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Birdman
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PostSubject: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:54 am

Hi everyone!
I am a new member with a question about my 97 Regal. It's supercharged 3.8 model.
Last weekend my son took the car on a trip a couple of hundred miles north and the car ran fine during the drive up. After stopping and getting some food the car would not start. He had it towed to a mechanic ( I use that word losely with this guy) He changed plugs, wires cleaned the injectors and chrarged him $500 (some was for diagnostics) He told my son the car was good to go and he started home. After 100 miles or so it shut off. He had it towed to a lot and we went up and towed it home this past weekend. When we got to where the car was, it started right up and we drove it on the trailer. It also started when we got it home and sat and ran for about an hour without incident. Later in the day I let it run again and it finally died and would not start. I checked to see if there was fuel in the rail and there was but I have no idea if it was ebough pressure top make it run. I also put some cool water over the coil packs and the car started back up and ran without a problem again. Does this sound like a something a fuel pump would do or maybe the controller under the coil packs? I am looking for some ideas before I start replacing parts. The car has 160K on it but runs great until this incident
Thanks in advance for the advice!
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:06 am

When the car's running, how is the idle? Does it idle smoothly or is it hunting and hiccupping? Also check for any interference between the spark plug wires and engine sensors. After a shop fixed my Riv's water pump, they rerouted the wires incorrectly and my car thought the crank, cam, and both rear wheel hub sensors were shot and it would only idle for a minute or two before being unable to start for a few minutes. Sounds stupid but check the wire routing.


Last edited by IBx1 on Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:06 am

Sometimes the ICM or the Crank Sensor will cause this concern. The sensors get hot and temporarily go inop. I'm leaning more towards the Crank Sensor. Without a scan tool or seeing the car though, I cannot properly diagnose it. However, the Crank Sensor is more-than-usually the culprit when the problem you are having arises. An intermittent CKP concern will not turn the SES light on because the PCM has to see a failure on 2 consecutive ignition cycles. Being that the car doesn't restart, it can't run a diagnostic to turn the SES light on (2nd failure). This is probably why the "mechanic" didn't find/fix the problem.

hi Welcome to the site!
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:10 am

I checked for codes with a scan tool and it had no stored codes. When the "mechanic: had it on his diagnostic machine he said there was nothing wrong with it. Is the crank sensor change hard? Is there any way to tell for sure thats what it is? I have mechanical abilities but don't want to get in over my head. The car did stumble once yesterday when it was running, but it continued to run without turning on the SES light. Is
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:16 am

Here's a thread here with a lot on it:

http://rivperformance.editboard.com/series-ii-engine-transmission-f4/p0336-crankshaft-position-sensor-t368.htm

Looks like most people go to shops to have it done. From scanning the first page, you have to pull the harmonic balancer to get to the sensor. Mine cost me the same as most it did for most other people, roughly $240, which isn't bad. I had to have mine replaced a few months after buying the Riv which is why I was suspicious that it would have gone bad again within one year.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:19 am

That's the thing, an intermittenet CKP concern will not throw a code, as explained above.
The best thing to do is get the car to no restart (with a scan tool installed), and check to see if it says CKP signal: Yes while cranking. This would tell you that the PCM has a CKP signal, and is more than likely not your problem.

I had a random stalling with no restart concern for about 3 weeks....couldn't figure it out. Ended up being my Ignition Switch.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:21 am

Id say fuel pump, fuel filter or quality of gas. Easy to check. Fuel rail should see about ~45-50psi. I saw a similar issue and it was poor fuel quality, specifically water in the gas


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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:22 am

I will try and get it to stall again tonight. Not sure if my scan tool will do what your saying but I guess there is one way to find out!
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:26 am

Or, check for spark when it won't restart. At least that will give you a baseline of what to look for. The CKP signal is "relayed" through the ICM to the PCM....meaning that it's not a direct line to the PCM.

I'd check for spark before you do anything fuel related.


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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:28 am

7901mark wrote:
Id say fuel pump, fuel filter or quality of gas. Easy to check. Fuel rail should see about ~45-50psi. I saw a similar issue and it was poor fuel quality, specifically water in the gas

that was my first concern. I checked the rail when it wouldnt start and it had gas in it (it shot out of the valve) and then started right back upDiagnosing these cars with all the sensors is sure alot more work than my old chevy pick up!
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:29 am

Fuel is not your problem. Check for spark first. The car would run like balls if you had bad fuel.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:29 am

Abaddon wrote:
Or, check for spark when it won't restart. At least that will give you a baseline of what to look for. The CKP signal is "relayed" through the ICM to the PCM....meaning that it's not a direct line to the PCM.

