sucked in. It causes some carbon build up in the intake manifold and around the intake valves. You should get this fixed.

You can check to see if the gasket is bad. With the engine idling, spray a little carburetor cleaner or WD40 around the No. 1 intake runner at the gasket and see if it affects the idle. If the idle doesn’t change, then the gasket is probably not leaking.

BTW, my Saturn is a 5 speed, get 38 mpg, burns a quart of oil every 2000 miles which isn’t bad for a car with 210,000 miles on it. It has been relatively trouble free, just the two intake gaskets and one rear wheel bearing.

One more thing, the EGR valve will sometimes set the check engine light because it fails to close all the way. Gets a bit dirty. It can be cleaned, no need to replace.

Post the new code you are getting. don’t let the dealer have his way replacing anything he wants at your expense.

That won’t happen with this engine.

I had the coolant sensor replaced. Or do you mean the intake gasket will cause coolant to leak into the engine? I’m not sure which problem you meant in your first and second sentences there.