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radiator fan not turning on

- Saturn-SL2

Forum Post
05/10/08 20:34

radiator fan not turning on

My 1999 SL2 electric radiator fan does not go on.It only goes on when A/C fan is running?

At times the engine is running warm in the middle of the temp gauge.Overflow tank has run over a few times.

I've done the follwing so far:

Replaced fan relay

Replaced thermostat

Replaced Coolant temp sending unit

Acid flushed the cooling system


Archived Replies

This post has a total of 49 replies. The most recent 25 are shown below, you can view the complete archive here: radiator fan not turning on archive. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

This forum post has messages dated from 05/10/08 through 07/03/12, please be sure to read all the messages. If you feel it is old or outdated, please follow up with a question or comment and someone may be able to update it, or reply with newer information if you have it.

09/25/09 01:32
Saturn Restore

In Michelle's 2000 wagon, you are replacing sensors, not a switch. There is two fo these on the older models and only one on the newer ones, they are on the rear(right side) of the engine and have a cap which inplugs from it by simply sqeezing and pulling, like a child proof aspirin cap, squeeze the cap where it has grooves on both sides and tug on it, should come off fairly easy, get a wrench or deep socket to remove it, make sure you get the exact sensor to replace it. Now a mouse cant get in that hole. make sure you use some plumbers tape

(plastic) wrapped twice around the threads and tighten until it is nice and snug. again, be gentle, do not break the new sensor. if that does nothing you may need a relay locate in the fuse block near the drivers side fender. for now, just swap on of the others with this one, they are all the same, but make sure the one you swap is the same. If that clears the problem, replace it with a new one, put the old on back where you stole it from. You can rob Peter and pay Paul, just dont tell Mary she might be upset. If you still have no radiator fan, you either have a PCM or wiring problem. Check all wiring continuity first before replacing a spendy PCM.

You can do this Michelle, I have faith in you that any girl can do this. be careful to get the wiring plug back on the new sensor all the way, it will click so work in the quiet. If you insist on having the Beattles blasting, just say Hey Jude. No one will know if it clicks, if you dont get it on correctly it wont work right anyhows. Saturns are easy cars to work on, you have to have patience and be gentle. Tiny hands work well in small spaces. write me directly if you cant make it happen,

10/16/09 16:32

code 32 came on in my 1994 saturn sl2. changed the egr valve the code went off. but still have this odor of gas?? or fumes?? what should i do next.
02/26/10 13:22
ron mcintire

My radiator fan does not come on and I have been told it is my ect sensor, also have sticky egr valve. could this be affecting this? Is egr a mechanical or electrical egr valve in 1995 saturn sl2?
02/26/10 16:18

have the same problem...found if i switch on my ac for 30 seconds or so, the fan will kick in. once it does, i just kill the ac.
03/18/10 12:26

I have a saturn 1996 to my dismay I do not know the version of this type only is which is automatic transmission sedan good point is that my fan does not go as soon as the temperature reaches its top result overheats, trying to avoid this fan comes directly as remplacé thermostat and even the cap of the deposit cooling I hope can help me

04/09/10 10:21

Hi, 1.) I have a 98' Saturn and my dash lights will not come on. I had a radio installed and it never seemed to work after that. 2.) My wipers went out about a couple of weeks ago and they will not work. 3.) My radiator fan does not come on but when i turn the AC on it does. Please Help!!!!



05/08/10 21:50

For a week my Fan keep running so I would disconnect the fan from the battery when ever I park the car. Now the fan won't work how it went from constantly running to not working is beyond me what do you guy's think the problem is? Could it be the switch or is it something else?
05/10/10 18:56

I have a 2000 saturn sl1, fan will run with a/c on and or heat on. but will not turn on when engine gets hot. The a/c works fine the heat works good. I changed the temp sensor check the relay. I don't know were to go from here, any answers?
06/20/10 01:24

My 03 ION Fan will not run eather with AC or high coolent temp.

Here is the fun part. all I have to do to make it run untill I shut the engine down is to unplug the fan power connector at the fan motor and reconnect it and I'm good till I shut the engine down

07/01/10 10:54

I have had my 96 saturn sl 1.9L manual transaxle for about 6 years. i have never been able to get that fan to turn on without my ac. I started having a problem with my temp sensor it the gauge inside the car would bog out and my car would idle really high when sitting. i wiggled the 2 wires around and it would come back on and then my fan would turn on. i just replaced the sensor just now but its still not turning on, on its own. I suspect a wiring problem for mine but could be wrong. I figure its a wiring problem for me considering with my old sensor wiggling the wires around would make it turn on. I hate electrical problems but at least its something i can do. right now the car is in my garage because im repainting it. I plan to sell the car but not until i get this one problem fixed. all in all i would say that my saturn is an excellent car except for its obvious problem within most models. I didnt realize how common this problem was. Also does anyones saturn around my year burn oil? if so i learned that these cars were made with faulty head gaskets resulting in oil burning roughly around the 120, 000 mile mark. my saturn has 173k on it and as has been burning oil since the day i got it up until last year after replacing the head gasket.
07/19/10 12:29

