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1991 Buick: the car dies, and will not start again until after sitting

Customer Question

1991 Buick. After running for a while, the car dies, and will not start again until after sitting for a while. The car has actually cut off while driving. The problem started this week. The starter is turning the engine over, but in the mode where it won't start NOTHING happens, not even a little 'chug'. Once it starts back up again, it seems fine.

Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 Check for spark,fuel pressure(with a gauge) and for injector pulse(with a noid light)during the failure and then we can lead you to the proper diagnosis.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Davo/diablo666's Post: I'm sorry, but I am not a mechanic. What is a noid light? How and where do I check for spark? I do know that the 'crank' sensor fell off about a year ago, and I have been running with the check engine light on for all this time with no problems(I had the car looked at when the check engine light came on.

Thank you for your help.

Rich
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 Go to any auto parts store and buy a noid light they will know what you need or at least they should.While there buy a spark tester to place in the spark plug wire after removing it from the plug.The noid light plugs into an injector connector.Some are easy to access some are not.You should be able to rent a pressure gauge to screw on the fuel rail fitting.You have not stated model or engine size so far.Please do so.When you have what you need to test the car let us know. 
Expert:  Tech501 replied 11 years ago.

 Here's what they look like.



Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Good morning,


I have located a noid light and spark tester at a local auto parts store. I'll see if I can buy a fuel pressure gage.

When I am testing with the light, If one injector plug is working, do I keep trying to see if all are working, or if one works, they probably all work? Is there any special way to remove the fuel injector plugs.. are they easy to break?

I have b-flat 1991 Le Sabre with a 3800 engine.

I really appreciate your time.

Rich
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 You can check 2 injectors but if you crank it and the light doesn't flash you are missing injector pulse.Check for spark also at the time of the failure.I need to know which one is missing.If you have both at the time of failure then you will need a fuel pressure gauge.So don't buy one just yet.There is a metal retainer holding the injector connector on simply push it towards the injector and pull the connector away from the injector.It may take several tries to get it off so be patient.It helps to push down on the connector before pushing in on the retainer.  
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
OK I'm back.

Made the car fail just by running it in the driveway for a while.

I let it sit for about 10 minutes or so and it running again.

The noid light test failed. Lights before the car cut off. No light during failure. Lights again after sitting. Tried on two injectors. Same results.

I really couln't ssee a spark before the failure. The spark plug tester they sold me is just a plastic body with an adjustable gap setting.

When the car runs, I see a yellow spark every now and then, but mostly it is very, very faint.

Even though I don't se the spark, I beleive it is there. I sprayed starting fluid into the throttle body during a second failure and the engine tried to turn over. Doesn't that mean I have spark?

Also rechecked the noid light during the second failure, and once again: no light.

Once again I appreciate your time and advice.

Rich


It definitely happens when the car heats up.
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.

Ok so we don't get burned on this check for power at the injector terminal with a test light hooked to battery negative with the key on during the failure.Also see if the check engine light comes on during the failure with the key on.We are checking for igntion switch power in this test.Make sure if you have spark or not.Its very important to know for sure.If you have an adjustable spark tester set it at 20 and have someone crank the engine while you watch.All testing must be done during the failure for accurate results.

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
I just had a visit from a guy I met this morning at the auto parts store. He brought a better tester, and there was no spark at the time of failure.

I don't reall understand the check for power. Do you unhook the injector, and just check one of the two terminals? Can I do this with a voltmeter?

The guy that came by observed the failure and think it may be in the ignition coil module where the plug wires hook up to. Possible?

Thank you.
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 If you have no spark and no injector pulse I would try a crank sensor it is the most likely cause.  
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Hello again,

Well, now the news.

By the way, the guy that came over checked the fuel pressure, and it was AOK.

I cannot get the car to fail to get the measurements you requested.

I went ahead and changed the ignition-coil module from a 1988 Buick my son wrecked about 6 months ago. The car cut off once, and displayed some of the similar characteristics of failure, but they were short and sweet. I drove it around the neighborhood, and although it 'stuttered' a couple of times, all went well.

