Strange problem I need help on (hard starting and engine dying) - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Strange problem I need help on (hard starting and engine dying)

Hello. I have been soaking up information on this board for some time now but haven't been able to find a solution to the problem I am faced with now. I am hoping someone here could help shine some light on this. Here is the scenario:

I left work the other night (3 nights ago) and pulled into a gas station for a coke and when I tried to leave, the engine wouldn't quite start. I struggled with it for a solid 7 minutes or so before it started. I noticed then that I was in the red mark for fuel and so I put in 1/4 tank. Again it took me another 7 minutes or so to get it started again. On the drive home, she died 3 more times.... this time while it was running (I literally coased into side streets to spend another set of time trying to get it started) .

The next morning it started right up for my short commute to the post office to check the mail but struggled again to start in the parking lot on the way home. She has died while driving a few more times since all this started happening 3 days ago.

I replaced the fuel filter, spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor yesterday ... but nothing has eliminated this happening. It still doesn't want to start. Can anyone help me? I'm getting desparate.


edit: spelling
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 02:16 AM
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First off make sure you don't have any fuel leaks "I have a VERY small leak and i have to crank it for 10 or so seconds before it builds up pressure to start", then check and see if your getting fuel, just get a fuel pressure guage and hook it up. If i remember right it should be like 32lbs "I may be wrong though" with the key on/engine off. Please anyone correct me if i'm wrong.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 03:41 AM
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though a leak could cause that, a faulty fuel pressure regulator or fuel pump could also. I would get a fuel pressure gauge like zoideraserb suggested. You can get testing gauges that screw straight onto the schrader valve. It should be between 28-32lbs. But if its dying from lack of pressure it will be way below that.

If the pressure is low, try revving the engine by twisting the throttle linkage under the hood. The fuel pressure should rise with the RPM. If the gauge isnt reading correctly I'd start by replacing the fuel pressure regulator. It's a lot easier to get to than the fuel pump is, so thats why Id replace that first before the fuel pump. If that doesnt fix it i might replace the pump then also.

But check over the car for any gas leaks first, you dont want to spend money on new parts you dont need.


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 04:45 AM
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as i don't know a lot about these cars with the coil packs and such, i can help but wonder if it is only hard to start when it is warmed up. When it is cold, starts right up?
On a older car that would be a bad coil.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 09:37 AM
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I'm going to guess that it's the fuel pump.

Driving around on "empty" does not do the fuel pump any good at all. The fuel pump uses the fuel in the tank to keep itself cool. Try not to run the car with that little gas too often.


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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 09:55 AM
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When it is warm and not starting, does it smell like it's flooded? If so, it could easily be the ECT sensor. If it were bad, it could be telling the engine that it is still cold and overly enriching the engine. (I had an 85 TC that did that!)

Just my .02, but really don’t know a lot about the 3.8L.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 10:26 AM
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The next time it dies and/or will not start cycle the fuel pump a few times by turning the ignition on (but not trying to start the car) and off. This will help build fuel pressure (if that is your problem) and help to isolate what is wrong.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-14-2005, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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one other thing that I failed to mention last night while typing this:

when I do get it started and rev up to the 3500 - 4000 RPM range then let it back off, if I rev it again as its going down but before it gets to idle it will die. No sputter or anything. The Tach simply drops to zero as it starts to rev back up. this may be why it died 3 times while driving it home that first night. after the 3rd time I was probably a little more careful without knowing it.

The fuel pump starts up when the key is set to the 'on' position (not trying to start the car). I can hear it for a moment when I put my ear to the fuel port and a friend turns the key. I was told this doen't necessarily exclude the idea of a faulty fuel pump, but only confirms that its getting power.

She doesn't seem to care if its cold or has been running for a while. the problems starting are the same in either case.

Thank you so much for the input. I don't know if these additional symptoms change the diagnosis.

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