Acts like its not getting fuel

Tiny
DSCHAFER91
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 PONTIAC BONNEVILLE
  • 3.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 195,000 MILES
I went to start my car as usual and it cranked over but wouldn't start. It acts like its not getting fuel to it. I just replaced the fuel pump and the fuel filter 2 months ago. My fiancee checked the fuses and they were all good including the one to my fuel pump after he cleaned them and replaced them it started right up. We were able to drive to our destination but as soon as I shifted it into park it died. We tried doing the same thing to it again and nothing then he tried taping on the fuel tank and it started up again but died in the parking lot one we got to the stop light to go home. It has enough fuel. But also since it won't start I can't roll up my windows or move my seat. Even my uncle who is a mechanic can't figure it out over the phone so maybe you can help. I've racked my brain trying to figure it out but no luck.
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Thursday, September 18th, 2014 AT 11:35 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The power windows and seats have nothing to do with the engine running. Those things can work without the engine even being in the car. If you have the ignition switch turned on and the windows don't work, THAT is most likely the clue to the problem. That would be a loss of electrical power which likely includes the fuel pump and / or ignition system.

The most common cause of loss of power is at the fuse box under the hood. Follow the smaller battery positive wire to that fuse box and check that connection to be sure it's clean and tight. As long as you're at it, follow the smaller black negative wire to the body and be sure that one is clean and tight.
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 12:00 AM
Tiny
DSCHAFER91
  • MEMBER
My fiancee checked the fuse to the fuel pump it wosnt burnt out or anything. He cleaned the prongs off just to be sure and when he put it back the first time it staryed. The second time it died he did the same thing but it didn't work that time. So he tried taping on the fuel tank and it started right up. But died after I got to the light like it didn't have fuel. When u turn the key on you should hear the fuel pump buzz which would indicate thay its pimping fuel through the line to start the car. We aren't hearing that at all. So now what?
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 12:07 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You completely missed my comments about the power windows. The fuel pump had better not be running when you're not cranking the engine. If it does, that creates a serious fire hazard. Typically the pump will run for one or two seconds after you turn on the ignition switch to be sure pressure is up for starting, but then it will turn off again until the Engine Computer sees engine rotation, (cranking or running). At that point it will turn the fuel pump back on. The reason they do that is if a fuel line is ruptured in a crash, the pump would dump raw fuel on the ground creating a fire hazard. With no fuel pressure due to the broken fuel line, the engine can't run. When it stalls, no signals are received from the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensor. The loss of those signals is what tells the computer the engine isn't rotating. In response, the computer turns the fuel pump, and other stuff, off. A lot of people get hung up on the first thing they find missing, the fuel pump in this case, but the most common causes of engine stalling also include loss of spark. You need to check for both things, not just the first one you find missing.

In your case you have the additional observation and clue of the inoperative power windows and seats. The first and easiest thing to look at is that fuse box connection I mentioned as that will affect everything you observed. The next suspect probably would be the ignition switch or the terminals in the connector to it. There's a lot of current going through there, especially when people use the heater fan on the higher settings a lot. It only takes a tiny amount of arcing or pitting on the switch contacts to cause heat buildup, and that leads to degraded connections that become discolored, and usually start to melt the connector body. If it gets that far and that's what you find, I'll describe the typical repair procedure.

We can't dismiss your comments about cleaning the fuses, but that very rarely solves anything. It's much more likely you have a simple intermittent problem that acts up at times and works properly at other times. This is where we have to be careful about what we count as clues. It's very likely the electrical circuit started working on its own, and whatever you were doing at the time got counted as a clue. Banging on the gas tank is a common way to get a Chrysler fuel pump going. When they fail, they fail to start up leaving you stranded in your driveway. GM pumps usually fail while you're driving, leaving you stranded alongside the highway. "USUALLY". But again, we have to include the window and seat problem.

If the windows stop working simply because you turned the ignition switch off, I shouldn't be using that as a clue. In fact, when that bad connection develops at the fuse box, the starter usually doesn't work either, and it sounds like yours is working fine.

The next time it doesn't start, don't bang on the tank or remove any fuses. The goal is to keep the problem acting up so it can be diagnosed. Check for spark then. If that's missing too, we have to look for what everything has in common.
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 12:41 AM
Tiny
DSCHAFER91
  • MEMBER
Also someone told me they had a recall on my vehicle do u happen to know amything about it or who I could talk to about it
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 12:55 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Can't help with that. You can try doing an internet search by typing in your vehicle model and year, and the word "recall". There are web sites that list all the current recalls too but I don't know what they are. You might try sites like for Motor Trend magazine, or something like that.

The dealer will also know which recalls are currently in effect and if they pertain to your car. Very often recalls affect cars built before or after a specific date that can be found on the door sticker.

Recalls are for safety or emissions problems, and for a few manufacturers, customer satisfaction issues. They aren't issued for normal problems like what you've descried so far. That's not to say there isn't one related to your problem. So far it just sounds like you have a typical intermittent problem.

You can also do a search for service bulletins. Those are totally different than recalls and you don't get notified of them. Service bulletins are issued to dealership mechanics and cover hard-to-diagnose problems that pop up somewhat frequently. They're aren't necessarily related to warranty issues either although they could occur while a car is under warranty. Their purpose is to help the mechanic diagnose an elusive problem faster and they usually provide the recommended repair procedure. GM lives on a lot of very customer-unfriendly business practices, and one of them is the people at the service counter often won't know about service bulletins since they aren't mechanics, and if they do know about them, they don't like to admit there is a common problem. It's up to the dealership owner how forthcoming they want their employees to be when it comes to giving information to car owners. At the very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership I worked at in the '90s we had the owner's blessing to share information and let owners look at service manuals. We even borrowed out special tools. We also shared information back and forth with the Pontiac and Toyota dealers down the road, and the Ford dealer until an extremely crooked Chevy dealership owner took them over.

There's two other ways to learn about service bulletins. One is again, to do an internet search and hope whatever web site you find considered it worthy of including on their site, or you can visit an independent repair shop. GM is one of the world's leading manufacturers when it comes to trying to squeeze the independents out and force you to go back to the dealership, but the information still leaks out. Most independent shops subscribe to one of the online service manual companies, and some of them pay over a thousand dollars per month to "rent" the information. Service bulletins are usually included unless the manufacturer has tried to hide it.

Some service bulletins don't even get mentioned because they're for things that won't interest you or anyone other than the dealership people. That can include revised part numbers for an improved part. Those improved parts will have already made their way to the rest of the repair industry, but the manufacturer doesn't want a dealership employee to come across one of the old parts and install it on a customer's car. Some bulletins refer to fit and finish, and other things owners aren't concerned with once the car is out of warranty. Independent shops typically don't get requests to handle wind noises and leaks, upholstery issues, and things like that.
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 1:32 AM

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