My son's 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS (3.0 V6) automatic has a cranks/no start condition - it has 120K miles. He told me the car cut out on him - he restarted, thought might be low on gas, and added some fuel at the gas station. It restarted, and then put it in drive - the car then stalled and could not be restarted. We had it towed to the house and I checked everything I could. Battery good, timing belt not broken, static timing good, fuel pressure at fuel rails, spark at the front three spark plugs, compression 185 psi +/- on the front three cylinders. I have a code scanner/monitor - no codes/check engine light off. Timing during cranking is 5 degrees BTDC. With continued cranking the spark plugs were damp with fuel - but I know they were sparking. Car does not even cough and I'm stumped. Only test that was slightly low was secondary coil 9.04 kOhms vice factory spec of 9.4 to 12.8 kOhms. The rotor and distributor cap were very worn - I replaced them, but still cranks/no start Before I tow to dealer - I wondered if you might have a suggestion - could it be the immobilizer or failure of the transponder in the key? He only has one key. The immobilizer code in the glovebox is MR583146 and S/N A27CF54B - VIN is 4A3AC74H33E073758
Country: United StatesMake: MitsubishiModel: Eclipse GTSYear: 2003Engine: 3.0
Posted in my question
Hi,If you are getting soaked plugs, then the immobilizer is a non-issue.... the immobilizer simply grounds the injectors to prevent them from operating, which they clearly are if you are flooding the plugs.Please try these things for me:Disconnect MAF sensor and attempt to start the car (this will set a code to clear later)Use a pair of pliers and clamp off the fuel rail return line and attempt to start the carLet me know if either has any effect.
I tried the MAF disconnect and cranked for about 10 seconds previously- it did not set a code and did not start. I just did it again - same result.
I had removed the FPR and tested with compressed air. It only released flow when I had 15 inches of vacuum and 42 psi - assume this is good? I just did the pinch test on the return line. no start.
Thanks.Do you have the ability to check the fuel pressure? The connection at the fuel rail is proprietary and not likely you will have access to anything that will work there, however the fuel pump connection is rather standard japanese quick-connect.
I had checked before - didn't have the proprietary fitting, but was able to rig up something not connected to the fuel rail, but close ended at the fuel supply side - I got 70+ PSI - so I assumed FP was working. I also tried pulling the #2 fuel pump relay and spraying starting fluid into the throttle body - still no start.
Wow that's quite high, however with no start from ether we can walk away from that one right now.You are certain you are getting good spark from the accessible plugs?
There is a spark - I tested first with an inline checker - a light installed in line with the cable and the spark plug. It did light in rythmn with the cranking. As a double check, I followed the shop manual check of actually grounding the plug connected to the plug wire. I guess it's subjective if I was getting a "good" spark - but it was sparking. Any way to quantify? I recognize that a weak spark would not combust under compression.
Thanks.Consistency is key. If the spark is barely noticeable and inconsistent there is more worry. It sounds like it is fairly consistent though. The only slight concern would be if the plugs have been considerably fouled from flooding this will hinder ignition.As you probably know, there are three things we need to get the engine running; compression, fuel, correctly timed ignition.Using ether as a fuel substitute with no improvement we can assume fuel is not related. With the high compression we certainly want to believe that is not an issue either.The ignition is system has several tells that indicate proper operation... namely, if the crank sensor is not working, there will be no spark or fuel pulse; if the crank reluctor is out of time, it should throw a cam/crank correlation error, same as if the belt timing were off.So we are in a bit of a corner here as far as normal failures go, as everything seems to be checking out adequately. While there can be external factors to send the computer into a fit, they are not too common.Just to be clear, the intake hose between the throttle body and the MAF has remained installed at all times during testing, is that correct?I know the compression tested out OK, but have you checked the belt timing, at least on the easy-access bank?
The intake hose was in place for the tests you asked me to perform - MAF disconnect and fuel return line pinch. Most of the time it has been off - on or off it has not seemed to make a difference. At the moment, everything is intalled as per factory - same as when the problem first occurred.
