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View Full Version : Car Problems, need some help brainstorming


shunut
10-01-2009, 02:06 PM
My little sister has a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, 4 cylinder. Every morning when she goes out to start it it just chugs and chugs and chugs but takes forever to start. It does start, eventually. At first we though maybe the spark plugs were bad and it just wasn't sparking, so I changed the spark plugs, as well as the oil and air filter. Didn't help the problem. Then we thought maybe the fuel pick up was in a bad place and since our driveway is at an incline we had her start parking on the street where it was level, no help. I've checked all the fuses and connections. Once the car does start once, it is fine the rest of the day. It only has the problem when it sits for an extended period of time, like overnight. I have some ideas but wanted to see whatever one else thinks and see if anybody is thinking the same as I am.

05XXTRAA
10-01-2009, 03:07 PM
Did you change the wires when you changed the plugs

shunut
10-01-2009, 03:30 PM
There are no plug wires. There is this "unit" attached to the engine cover that houses the coil and connects to the plugs.

buffblackbird2002
10-01-2009, 03:48 PM
try replacing the fuel filter as well as those units. i cant think of what they are called right now

slim and shady
10-01-2009, 03:53 PM
Yeah I would look at the fuel filter and make sure there isnt a inline filter stashed in there someplace. Could be the lift pump to.

RSX99
10-01-2009, 03:57 PM
Agreed on the fuel filter or fuel pump.

slim and shady
10-01-2009, 04:01 PM
I dont think its the main fuel pump or it would have trouble running and ideling. The lift pump is in the tank and helps get the fuel up when you go to start the vehical. because it has trouble when sitting I would suspect the lift pump isnt doing its part, thats why you have to crank the engine over and over to get the fuel to suck up.

ferret15
10-01-2009, 05:21 PM
Diagnosis: very small hairline cracks in your head. This would leak coolant slowly after sitting overnight and then causing a rough start in the morning untill car warms up and the crack ends up sealing after metal expands.

Problems 1: coolant washes cylinder walls and you may damage walls or rings. If bad enough you will mix coolant into the oil and well thats too far along to car at this point.:cool:

Problem 2: low coolant and/or air pockets in system. Air goes to highest point in head and leads to further destruction of engine.;)

Problem 3: Burning of coolant harms your Catalytic converter iirc and eventually heats up the cat to the point the metals molt together:D

How to confirm the problem?
*Pull spark plugs out and check to see if there wet. (probably not)
*Check all cylinders for any fluid by any method you deem acceptable. Paper towels, screw driver, whatever.


Is it the problem?
Yes- hooray, oh **** big $$ right there
NO- try something else

police_brutality
10-01-2009, 05:24 PM
starter or starter noid?

ferret15
10-01-2009, 05:28 PM
starter or starter noid?

what about the rest of the day when it works fine?

slim and shady
10-01-2009, 09:05 PM
Diagnosis: very small hairline cracks in your head. This would leak coolant slowly after sitting overnight and then causing a rough start in the morning untill car warms up and the crack ends up sealing after metal expands.

Problems 1: coolant washes cylinder walls and you may damage walls or rings. If bad enough you will mix coolant into the oil and well thats too far along to car at this point.:cool:

Problem 2: low coolant and/or air pockets in system. Air goes to highest point in head and leads to further destruction of engine.;)

Problem 3: Burning of coolant harms your Catalytic converter iirc and eventually heats up the cat to the point the metals molt together:D

How to confirm the problem?
*Pull spark plugs out and check to see if there wet. (probably not)
*Check all cylinders for any fluid by any method you deem acceptable. Paper towels, screw driver, whatever.


Is it the problem?
Yes- hooray, oh **** big $$ right there
NO- try something else

You would see coolant in the oil (it would be grey) or oil in the coolent more then likly the other way around. I cant remember if they changed the oil in the first post when the changed the air filter ect. but im assuming they check the oil once in a wial anyway and would have noticed its grey.

shunut
10-01-2009, 10:09 PM
I don't think its the starter. I have replaced many staters and it doesn't sound anything like it did on any of the other starters I replaced.

I just changed the oil and there was no water/coolant in it. I had a friend who had a 4 cyl Malibu, I'm guessing a similar engine to whats in my sisters car, and had a cracked head. The oil looked like a chocolate milkshake.

I got some other suggests on some things to check. I've been thinking along the lines of fuel pump or filter, maybe the coil. Hopefully I can find time this weekend to check it out.

SundragonPPS
10-01-2009, 11:08 PM
If the auto starts slow at the beginning of the day but works well the rest of the day it could be an electrical drain problem. The battery is being drained by an electrical wiring or component short during the night. Once you start it the alternator recharges the battery while it's running. At night it's just being drained period. Points sticking on an ignition module are a common drain or cause of temp failure.

Try this experiment to see if it is what I mentioned:

When you're done using the vehicle for the day, remove the positive battery cable for the night. Return and tighten the cable back on in the morning just before starting it. If it works OK rather than runs rough then you know it is a night time drain prob. If it is a wiring short it will cost you tons to have a specialist track it down. He may not even be able pinpoint it.

