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Saturn with a wonky idle

My wonderful 2001 Saturn with the DOHC engine (and 170,000 miles) on starting it doesn’t rev up and then down to idle it kind of winds up from nothing. Then, after driving and pushing in the clutch, it drops down to 350 or 400 RPM then bounces up to 900 and back down to 400 2 or 3 times before it settles on 750. What on earth could be the problem, I thought Idle air valve, since my work car had similar, but not exactly the same symptoms and that was the problem with it. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Joe

The IAC is one possibility. So too would be a vacuum leak. Then there are any number of other kinds of issues like spark plugs & wires, fuel & air filters. Dirty MAF sensor, dirty throttle body.

Is the check engine light on? All of the basic things are cheap and easy - pull and clean the IAC, check for vacuum leaks, basic tune up items, cleaning of MAF & throttle body. A little time and only a little money.

I probably should have mentioned that the issue is intermittent and there is no Check Engine Light. I have to say that almost all of my experience is with Fords and I don’t even know where the Mass Air Flow sensor is on this thing, I haven’t noticed it while looking under the hood. I installed new plugs and wires a few thousand miles ago and that made no difference. The Vacuum leak is a possibility because when I knocked the PCV out it didn’t have any effect on the engine. Thanks! I appreciate your thoughts.

Pretty much all MAF sensors are in the same place - the big black intake tube after the air filter and before the throttle body. Some cars don’t have them & air metering info comes from the MAP sensor - I couldn’t say for sure how the Saturn is set up. (But MAPs can also be cleaned).

If I were you I’d start with just replacing air & fuel filters if they’re even close to due and cleaning the idle air control valve.

Thanks a bunch! I’ll give it a try.

I know this doesn’t help any but do you know my mother? You two are the only people I have ever heard use the word “wonky”. LOL