Wow, I like everyone else am experiencing the same frustration with the Cooling fan. This apparently was/is a very common problem with no black and white answers. After all I have read, it could be numerous causes. I have a 96 SL2 DOHC in which as stated several times by others, fan works while AC is on but not off. Temp gets hot and even overheats and eventually blows out the overflow valve. Cut the AC on then the fan comes on and temp goes back down. The temp / coolent warning light flashes and the gauge only goes to midrange. I have ewverything from the temp sensor to an alternator. Other then troubleshooting the wiring, is there another easy way to pin it down?
07/22/10 04:57

My fan stopped and I replaced a fuse. Then the relay and I was told the fan motor was bad. So I had it replaced. Then the a/c compressor was bad. So I had it replace and the dyer. The mechanic that worked on it drove it 200 miles without my permission. He told me the car wasnt fixed, and I believed him. Now I got it back and it doesnt get hot but the A/C doesnt cool and the water lights that say no water in the radiator comes on but the over flow is full. When opening the over flow when it was fairly hot it has no pressure. Why and what is wrong? Help?
09/13/10 01:14
Dave Stanley

I have been in circles with Saturn and even been ripped off by the dealer over this issue . This is what I know for a fact about this....Saturn first made sensors with fiber cups on them. The fiber would get soggy and the sensor would not work. They were supposed to replace these for free, but mine cost me $92...The new sensors on the block have a metal cup. Start here. They cost about $20 at Advance Auto and Autozone...Wrap a little Teflon tape on the threads of the new temp. sensor when you replace it and make sure you are replacing the correct thing. Snap the little wire cap back on. If you have to mix up a lil epoxy and apply a tiny bit with a toothpick to hold it on...... The radiator fan motor will still run sometimes even though the fields are mostly burned out. It can be stopped with the tip of your pinky. This is not enough to cool your radiator. Get the good fan motor from Advance that has Delco Remy on it and the box. It costs around $60. The twenty buck fan will fail again in 3 months or so in hot climates. I hope this helps....Also make sure your brakes are not sticking or you have tranny issues. A sticky brake system can load your engine down and make it run hot and ruin your gas mileage..Make sure you have good premix Prestone. Don't run 100% Prestone or other radiator antifreeze. It has to have some water to work right. I use premix...Dave
10/25/10 21:24

I have 2 saturn cars with both the same problem the things keep over heating cause the fan is not coming on. The fuses are good the relays are good (changed both things on both cars)and there is no power coming to the fan even when it is over heating the fan is good. There is power at the relay something somewhere on both cars. Has to be the same thing is not telling that fan to turn on they both use to work great know this is getting to me 2 cars same problem lol.
12/15/10 00:56
chad from burbank

What i did was hard wired fan to on/off switch. Ive tried everything, with no luck. This is tempoary fix, but works for now. Too bad saturn is now out of business. So until someone shares the solution, we are all SOL>.
01/19/11 13:24
tom from dallas

Bought my '95 manual SL2 new, in October 2010 the radiator cooling fan suddenly stopped coming on as it should, started getting overflow of coolant from the reservoir. Fan turns on fine if I start the AC, all fuses and relays are fine. If I short the electrical connector to the temp. sensor (inserted paper clip ends into the connector) the fan runs fine, so the wiring is okay. Replaced the temp. sensor, old one looked fine, fan still fails to turn on when engine gets hot, but turns on if I hit the AC for a couple of seconds and coolant temp. drops back down.

I'll try writing directly to posters above who gave "solutions" that I can't understand... will post if I find the answer.

01/23/11 11:53
tom from dallas

Thanks to those that wrote me. The problem turned out to be simply the cap on the overflow reservoir, $5 for a new one at Autozone and no more overheating. As others described, the fan doesn't turn on until the gauge is at 3/4 (just below the red zone), but now it does turn on and the temp drops right back down to its usual 1/8-1/4 range.

It never used to wait for such a high reading before, maybe it's the new ECTS I put in, but it works.

A lot simpler and cheaper to replace that cap than all the other steps - if anyone else has this problem suddenly arise, replace the cap first!

