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Discussion Starter #1
Car won't start... I'll keep this up to date as I progress towards getting it fixed and I'm hoping people can give some advise where I miss steps.

Scenario:
A few days ago, the car started... ran fine in the fast idle and as soon as it started trying to wind down, it started stumbling... i kicked the peddle a little and didn't get response quite right but it eventually kicked up a bit: I held the revs near 1200 or so for a few and it seemed fine. When I let off, it stumbled and stalled.

That was the last I got out of it and it won't start at all now... it cranks fine and then right as the engine goes to turn over, it drops out with a bit of burp. It sounds like the initial gasp of air is drawn through but then it dies right after that. If I stay on the key after that, the starter sounds like it's grinding (though, not as loud as it would if the engine is on and you slap the starter)

So, I look to Mike Diaz's "crank but no start" advise.

I've made sure she had plenty of fuel in it. It was a little low but I would have been surprised if this was it... but I added 2 or 3 gallons from a portable gas can I borrowed from my old man anyway.

Checked the fuel pump fuse under the dash: looks fine.

CEL comes on when key turned to ACC as expected.

Bought a spark plug tester, removed the coil pack from the cylinder on the passenger side bank, closest to the radiator (anyone have a link to what the cylinder numbers are: i couldn't find 'em), plugged a plug tester into the coil pack, strapped the tester's ground to the point on the body where the passenger valve cover grounds and had my girl crank it: it arced fine.

Removed the plug from that cylinder... it came out dry (woohoo - though I do need to replace the valve cover gasket and spark plug gaskets at some point) but it does look a little darker than it should... if anything, it looks like it's running a bit rich: certainly smelled like fuel or oil but as it was dry, I figured it was fuel.

Air filter should be fine: it's a Weapon-R conical filter that hasn't really been on long enough to be too gunked up.

I looked for a fuel pressure gauge today but had no success finding one at my local carquest or advance auto. I'm hoping my mechanic will have one that he's willing to lend out for an hour or two so I can check the fuel system: if not, I'm gonna have to tow it over there (he's like 1 mile from me so it should be free thanks to AAA).

Anyway... right now, I'm guessing the starter's dead: perhaps a bad spot on it? I probably won't bother trying to fix the starter myself: the fuel pump or fuel filter I'd be ok to do but it's parked on a public street where I really don't feel comfortable lifting it and having it towed to my mechanic would be cheaper than having it towed to my parents and then trying to do the work myself.

Thoughts?
 

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When you turn the ignition key and the CEL comes on, then off, did you hear the main relay/fuel pump relay both click? Have you had someone listen at
the gas tank area for a "whirl" sound as the fuel pump pressurizes? Matt's
link describes these items on the Mike Diaz thread. The cool weather makes
the main relay less suspect than if it were Summer time. Electric part of the ignitition switch is another possibility. The engine might catch, then cut off when the key is released. If holding the key just shy of the cranking position, but not released keeps the engine going. that is suggestive of the electric part of the ignition switch. I have had both the main relay and the switch
fail at different times.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
When you turn the ignition key and the CEL comes on, then off, did you hear the main relay/fuel pump relay both click? Have you had someone listen at
the gas tank area for a "whirl" sound as the fuel pump pressurizes? Matt's
link describes these items on the Mike Diaz thread. The cool weather makes
the main relay less suspect than if it were Summer time. Electric part of the ignitition switch is another possibility. The engine might catch, then cut off when the key is released. If holding the key just shy of the cranking position, but not released keeps the engine going. that is suggestive of the electric part of the ignition switch. I have had both the main relay and the switch
fail at different times.
I do hear the main relay clicking away so I figured it was good. I was under the impression from Mike Diaz's instructions that if I had spark, it wasn't the main relay or the ignition switch... I did however, only test one coil pack so maybe there's a problem on one of the other cylinders that's keeping it from turning over?

I've tried to fiddle with how I release the key once the engine turns over but it's hard to defeat the instinct to release the key as soon as the engine kicks up so I'm not sure if I was doing it right: it didn't seem like it was making any difference though.
 

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smell gas at all?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Anywhere near the car? No.

When I pulled the plug on the cylinder that I tested the coil pack on, I thought I did smell gas, yes. I don't know if it was gas or something else... but the plug was dry so I'm assuming it's not oil.
 

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Lone Star Legends
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My car does that on occasion as well...and I KNOW that my timing is a bit off (about 1 belt tooth on the passenger side). Have you also noticed a bit of dropoff in low end power? Powerband being slightly higher than normal (4-5K instead of 3K)? "Missing" in the lower rpm range? That may be the cause. I hope not...

Also, on that valve cover gasket thing...the driver's side gasket is a BITCH to replace. Be sure to seal the gasket to the valve cover and try not to pry it out when you replace the valve cover. My hands STILL hurt from that crap!!!
 