Yes - I removed the cover on the front side - the belt looks good/tight on the cam pulley. The timing mark on the cam pulley lined up with the notch, with the crank pulley/timing marker (0 degrees), and the rotor to the #1 distributor cap post. I can't get to the #1 cylinder to check TDC as you know without removing the intake. I do think this is the original belt - my son bought it with less than 60K and has not replaced - due for it's second replacement at 120K - but I don't think thats the smoking gun - is it?
Thanks.Make sure the intake hose remains installed any time you try to start the vehicle. While seemingly insignificant, it will result in a no start condition or at least a barely running condition if it is left off. This is because the MAF reads the vacuum pulled from the engine while cranking/running and is used for fuel control.... detached = no air drawn across the MAF = very messed up fueling.The timing belt being at 120k and not replaced, I have a hard time believing the problem is anything but that... however if we have proper alignment and proper rotation (belt isn't stripped out), it shouldn't be an issue.... I am assuming the belt does turn when cranking of course.Those alignment checks are fine, no issue there as far as alignment goes... the forward cam notch being aligned, the crank aligned to 0 and the rear cam aligned to #1 are all sufficient.... the only question I have on that is this:With the rotor aligned to #1 on the distributor cap, is it aligned to the #1 or the post that leads to #1?On this cap the plug wire connections do not all directly correspond to the contacts behind them. This is so that the wires can be organized split by bank and not be a spaghetti mess. Now honestly I can not remember which contacts are re-routed, but several are. You can look at the back side of your old cap to see if #1 is actually #1 underneath or if it is re-routed.SO... if that was clear, my question is: Is the rotor pointing to the #1 contact?
You are fast!
Good point about the intake tube - but everything is together now.
I know what you are referring to on the distributor cap. On most caps I've seen the post is "straight through." On this cap it is offset considerably. When I first lined up the timing pointer, it was not aligned with the exterior post - but after examining the cap, it was in fact lined up with the interior contact of the #1 plug wire - so it it "re-routed" as you described...
Incidently - I had also checked the fuses as well - all were good that I could find related to powertrain.
Hi,So just so I am clear... was it routed incorrectly and now re-routed? I am not clear on what transpired there.
I was simply describing the configuration of the cap as being unusual (confirming what you said). No changes in wire routing. Rotor lined up with #1 contact inside the cap when checking static timing. I replaced the cap and rotor - they were very worn - but no change in position.
Oh okay great.This should be a non issue considering the lack of fire with ether, but can you check one of the fuel injectors and confirm you are getting a pulse while cranking... the 12V is constant with the key on, the ground is pulsed.
I made a noid light with a 12v LED and 1K Ohm resistor and checked two of the injectors and it was flashing during cranking.
I would have to go back and check for 12v constant with key-on tomorrow.
I also checked the resistance of the injectors - all 14-14.5 Ohms - within the 13-16 Ohm range - so electrically they are good
That is more than sufficient... if you are getting light across the injectors when cranking, then you know the 12V is good (it doesn't change between key on and cranking). It should not have been an issue anyway since ether did not help, I am just trying to widdle this down some more.I am quite impressed with this one to say the least.We have no fuse failures,we have spark, we have fuel and we have compression/verified timing.... there really isn't too much to work with here. The ether not helping is the real kicker, as the only really reasonable explanations left would be bad gas, etc... which of course the ether rules out.If the throttle is fully opened while cranking, do you get any popping or any activity at all from the engine?
On a whim here, do you have a scan tool that reads live data?
I agree - very frustrating.
I had tried gas pedal to the floor while cranking (flooded condition) - could not determine any difference.
My scanner is an older Auto X-ray unit that has a monitor and freeze frame capture mode for limited parameters as I noted in the post. What ones would you be interested in seeing? I recall engine speed RPM, coolant temperature, timing advance, fuel trim, thottle position, 02 sensor voltage, and a few others.
I thought about several things including:
Extreme fuel contamination causing multiple injectors to be stuck fully closed or fully open. My test was to pull the #2 Fuel Pump relay and spray the ether - can you confirm that pulling that relay would stop FP operation, or do I need to pull both 1 and 2?
