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SES and Battery lights/02 Saturn SL1

A week and a half ago, the Service Engine Soon (SES) light came on and has stayed on pretty consistently since. Shortly thereafter, the Battery light came on sporadically, but over the last couple of days, it’s started staying on.

Today, the car stalled while I was idling briefly. I had put the car in neutral so as to “turn down” a rattling noise, then shifted back into drive when the car stalled out. All of the dash lights came on, and I was able to restart the car and make it home 20 some miles without further incident, but it’s definitely unsettling.

I’m having the car towed to the shop this week, but I’m curious if anyone might have any idea what’s causing this.

Thanks for your time!

You probably have two problems, the alternator causing the battery light to come on, the other causing the SES light to come on. It is possible that a low voltage condition caused by the alternator could be causing the SES light.

I’d start with the SES light. If you live near an AutoZone or other autoparts place and not in California, you might be able to get the SES ( everyone else calls it the CEL for check engine light) code read for free. Of course you will have to drive it there. They will make recommendations for the SES light, but before you do anything, post the actual code here. The format of the code will be a letter and four numbers, like P0507.

Some of us are aware of certain codes on certain cars for which the fix is not what is normally recommended. For example, the code P0507, the normal recommendation is for a new IAC (Idle Air Control) motor, but for a Saturn SL1 engine, it is far more likely that the intake manifold gasket is leaking. A P0507 isn’t going to cause your battery light to come on though.

If the alternator is causing a low voltage condition, get that fixed first, I low voltage condition may be causing other sensors to go out of range and setting codes that will clear themselves when the voltage condition is fixed.

One last thing, is the parking brake light on when the parking brake is off too? If so, check your brake fluid level before doing anything else.