I'd check for spark before you do anything fuel related.
hate to look like an idiot but what are the ICM and the PCM?
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:32 am

IBx1 wrote:
Here's a thread here with a lot on it:

http://rivperformance.editboard.com/series-ii-engine-transmission-f4/p0336-crankshaft-position-sensor-t368.htm

Looks like most people go to shops to have it done. From scanning the first page, you have to pull the harmonic balancer to get to the sensor. Mine cost me the same as most it did for most other people, roughly $240, which isn't bad. I had to have mine replaced a few months after buying the Riv which is why I was suspicious that it would have gone bad again within one year.

DIfferent crank sensors are different quality and it's not unusual at all for the cheap ones to die in 1-2 years. Without any insisting on your part, most mechanics will put in the cheap ones. No kidding you really should get a top-shelf part (a Delphi or ACDelco) for this repair.

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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:33 am

Birdman wrote:
Abaddon wrote:
Or, check for spark when it won't restart. At least that will give you a baseline of what to look for. The CKP signal is "relayed" through the ICM to the PCM....meaning that it's not a direct line to the PCM.

I'd check for spark before you do anything fuel related.
hate to look like an idiot but what are the ICM and the PCM?

ICM = ignition control module = a relatively dumb computer under the coils

PCM = Powertrain COntrol Module = the computer that controls the engine and transmission, in the passenger compartment behind the glovebox. You have to take the glovebox out (MUCH easier than it sounds) to get at it.

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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:34 am

Birdman wrote:
Abaddon wrote:
Or, check for spark when it won't restart. At least that will give you a baseline of what to look for. The CKP signal is "relayed" through the ICM to the PCM....meaning that it's not a direct line to the PCM.

I'd check for spark before you do anything fuel related.
hate to look like an idiot but what are the ICM and the PCM?

The ICM is that module under the coils. The PCM is on the passenger side interior, under/behind the glove box. No need to be removing any of these just yet. Determine if we have spark or not first (when it happens) before we get into any of that.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:37 am

Abaddon wrote:
Birdman wrote:
Abaddon wrote:
Or, check for spark when it won't restart. At least that will give you a baseline of what to look for. The CKP signal is "relayed" through the ICM to the PCM....meaning that it's not a direct line to the PCM.

I'd check for spark before you do anything fuel related.
hate to look like an idiot but what are the ICM and the PCM?

The ICM is that module under the coils. The PCM is on the passenger side interior, under/behind the glove box. No need to be removing any of these just yet. Determine if we have spark or not first (when it happens) before we get into any of that.

any advice on how to check for spark without getting lit up?
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:46 am

Remove a plug wire from the easiest plug to access. If you have a spare spark plug laying around, plug it in to the plug wire and ground it to a safe place on the engine. It should spark while cranking. Or, get a cheap DIS spark tester from your local auto parts store.
Like this.....
http://www.amazon.com/Lisle-20610-Inline-Spark-Tester/dp/B0002STSC6
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:47 am

I usually unplug the wire(s) and place it next to a metal surface (NOT near anything with gas residue still on it). Have someone crank the engine and watch for spark. Dont touch the wires while cranking the engine...or you can spray starter fluid into the intake. If it runs, its not a spark issue. If you have not done anything like this before, please get someone that has done these tests to help. ..it can be dangerous
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:49 am

I have checked spark like this before, just not with the newer cars. Didnt want to create a new problem out of stupidity is all. Hopefully the car will stall tonight and I can check it. If it has spark I may try a little starting fluid and see what happens
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:51 am

Birdman wrote:
If it has spark I may try a little starting fluid and see what happens


it's very flammable...I don't mean to imply you don't know this...but just in case smile
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:56 am

LOL POOF! flame

Thing is, if you have spark, I'm inclined to say that the car will start. I'm really thinking here that you're losing the CKP signal for some reason, or losing power to the ICM. Anywho, let us know what you do or don't find.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:59 am

Abaddon wrote:
LOL POOF! flame

Thing is, if you have spark, I'm inclined to say that the car will start. I'm really thinking here that you're losing the CKP signal for some reason, or losing power to the ICM. Anywho, let us know what you do or don't find.

when it died yesterday it started back up so quickly I didnt have time to check alot of things. Spark will be my first check if it does it again tonight.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:06 pm

Birdman wrote:
Hi everyone!
I am a new member with a question about my 97 Regal. It's supercharged 3.8 model.
Last weekend my son took the car on a trip a couple of hundred miles north and the car ran fine during the drive up. After stopping and getting some food the car would not start. He had it towed to a mechanic ( I use that word losely with this guy) He changed plugs, wires cleaned the injectors and chrarged him $500 (some was for diagnostics) He told my son the car was good to go and he started home. After 100 miles or so it shut off. He had it towed to a lot and we went up and towed it home this past weekend. When we got to where the car was, it started right up and we drove it on the trailer. It also started when we got it home and sat and ran for about an hour without incident. Later in the day I let it run again and it finally died and would not start.

