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Thread: 1990 Cutlass Ciera S 3300 stalls at stops

  1. #16
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    I checked the injectors with an oscilloscope. All of them show a pintle hump so they are at least doing something. It was a very slight hump, but it was actually consistent across all injectors. This makes me worry that it might not be an injector problem.

    Shortly after I shot this video the engine finally missed one too many cylinders and slowed to a halt with a terrifying screech. I suspect that is related to the metal particles in the oil. Since the oil seems to be diluted with gas, I looked for the thickest oil stabilizer at Walmart and got some Lucas stuff. But it could just be an engine mount issue.

    https://youtu.be/PiYwyp0GGv4

    There are ominous noises from under the engine. I think a reasonable scenario would be the injectors are bad and the rods bearings are bad, so I can get some obsolete Ford injectors and put in new bearings, and then the car is at least drivable before it really bites the dust. And maybe that one cylinder will just always have blow-by.

    BTW I am not getting any notifications for this thread, not sure why.
    Last edited by keantoken; 01-08-2020 at 11:52 AM.



  2. #17

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    Up on the top of the page, look for a button that says thread tools, click on it, and click on subscribe
    Brian - Carpe Diem

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    I'm already subscribed, and there is nothing in my spam folder. The emails just aren't coming.

    EDIT: Welp, for some reason I was subscribed to the thread, but I had notification type = none. I suspect sketchy input conditioning on this version of forum software...

  4. #19
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    Do you guys have any insight on what the problem may be from the sounds and behavior in that video? Or maybe are there possibilities you can exclude? Is the crankcase noise likely rod knock or could it be something like preignition?

  5. #20
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    Just saw the video. Boy it sounds a lot like my Cruiser when I finished the engine swap. The noise, the idle, the gas not being burned. My cat would glow red from unburned gas after a few minutes and was probably getting into the crankcase as well. I checked everything it seemed, plugs, wires, coils/module, all hoses, all sensors, EGR, evap, trans modululator, injectors, fuel filter/pump, FPR, ECM.... to no avail. Some of those parts I either had spares or was replacing anyway. I was almost ready to tear the engine down and check the timing, even though it was a a 60k engine with 175 compression, but I was running out of ideas.

    Turned out the throttle body gasket had slipped down when installing it, leaving a gap. Corrected that and it was a night and day difference. Major dope slap.

    I wonder if there is some vacuum leak you're not finding. Leak in the throttle body? Brake booster? EGR? Anything.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  6. #21
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    I got the car running. The owner says it runs better than when he got it. That means that when he got it, it had a misfire. It still has a misfire.

    When the fuel rail failed to hold pressure, I should have immediately suspected a leaking injector. Today I took all the injectors out and cleaned them with carb cleaner and an injector tester. The one injector that measured slightly low resistance was stuck open. I had to smack it hard while pulsing to loosen it up, and flush it back and forth several times. It still fails to hold pressure when backflushing, but for now it works and we were able to test drive the car and do an idle learn.

    The leaking injector doesn't leak anymore but it still flows 33% more than the others, so I'm hoping this is the reason for misfire and it will be fixed once I replace the injectors.

    4 things killed this car.
    First one is loose spark plugs.
    2nd one is a bad coilpack.
    3rd one is an injector stuck open.
    4th one is a bad alternator.

    I've realized that the first thing one should do when a car has a misfire is test 2 things:

    1: Resistance of the entire spark plug current loops including plugs. Since this car has 2 plugs per coilpack I could have tested 2 at once. Just putting the wrench on the spark plugs would have alerted me to the loose plugs, and when I heard hissing behind the engine I should have thought of the spark plugs.
    2: Fuel pressure and injector flow test. When the fuel pressure dropped right after priming I should have known it was a leaking injector. At that point I could have used the stethoscope while you primed the pump to hear which one was leaking. After I fixed the stuck one I did a pressure drop test which showed that it still flow 33% too much, which is likely the reason for the misfire. A backfire around when the car first started having problems was also a strong hint at a leaky injector.

    If I had done these 2 things I could have known the problem within a day.


    There are 2 things which should definitely be done before this car is used regularly again:

    1: Replace injectors and seals. The seals may eventually leak fuel and/or air, or disintegrate and get stuck in the injectors. One injector is marginal and may have problems again.
    2: Spark plugs and holes cleaned and properly torqued down. Otherwise they will walk out and the same thing will happen again.
    3: Oil change. The current oil is diluted and that is not something you can fix just by driving it. Furthermore there are particles of metal in the oil. So it's worn in a bad way, and you don't want to test the limits. Maybe upgrade to 5w-40.

