Question about Saturn SL1

2 Answers

Random Cylinder Misfire

I have a 2000 Buick LaSabre that suddenly started not running well.  The Service Engine Soon light often starts blinking, and stays steadily on at other times.  I went to AutoZone and they read the trouble codes that say that the system is detecting "random cylinder misfires".
The thing is that just a month or two ago I was having similar engine trouble, though the diagnostic then was stating that a specific cylinder was misfiring.  I changed all the spark-plugs, since my mileage is over 100,000.  However all the old plugs looked really good.  Unfortunately, the problem persisted, so I changed the wires.  Then the problem was solved.  (I did find that the coil connector side of the wire for the diagnosed misfiring cylinder was charred.  So I'm sure that was the real problem.  Though I have concern over what damage may have been inflicted upon the coil and/or the Ignition Control Module.)
So I know that my spark-plugs are new, and so are my wires.  What would help me in further diagnosing this issue would be to know how the system determines misfires, and whether it would report a "random" cylinder misfire if a pair of cylinders were misfiring---specifically if the pair of cylinders driven by a single coil (of the three on this vehicle) were misfiring?
Does the system determine such misfires through a detection of the ignition impulse sent to the spark-plug (back EMF, current, etc.), or does it have some ignition sensor within the cylinder (detecting light, heat, sound, whatever)?  The answer to this question will help direct my diagnosis.
If the system does not have the ability to identify a pair of misfiring cylinders, but will provide the "random" misfire code even for a pair of misfiring cylinders driven by the same ignition coil, then I could rightly suspect a coil.  Otherwise, I don't suspect a coil since this would require multiple coils to be acting up.  (Not impossible, but not so likely.)
The thing is that the sound of the engine doesn't suggest "random" misfires.  It sounds quite regular, even though the gas mileage I'm getting suggests I'm running on only four of my six cylinders.
Please help.
David 1999 Saturn SL1
Code P0300 Random Cylinder Misfires, also shows a code related to cam position sensor.
Car was running very smoothly, then parked it for 1-2 months. Upon startup it ran VERY rough. Changed plugs, no improvement. Plan to change ignition wires.
Any other suggestions??

Posted by on

  • 3 more comments 
  • Anonymous Apr 17, 2009

    what would cause s 1998 jeep grand cherokee to pop and crack threw the carb and have no power when in drive but runs good when idleing

  • Anonymous Mar 13, 2014

    diagnosed as coil pack on a 6 cylinder when we pulled the plugs number one was oil soaked on the spark plug

  • Anonymous Mar 23, 2014

    Misfiring on cylinders 2 4 6

  • Anonymous Mar 23, 2014

    Vehicle shuts off traction control and shows to service stab-ability track and when hooked to a computer to find out the codes show miss firing on cylinders 2 4 6

  • Anonymous Mar 23, 2014

    I have a 2007 Saturn outlook XR all wheel drive and it starts running rough the traction control shuts off automatically and show to service the traction control and stability track and just here a day or so when you try to start it after this it's like the starter is staying engaged when hocked up on a computer to find out what the problem is it shows miss firing on cylinders 2 4 6



2 Answers

  • Level 3:

    An expert who has achieved level 3 by getting 1000 points

    Top Expert:

    An expert who has finished #1 on the weekly Top 10 Fixya Experts Leaderboard.


    An expert that got 20 achievements.


    An expert that got 10 achievements.

  • Saturn Master
  • 85,216 Answers

The cam sensor code is the part to concentrate on, also check the timing belt for excess play causing the camshaft to whip, this will cause a random miss.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008

  • Level 2:

    An expert who has achieved level 2 by getting 100 points


    An expert that got 5 achievements.


    An expert who has written 50 answers of more than 400 characters.


    An expert whose answer got voted for 20 times.

  • Expert
  • 110 Answers

Get a Haynes manual for your vehicle and use the troubleshooting guide there.  about $20 from amazon, auto parts store or  This WILL save you time and shortcut this and any future diagnosis. Haynes IMHO are top notch and I like them better than some factory service manuals that fgo for $100 and more.

