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Hammer Time
Hammer Time, L1 Master Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 4942
Experience:  ASE Mastertech with Adv level Engine performance cert.
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1997 cutlass: The service engine soon light..starts fine..misfiring

Customer Question

The service engine soon light is flashing non stop. I think my 1997 cutlass is out of time? It starts fine and even sounds good when it is just sitting, but once you put it in gear it is very sluggish and sounds like it is misfiring, low on power ect. I changed the plugs and this didn't seem to help. It is drivable but you can tell that the power is not there? i want to adjust the timing a little to be sure that is what it is.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Hammer Time replied 11 years ago.

The reason the check engine light is flashing is to tell you that you are dumping enough raw fuel into the calalytic converter to cause major damage to it.


There is no time adjustment on those vehicles and that wouldn't do anything for the misfire anyway. Your first step is to have the codes read and they will give you vital info for diagnosing the problem. Don't continue to drive it like this or you will be looking at a $1500 converter repair in addition to the original problem.


If you have an AutoZone in your area, they will read the codes for free.

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Hammer Time's Post: This is what i have done so far, replaced the plugs, and all 3 coils, still not right?? Took it to Autozone code reads misfire # XXXXX cylinder? So i replace the plug wires no help. Now i really don't know where to go from here? The car runs but has a hesitaion taking off? Looking at the coil for the number 3 cylinder and thinking that if 3 is misfiring wouldn't 6 also be misfiring as it runs off same coil? Is there anything that would cause this coil not to fire but the other two to work fine?
Expert:  Hammer Time replied 11 years ago.
You won't always get a miss on both cylinders because if the first plug arcs to ground, the spark will still get to the second one. Also, at the time #6 is firing, #3 is not up on compression so it may fire under those circumstances. What can happen though is your problem may be in #6 all along and the computer is being fooled into thinking it's #3. Since you alrealy have new plugs, use them tell help tell the story. Inspect all the plugs again and see what those 2 cylinders look like. You should be able to tell if one of them is getting wet or even if it looks too lean. If it helps, swap them with other cylinders and see what they do then.

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