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Old 08-31-2010, 10:37 PM   #21
snicknc
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Here's a link to pictures of my downstream O2 sensors, my intake, and my throttle body

http://picasaweb.google.com/matthews...eat=directlink

If you could, take a look. Where is the PCV valve on this engine anyways? I must be looking right past it.

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Old 09-01-2010, 08:48 AM   #22
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by snicknc View Post
Here's a link to pictures of my downstream O2 sensors, my intake, and my throttle body

If you could, take a look. Where is the PCV valve on this engine anyways? I must be looking right past it.
I took the cover off of my intake to clean the TB - I think it was about as dirty as yours. I'm not sure what those O2 sensors are supposed to look like. And I'm thinking there's no PCV on this engine - some talk of an 'oil separator' (?) - see this thread > http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=130915
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Old 09-01-2010, 10:33 AM   #23
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Just my 2-cents; my 3.0L engine is the same as your 3.0L engine and we don't use pcv valves. Its an outdated configuration from old days. Our engines have passages that feed crankcase gases back to the throttle intake without having a need for plumbing hoses and a valve. Less parts to replace. One less thing to worry about. If there's an oil separator its most likely just a simple baffle either cast in place for simplicity or made to be bolted to ensure only fumes are fed into the throttle body to keep oil consumption to a minimum.

When I replaced my thermostat for an error code (P0128?) I didn't find any pcv valve. There's enough plumbing going around for confusion.

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Old 09-01-2010, 08:56 PM   #24
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Pulled the plugs.

They're the Bosch FGR8KQE0 yttrium 4-prong type. Unreal how expensive these things are -- almost $8/apiece on Amazon. I thought it was bad enough paying for the yttrium plugs for my Dodge, those were $6...

I read somewhere on the forums here that Bosch aren't any good in this engine. Any truth to that?

Either way, the middle plugs on both sides of the engine had a sticky tarlike substance around the base, but beyond that, all 6 tips looks pretty normal for 20k usage.

So tomorrow or the next day I'll knock out that compression check, and I guess we'll see where I'm at.

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Old 09-01-2010, 09:28 PM   #25
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by snicknc View Post
They're the Bosch FGR8KQE0 yttrium 4-prong type.
Those are the OE plugs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snicknc View Post
I read somewhere on the forums here that Bosch aren't any good in this engine. Any truth to that?
I haven't heard that. This is what my Bank 1 plugs looked like after 94k mi.
Fwiw - I switched to NGK7797 plugs which were $7-8 IIRC.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:53 PM   #26
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Yeah that's what mine look like after just 20k. I have the receipt where they supposedly changed them, and charged the original owner $16/plug + labor-- no wonder he gave up the car...

Well, I reckon I'll go ahead and replace them anyways. I picked up some Champion double platinums last week, so they should work.

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Old 09-03-2010, 07:48 PM   #27
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Default Re: P0421 Code

According to AllData, I"m supposed to start the engine and let it get hot before doing a compression check.

Why in the world would I do that? Everything I've ever been told has said never pull spark plugs out when the head is hot, particularly on aluminum heads. Is there any good reason to not check compression cold?

At this point, I have to fix this car this weekend if at all possible, and just came down with the flu. If I can avoid wasting 4 hours putting the intake, et al back together and then taken apart again to get to the plugs, that would be ideal.

I'm going to go ahead and check my numbers cold. If it has to be done hot, shoot me a quick post if you don't mind.

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Old 09-04-2010, 12:56 PM   #28
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Well, I got the thermostat out.

Interestingly, I found what looked like a partially disintegrated shop paper towel stuffed between the thermostat and whatever pipe that is to the vehicle's left of it, sitting underneath the spacer.

Part of that paper towel was down in the intake of #1? cylinder (rear cylinder, furthermost vehicle-right). I pulled it out of course.

Knowing that P0421 means the pre-cat isn't warming up efficiently, is it feasible that that pieces of that paper towel might've worked their way into the exhaust and clogged the pre-cat?

I'd think that as hot as exhaust is, it would've destroyed anything in it, but if apparently coolant (of all things) could trigger a P0421, I guess I wouldn't rule out foreign debris.

I'll throw a picture up of the towel's location. when I'm done with my compression check (have to go buy a new air chuck).

So three questions so far, if you could:

1. Is checking the compression cold on this engine going to badly skew the results?
2. Could it be that debris from the aforementioned paper towel has clogged the pre-cat somehow?
3. Do the spacer and/or intake manifold bolts require threadlocker (they didn't have them on there upon removal)?

