I need some help. I'm desperate to have answers. I have a 1991 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue with 174,000 miles on it. Back in November it had a cam shaft sensor replaced on it, but ever since then it has started intermittently. So I took it and got it tuned up and a new coil pack was put on it. After it was tuned up it went to another shop they put a crank shaft sensor on it. That still didn't fix the intermittently starting problem. I finally took it to an electrical specialist. First they tried a fuel relay and that didn't fix the problem. They put a new ECM (I think that's what it's called) and so far that has done the trick. However now my door locks only work when the car is on, they unlock with the car off, but not lock. My dome lights don't work either. My radio also isn't working (I put a newer radio in it a year or 2 ago). The lights to tell me my doors are open doesn't work either. I'm not sure about the cigarette lighter I didn't look. I don't have the manual for my car with me it's at my apartment. I made an appointment to have the electrical specialist look at it again, but if it's something I can do or my dad can do it would be cheaper even though it worked before it went to the shop. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Can Autozone test fuses to see if they are blown?
Sounds like you overlooked a fuse. All the things you mentioned have the dome light fuse in common. That circuit, which is always live, feeds the clock / station preset memory for the radio. Look for the "interior lights" fuse in the glove box.
Intermittent problems can be very frustrating to find since there is no defect to be found when the problem is not acting up. The worst thing you can do is run from shop to shop. Just like going to a doctor, sometimes it takes multiple visits to figure out the problem. Every time you go to a new place, that person has to start over from the beginning. Sometimes the most likely suspects have to be tried first, then more testing later leads to the next suspect. You have to go back to the same shop so they can continue on with the next steps.
I hope the new Engine Computer solves the intermittent no-start condition but during that time period Chrysler had extremely little trouble with them. When it didn't start, what was the symptom? Did you hear one kind of loud clunk under the hood but the engine didn't spin? Did the engine crank (spin) but didn't start and run? Did the engine ever stall while you were driving at a steady speed? Intermittent no-crank is real common and is caused by worn contacts in the starter solenoid. That's a pretty easy fix. If the engine cranks fine AND never stalls while driving, that would be typical of a high-mileage fuel pump failing to start up. Chrysler pumps rarely quit while you're driving.
The camshaft and crankshaft position sensors usually cause stalling when the engine gets warm. Unless they fail completely, they don't typically cause an intermittent no-start condition.
February, 12, 2011 AT 3:41 PM
Well the new Engine Computer didn't help the starting problem. My dad went out to start it this morning and it wouldn't. When it didn't start it would crank but not start. The engine never stalled out except back in November which is when they replaced the cam shaft sensor. It stalled out on me and then my dad was driving it back home and it would only go a 10 to 15 miles at a time and have to be shut off and left to sit for an hour or so before it would start back up and drive a few more miles until they had to repeat the whole thing.
The reason I took it to different people was because my usual repairman didn't know what to do next. They checked the fuel pump, but I guess if it's failing that would mean it would still have power to it.
I'm going out to look at the fuses in just a bit. It was suggested to be to cycle the fuel pump a two times to see if that helped the start so I'll try that too. Thank you!
February, 12, 2011 AT 3:56 PM
I had a blown fuse! Thank you so much. That was a quick 5 minute fix. I cycled the fuel pump twice and it started up just fine. I guess I need a new fuel pump now. Thank you so much! Hopefully the cycling works every time.
February, 12, 2011 AT 11:27 PM
Happy to hear about the fuse, but don't jump the gun on the fuel pump. Too many are replaced when they aren't needed. I understand about the multiple mechanics and it is understood the camshaft sensor was not related to the current problem. I needed to state my case because that is another thing I read about a lot. People understand they might have to go to a doctor multiple times to figure out a diagnosis, but they hold their mechanic to a higher standard. He's considered incompetent when he doesn't find the answer right away.
Back to your fuel pump, each time you turn the ignition switch to "run" you should hear the hum of the fuel pump for one second. That's the proof the pump is starting up. It won't turn on again until the engine is cranking or running. If you become accustomed to listening for that you should notice you're not hearing it when the engine doesn't start. Banging on the bottom of the gas tank while a helper cranks the engine will often get it started. It is real common for GM fuel pumps to die while you're driving, but Chrysler pumps almost never do that. Once they start up they will continue running as long as the engine is running.
If you hear the pump running but the engine still doesn't start, first turn the ignition switch all the way back to "off", wait a few seconds, then try again. If that works every time after a no-start condition, fuel pressure might just be bleeding off while the car was sitting. That is not serious except for the inconvenience. During engine cranking the battery voltage is drawn down which makes the fuel pump run slower than normal. It can't build up pressure fast enough for fuel to squirt from the injectors. Cycling the ignition switch multiple times lets the pump run for a total of a few seconds before you crank the engine. That gives it time to build up enough pressure.