Blown head gasket - both heads? allowing coolant to leak into most of the cylinders preventing combustion?
Marginal integrated distributor/coil/cam sensor assembly - insufficient spark voltage?
Huge vacuum leak?
Thanks.Sounds like you have already checked out some of my main interests... specifically the coolant temperature reading and MAF reading. Running low on options, I was curious if maybe the vehicle is just flooding like nobodies business.I would not be concerned with HG issues as you would likely have a serious compression loss which isn't apparent right now.Vacuum leak crossed my mind, which is why I asked about keeping the throttle wide open and it having any effect. The problem with it being a vacuum leak is there is nothing that could happen in an instant that would cause that large of a leak to prevent the engine from running or at least choking a bit.My thoughts were similar on cutting fuel... pulling one relay is sufficient, they are wired in series.I would pull one (make note of the location, they are often accidentally put back in the wrong spot after removal), then remove the three accessible plugs clean then with brake cleaner and a gentle wire brush, let them air out for a while and then reinstall them. Then try starting the car with ether.
Doug - I'm at work today - will attempt above when I get home. I'll read the parameters when cranking and record. I know that the coolant temp reading was = ambient, which was correct, can't recall the MAF.
What about the weak spark/defective distr/coil/cam sensor unit? Ever see that?
The front plugs are brand new - so I will remove and examine and blow with compressed air so I'm sure they are dry when installed.
Since you want me to keep the intake tube in place - where is best location to introduce ether?
Also think it is odd that the PCM is not throwing any codes - could the PCM be bad?
Thanks.As far as a bad cam sensor/distributor goes? I've seen that a grand total of zero times since I've been with Mitsubishi. I have seen our parts department order them once or twice for other shops, however they typically try to return them afterward.... they just don't really fail.Clean the plugs up and disconnect the fuel (pull a relay) and then try the ether, just in case it is flooding the engine out. When it is being attempted with ether you can have the intake hose off, as the ether is combustible enough that it won't really matter, plus the fuel supply is disconnected anyway. The intake hose needs to be attached any time you are trying to start the vehicle under it's own means however... if it is off at either end (any opening between the throttle and the MAF, including tears in the hose) it will prevent normal running.Again for the sake of cutting fuel pump power and using ether, it is not a concern in that specific circumstance.PCM is not a likely issue provided the Service Engine Soon light is coming on when you turn the key on and you are communicating with your scan tool (even if there are no codes). If the PCM was down, you wouldn't have spark or fuel pulse because the reference voltage to the crank sensor would be missing.
Thanks for the great info - only reason I thought about the dizzy is the poor condition of the rotor/cap/plugs - all were apparently original. The rotor was about as worn away as I've ever seen. That's why I was convinced that when I replaced the (3) plugs and rotor and cap that I would get it running - if poorly.
Thought that lack of maintenance may have overheated the components (increasing larger gap - cap to rotor) and caused some damage. As I noted before, the secondary coil resistance was slightly out of tolerance (9.04 K Ohms vice 9.4 to 12.8 K Ohms)
I did not perform the test in section 16-37 - coil power transistor continuity check. There was a warning about damaging the component while applying 1.5 volts (hard to believe 1.5 volts would damage anything) - would also have to get an analog Ohmmeter - don't have one anymore.
No problem... I wouldn't be too concerned over testing the distributor further. I know it sounds bad, but if you are getting spark it is probably OK, especially with no codes pending. If I had seen even a few cases of distributor failure I'd reconsider, they just don't typically go bad though.If we have fuel delivery and our belt timing is definitely dead on and our spark timing is correct (perhaps a check with a timing light on #4 would be in order.... though keep in mind the electronic advance), I can't see much else short of an over fueling issue perhaps, which we could try to rule out with the disabled fuel pump and running ether.I must say there aren't many things that make me scratch my head, but this is a strange one to say the least.
Here are the initial readings when cranking - air tube in place.