Thanks guys!

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Old 09-04-2010, 02:07 PM   #29
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by snicknc View Post
Well, I got the thermostat out.

Interestingly, I found what looked like a partially disintegrated shop paper towel stuffed between the thermostat and whatever pipe that is to the vehicle's left of it, sitting underneath the spacer.

Part of that paper towel was down in the intake of #1? cylinder (rear cylinder, furthermost vehicle-right). I pulled it out of course.

Knowing that P0421 means the pre-cat isn't warming up efficiently, is it feasible that that pieces of that paper towel might've worked their way into the exhaust and clogged the pre-cat?

I'd think that as hot as exhaust is, it would've destroyed anything in it, but if apparently coolant (of all things) could trigger a P0421, I guess I wouldn't rule out foreign debris.

I'll throw a picture up of the towel's location. when I'm done with my compression check (have to go buy a new air chuck).

So three questions so far, if you could:

1. Is checking the compression cold on this engine going to badly skew the results?
2. Could it be that debris from the aforementioned paper towel has clogged the pre-cat somehow?
3. Do the spacer and/or intake manifold bolts require threadlocker (they didn't have them on there upon removal)?

Thanks guys!
When I did the thermostat on our '02, I had to buy a bottle of threadlocker specifically for it. Now I cannot recall where specifically I did use it, but the threads already had a small amount of red threadlock on it when I took them out. The write up I used did come from this site though and it mentioned the threadlock.

I would also guess that the debris may have made its way into the cat. Something like that would cause absolute havoc with the small honeycomb spaces inside a converter.

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Old 09-04-2010, 02:47 PM   #30
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Okay.

I'm not sure if I'm doing this compression check right.

I bought a compression test kit from Advance Auto parts that comes with a spark plug adapter (14mm-- it fits), a tube with a quick disconnect fitting, and a gauge that can be swapped out with a compressor hose. I'm rotating each cylinder (have only done #1 and #2) to what I think should be TDC. The alignment marks on my two rear cam gears have markings for 1 and 2, the front two cam gears have markings for 3 and 4 on both, side by side (where is 5 and 6?).

I've verified that the piston seems to be at the top by resting a screw driver in the spark plug hole and turning the crank until the screw driver quits rising, ensuring that the markings on the rear-most cam gear are on #1, and then applying 125lbs of air.

Well, air comes shooting out of the inlet in the valley between the heads. WTF?

Am I missing something here? Are both rear cams supposed to be aligned with the #1 mark, and if so, how? No matter how many times I rotate that crank, they don't align at the same time.

Anyone have any insight as to what I'm doing wrong here?

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Old 09-04-2010, 07:22 PM   #31
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Default Re: P0421 Code

What probably occurred is not top dead center as the intake valve is open. Just rotate the crankshaft pulley another 360 degrees and try again. 4-stroke engines means each piston stroke must go up and down four times (crankshaft rotated two full revolutions) before reaching tdc. If you've never done this before, you may be adding more confusion with timing marks.

A compression test generally means using the starter to rotate the engine several times as the valves open and close with the compression gauge having a one-way valve to measure the highest compression. Each cylinder is done this way for a dry test. Once all the cylinder readings are recorded you can readily see any discrepancies. Most specs call for a minimum of 180psi for each cylinder. A wet test requires a tablespoon of oil in each cylinder being tested to help seal the piston rings if rings are suspected of being worn; if this wet compression results in a much higher number, rings are suspect. No change may suggest valve wear or burned ones as no compression is a result. For this test, the piston is rotated until top dead center is reached and an adapter used to fill the cylinder with compressed air. Since it takes two full revolutions for each cylinder to reach tdc you have a 50/50 chance of achieving tdc for any cylinder.

It may be easier to do the general compression test using the starter as its takes a few seconds for each cylinder. This can be followed up with the wet test if you suspect something. Save the laborious timing for each cylinder and compressed air for last.

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Old 09-04-2010, 09:13 PM   #32
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by snicknc View Post
I'm not sure if I'm doing this compression check right.
I've not done compression test in years - but last I did was as fdryer describes in preceding post.

