Mechanics

RUNNING ROUGH

2006 Cadillac CTS

Engine Performance problem
2006 Cadillac CTS 6 cyl Two Wheel Drive Automatic 35000 miles

Yes Hi I just have a quick question that I hope that you can help me out with. My car has been running rough at idle usually worse after driving for awhile then stopping at a stop light. The car almost shakes sometimes. Now I know that this one emissions valve is going bad because it just ticks constantly. I called the cadillac dealer and they told me it was indeed emissions. Its the Vapor Canister Solenoid Valve. So my question is, do you think that this would cause the car do this. Or is it something else, or a combination maybe? Thank you.
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Grannas211
March 13, 2010.



If you're referring to the purge solenoid, it is common for it to tick. It's called " duty cycle" meaning the Engine Computer cycles it on and off, and controls flow by varying the percent of on vs. Off time. A problem with this system should result in the Check Engine light turning on.

The Engine Computer will set a diagnostic fault code in memory when it detects a problem. If the problem could adversely affect tail pipe emissions, the Check Engine light is turned on. There can be other codes in memory even if the light isn't on. They can indicate the circuit or system with the problem, not necessarily the defective part.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 13, 2010.
Well there is no check engine light on. But if you grab ahold of this thing you can feel it constantly ticking. It never did this until about 2000 miles ago. Its ticks really fast at all times. If its thats not bad the car is still running rough.

Tiny
Grannas211
Mar 13, 2010.
If we're talking about the same thing, there will be hoses attached to it. When the valve is open, the engine draws the stored fuel vapors from the charcoal canister and burns them. The valve can only be fully open or fully closed. Cycling on and off is how the amount of flow is controlled. There are conditions that must be met before the valve is opened. Typically the engine must be warmed up, and on most cars, the valve only opens at higher speeds where it won't be noticed. If the valve is opened when not expected, the engine will receive a tiny little bit of extra fuel, and the lack of corresponding extra air will be detected by the oxygen sensor. The Engine Computer will memorize a diagnostic fault code related to " running too rich", and turn on the Check Engine light. Some vehicles even have the capability to measure flow through the hoses and set a different fault code if it isn't correct.

This system should not cause the engine to run rough. If I'm wrong, you can prove it by pinching one of those hoses to block the flow of the fuel vapors. If the engine smooths out, the valve is probably not meant to open at idle or low speeds. The problem would not be with the valve itself, but with the control circuit.

Normally the Engine Computer will detect engine misfires and set the appropriate fault code. If there are no codes stored, your mechanic can connect a hand-held computer, called a scanner, to watch various sensor values while the engine is running. That information can help determine the cause of the rough running.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 13, 2010.
Ok thank you for all your replies. But if its not that causing the rough idle, which you say is not the case more than likely. What else could it possibly be? As I said its fine when you give it gas, just idles rough, especially after driving for awhile then coming back to idle. Thanks again.

Tiny
Grannas211
Mar 14, 2010.
GM has had a big history of running problems caused by injectors. They aren't necessarily defective. Rather, they do not test them for even flow rates. The minor variations in engine speed are much easier to notice at lower speeds. Usually, if this is bad enough to feel, the Engine Computer will notice it too and set a diagnostic fault code for a specific cylinder misfire. The reason you feel a misfire is because the rotational speed of the crankshaft slows down very slightly when it occurs. The computer knows which cylinder should have fired when that misfire occurred. Pulses from the crankshaft position sensor are evenly spaced. When the misfire occurs, the time increases a few microseconds between two of those pulses. That's enough for you to notice. There are aftermarket companies that specialize in rebuilding injectors. Their biggest success comes from measuring their flow rates and selling them in matched sets.

When one injector delivers less fuel than intended, the corresponding unburned oxygen is detected in the exhaust system by the oxygen sensor. There are two " upstream" sensors on V-6 engines, one on each bank, or side. The computer can't tell which of the three cylinders needs more fuel so it just increases the amount of time all three of those injectors remain turned on. The weak cylinder gets a little more fuel, but the other two cylinders get more fuel than they need. Extra fuel is wasted but does not cause a noticeable misfire. Ths is how one injector can flow slightly less fuel than intended and cause the vehicle's fuel mileage to be lower than another identical car.

The computer can also set a fault code for a random cylinder misfire. This would be typical of an air flow problem or fuel supply problem that affects all cylinders. A dirty sensing element in the Mass Air Flow sensor limits its ability to accurately measure the amount of air entering the engine. A similar problem occurs if there is any leak in the air intake tube. The computer commands the injectors to add a specific amount of fuel to mix with the amount of air it thinks is entering the engine. Little power needs to be generated at idle so the computer is already limiting fuel delivery to the lowest possible level. Any further reduction in fuel due to incorrect MAF sensor readings can result in random misfires.