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my coupe had no power down low and was a bitch to start sometimes and I couldn't figure out why. one day it stumbled and died then would not restart, after going through the checklist I gave up and towed it to the mechanic. Turns out the timing belt was a bit loose and slipped on one side. I had it re-tensioned for $180 and a big lecture about not re-tensioning belts from the mechanic. I wasn't about to pay for a full t-belt job, not until a couple months latter when it slipped again. Luckily my valves were spared. I hope yours is a simpler problem, but if your belt is old you might want to check the timing marks.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This timing belt should not have trouble: it's ~30k miles old and was put in <2 years ago. I've had no power delivery problems: it's run fine from 180k to the 212k it sits at right now. I had the tensioner replaced as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quick update:

Talked to my mechanic while looking to borrow his fuel pressure gauge and he said not to bother with the gauge: if it's spraying fuel all over the place with that banjo bolt loose, odds are really low it's a fuel issue. Sure enough, it does exactly that as soon as loosen the banjo bolt...

At a bit of a loss, I pulled the front-most plug on the other bank from the one I checked before and realized the valve cover gaskets on the driver's side of the car are in sad shape apparently.

Bought 6 new plugs... more to come after install!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
She runs again!

I put the plugs in... they seemed to help a bit, the car was gasping along but still didn't sound right and wouldn't stay on after I released the key.

I called my mechanic and he said if I dropped him my address, he'd swing by and give it a look. I figured in the meantime, I ought to replace the fuel filter (knowing I was due for it: didn't remember when it was done last) and check the coil packs, I had my sis bring my multimeter from my parent's place and I went to the store to pickup 2 new fuel filters (Dad's needs one too).

After replacing the fuel filter, if I stayed on the ignition switch, she'd crank and chug and ALMOST come to life: it sounded like she was running about 80% but wouldn't stay live when I released the key. At this point, I was wondering if maybe she was only running on 5 cylinders and thought that I'd check the coil packs. Tested them and every single one reported a resistance of 1.2ohm (it's about 80 in the sun here right now so I figured the heat was to blame for the ever so slightly high resistance).

Now what?

It dawned on my mechanic told me to try cranking it over with the petal floored. Though I'd tried it before without success, I figured I'd give it another go with new plugs and a clean fuel filter.

She roared to life her usual self but at about 2000rpms!

I stepped out to have a look and listen around the engine and looked behind me... I'd shot a HUGE cloud of oil out of the back of the car :giggle:

I let the car run while I reinstalled my mls bar and factory strut tower bars and all seems well: she even made it to the store and back.

I'll be driving a lot this week I suspect, I've got 2 gallons of 87 in there out of my dad's gas can that I've gotta dilute with some 93 and burn out of the bitch.

New valve cover gaskets are definitely going on order as well... :yes:

That said... she's running again :woot:
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Ugh... it's baaaaaack.... :(

Wednesday night I ran the car for a couple of very short periods: first to move it up the street under a street lamp so I could do some work on it, then again while I was testing the iPod wiring I'd just build in. I let it idle for a little bit each time just to make sure I didn't start it up only to shut it back off again and it did fine. The few times I've started it since then, it's cranked a bit more than usual but fired up and trucked along fine.

I went to fire the car up yesterday morning: it started alright, idled for a few seconds (like 15 or 20), then sputtered a bit - i kicked at the gas peddle which kept it up ~1500rpm and then even that gave up and the car died. When I tried to restart it, I got the same lame, missfiring, rough start while the car acted like it was ignoring the throttle peddle that I did last time this happened and I eventually had to shut it off (note: it didn't stall out, I killed it with the key.)

The car's gauge says it's got about 1/8 tank left in it. It's not like I leave it sitting at 1/8 tank weekly but I have done it in the past and done so without difficulty until now at 212k miles on the vehicle. Unless the fuel level gauge is busted, I think I have fuel left: my mileage on the last tank wasn't great but I'd be shocked if I only got 232miles out of a full fill up. I estimate there's something on the order of 2 or 3 gallons left in the tank.

This morning it was a bit brisk out so I figured fuel evaporation wouldn't be a problem. Turned the key with a little throttle application and the car sprung to life (bumping 3k rpm no less :hide: didn't mean to do that) and it ran a bit... I kept my foot a little into it to try to keep idle at about 1500rpm. Then throttle response went weird on me (engine wasn't really listening to the peddle) and the car went down again.

I cranked again and the car came up for a second or two after I turned the key and then died out.

Final attempt left the car choking and sputtering like it had yesterday... clearly not really running.

Given my success replacing the fuel filter the last time this happened, I'm inclined think that the car isn't getting adequate fuel pressure and to look to my fuel pump but the fact that that car comes up and will even sustain idle for a little as it's warming up makes me second-guess that. It's like something in the warm up process takes it out and it dies.