Throttle position - 0%
Coolant Temp - 73 degrees
Engine RPM = 249
Ignition timing - Adv 5.0 degrees
Intalke Air Temp - 82 degrees
Air Flow - 0.46 lb/min
Load Value 17.1%
After this test I pulled the three plugs. All three were wet with fuel. I aimed a flashlight down the spark plug tubes - got a reflection on the #4 - there was actually some standing fuel on top of the piston. I dried off all the plugs and blew compressed air in the cylinders. when I could no longer see standing fuel in #4 I reinstalled the plugs/wires. I pulled the FP relay #2 and removed the air tube. I opened the throttle body butterfly and sprayed ether. About the third attempt cranking and adding ether, the engine fired for a few revolutions. I sprayed a little more ether, and got some coughs, but never really ran. I pulled the #4 plug, and of course it was dry.
BTW just prior I was looking for vacuum leaks and pulled the PCV valve - it was stuck open/gummed up. Replaced the valve just prior to test above.
Thanks.That is a bit promising, we may be on to something with the flooding issue. Whether or not it is our primary issue remains to be seen, but getting it to fire a few times after airing it out certainly tells us something.I am more concerned about the standing fuel in the cylinder than anything. That is a lot of fuel dumping for that to occur. You might want to check the dipstick and make sure you don't have a gallon of fuel in there.If you have a straw for the ether can, try sneaking it past the intake hose so that the intake hose can be roughly installed and see if you get any better result that way.
The oil is surely fuel contaminated, but it is still oily feeling and smells like oil.
I really was not able to get any better results with the either- tried spraying in and quickly re-installing the tube - maybe I was spraying too much, but you could smell it blowing out the exhaust - not as much as a cough again.
I had picked up another FP regulator at the local pick-n-pull for a few bucks, it was opening a few psi earlier so I installed it - of course no difference, but worth a shot. Also blew compressed air through the return line and I could hear it in the tank, so the line is not blocked.
This car has the VIC - Variable intake control - not sure what that does - or if it could cause a problem.
Thanks.The VIC is just a second set of throttle plates in the intake on the GTS models. At rest these are closed (spring loaded closed, the motor has to operate to open them), so no risk of that affecting the situation any. FYI, don't try to remove the VIC motor, it is not meant to be removed and can be a bit of a pain reinstalling correctly.I know this should be a non-issue, but no risk of the plug wires being mixed up at all after cap replacement? This should be a non-issue as well, but just because I don't think I specifically asked: In addition to the timing belt being lined up right... it is rotating when the engine is cranked right?
OK - thanks for the info on the VIC.
I re-checked plug wires a few times. Both the replacement cap and the old wires are labled - 2-4-6 in the front and 1-3-5 in the back - firing order 123456.
Yes - the timing belt is rotating with the cam gear - belt is very tight on the gear.
The wires aren't installed in firing order though, right? They are installed by the numbered marks on the cap correct?
The numbers printed on the wires match the numbers engraved on the cap. I will certainly re-check later - but I was careful as I re-moved re-installed.
Okay fair enough.I'm just trying to think of anything simple that could over looked here..Again we have compression and belt timing, spark and manually supplied fuel.... it should run.If the wires are OK, lets get a timing light on #4 and see where the crank mark is showing up when cranking the engine and compare it to your advance reading on the scan tool.
I did check the wires to cap again this evening. All was correct.
Just for my own satisfaction, I rigged up a tester for the Coil Power Transistor Continuity Check - it passed.
Please clarify - I have always connected a timing light to the #1 wire, would the timing be the same as #4 in this application? Are we doing this because the #1 is difficult to access? My scan tool showed 5 degrees advance - is that what I'm looking for?
I'm getting ready to head out of town tomorrow and may not be able to check the timing tonight - I'll reply if I do - otherwise will have to postpone further diagnostics for a week.