Some engine designs are prone to misfires when cold due to fuel " puddling". This is where the vaporized fuel hits the back of the cold intake valve and condenses back to a liquid. Liquid gasoline does not burn; it must be in vapor form. Chrysler had a problem in the 1980s with this on some truck engines. The fix was to increase fuel pressure to the injectors to improve atomization, and to modify the angle of the injectors' spray to miss the intake valve. Those design changes are still in use today.

A similar problem can occur if an engine is heavily carboned due to condensed, unburned fuel vapors. Fuel sprayed from an injector can momentarily be absorbed into the carbon around the intake valve and passage. Fuels are much cleaner today and most brands have additives to prevent carbon buildup, so this is less of a problem than in the past. Running fuel system cleaner in the gas tank doesn't always help because it is designed to remove varnish that builds up around the tip of the injector's nozzle. Mechanics use different chemicals that are still fed, in part, through the injectors while the fuel pump is disabled, and in part through the air intake system until the engine stalls. The main part of this chemical is a soap that dissolves the carbon and loosens it. The process is called " decarbonization" and is a service that some shops offer as preventive maintenance. It's usually not necessary although a lot of people are certain their engines run smoother after this is done.

Anything that affects spark can cause a misfire too but this is usually accompanied by loss of power and fuel mileage. If spark is totally missing for one cylinder, you will smell the unburned fuel by the tail pipe, but oxygen sensors only detect the corresponding unburned oxygen. As a result, the computer increases the length of time that group of injectors are pulsed open in an attempt to provide enough fuel to mix with the unburned oxygen. No matter how much extra fuel it commands, there will always be that unburned oxygen from the misfiring cylinder. Unlike the low injector flow rate story, the extra fuel will not overcome a misfire due to a spark problem, but fuel mileage will still suffer.

Mechanical problems in the engine can cause misfires too. Burned and leaking valves used to be common when we first switched away from leaded gasoline. Better metals and other fuel additives have pretty much solved that problem. GM had some trouble with camshaft lobes wearing down in their early V-6 engines due to lack of lubricating oil running onto them. That problem occurred in the late 1970s and hasn't been a problem since then except for engines that don't see proper oil change intervals. Even lack of maintenance isn't such a problem. Engine design was the issue that prevented oil from reaching the affected parts. Worn camshaft lobes cause valves to not open to let fresh fuel and air in or to let exhaust gases out.

One more thing to look for, if you look under the hood and the engine seems to be running very smoothly, inspect the engine mounts and exhaust system for parts rubbing metal against metal. Exhaust pipe hangers always have some type of rubber isolator to prevent vibrations from transferring into the passenger compartment. If two parts of a bracket are touching you will feel a much higher frequency vibration than the " thump thump" of a misfire. Engine mounts have rubber isolators too. At the mileage you listed, it's much too soon to expect to find a deteriorated or collapsed mount, although one of them can be repositioned to center the engine. If it is holding the engine off-center, the two metal parts of one of the other mounts could be touching.

Other oddball things to consider are a pulsing steering wheel when turning due to worn seals on the rack and pinion's spool valve, worn bearings in the radiator fan motor, and even a chunk missing from the flat serpentine belt that runs the power steering and generator.

Every one of these scenarios can have their exceptions, so don't use this information to argue with your mechanic. Instead, use it as a guide to help you understand the types of things they will have to look at to find the problem. Anyone can find the easy stuff. Some of the things listed here, especially the low flowing injector, are hard-to-find things other people have found in the past.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 14, 2010.
I saw a maintance guy today, not an actual cadillac technician, but one nonetheless. He said he didnt think it was anything that big but he said it could be the fact that im running 93 octane gas when the owners manual just says 87 and up. Could that actually make it run alittle not so smooth at times?

Tiny
Grannas211
Mar 14, 2010.
Very possibly although I would still expect the misfire to be detected by the Engine Computer.

Don't waste your money on higher octane fuel if it isn't needed. Gasoline is gasoline. Only the additives are different. Higher octane gas does not provide more power. It allows engineers to TUNE for more power. Some of the design changes that increase power cause the fuel to ignite too soon and make the familiar pinging sound. Higher octane fuels have additives, (used to be lead), that makes the fuel harder to ignite to avoid preignition and spark knock. If you don't experience spark knock with 87 octane fuel, there's no benefit in using more expensive gas.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 14, 2010.
I have a CTS, and yes, the Purge canister valve solenoid should not be ticking. It's under $40 bucks at rockauto. Com and takes less than 10 minutes to change. The rough idle might be a combo issue, but that valve IS part of it. It is the canister solenoid just under the engine cover on the passenger side. Good luck.

Tiny
Danielhughes
Oct 6, 2012.
BTW, the VVT system in your 3.6 adjusts it's own timing. Using 93 octane WILL give you more power and better MPGs. It takes a few engine cycles to notice a difference, but you will certainly notice a drop in performance and economy if you go from 93 to 87.

Tiny
Danielhughes
Oct 6, 2012.