I’m having some problems with my car, and I’m looking for input from my fellow Dopers. I’ve been having a problem with my car (a 1998 Saturn SL2) since the summer. The problem is that my “Service Engine Soon” is on, and the Saturn dealership that I’ve been taking it to hasn’t been able to correct the problem. I’ve given myself a day to calm down from my latest encounter with them, so I have no need to rant about them in the Pit. However, I do have to wonder if the service department is just stringing me along now.
Here’s the story. In June, my car was acting odd, and my “Service Engine Soon” light came on as I was driving home from summer school. I immediately took it to the dealership for testing and fixing. What caused the warning light to come on was a bad O2 sensor, a bad coolant sensor, and arching spark plugs/wiring harness. I also had a bad serpentine belt and a broken motor mount, but those probably wouldn’t have tripped the light. The repairs were made, the fault codes were cleared, and I was on my merry way.
Five miles later, the “Service Engine Soon” light came on again. The next day I took it back to the dealership after school. After testing, I was told that the problem was that the fault codes from the previous day hadn’t been correctly reset. The technicians reset it, and I was on my merry way. Two-tenths of a mile later, the “Service Engine Soon” light was back on. The next day, after school, I was back at the dealership with my car and a very familiar problem. This time, the diagnosis was that the power control module (essentially, the computer) was bad and needed to be replaced at a charge of $700. Having just spent $600 for repairs two days earlier, I decided to postpone that repair until I could gather the money. I was told that my car would run fine, but that cursed light would remain on (plus, I wouldn’t be able to pass inspection).
Yesterday, I had the money assembled and took my car back to the dealership. The PCM was replaced and reprogrammed. I was assured that this would correct the problem with that warning light. After I got my car back, I drove around for a while to make sure that the “Service Engine Soon” light wasn’t going to come on again. After about twenty miles, the light was still off. I was satisfied that everything was good and went home. About an hour later, I drove to the store. The “Service Engine Soon” came back on and is still on. I used much profanity on the drive home. Now here’s where I need advice.
First, does anyone out there have any idea what could be the cause of this problem? My gas cap is securely sealed, all my fluid levels are good, I’m still a month/1000 miles away from my next oil change, and my car is running as well as it ever has. It could be another sensor problem, but I can’t check that on my own. It could be something out of alignment, I suppose, but I haven’t had an accident or jostled my car in any way that I can think of.
Second, would it be worth it just taking my problem to another Saturn dealership in the area? The same dealership, technicians, and service advisors have seen my car four times, and the problem is obviously not fixed. I’m not sure if just going to another Saturn dealership is going to guarantee that they’ll find something that the other place did not.
Third, is possible that I may have wasted $700 on a repair I didn’t need? After the initial repairs in June, the fault was attributed to the computer not being reset properly, and then it was attributed to a bad computer. Now that that’s been replaced and the problem persists, I’m having doubts as to whether or not that was the problem. If it turns that replacing the PCM was unnecessary, is there any chance of me recovering some of that $700?
Thanks, and I look forward to any advice ya’ll can give me. In the meantime, I calling the last service advisor I dealt with and telling him that the damn light is back on. I already know he’s going to tell me he’ll need to see the car to figure out what’s going on, but that’ll have to wait until Saturday (work, school, and all that fun stuff).