Thanks.#1 and #4 fire at the same time in crank rotation, so you will get the same reading as on #1. The crank trigger has three blades, one for cylinders 1/4, one for 2/5 and one for 3/6.If you can get it on #1 that is fine, I just figured #4 would be infinitely easier.Yes we want to see what the advance looks like... anywhere from 0 to 20 would probably be acceptable considering we are only getting cranking speed. I am just curious if it is way out like the reluctor spun. This should cause a P0335/340, however if the engine never reaches near operating speed it may not be setting.I'm grasping real hard for something probable here, I don't want to give up on you.... I'm sure it is something typical that is being overlooked, I'm just having a hard time thinking of anything we are missing here.I am here more or less daily, so we can pick up whenever. The site may send you reminders (They may even look like they are from me), but you can just ignore them... if they aren't posted on this page like the post you are reading now, then they are automated. Just disregard them until you are ready to return.
I did get a chance to check a little while ago - the angle of the timing light is a little awkward to the crank pully and timing marker, but with the clamp on the #4 wire, it looked to be 3-4 degrees advanced (very close to the 5 degree tick mark).
I am racking my brain trying to identify something I overlooked. I still do not show any codes. The car is leaking oil from the cam covers and may be getting into the distibutor.
Of course I do not have access at the moment to the rear bank of cylinders - I suppose I could have 2 or 3 bad cylinders that would prevent starting.
On the front three cylinders the original plugs were NGk iridiums - for testing purposes, I just installed new NGK copper plugs - don't think that would prevent starting, but wanted to disclose.
My son only has one ignition key - it is very worn - could that be a factor?
I know you have dismissed the distributor. I've uploaded a picture of the rotor I removed, the wear is not symetrical - is it possible that mechanical wear in the distributor is throwing off/impacting the spark quality?
With the key on - but NOT CRANKING - the timing reads 61 degrees
Thanks.The key should not be an issue... it will only cause the injectors to ground out if it immobilizes... if you are getting injector pulse, that isn't it (plus ether would have started it).That is an interesting thought on the distributor, but it would be very difficult to confirm without another distributor... and with them costing several hundred dollars I don't want to aim you that direction as I don't feel it would be enough to kill the engine entirely if we still have valid spark.Don't worry about the key on reading on the timing, that is not too strange. It advances more when off for a fast spark on cranking to start the engine quicker... it doesn't care about emissions/economy if it means starting the engine 1-2 seconds faster.The plugs are definitely not a good thing, but should be OK for just getting it to fire a bit... it would run poorly but would run if the plugs were just bad.What gets me the most is the not running when ether is used and the fuel system disabled. This really only allows a spark timing or belt timing/compression issue. Your compression is dead on for the three you checked, and even if the other three were flat we should still get an occasional hiccup. The ignition timing seems to be dead on.I am real hesitant to tell you to compression check the back bank, as it is a ton of work getting to it on the VIC model. Further, with the timing appearing correct, this would really narrow down our causes for failure (non belt related valve damage or gasket failure... neither that common).Just for fun, lets pull those forward three plugs again and rig them all up so that we can watch them spark and make sure you are getting consistent spark across all of them... for example not just one or randomly dropping in and out etc.
Another test - engine vacuum while cranking - manual says to check at hose to FP regulator - I only got 1", read elsewhere that should be at least 3". Remember I had EGR flow/circuit codes - could there be a gross vacuum leak in EGR lines or pump?
I'm heading out of town this afternoon so no more testing for a week. I think I can get a used distributor for less than $100, so I may get one - still would be cheaper than dealer diagnostics. Removal/Reinstall looks pretty simple.
The rear plugs need to be replaced - so I (or someone) will ultimately have to remove the intake for access. Then I could get compression readings across the board.
Hi,The only major vacuum problem I could see would be if the purge solenoid for the evaporative system was wide opened. I have seen these fail where they draw vacuum when they should be shut, effectively putting the gas tank into a dangerous vacuum... when this happens a mass of fume/air gets pulled into the engine.You could try removing and plugging the two vacuum lines to the purge solenoid.... it is the larger solenoid on the intake with the ~3/8-1/2" size hoses (the EGR is the one with washer hose sized hoses). The same could be done for the EGR, though it should not be able to prevent it from even choking a bit.If you feel comfortable buying a distributor we can certainly try it. I don't feel it will be it, since we have decent spark and it is timed well, but it is a possibility... that would be great if I am wrong :)We certainly will need to change all of the plug regardless, as they are surely fouled beyond normal recovery at this point, but I would like to figure out the issue before we do that. We don't want to insert any new potential problems before figuring this one out (if something goes wrong with plenum installation causing more issues etc).Again I'm hesitant to consider the compression test as necessary at this point since we know the rear cam is timed right by inspecting the crank position and rotor position as well as watching spark timing.... the odds of a valve failure without belt failure are slim, as are the odds of a head gasket failure without any other warning signs.