Normally that pressure in the system will stay there for many weeks, but it can bleed down due to a leaky injector, fuel pressure regulator, or check valve in the pump.
If you DO hear the fuel pump run yet the engine doesn't start, there are two things you can do to start the diagnostic procedure. One is to have someone show you how to check for spark. It's easiest with a helper to turn the ignition switch while you watch under the hood but there are ways to do it yourself. The second thing is to measure the voltage on the dark green / orange wire at any one of the injectors or the ignition coil. You should see 12 volts there for that same one second after you turn on the ignition switch, then again when you're cranking the engine. If it doesn't come back during cranking, the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors would be the first suspects. I don't think that's what's wrong now because it's more common for those sensors to fail after they warm up.
February, 13, 2011 AT 2:26 AM
I always hear hear the fuel pump even when it wouldn't start, but I didn't cycle it before because I wasn't always the one trying to start it. I cycled it three times today and it seemed to do the trick each time I went to start the car. I appreciate you giving me all this advice. It's more than I have been able to get anywhere else.
February, 20, 2011 AT 12:27 AM
I need some more help. My car will not start again. The fuel pump is still running every time I try to start it, but it won't start. At the moment I know it has about 1/8th of a tank. It's rather cold out, around 22 degrees Fahrenheit and it seems that in the cold is more when it acts up and won't start. I haven't tried measuring the voltage because I have to figure out exactly where the wires are located. I looked at a slip from the mechanic and my fuel pressure was 50psi a month or so ago. Is there such thing as an engine temperature sensor on my car? Or a throttle position sensor that would cause the no start? I am discouraged with the constant problems this car has been giving me.
February, 20, 2011 AT 2:22 AM
There is a coolant temperature sensor that affects how much fuel squirts in to start a cold engine, but those sensors give almost no trouble at all. There are more problems from people leaving them unplugged. Doing so is also a part of a test procedure. It will cause the radiator fan to run whenever the ignition switch is turned on.
Remember, the pump only runs for one second when you turn on the ignition switch. You will likely not be able to hear it again over the noise of cranking the engine. That's why I always have people measure the voltages at the ignition coil, injectors, or alternator field terminal instead.
The next time it doesn't start, immediately jump out and check for spark. Let me know if you don't know how to do that. I can also tell you how to do it yourself without a helper to turn the ignition switch. If there is no spark, measure the voltage on the dark green / orange wire at the coil or one of the injectors. There should be full battery voltage there while the engine is cranking. If there is voltage, the coil may be defective.
February, 20, 2011 AT 2:29 AM
I have no clue how to check for spark. I have someone who can help so I don't need to know how to do it on my own. But if you could tell me how to I would greatly appreciate it.
February, 20, 2011 AT 3:42 AM
Which engine do you have? If you have the 3.0L you can pull the wire from the center terminal of the distributor cap. If you have either the 3.0L or the 3.3L you can pull off one of the front spark plug wires. If you're brave, hold the wire by the rubber part so the brass terminal on the end of the wire is about 1/4" away from any metal part of the engine. I prefer to stick a screwdriver into the terminal, then lay it on the engine so there is that 1/4" gap. When the engine is cranking you should see a spark jump across that gap about two times per second.
If you want to do this yourself, you won't be able to see the spark from inside the car. That means you have to crank the engine from under the hood so you can stand next to the wire and watch for spark. I only have a '92 service manual so I'm not sure which type of starter relay you have. If there is a fuse box under the hood right behind the battery, pop the cover off, look for the starter relay and remove it. In the diagram below, find terminals 30 and 87 in the socket. A stretched out paper clip works nicely to momentarily connect those two terminals, or any piece of wire will work.
If you do not have a fuse box under the hood, the starter relay will be bolted to the left inner fender behind the battery. It will have a red wire and a brown wire that are fatter than the other two or three wires. The connector can be unplugged, then those are the two wires to connect to crank the engine. When you do this test from the relay, the ignition switch must be turned on to the "run" position. Be sure the car is in "park" in case the engine starts. You'll look funny chasing it down the driveway!
A third alternative, if you have the relay that plugs into the fuse box, is to snap the cover off the relay and reinstall it that way. There is a metal "flipper" on one side that can move about 1/16". The starter will crank if you squeeze that flipper. It won't hurt anything to leave that cover off for a few weeks. That will make cranking the engine by yourself from under the hood real easy and fast.