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Mikel
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PostSubject: Starting problem - UPDATE   Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:35 pm

Hello,
This is kinda embarrassing - This morning I went to start my '97 Riviera and the engine slowly turned over a couple of times and then stopped. I figured the battery was low, so I gave it a jump. Same thing.

I assumed the battery wasn't holding a charge, so I got a new battery. Some thing. I got a new starter (despite the old one being fairly recent and having worked flawlessly until the day before). Same thing.

Battery connections are clean and tight. Positive cable looks fine. Grounds are clean and tight. What am I missing?? Tomorrow I'll be throwing a cable from the battery to the starter to see if the cable is bad. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.


Last edited by Mikel on Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jack the R
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:09 pm

Fuel filter? Not likely but I would have guessed battery if you hadn't already ruled it out.

Could mice have nested in your air box?
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Mikel
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:10 pm

Jack the R wrote:
Fuel filter? Not likely but I would have guessed battery if you hadn't already ruled it out.

Could mice have nested in your air box?

Engine won't crank or will crank veeeeeeeeeeeery slowly for a short time. Thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:33 pm

you may have a problem with power to the starter - could actually be a *bad ground* - check the grounding post just fore of the passenger side motor mount on the front frame rail. Don't just look at it, take it apart and clean it. Odds are if you've never done it. it will break -- don't wig out just use a (stainless or brass) bolt instead.

Albertj




Last edited by albertj on Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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99Rivman
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:15 am

What about water leaking into the cylinders? Doesn't that cause a problem with the engine turning over if there has been enough leaking into the cylinders? I had heard that if it does leak enough it can seem like the engine is locked up? May not be it but something to think about?
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:40 am

99Rivman (Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:15 pm) wrote:
What about water leaking into the cylinders? Doesn't that cause a problem with the engine turning over if there has been enough leaking into the cylinders? I had heard that if it does leak enough it can seem like the engine is locked up? May not be it but something to think about?


I think if you put the accel all the way to the floor for a few seconds, that will clear out any fluids in the cylinders before starting it. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I read it in the Riviera guide, please correct me if Im wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:47 am

Take Albertj's advice on this one......
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:17 pm

Pull the Spark Plugs, then try cranking it over and see what comes out the holes, if anything.

If the cylinders have coolant in them you will liquid lock the engine and possibly bend the rods, if you don't pull the plugs and relieve the pressure.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:32 am

Rickw wrote:
Pull the Spark Plugs, then try cranking it over and see what comes out the holes, if anything.

If the cylinders have coolant in them you will liquid lock the engine and possibly bend the rods, if you don't pull the plugs and relieve the pressure.


This is a good suggestion too.

Albertj
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Mikel
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:32 am

Thank you all. I'm leaving for vacation today... Will check those things you suggest after I come back in two weeks. Merry Christmas to all!
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:10 am

Northeast wrote:
99Rivman (Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:15 pm) wrote:
What about water leaking into the cylinders? Doesn't that cause a problem with the engine turning over if there has been enough leaking into the cylinders? I had heard that if it does leak enough it can seem like the engine is locked up? May not be it but something to think about?


I think if you put the accel all the way to the floor for a few seconds, that will clear out any fluids in the cylinders before starting it. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I read it in the Riviera guide, please correct me if I'm wrong.

not exactly. On the Riv, accelerator to the floor gets the ECM to run the routine for clearing cylinders from too much fuel. (which is probably what you read in the guide). If I remember right "run the routine" means it opens the TB and cuts off fuel for a few pulses of the crank sensor and such. It does not relieve a hydrolocking condition caused by coolant leaking into the cylinders, and does not actually cause any fluid (fuel or whatever) to drain out.

The safe and right thing to do in this case is pull the plugs and crank the car to see if there is coolant coming out of a cylinder. If so problem would be a gasket (head, intake maniford, not sure which or other) or a cracked/porous block (have not seen this but heard of it). If no coolant or whatever is coming out of the cylinders then check the connections (power and ground) on the starter circuit. That includes the starter solenoid and the area where the starter is bolted to the engine. Reason I said look at the grounding bolt is that when this kind of problem has cropped up (for myself and others) it has very often been that bolt. I think they put it where it is because if the battery was under the hood (it's not) that would represent a bundle of wires on the negative battery post (the positive post is not far away, back on the shock tower) and it's easier to engineer wiring for one car starting with the diagrams for another similar car.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:21 am

albertj wrote:

not exactly. On the Riv, accelerator to the floor gets the ECM to run the routine for clearing cylinders from too much fuel. (which is probably what you read in the guide). If I remember right "run the routine" means it opens the TB and cuts off fuel for a few pulses of the crank sensor and such. It does not relieve a hydrolocking condition caused by coolant leaking into the cylinders, and does not actually cause any fluid (fuel or whatever) to drain out.

Yup, exactly. Good to know, thanks.

If you do pull the plugs and try to turn it over (if its hydrolocked) DONT have anyone looking directly at the engine, they might get sprayed with some compressed coolant! smile My motorcycle hydrolocked, and when I did this, it fired the water out of the plug hole with some crazy force!
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:33 pm

If it cranks that slowly, you might want to have the starter tested.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:50 pm

I pulled all six plugs and it has made no difference. Plugs look old but in good shape.