I think the vacuum issue is worth investigating when I return - I'm thinking that if the EGR valve is stuck wide open then that would certainly make it difficult to start. I realized that I did not post the old DTC codes - when I first checked it had P0401 and P0403, which I cleared. The P0401 code had been stored when he first got the car - we didn't realize it because the check engine light was burned out.
I'll hold off on the distributor until I check purge/EGR. Thanks - back in a week.
Thanks. This is not likely to be related. The P0401 is indicating a short circuit/open circuit on the EGR solenoid circuit... this is extremely common on this vehicle and can be driven this way. The P0401 is indicating there is insufficient EGR activation, it is not opening properly.... which of course we know would be the case since the solenoid is electrically failed. The P403 always comes shortly after the P0401. Neither should affect starting.The purge solenoid hoses on the other hand are at least worth investigating.
I returned from vacation today - had a friend assist me. I removed the EGR valve to check operation - hoped for a "stuck open" status - but the EGR was working properly. I decided to pursue the gross vacuum leak - plugged several of the major vacuum draws - EGR, purge solenoid, brake booster. We tried starting with ether (directly into the throttle body - partially open and full throttle and also with the fuel pump relay in - no real coughing or running. Is there any other major vacuum "leak" that you think could cause a no start? I pulled the #4 plug again and opened the gap to .040 - I grounded it outiside the head and it sparked rythmically as expected. Really frustrated at this point. Should I try the distributor or just take to the Mitsubushi dealer?
Hi,The only issue with a major air leak causing a no start would be either a pre-vacuum leak (intake hose removed) or a fume leak (purge solenoid stuck open allowing engine to suck fuel vapor).Any other vacuum leak would not only be fairly difficult to cause a no-start condition (apart from if it was the result of disassembly, which isn't the case here), but also it would be able to be rectified by adding ether to compensate.I can't help but think something is being over looked here....if we have belt timing and compression, we have spark in time, and we have fuel delivery or manual fuel supply, there really isn't any reason why it shouldn't at least cough/choke when cranked with ether, if not run.I assume no new codes have been set at all?The only thing further I could see we could do is pull down the front end and verify 100% the crank timing mark and reluctor plate are positioned correctly, as well as the front of the back cam. While issues here should throw a P0335/340, I just don't see any other realistic possibilities based on the information you have provided.... I don't see the rear bank getting the valves wiped out enough to cause this condition without the belt being out of time etc.
If the belt slipped one cog/tooth - what would be the impact - or how could I verify? My initial checks showed full alignment - front cam, timing pointer, rotor. Maybe if there was a parallax/view angle issue I could have been mistaken - at best that would be + or- 2 or 3 degrees.
One tooth would be enough to run very poorly, two teeth would prevent running in most cases.Can you get the rear bank front cover off for an accurate inspection? Ideally I would prefer to see all three marks just to be certain, though I know this is a bit of work going that deep, I'm not sure how far you want to go.
This car has worn me out (it's 100 degrees here in Virginia Beach - not fun working on the car). I don't think I want to pull the rear cover yet - I would have seen two teeth off - that would probably have been 15 degrees. (unless it only slipped on the back cam).
Last night I disconnected all of the sensors that I could just to see if I could get any codes when cranking. My scanner showed P0113, P0335, and P0107. I plugged everything back in and cleared the codes - I cranked for about 10 seconds and re-scanned - no codes.
At this point I think I will button it up this evening and plan on getting it towed to the dealer on Monday unless I have an epiphany over the weekend.