02/28/11 19:43
Dave Stanley

I have owned four Saturn SL-1s. I am now driving a 1995 SL-1. I have had 4 alternators on mine hehehe. I figured it out.Get one at Autozone with the lifetime warranty. I had mine replaced at the dealership a few times. The first time I paid for the replacement. The second time MR GOODWRENCH paid. The 3rd time service manager started backing up on the Mr.Goodwrench pledge and violated the agreement I thought was carved in stone(SATURN of Columbia, SC}{They still own a few dealerships here ie.The Love family). That was when I decided I will never buy another car off of this family again. Anyway I found out about the Autozone deal. They have character.I wish they built cars

Now for overheating. I have found that if the refrigerant level falls a little in the 95 SL-1 ...the AC clutch will not engage ad the radiator fan will not run. ADVANCE AUTO sells an eighteen ounce can of R134a refrigerant that has compressor oil andSYSTEM SAFE leak sealer in the can with the other stuffIt also has a chemical in it to inhibit rust and provide maximuncooling power above and beyond the refrigerant. I like this unit because it has a nice big pressure gauge built into the supply line along with the on off valve.It runs about 31 bucks but it is worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned.

You just let your car run for 3 min. with the AC on and the blower on mmax. While you wait shake the can. Yep like Cool Hand Luke ...I'm shakin dat can boss!!!!. Attach the hose and push the valve. I noticed the low pressure line pressure was about 38 psi. When it got to 45 psi the AC compressor kicked on and the rediator fan motor started running.There is also a chart on the can that tells you how far to fill the system based on the outside ambiant air temp. The name of this unit is from a company called INTERDYNAMICS and it is called the EZ CHILLIt comes in a tall can that is whte on top and blue on the bottom. It has a big blue hose comingout of the gauge on top. The initial cost is $31, but the hose and gauge unit screws off and can be put on another of their cans that sells for about half the original cost because it is just the canned product. Try this and read the instructions carefully. Don't overfill your AC unit...Hope these things help.

03/10/11 18:11
calvin mitchell

i am having the same probem with this saturn of overheating

is it the fuse the fan motor or turning on the to activate the

fan or where is the electrical relay switch to the fan.

03/25/11 16:21
duane andrews

radiater fan not working, i took the cap off the relay swicth, an connected the two pins together, an the fan came on. i have no codes stored
10/07/11 18:02
Thank author of this post/comment"Saturn fan not working"

I had this issue and when I charged the a/c the fan started working - so if your a/c is does not have freon in it your fan will not work at all - you can however unplug the temp sending unit on the drivers side of the engione block and the fan will then stay on while the ignition is on but your temp gauge will always read in the middle no matter how hot or cold the car is - you'll have to get an external temp gauge -
11/06/11 15:06
Thank author of this post/comment"the fan didn't come on till the gauge reached 3 / 4 "

1998 Saturn SL2

I follow saturntech9 suggestion watch coolant temperature gauge reached ˝ = engine temperature 197 degrees and then Fan Motor kick –in running. Good luck

link from 2carpros

Replied on July 19, 2010

If you put new coolant temp sensor in then the fan should come on.The earlier saturns the fan didn't come on till the gauge reached 3/4 sometimes the tip of the red if the gauge was bad.They never changed the temp the fan come's on at on the later model's i think 1997 or 1998 they made the gauge's read lower and the fan's came on just over half.But the fan's still came on at the same temp 222-226 degree's.So using the gauge isn't going to work to tell what temp the engine is.Did you ever change the coolant cap like i asked you too?Also once you get the radiator replaced then you can check and make sure the fan motor relay and wiring work like i told you in a earlier post.Then let your car idle and watch for the temp gauge and let it go above 1/2 way up to 3/4 and see if the fan come's on.

Avatar Answered by (saturntech9) (expert)

03/04/12 20:15
Thank author of this post/comment"Radiator fan not working?"

replace your engine temperature switch. this is different than the engine temp. sensor.

06/15/12 09:02
STL Cards
Thank author of this post/comment"Agree w / Heibel"

Google search:

( Title) Fan won't come on, Saturn SL2 (read the whole question before jumping to conclusions)?

Best Answer:

2 coolant sensors. You replaced the one on the drivers side of the head for the temp gauge. NOW change the correct one! It is called a thermal switch. Look it up.

2 sensors: coolant temp sensor on drivers side and engine coolant temperature (thermal) switch

07/03/12 06:55
Thank author of this post/comment"Same O Same Overheating"

1999 Saturn SL. Turn AC on, no cooling fan, No ccoling fan whe it gets hot either. Checked Fan Fuse and relay both okay. Several months ago fan would only work when ac turned on, now it doesn't work at all. AC not really as cold as it should be and at times blows warm air. Radiator cap is new. Coolant is old but I don't think it should prevent fan from engaging when ac first turned on. If it was a bad sensor reading temperatures, should the fan still turn on anyway? Any ideas???? Thanks.
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    Archived Replies

    This post has a total of 49 replies. The most recent 25 were shown above, you can view the complete archive here: radiator fan not turning on archive. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

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