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Tom, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 25920
Experience:  ASE Certified Master Technician
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Metro: 1.3L Suzuki engine, automatic trans, starts..dies

Customer Question

HELP with 1998 Geo Metro, 1.3L Suzuki engine, automatic trans, that has a starting problem. Once the car starts, it runs like a watch and never dies. Shut it off, and it restarts erratically.

The problem then is a pre-start condition that is eliminated when the motor starts. The read outs pointed to the computer and it was replaced, which did seem to improve it, but did not cure it and now has no codes displayed.

Cam and crank sensors were replaced to no avail. Ignition coils test good. The problem was then thought to be in the ignition switch, replaced to no avail.

During the non-start condition the spark and injector pulse are both erratic. Any ideas out there?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
What's the code number stored for the engine light?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
There is no engine lite and no codes stored once we replaced the computer.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
Has the mass air flow sensor been checked ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes it has.

The fuel pump was also replaced and fuel pressure is normal. Eventually the car starts and hot or cold, it runs perfectly until it is shut off again at which time it is very difficult to restart.

The problem is a perstart condition that disapears after the motor starts, but the mechanics (good experienced guys) just can't find the issue.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
What's fuel pressure when it does not start ? Was the mass air flow sensor replaced or the fuel pressure regulator ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Fuel pressure regulator was replaced.Fuel pressure is well within specs during the non start.

Map sensor was replaced and I don't believe this motor (1998 1.3 litre) has a mass air flow sensor.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
Ok this has to be an of ignition module failure then was this replaced these are known to cause this issue. .
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
There are two ignition modules that provide spark to two plugs each. Both seem to test okay. Do these modules control injector pulse? It seems that injector pulse and spark are both lost erradically during the non start issue.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
Yes they control injector pulse I bet one is shorting out causing this entire issue . I would start here next . Hoped this helped. Positive feedback and bonuses greatly appreciated.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I will go down and check this out with the mechanics and let you know what has been done in that area. Thanks and I'll get back as soon as I have an answer from them.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
No problem I'm here if you need me .
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
We are waiting for ingition coils to arrive. The only question that the mechanics have, is if one or both coils are bad (grounded for shorted) why does the engine run perfectly after starting? It never dies once it starts.

Thanks, Mike
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
All depends if they heat up and the circuit board shorts out when this happens .
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Heating does not seem to be the issue, the car can be difficult to start even when cold...but again, once it starts you can drive it all day if you don't shut it off. If the circuit board were shorting out, wouldn't that create an issue while driving?
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
It depends when the signal fails it can happen at any time these are common to fail . Let me know what happens when there installed.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Sorry to be so long getting back, but had to wait on the coils. They replaced both coils this morning and it made no difference at all.

The mechanics have been through this thing from head to toe and the problem remains the same.

Do you have any further ideas?
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
I would start checking the engine harness and grounds at this point could be a loose ground or damaged harness.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The mechanics have tested every ground and gone over the harness several times.

The real deal killer here is that once it problem until we shut it off.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Just a thought, is there any possiblity of another timing issue such as the timing belt itself? Could that interupt both fuel and spark?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Here is some information that may be helpful. The spark and injector pulse are lost during cranking, but return to normal when the motor starts. Sometimes just the pulse, sometimes just the spark, sometimes both.

If we bump the starter over and over, it will eventually start and run fine. If you continue to crank it during the non starting phase, it won't start and just continues to crank over.

We replaced the ignition and even left the key in the on position and jumped the starter to no avail. We have put our own grounds on motor to frame, on the computer and everywhere else that a ground is required. Makes no difference.

So, something is going on while the starter is cranking and clears once the motor starts .
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
Is the crank shaft moving back and fourth? Is the reluctor ring possibly damaged ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Crank, relutor ring and crank sensor check out fine. The sensor was replaced earlier on in this saga.

The fact that bumping the starter several times results in a start has to be an important clue. Continual cranking does not result in a start. If the engine does not start immediately, all that can be done is to continue to crank in short spurts until it starts.

Whatever the issue, we lose spark, injector or both with no rhyme or reason. Of course, when it does start, everything functions properly.

As you may have guessed, replacing so many parts and the associated labor has become quite expensive and now exceeds the value of the car.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
What's the compression readings when it does not start ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Not sure, but what are you suspecting?
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
If you could just post that for me . I want to look into something .
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm not sure how to take a compression reading with all the plugs in while cranking, please advise.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
Need to remove the plugs and use a compression gauge.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Compression is fine all the way around, don't see how this could possibly interuppt spark and injector pulse and neither did any of the mechanics.
Expert:  Tom replied 5 years ago.
No compression causes no spark I would hope they know that. This had to be an engine harness issue the. They need to check that next. Hoped this helped. Positive feedback and bonuses greatly appreciated.

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