1992 Buick Century Randomly will not start, "backfires

Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
  • 1992 BUICK CENTURY
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 138,000 MILES
Recently my Buick started this problem. Half the time it starts and runs fine, the other half it will not start (after not being used for several hours). When it doesn't start, the first turn of the key sounds normal, but if I continue to try, there is a sort of "backfire" that seems to occur where in the air filter compartment, and there is a puff of white vapor/smoke in the same position.

I do have a check engine light that's been coming on for about 2 months, which I was told was saying that my EGR valve was bad. At the time I was told this at Autozone, they also said it wasn't a serious situation, and at most I would probably have reduced gas mileage until I replaced it.

I'm not sure if the EGR valve could be causing the random ignition failures, and while I wait on my paycheck, I took out the valve and attempted to clean it and oil it with WD40. It didn't fix the problem, so I'm wondering if this could be the whole problem, or if it's not involved, and what the issue might be.

Thanks in advance for any help!

-Steve-
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Friday, May 9th, 2008 AT 3:03 PM

26 Replies

Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/62217_95_OlderGM_20.jpg


Cross these two terminals as shown, then turn the key on. Count the flashes, a 22 will flash as 2 flashes then a short pause, then 2 flashes, if more than one code is stored, the pause will be longer. The codes will display three times and end with 12. Write them down and post here. This connector is right under the middle of the dash...
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Friday, May 9th, 2008 AT 3:06 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Ok just did that. It seemed to give me two different codes. A 13 and a 32.

Thanks again !
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Friday, May 9th, 2008 AT 7:13 PM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
O2 sensor and egr. These are not causing your starting issues. If this has the 4 cylinder engine then most likely the cause is the #1 spark plug wire is bad so rep[lace plugs and plug wires. If the engine is in fact a 3.8l v6 then the problem is probably a faulty coil pack and you can check it by using a ohm meter across the towers of the coils and you will probably find one that has a open in it.
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Friday, May 9th, 2008 AT 8:18 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Ok, I will do that asap. Thanks a ton for the advice. As far as the o2 sensor and EGR issues, I take it I'll just need to replace the sensor, but any advice on diagnosing the EGR code?
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Friday, May 9th, 2008 AT 9:29 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
Get it running first then we will worry about the egr.32 could also be the MAP sensor voltage is low.
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Saturday, May 10th, 2008 AT 5:45 AM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Ok just finished replacing plugs and wires, also went ahead and replaced the o2 sensor.

Car started on the first try afterwards, so hopefully that behavior will continue.

Edit:

car is still starting. After clearing ECM codes and driving it then getting a check engine light, i'm still getting the 13 and 32 codes.
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Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 AT 5:04 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Well I jinxed myself. It's not starting again, same backfire thing.

Any other suggestions?
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Thursday, May 15th, 2008 AT 6:37 PM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
What ignition system does this have (here are 2 different ) are the coils all one piece or are there 3 seperate coils? If they are all one coil in a block then replace it. You can check for sure by using a ohm meter across the coil towers and I strongly feel you will find a coil out of resistance
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Friday, May 16th, 2008 AT 6:26 AM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
I'm still rather new to this, but as far as i'm understanding, the coils are in a single block. I'm going to check for spark and also test the posts at the coil as you suggested.
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Friday, May 16th, 2008 AT 3:44 PM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
That coil pack is a bad design and is very common for your condition. You will find one set of coiltowers to be open causing your problem and all you have to do is replace it
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Friday, May 16th, 2008 AT 3:52 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
I will test and replace if found open. Thanks again!
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Friday, May 16th, 2008 AT 4:21 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Ok well I had time to work on it today, so I picked up an ignition coil and got a better understanding of what it was. As a result it seems I have 2 coils right next to each other.

I tested them both, and the reading was (please bare with my ineptitude with a multi-meter) 5.6 for both, while the new coil I bought reads 8.4 or so.

Do I need to replace them both, or is there an underlying problem?
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Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 AT 4:30 PM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
5.6K OHMS is acceptable resistance for the coils. Both were the same? They sound ok. On the first cylinder where the spark plug wire is near the alternator bracket, try putting some wire loom cover over it and make sure its not touching the bracket. Its very important that wire is in good shape and connected properly.
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Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 AT 6:46 AM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Yes, both tested the same. I maybe should have noted that the car started fine before I tested it. Do I need to perform the test when it's not properly igniting?

The wire is brand new and connected fine and isn't touching anything. I'll pick up wire loom when I return the coil.
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Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 AT 12:46 PM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
YES RECHECK WHEN COLD OR WHEN ITS ACTING UP.
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Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 AT 3:11 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
I finally caught it acting up when I had time to test it. It's been starting regularly until today. I tested the coils and they were still reading between 5.6 and 5.7k ohms.

I'm wondering, since it's been starting lately every time, and the weather has also been hot while today it's a little cooler and rainy, if there is a correlation?

If not, what can I try next?
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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 AT 3:38 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
If it acts up in the rain, wait till dark get a spray bottles and mist down sections at a time till you see it arcing. If you don't see it in the dark! Do you still have the check engine light? If the EGR code is still present see if it's stuck open, if it is replace it. An open EGR CAN prevent a car from starting.32 can also be the Manifold absoilute pressure sensor*MAP) and this can definatly cause starting and drivability problems.
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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 AT 4:07 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
Yes, I still have check engine light, including the EGR code. The valve is not stuck and seems to move normally (though i'd have to feel a brand new one to know exactly). When the car does start there is no apparent drivability issue.

I also still get an o2 sensor code even though I replaced it. I'll try the mist bottle thing asap.
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Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 AT 1:31 PM
Tiny
TRIPP78
  • MEMBER
To clarify. For testing with the spray bottle at night. Does this need to be done when the car won't start. And as far as where to spray, all over the engine area in small sections at a time?
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Friday, June 6th, 2008 AT 2:49 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
Concentrate on the coils and wires, and dont forget what I said earlier. The MAP can also be the reason for the 32 code.
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Friday, June 6th, 2008 AT 4:21 PM

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