The coil-module from my car was weeping green gook from it. It even drippped onto a radiator pipe below it.

One thing to note, the weather changed a bit, and the temperatures went down about 10 degrees. It sure seems like temperature plays a part in this.

Could the crank sensor be affected by temperature? I don't get it.

I will try to make the car fail tomorrow, then I'll be in touch....either way.

Thank you so much for your help. I hope you have a great Memorial Day.



Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 Yes crank sensors can fail due to temperature.If it quits again now you know where to go in the repair.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Good morning,

Is it feasible for me to change the crank sensor? I am willing to try, but have no idea where it would be located. Is this something I can do in the driveway and in a reasonable amount of time?

About the measurements you requested. Can I make them with a voltmeter, or do I need that lignt you were speaking of to check the ignition switch.

Is the ignition switch located in the steering column?

Also, is there a possiblility that the problem could be some sort of relay that is overheating? Would it make sense to try some freeze spray on these items?

As always, I really appreciate your time.

Rich
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 I don't think you need to do that test now that you know you are losing spark and injector pulse.The crank sensor is behind the harmonic balancer(bottom engine pulley)and requires a special puller to remove.The bolt that holds the pulley on is very tight and an impact gun is the easiest way to remove it.With the proper tools you can change it in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.It does need to be adjusted on most older Gm cars so I would advise you letting a shop handle it for you.You may be able to rent a tool for the adjustment at a local parts store I'm not sure on that though.If this answer satisfies your question please click on my accept button.I will be available to answer any follow up questions.Just don't close the question if you need more help.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Hello Davo/diablo666;

Well it cut off again. My normal mechanic happens to be open today, and will try to fit me in. The labor alone is about $200, but after looking at the job, I don't think I can do it, certainly not alone, and not by work time tomorrow. I sure hope this works!!

You must be wondering why I would spend this much time on such and old car... two kids in college and bad credit from medical issues.

I did accept your message, and I learned a lot about troubleshooting some things.

Thank you again for your help.

Rich
Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
 I think $200 for labor is a little steep but it is a holiday.The question has not shown as being accepted.Did you click on accept on one of my posts?
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Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Hello again,

I understand that I accepted your reply, and I really appreciate all of your help.

As I said, I took my car into the mechanic, and although they are a local outfit, they have always done me right.

Gary, the owner, ran codes on his computer, and told me the code pointed to the camshaft sensor rather than the crankshaft sensor. He looked and said theat a magnetic button is missing from the cam shaft. He also told me that the two work in conjunction with each other, and that is the source of the problem.

He doesen't know if the magnetic button can be replaced, or if the whole camshaft has to be replaced.

On top of that, the 'easy' replacement would take about 6 hours just to get to the area of the buttom. If a button can't be replace on the camshaft, then a whole new on would be required. Either way, the costs are totally prohibited.

I am totally lost. Any advice that can salvage my vehicle, or am I doomed?

If you would, please give me one last piece of advice.

Thank you.

Rich
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Hello,

I don't know if you got the last thing I sent. The message came up that the issue was close.

I took the car into the shop and they ran the computer. The diagnosis was for a camshaft sensor. The owner said that the button on the camshaft is missing and it is supposed to work in conjunction with the crankshaft sensor.

The cost just to replace the button is around $600 due to the labor to get to the thing.

Should I contact the Buick dealer to see if this is correct? This never came up in our diagnoses.

As always, I appreciate your time.

Thanks,

Rich

Expert:  Davo replied 11 years ago.
The cam position sensor is not making the car stall.The car will run without the magnet being present in the cam gear.The crank sensor is what causes a no spark condition.You can get the magnet seperately from the cam gear.In fact thats the only way you can get it is separate.Replacing the magnet will not make the car quit stalling.As a side note the guy may treat you well but if he doesn't know that the magnet is available separately he has never done one especially if he thinks it may be part of the camshaft.He certainly doesn't warrant $100 an hour in my opinion.

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