Are either of the battery cable ends cracked or just not tightrened down? Have you removed all possible solid acids from the cables and posts? Making sure you don't get any into the battery, mix a solution of baking soda and water then clean the posts and cable ends with it. You can use a toothbrush if you don't have a wire brush. Once it stops foaming all the solid acids are neutralized. Wash that off with water afterwards. It will neutralize any acids on them. To prevent acid buildup you can coat the battery posts with white lithium grease.

Have you checked to see if all the internal battery wells are filled? You can use sulfuric acid or distilled water only to top them off.

ferret15
10-02-2009, 05:44 AM
I just changed the oil and there was no water/coolant in it. I had a friend who had a 4 cyl Malibu, I'm guessing a similar engine to whats in my sisters car, and had a cracked head. The oil looked like a chocolate milkshake.




Well i had this happen to me on my 96 escort, I had 2 cracks in between the valve seats. NEITHER one had cracked in the right spot for a lovely oil/coolant milkshake. Both Caused this exact problem your describing. One morning just check all cylinders for coolant and then check sunny's suggestion.

shunut
10-02-2009, 05:55 AM
Car has a brand new battery and if you connect jumper cables to another car it makes no difference, so I don't think the battery is drained.

This morning I went out and listened to the engine just before she started it you could here the fuel pump prime, but I don't think it sounded right, it gurgled.

Critical
10-02-2009, 01:01 PM
try replacing the fuel filter as well as those units. i cant think of what they are called right now

They're called coil packs.

ferret15
10-02-2009, 08:51 PM
I believe Distributor less ignition would qualify as well.
They're called coil packs.

although some manufactures have been know to sneak in there distributor on mid 90's cars.

Paintball Freak
10-02-2009, 09:01 PM
Simple... Give 'er a good bang... ; ) This philosophy works in many situations... Heh Heh

slim and shady
10-03-2009, 10:14 AM
Car has a brand new battery and if you connect jumper cables to another car it makes no difference, so I don't think the battery is drained.

This morning I went out and listened to the engine just before she started it you could here the fuel pump prime, but I don't think it sounded right, it gurgled.



I think you lift pump could be going, thats how it starts then progresses.

But for the sake of argument have you taken it to a shop for a diagnostic check? if it is a problem like the lift pump it will leave an error code. Here in canada it costs about 40$ to have a mechanic plug it in. takes about 10 min and is well worth it. A friend of mine bought one and I use it all the time, worth there weight in gold.

Im just mentioning this in hopes of saving you some cash. I could say its the lift pump, you put that in and its not the issue your out the price of the parts (assuming you install yourself). If you run the test your chances of diagnosing the problem properly goes up alot. Just a thought.

shunut
10-03-2009, 11:07 AM
It has been plugged into a computer and there were no errors or misfires.

ferret15
10-03-2009, 02:00 PM
:cool:

Verify
Car runs rough on start up after sitting for a period of time.
Doesn't do this after warmed up and Only after sitting every time.
Identify
AIR-Intake and Exhaust are functioning. no codes from any faulty senors, ect.

FUEL- Fuel in tank, Pump maintaining pressure, filter is new/newish. injectors working?

SPARK-Spark plugs, wire, coil pack, battery ect all seem to be in working order

hmm well what causes an incorrect fuel/air ratio that occurs only on a cold start up?
Well your computer is in closed loop and certain senors are left on or off and could cause this to occur?

hey lets brainstrom



Analyze
Isolate
Fix
Test

shunut
10-04-2009, 07:44 AM
The car never runs rough, ever. Once you get it started it runs perfectly fine. Getting it started is the problem. I'm going to start with the fuel filter. The car has 150,000 miles on it and it is suggested that the fuel filter be changed every 30,000. So if we stick to the scheduled maintenance it would seem that it is time to change it. Since we've only had the car for a couple month we have no clue what the previous owners did maintenance wise, they may have never changed it. I really think there is a problem with the fuel delivery and since the fuel filter is only $10, starting there is best.

STRIKEFIRST
10-07-2009, 12:42 PM
Fuel filter, coil pack,

shunut
10-07-2009, 03:11 PM
Wasn't the fuel filter, I replaced that and it still does the same thing. I think our next step is the fuel pump, but that'll have to wait until I get out of the hospital.

Ace24
10-08-2009, 05:12 PM
Even if it is a new battery, it can still get drained from faulty wires or there being exposed wire touching the body somewhere in the system and draining the battery overnight. I would do as Sundragon suggested and try that, even though it's a new battery.

Describe the chug. Is it a slow one, sounding like something is under powered? Does the starter sound like it has full power?

I hate to say it, but this is exactly why I stay away from Pontiac's. ESPECIALLY Gland pee's and Grand god-am-nits. I've never met anyone who has had one that didn't have phantom issues that cost much denero to fix. They're like a lonely dog... thriving on attention.

shunut
10-08-2009, 05:17 PM
IT IS NOT THE BATTERY!!!! The battery is absolutely fine. I'm not a moron, actually when it comes to cars I know quite a bit.