My guess is still the distributor/coil/cam sensor, since it was the only test (secondary resistance) that was even slightly out of spec. We'll see what Mitsubishi has to say.
Okay as long as we got a P0335, we have something to work with there.... provided you didn't unplug it at any point, this is a strong indicator of either a belt alignment issue or a faulty crank sensor.
Doug - I did disconnect it - wanted to see if I would get a code - which I did. Once I reconnected the code went away.
Okay, then we are back to square one and wanting to see that belt alignment on the front to verify it is intact.
New development - I picked up another spark plug tester - see image - it's from NAPA for electonic ignitions it's an OTC 6589. I checked all three front plugs - no sparking. I tested the "tester" on m '93 Dodge Dakota - and it sparked away. I restested with the just the plugs again - and did get the spark as before - enough to bridge the spark plug gap - but not enough to fire the tester. Now does distributor seem more likely?
Hi,Perhaps... am I understanding right that with the tester installed it is not sparking on the Eclipse at all, but when checking the plugs manually on the engine you get a minor spark?If this is right, then you may be on to something. Specifically I would be considering the coil in the distributor maybe being weak.Make sure your battery is in OK shape as well though, if the battery is weak your spark will weaker too.
Correct - spark w/plug - none with the tester. I keep the battery hooked to a trickle charger. I do have a larger charger that I could hook up to provide more amps when cranking - should I try that at say 40 amps or more?
Lets try that before jumping to conclusions. If it is consistent with no spark on the tester and weak spark on the plugs, I would be most concerned with a damaged crank sensor followed by the distributor... the distributor second due to it passing the resistance checks. The crank sensor is a transistor and not really able to be checked with any efficiency short of using an oscilloscope.
OK - but if the crank sensor was bad - wouldn't it throw a code?
I attached the battery charger - 40 amp start assist - cranked engine with the tester - engine spinning fine - no spark at the tester.
What do you recommend now?
The crank sensor will only throw a code if either there is an open circuit (transistor burnt out) or if there is an extended period of rotating with a correlation issue between it and the cam sensor (distributor). With no consistent spark on the tester, the ideal next step would be to monitor the crank sensor output with an oscilloscope, checking to verify it is hitting a hard/clean 5V square wave. If it was, I would then try another distributor. Normally I would jump straight to just replacing the crank sensor, however because you are getting weak spark, that is a bit of an odd one and I would much rather visually inspect the crank output since the spark isn't missing altogether when using normal plugs.My only issue with the distributor is that they almost never fail, whereas the crank sensors are borderline regular maintenance on these cars, especially if aftermarket ones are used (aftermarket ones are common to last less than a year, I have even seen brand new ones not work). Based on the weak output though.... it could be one for the books.
I don't have an oscilliscope, but I have a multimeter that measures frequency (hertz) and found a number of how-to's that suggest test procedures using a multimeter for hall effect three wire sensors. the CKS circuit shows a RED wire that provides voltage from the MFI relay, a BROWN wire that grounds through the PCM, and a GREEN/RED signal wire. I obtained the following:
Disconnected/Not cranking, BROWN to GREEN/RED - 3.76 K Ohms
Connected/Cranking, BROWN to GREEN/RED - fluctuating 9.0-10.2 Hertz
Do you have any references or other indicators of CKS performance?
Unfortunately not. The problem is that testing a transistor in static condition doesn't really tell you much.With a 9 hertz reading while cranking, we can assess that the engine is spinning about 180rpm, which is quite slow (around 300+ would be normal)... that is about all you know though. A square wave reading is really necessary to verify it is good. That way you see peak voltage, voltage duration, and any anomalies in the wave. A meter isn't going to accomplish that. At best you will be able to see peak voltage.
This morning I decided to pull the distributor and replaced it with a Cardone reman unit from BAP-GEON for $186. I checked the #4 wire for spark with the tester and it fired (engine actually coughed with all the ether in the cylinders). I re-assembled everything and after a half dozen tries the car started and settled to idle (lots of smoke). I shut off after about 30 seconds and now I'm letting the ether/gas/oil mixture drain out.