David, 99 Saturn,  Cam position sensor codes seem to indicate a engine timing (not spark, but crankshaft/camshaft sync).  Old timing belts or worn tensioners can cause belts to jump a tooth or two which can have a pretty dramatic effect.  The belt could also be old/dryrot and have lost a tooth or two causing it to jump.  If any of these are the case, or if the timing belt interval is near,  replace timing belt, tensioner, idler roller if present and water pump.  FYI, quality OEM ignition wires shold last at least 10 years.  If they are really bad, you can open the engine compartment on a dark night and you will see sparks arcing between them and/or something metal nearby.  We all replace wires when we are not sure what the problem is, and regardless of what anyone tells you, it only rarely solves anything unless the car is more than 10 years old. 

good luck.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008


3 Suggested Answers


6ya staff

  • 2 Answers


Hi there,
Save hours of searching online or wasting money on unnecessary repairs by talking to a 6YA Expert who can help you resolve this issue over the phone in a minute or two.

Best thing about this new service is that you are never placed on hold and get to talk to real repairmen in the US.

Here's a link to this great service

Good luck!

Posted on Jan 02, 2017


SOURCE: Random Cylinder Misfire

Im having the same problem with a 96 buick century. I wondering if its the coil packs. The plugs and wires have 8000miles of use. So i think it shouldnt be them. But same symptoms, engine code P0300.

Posted on Aug 12, 2008


  • 1 Answer

SOURCE: Random Cylinder Misfire

The problem is the ignition control module such is under the coil packs. It seems to be an internal problem in the design. I have seen it many times and if you don't belive as many will not. So disconnect the modules electrical connector and just let it sit for two to three days. After that clean ir replace your sparkplugs, they will be fails up dew to it running lean and rich. Plug it in. Plug it in and wala its fixed $ but only for a week or two then back to the same thing so in short change the ignition module and save time and money, and don't forget to thank your friendly neighbor hood mexican mechanic.

Posted on Sep 10, 2011

Add Your Answer

Uploading: 0%


Complete. Click "Add" to insert your video. Add



Related Questions:

1 Answer

Engine service soon light is on


Jan 26, 2010 | 2001 Buick LeSabre

1 Answer

Blue smoke but no lights on the problem

blue smoke on startup is generally from worn valve guides or bad stem seals on same (not really terrible as long as it stays the same) It will run rough for a minute 'till the oil in the cylinders is cleared out. Service engine light is pretty much on its own timer and does not mean anything but it's there to annoy you into going to the dealer. If O2 sensor was bad, it would eventually put the red check engine light on.

May 30, 2009 | 2000 Buick LeSabre

1 Answer

Service engine light is on in my 2004 Buick LaSabre

the service engine soon light means a fault has occurred in the engine or emission system's electronic controls, it has nothing to do with any service you did in most cases, there are over 150 problems that turn the light on, to find out what the problem may be go to any Kragen Auto or Autozone parts store and ask them to run a OBD 2 trouble code test, IT IS FREE. then post the code back here for us to look at, which is also FREE.

Apr 09, 2009 | 2004 Buick LeSabre

1 Answer

Should maint light blink when starting vehicle

your maint light is blinking because service is due soon ... it will stay on steadily when it needs it, its a reminder

Mar 20, 2009 | 2005 Honda CR-V

1 Answer

1999 buick lasabre hesitation while driving.

there are really only 2 things that cause this problem most of the time i have seen it, 1st a defective Mass Airflow Sensor, the second is low fuel pressure from a failing pump or obstructed fuel filter do u have a check/service engine soon light on at any time? have u had the system tested for trouble code's? Go to any Kragen or Autozone and ask for a OBD 2 trouble code test, it is free, record any code's that show and post them back here on this same thread.

Mar 16, 2009 | 1999 Buick LeSabre

3 Answers

Service engine soon light stays on

Many people never think about or ask about their exhaust sytems causing problems..a bad catalytic convertor can cacuse exactly what you're talking about..

A very simple check to see if that's your rpoblem

Dec 19, 2008 | 2000 Buick LeSabre

Not finding what you are looking for?
Cars & Trucks Logo

Related Topics:

2,831 people viewed this question

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Saturn Experts


Level 3 Expert

85216 Answers

Jonah Oneal

Level 3 Expert

14092 Answers

Colin Stickland
Colin Stickland

Level 3 Expert

22485 Answers

Are you a Saturn Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions

Manuals & User Guides