This is the classic failure pattern for a bad crank sensor. When they fail they usually go "bad warm.' They will run when cold and when they warm up they will quit. I explained this is a different post but I think the moderator moved it, I can't find it.

Birdman wrote:
I checked to see if there was fuel in the rail and there was but I have no idea if it was ebough pressure top make it run.

If there is fuel pressure in the rail when the car is not on/running then unless there is water in the fuel it's not likely your problem. A bad fuel pump won't hold much pressure when off for beans.

Birdman wrote:
I also put some cool water over the coil packs and the car started back up and ran without a problem again. Does this sound like a something a fuel pump would do or maybe the controller under the coil packs?

I'm not your boss but if I was I'd tell you don't ever ever do this on a Riv or the coil pack and ICM are coming out of your pay when (not if) you kill them...

Birdman wrote:
I am looking for some ideas before I start replacing parts. The car has 160K on it but runs great until this incident.
Thanks in advance for the advice!

this failure pattern given your mileage matches either a bad crank sensor or a bad ignition switch. The crank sensor will probably test good. At this mileage (160K) frankly I would just replace the thing. It take a long time and cause untold frustration if you try to wait until it fails bad enough to be bad cold. Some will say that it (the CKP sensor) will never test bad when cold.

The ignition switch can be checked somewhat with a Tech2 (GM Vetronix) scanner. You can also get the LED telltales used by alarm installers and connect them to the injectors - one telltale to an injector and one to the power line to the ICM if I remember right (I only did this once & am not at the car to jog my memory). The idea is to run the car until it quits and then without touching ANYTHING go look at the telltales. Point is if your ignition switch is bad when the car quits the ICM power telltale will be off. If it is a bad ICM it will be on. Reason to have it on an injector is that after the stall, then have a 2nd person crank the stalled car. If the injector light does not blink, bad ICM or PCM (I forget which).

Ignition switch failure is a bad, bad intermittent to have because it will not set a code either. BUT - Be aware that like most cars with Saginaw columns the ignition switch is separate from the ignition lock and replaceable as such (after a lot of disassembly). You can do it in the driveway on a sunny, mild Saturday, there is a write up on this site about it. While you are in there, if your tilt wheel is loose then the screws for the tilt mechanism should be tightened too and maybe secured with a little Loctite Blue if you are a steering colum wizard and have the time on your hands.

The bigger problem I see here, based on your responses to the posts, is that the Regal and other GM cars of the late 90s have a very different starting and control strategy than you are used to seeing.

For instance you have already ascertained that you have fuel and fuel pressure. Why, then, are you getting out the starting fluid? Probably you're not testing for fuel pressure, you're not testing injector flow, and you're not using a scanner (no a code reader, a scanner) to see what the sensors are saying while you are cranking and comparing what they are saying with what they are supposed to say during the startup sequence.

Another problem here is the nature of the crank sensor failure itself. A mechanic is unlikely to be able to duplicate the problem and so is unlikely to replace the part base on his/her own diagnosis unless they 'd seen several such failures before. I actually had to *teach* my dealer mechanic what to look for, and show (with a heat gun and voltmeter) how the CKP fails bad warm (you connect the meter leads to it and blow heat on it and after a while the coil inside opens and resistance goes to infinity --- it is absolutely NOT supposed to do that in engine compartment heat). So unless you replace the CKP yourself (take off the passenger side wheel and inner fender, then pull the harmonic balancer, then unscrew/replace the CKP) you will have to insist that the mechanic do so and tell him/her it's OK if it does not fix the problem--if it is failing bad warm. The great thing is if you can indeed get it to fail warm, a Tech2 scanner will show that there is no signal from it. If your mechanic is not using a scanner that reads the CKP and other sensors (if they are just using a code reader) you are hosed so to speak.

All that said - keep at it you'll be happy when you get it running and you indeed will get it running. We won't leave you hanging in the wind. Looking at who's responded on this thread you've got people totalling probably 50 or more total years of experience on these cars helping you out. If I was you I'd re-read the thread and try to do diagnosis in the order suggested.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:26 pm

I ran the car for about 2 hours tonight (in the driveway) with no issues. It got to operating temp and stayed there the whole time. I was hoping it would fail so I would have more information to pass on but no luck. I am really wondering what is going on now.
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PostSubject: Re: 97 Rivi stalling   Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:41 pm

I want to say that a bad crankshaft sensor would have killed the car during those 2 hours, but it's not that cut and dry with this part. At least it idles well so it's probably not an IAC valve or something like that.
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