I put a breaker bar on the balancer bolt and the engine will turn backwards (CCW) fairly easily, but it will NOT turn forward (CW), as if it had a one way clutch. Again, this is with no plugs. The engine had been whining for a while and I assumed it was the A/C compressor. Could it be related? I am told it could be the timing chain jumping, but I drove the car home and shut it off normally, without any sign of trouble until I went to start it the following morning.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:53 pm

Well, CW & CCW are relative... From the engine's standpoint, forward is CCW.
Regardless, have you tried cranking the engine with the plugs out to see if any fluids shoot out of the holes?
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:57 pm

Eldo wrote:
Well, CW & CCW are relative... From the engine's standpoint, forward is CCW.
Regardless, have you tried cranking the engine with the plugs out to see if any fluids shoot out of the holes?

CW and CCW are looking at the balancer from the passenger side. Engine will not turn over or crank in that direction. Starter just stalls and given that with a 5 foot pipe I can't turn the engine over, I don't think it' s the starter's fault.

I guess the next thing is to pull the valve covers and see if the valves are opening and closing. Pity there is no distributor to check timing chain slack...
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:08 pm

Mikel wrote:
I pulled all six plugs and it has made no difference. Plugs look old but in good shape.

I put a breaker bar on the balancer bolt and the engine will turn backwards (CCW) fairly easily, but it will NOT turn forward (CW), as if it had a one way clutch. Again, this is with no plugs. The engine had been whining for a while and I assumed it was the A/C compressor. Could it be related? I am told it could be the timing chain jumping, but I drove the car home and shut it off normally, without any sign of trouble until I went to start it the following morning.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

The engine won't (well, should not) turn freely unless you pull out all the plugs due to compression in the cylinders. Since you removed the plugs, you know you have a crippled (if not seized) engine.

Depending on the degree of mechanical work you are willing to do, you need to remove/rebuild or replace the engine. Luckily the 3800 engine is a pushrod engine and not so bad to rebuild. If it was in one of the old RWD GM cars you might well have been able to do the rebuild with engine in the car. On these I don't know.

Absent other information my guess is your least expensive option is to find a salvage yard in your area that will put a used engine in for you. The N/A engine is actually very common; the SC engine not as common but far from rare. Next least expense might be rebuilding yourself or putting in a rebuilt engine. Maybe some others will chime in with other ideas...


Albertj


Last edited by albertj on Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:50 pm

On the one hand, innocently turning off the key is exactly when timing chains do slip. On the other hand, the Series II has a good chain, steel gears, and a spring-loaded tensioner. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone on here have to replace their timing chain unless they were modding/upgrading. How many miles?

Also, the engine is going to turn the hardest when the valve timing is correct - as it goes off kilter you lose compression and the engine turns easier. I just witnessed this yesterday in a friend's Toyota with a bad timing belt. Turn the key and it just sounds like an electric chainsaw: Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr, with no humpity-humpity from the compression...

I understand your "one-way-clutch" simile, and it's a head-scratcher. If the motor was seized, why not in both directions? A snapped connecting rod? scratch Even with the whining you mentioned, something as wild as a torque converter gone south would still turn with the car in Park.

Perhaps at this point you should use a piece of vacuum line as a straw, and see if you can blow bubbles in any of the cylinders.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:17 am

It has 160K miles

Before I condemn the engine, I"m going to pull the valve covers and see if the valve train is moving. I'm also going to pull the timing cover, which is hopefully not a difficult job. I replaced the CPS sensor a few months ago, so hopefully it shouldn't be that much extra effort. I have a compression tester, so I can use the adapter to blow air into the cylinders and see if I got bent valves. I only paid $1400 for the car, so I will not be swapping engines if it's something terminal. I would love to find another Riviera of the same vintage, but there is a 1996 Roadmaster with the LT-1 on the paper for $1000...
Thank you all.
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Mikel
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:42 am

Well, looks like I got lucky! The clutch for the A/C compressor is frozen and won't turn at all. It was keeping the engine from turning over. The compressor itself does turn.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:24 pm

Congratulations!

I guess this means the "Pulley Rule" applies across the board: When they start making noise, change 'em! lol

Still weird though, isn't it - the one-way freeze...
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:46 pm

Eldo wrote:

Still weird though, isn't it - the one-way freeze...

It's one of those things that make sense after the fact. Since the spring loaded tensioner is on one side, the belt will slip in that direction by compressing the tensioner and tense itself on the other.
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:15 pm

Mikel wrote:
Eldo wrote:

Still weird though, isn't it - the one-way freeze...

It's one of those things that make sense after the fact. Since the spring loaded tensioner is on one side, the belt will slip in that direction by compressing the tensioner and tense itself on the other.

Ahhh... A case of bad lighting hiding the answer. freak
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PostSubject: Re: Starting problem - UPDATE   Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:17 pm

Mikel wrote:
Well, looks like I got lucky! The clutch for the A/C compressor is frozen and won't turn at all. It was keeping the engine from turning over. The compressor itself does turn.

I am SO glad for you it's not the engine. And this is "one for the books" so to speak, to remember to check the engine *Accessories* in the case fo seizure of an otherwise well maintained L67.

Albertj

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