I've attached extract from FSM for compression testing 2003 3.0. Procedures call for using Tech II tester but you can substitute personal ingenuity for that exotic device.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 03 Vue - 3.0 Compression Test.pdf (26.5 KB, 10 views)

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Old 09-07-2010, 11:18 PM   #33
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Alright, got it all pieced back together, so here's my findings:

Removing the hood before beginning makes this job infinitely easier.

Nearly all of the bolts sizes are 10mm.

Torque on the manifold-spacer bolts is in 66 INCH-pounds, NOT 66 foot-pounds.

Incidentally, the manifold bolt size is M6-1.0. An E2 easy-out coupled with a pilot hole drilled by a 7/64 bit will get any sheared bolts out of that spacer. I found all the tools and bolts at Ace Hardware.

The fel-pro intake spacer kit sold by Amazon for the 2002 vue 3.0L containing orange intake seals is NOT the correct kit. Look at the pictures carefully before buying and you'll see the difference. Autozone, Advance, and O'Reilly's all list the correct fel-pro intake spacer kit, containing GREEN seals.

For those (like me) who pick up the AC Delco thermostat, it doesn't come with new O-rings for the extension tube. I found that the 1 1/4"x1 1/2"x1/8" o-rings sold at Advance fit nicely. They're just a hair bigger than the original ones, but the extension pipe fits in well, and I've noticed no leaks.

I went ahead and did the PCV hose TSB which involves routing the PCV hose over the intake plenum instead of under the intake manifold. Apparently in sub-32 temperatures this precludes ice forming in the hose. I did notice that the TSB called for trimming that hose after the mode was performed. I had just enough space for it to reach without requiring a clamp. I have no idea why they call for cutting, as then it'd be too short. You may still want to throw a clamp on there for good measure.

The Bosch universal O2 sensors seem to work fine.

After putting everything back together, I allowed the car to idle for a little while.

I came back out 30 minutes later to see the overheat dummy light on. (Like a dummy), I didn't look at the temp gauge, so I'm not sure how high it got. I killed the car and after giving the reservoir about 10 minutes to cool down, slowly opened it with a rag, allowing the pressure to slowly escape. I added more coolant up to the cold fill line.

Cranking it again, the temp gauge started creeping up again. I gave it some gas at the 5/8 mark on the temp gauge and it shot back down to 3/8, before creeping back up again.

I noticed several large air bubbles coming up in the reservoir for about a minute, and then they stopped.

So, I'm guessing I had some air trapped in the system from draining the radiator. It seems to be all purged out now, because the temp never goes beyond a hair above 1/2 on the temp gauge at idle. From reading on here, 3/8-1/2 seems to be the normal, so that's an improvement, I suppose, over the 1/4 I was receiving before.

I still haven't seen any more air bubbles in the reservoir, and after blowing out some initial moisture during the first few minutes, the exhaust does not seem to be smoking.

At this point, I'm pretty satisfied that my heads and head gaskets are in decent shape (as far as coolant-in-the-exhaust goes), so unless more symptoms pop up, I'm pretty convinced of this:

- my thermostat might have been going bad (never went above 1/4 on the temp gauge)
- If there was any coolant hitting my pre-cat, it must've been from the thermostat leaking a little
- At this point, if I still get the P0421 code after doing a driving cycle it's most likely the pre-cat gone bad
- The plugs I pulled out were most likely gapped incorrectly (all were sitting at .055 which may also have thrown that code)

I'll keep posting updates until I get a final conclusion in this issue.

Thanks guys for your help so far. This Vue might be a great car to work on, but man I hope this solves it. I helped my brother overhaul the entire top half of his engine on his old Dakota immediately prior to doing this, so it's literally been a month of car maintenance, every day, non-stop.

I need a break!

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Old 09-12-2010, 05:05 PM   #34
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Default Re: P0421 Code

P0421 came back on the test drive.

I went ahead and took the car to a local mechanic who swapped out the rear (bank 1) pre-cat for a used one, and passed the emissions portion of my safety inspection here, allowing me to register this thing.

I'm still a little suspicious as to what caused the pre-cat to fail, so I'm going to try to get the old one and take a look at it.

I'll post any findings back on here, but otherwise, it looks like it WAS the pre-cat the whole time. Oh well.

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Old 09-14-2010, 12:47 AM   #35
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Default Re: P0421 Code

Both the pre-cat and cat were empty. Mechanic said they "fell apart". I'm thinking previous owners and a long screwdriver might have been involved.

Either way, that perfectly explains the code I was getting.

That sums it up, I guess.

Thanks for your help guys.

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