  7. #22
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    After running the car around a bit, I took the old spark plugs out. Most of the plugs came back to life with a dull tan ash color. The stuck injector is in the middle back of the engine and that plug was wet. The plug next to it however was a much brighter tan color than the rest. So it seems like that cylinder is running lean for some reason.

    The middle front plug was actually cracked. The crack was dark so I suspect it has been this way for a while. I suspect the layout of the engine bay makes this plug more likely to crack when tightening due to wrench position and interfering with the radiator housing and other stuff.

  8. #23
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    The bad injector started leaking again, and I got a set of injectors for $50. They turned out to be used chinese knockoffs. One of them flowed too much. So I replaced that one with one of the new injectors from the last set. And now it runs smooth except for the one misfire which I think is just bad piston rings on that cylinder.

    When it warms up it begins to misfire on another cylinder, which I suspect is the old injector not matching well with the new ones. So the next test is to swap the old injector into the bad cylinder. If that fixes the misfire when warm, then good.

    The new injectors in the old set are Lucas type injectors with part number 01D072B. These are sold under the Accel brand. I'm sure they are higher quality than the new injectors but I'm not sure whether I should mix them in or just leave it be.

    Also, the transmission is clunking when going between gears. I suspect this could be collateral damage from hard shifts when the car would stall at lights. But if it could be a bad modulator or something, please let me know. It actually stalled the engine while turning out from a stop. So I wonder if it could be the TCC solenoid. It doesn't shift bad every time, but more often when it warms up.
    Last edited by keantoken; 01-15-2020 at 07:07 AM.

  9. #24
    Senior Member Keiths1976's Avatar
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    Motor mounts man that I would suspect the two on the tranny are toast .

  10. #25

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    Clunks are very common on this chassis. Usually a set of motor and tranny mounts fixes the problem
    Brian - Carpe Diem

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    01 Pontiac Aztek GT AWD 125k - 04 GMC Envoy SLT XUV 192k - 05 Buick Rendezvous CXL Sport Plus 61k

  11. #26
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    Thanks for the ideas.

    Today I swapped the old injector onto the misfiring cylinder so the remaining 5 cylinders have the same injectors. The car runs an awful lot smoother now. The misfire even seems to be not as bad after doing that, and the blow-by when I open the oil filler is not as bad. Oddly enough, the engine stumbled a lot more when I opened the filler cap this time. Trying to figure out what that means. After making all these observations, I'm suspecting a lot of rough engine noises I hear around town could be injector problems. I'm really happy to have some injector experience in my toolbox now. This car is great for learning about injectors, the fuel rail is trivially easy to remove.

    After the test drive, it turns out the engine only stalls when doing a left turn into an incline, and there wasn't any more clunking this time. Right turns are fine. So I wonder if maybe the engine is getting oil starved on left turns or maybe like you say it's the mounts (or maybe even a leaky power steering rack in a certain position). But I looked again and the transmission mount is not gone, it just looks like it because of the metal cage it hides in. I will have to look at the other mounts when I figure out where they are.

    I guess another possibility is air bubbles in the fuel rail moving around, but I would think those would resolve quickly.

    I've also noticed the cab lights flicker chaotically when the engine vibrates, like there is a loose contact somewhere.
    Last edited by keantoken; 01-16-2020 at 02:32 AM.

  12. #27
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    Has the fuel filter been changed? Mine used to stall out during certain movements when the filter was getting plugged.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  13. #28
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    I think it was changed at some point before I worked on the car to get it running, but I could be wrong. I wish there was an easy to way measure fuel pressure while driving the car.

  14. #29
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    If it was water in the fuel tank, I would expect a delayed reaction when turning. If it was low oil, I would expect the oil light to come on. As for fuel filter, dunno how to diagnose that without throwing parts. Maybe if the fuel pressure gauge hose can slip under the back of the hood.

  15. #30

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    The engine idle coming down/stubling when you take the oil filler cap off is normal, dont worry about it. Its actually a good sign that most of your vacuum system is in good/decent shape.

    As for the engine stalling, I would be willing to bet you have 1 of 2 problems. Either the full sock came off the fuel pump, and is allowing air into the system, or your fuel filter is clogged. Start with the fuel filter, its the cheapest and easiest of the 2 problems.I Seriously doubt its anything engine mechanics related. But it could be a MAF sensor, but that would set a code after a certain set of malfunctions.
    Brian - Carpe Diem

    I dont have to love my president, or any god, to love my country!!
    More people have died in the name of "God" than in all wars combined thruout history
    01 Pontiac Aztek GT AWD 125k - 04 GMC Envoy SLT XUV 192k - 05 Buick Rendezvous CXL Sport Plus 61k

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