I think I'll pop the main relay out this weekend and poke at it: I have no idea what sort of condition it's in (it might even be original.) I'm confident enough with a soldering iron that resoldering shouldn't be too big a deal so if it looks like the relay needs it, I'll give it a go.

What else should I be looking into here?
 

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Discussion Starter #13

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Hey Antik, For sure re-solder your Main Relay, no harm done, and its really easy. If anything its preventative maintenance.
 

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Resoldered mine a few days ago. Summer heat was getting me to the point where it wouldn't start for a few minutes if I shut it down after driving it for a little while. All fixed.

I agree something sounds fishy with the fuelpump/FPR. Only issues I've had was a misfire while idling caused by a faulty coil pack and some VSS weirdness. Wish I could help more.

-Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey Antik, For sure re-solder your Main Relay, no harm done, and its really easy. If anything its preventative maintenance.
Yeah... that's sort of what I figure. The trick will be not botching the soldering job :giggle:

Resoldered mine a few days ago. Summer heat was getting me to the point where it wouldn't start for a few minutes if I shut it down after driving it for a little while. All fixed.

I agree something sounds fishy with the fuelpump/FPR. Only issues I've had was a misfire while idling caused by a faulty coil pack and some VSS weirdness. Wish I could help more.

-Ed
I suspect my fuel pump before the FPR. When I was last diagnosing the no start on the car, I removed the out pipe from the fuel filter and hit the primer. I got a little 4-6" high fountain of fuel. When I told my mechanic this, he said "that's not right... there's 38lbs of pressure behind that: it should be flying all over the place." Given that the FPR is past the filter in the fuel delivery system and the filter is fresh now, I believe the next logical step backwards in the system is the fuel pump.

I figured I try the main relay bit as well because it's cheaper than sourcing a new fuel pump and it's something I have yet to do and can do this weekend while my parts store is closed. Who knows... maybe the bad solder joints are just causing the fuel pump to get inadequate voltage and not spray enough fuel? Unlikely I suppose... but maybe possible. I also suspect the main relay because I can hear the pump priming in the back of the car when I listen for it... so as far as I know, it's at least trying to do it's thing.

We'll know more this evening: I plan on soldering the relay this afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well... I resoldered the main relay using this stuff:
RadioShack.com - Cables, Parts & Connectors: Tools & soldering equipment: Soldering tools & supplies: Rosin-Core Solder (1.5 Oz.)

The PCB took a little heat so some of the silicon discolored but the questionable spots look much better and I did everything short of the plug connectors (they all looked very solid so I figured why mess with it.)

Carried the relay outside, strapped it in, turned the key... 2 cranks and the car was up! "Yes!!!" I thought...

The car started idling back down... got about 1500 then died.

Shit.

The resolder seemed to help: it did better this time. I was able to restart it but it died back out again. It won't stay on though. It dies too long after releasing the key to be the ignition switch.

Strangely, throttle application makes it worse.

I might try the main relay from Dad's car if he'll let me. Maybe I botched the soldering job?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Bump.

What do you think? Failed solder job or something else is wrong?
 

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Scenario:

A few days ago, the car started... ran fine in the fast idle and as soon as it started trying to wind down, it started stumbling... i kicked the peddle a little and didn't get response quite right but it eventually kicked up a bit: I held the revs near 1200 or so for a few and it seemed fine. When I let off, it stumbled and stalled.

That was the last I got out of it and it won't start at all now... it cranks fine and then right as the engine goes to turn over, it drops out with a bit of burp. It sounds like the initial gasp of air is drawn through but then it dies right after that. If I stay on the key after that, the starter sounds like it's grinding (though, not as loud as it would if the engine is on and you slap the starter).

Yesterday:

The resolder seemed to help: it did better this time. I was able to restart it but it died back out again. It won't stay on though. It dies too long after releasing the key to be the ignition switch.

Strangely, throttle application makes it worse.

From what I revieved your above posts: I suspected two things might happen during these Scenario:

1. ICV

2. Electrical Ignition Switch Module
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
ptan: I did wonder about the ICV. I've never touched it on that car so it's surely discusting. It strikes me as a little strange though because if I attempt to restart the car after it has stalled out, it half starts: it cranks over but isn't firing on all cylinders. The motor rumbles and shakes the car but clearly is not completely up and running.

I'm question the idea that it's the ignition switch because the car stays on despite having released the key from the start position and holding the key in the start position doesn't buy me any greater success.

I still question fuel delivery as it seem that when I apply throttle, the engine is quicker to stumble out. I figured it might have inadequate fuel supply, lean out, and stall?

I certainly appreciate the input: please correct me where my logic is faulty!
 
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