The reman distributor tested at almost 11K Ohms for secondary resistance, compared to the original unit that I noted in my initial post at 9K Ohms. I really didn't see anything else other than the rotation seemed a little smoother - the original had a little bit of a notchy feel when turned. I'll test drive after oil/filer change.
Hey, that's great!With the amount of attempted starting that has occurred, the smoking is not surprising at all, there is probably a decent amount of raw fuel in the converters that will need to burn out.I'm surprised that the coil was so significantly weak with only a few hundred ohms being a small fraction below test specification, but once you verified that the spark was too weak to work the tester, it was a sure thing of being either the distributor or the crank sensor.Get some fresh oil in there and give it a few miles to burn out the exhaust and let me know how it does.
Oil and filter changed and car seems to be running OK. I called my son and he came and picked up the car. I told him that he really needed to invest in some serious maintenance if he is going to keep a few more years, since nothing other than a few oil changes has happened in the six years he owned it. One last request before closing this out - here is the what I thought of:
spark plug wires
cam cover gaskets
timing belt tensioner
crank shaft sensor
what else should be done in addition to the above?
No problem, I'm glad it is working out... I'm very glad you got that extra spark tester as that certainly changed things.With regard to your maintenance... you are right on track here but I would like to make some comments on the items:Spark plugs-- stick with Mitsubishi plugs OR Denso/NGK direct replacements. Do NOT get generic or "specialty" plugs, as they do not last long and tend to cause issues with some brands as well. OEM is best here.Plug wires-- I prefer OEM, but there is nothing wrong with aftermarket as long as you get direct fit again... we don't need triple oversized insulated blah blah wires here.Cam cover gaskets-- get the plug seals as well if they don't come as a kit. Each cover has three seals around the plug tubes, and these are notorious for leaking, filling the plug tubes with oil, ruining plug wires. The tube seals are more expensive than the actual gaskets, but are just as important.Timing belt-- Nothing special here other than double and triple check everything on installation, an incorrectly installed belt will wipe out the engine.Inspect the hydraulic tensioner for leaks and tightness (a vice should be needed to compress it), replace if anything questionable is noted. The eccentric tensioner does not need to be removed to replace the belt, and is best left as is to maintain correct alignment. Just spin it by hand to listen for noise as well as see if it over-spins (should only spin 1-2 times maximum). If OK, leave it as is and you don't need to adjust it later, which requires a special tool.Water pump-- at 120k, this is a tough call. These pumps normally make it to 180k if they are original, but of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and all that. Just be very careful with aftermarket pumps... they are a lot less than OEM, however they also get towed in to my shop seized up a lot. I have never seen a total OEM failure, worst I have seen is them leaking around 180-200k. Personally if the cost is an issue, I would sooner leave the original on there than put an aftermarket pump on, provided it isn't leaking or anything.Crank sensor-- similar goes for this as the water pump. Aftermarket crank sensors are notorious for failure. While the OEM ones aren't exactly gold, they are infinitely more reliable than aftermarket ones. If you want to replace it, go OEM only... you don't want to have to replace this twice, and I could spend all day talking about the cars I get towed in from other shops that wouldn't run after they replaced the crank sensor with a NAPA sensor, etc.Beyond those items you already listed, really just your basic items like your oil and air filter should be taken care of. Inspect your coolant to make sure it is in good shape, we see these systems sludge on occasion. Also inspect your radiator hoses at the engine ends, as they are prone to leak here... the clamps loosen (by design) as leaking coolant builds corrosion, eventually dripping. Repair is to remove them, clean the aluminum of corrosion, then reinstall (or replace) using screw type clamps.The distributor O ring is common for leaking, but I would imagine your new distributor came with an O ring, so no issue there.Lastly, if this is an automatic transmission, it would be a good idea to replace the fluid with new SPIII fluid. You do NOT want to use Dexron or universal fluid though. These transmissions do well with 30k intervals or at least 60k (manufacturers recommended limit). If you have any other questions please just let me know and we can continue if needed.
Mitsubishi employed and Factory trained ASE certified technician
I believed I completed all of the below.Joe XXXXXX
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