1996 Chevy Cavalier Won't start - engine backfires

Tiny
MLEBLANC1154
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 218,000 MILES
This winter has been a killer, she tries to turn over but won't start. On the coolant side in the upper radiator hose that goes to the thermastat housing, while the car is running, it is easiy to compress like there is a flow problem. I have changed the water pump and thermostat and flushed the engines cooling system. Did not work. I have replaced the spark plugs with Bosch Plat +2 that are gap set. While trying to get her started it is like the engine builds up compression and I have to take some of the coolant out of the resivior because the coolant doesn't seem to be flowing through. If I do get her started she runs very ruff and with each gear change loses power but at times seams almot like something opens up and I get the power back. While she has a loss of power when I get to the lower gear changes you can hear some small engine backfires. If I am able to keep her running while driving her it is alomost like there is a blockage somewhere. When trying to start her it is almost like she is not getting enough gas but I can her the electronic prime working. Also when she is running in idle it is like she is missing or just real rough. If you turn the heater on she will try to die. Another wierd sound is while driving her it sounds almost like water going through pipes under the dash. PLEASE HELP? I cannot afford to go out and get a new car.
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Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 AT 10:12 AM

3 Replies

Tiny
ED ARMES
  • MEMBER
You have all the indications of a blown head gasket. The car runs rough because you are getting coolant in 1 or more cylinders and those cylinders will miss fire until all the water is blown out. Every time you shut it off the pressure forces coolant back into the cylinder through the leak. You have to remove coolant because air from the cylinders is being forced through the bad gasket to the water jacket and radiator resivoir which fills the system to overflow. When you pull the spark plugs are any of them wet? Do you see air bubbles in the resivoir or radiator when the cap is off and engine is running? This job at a shop would cost $600 to $1000 depending on other damage and reliability/honesty of the shop. New/rebuilt head is about $300+

If head gasket is bad the you must also have the head checked for cracks or warpage. :(
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Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 AT 10:27 AM
Tiny
MLEBLANC1154
  • MEMBER
Yes when pulling the plugs they appear wet. 1, 3, 4 also have a bunch of carbon which I clean off. I thought that it was just gas on the plugs. I also read that if it was in your oil that it whould show up milky when you pulled the dipstick. This is not occuring in the oil.

Mike
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Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 AT 10:01 AM
Tiny
ED ARMES
  • MEMBER
The gasket can leak either directly to the oil drainback which will put alot of oil/water mixture and condense like a milky foam on the dipstick or to the cylinders.

If you are leaking just into the cylinders, the rings allow a slower progression oil the mix to happen. Especially if you caught it early in the leak.

Other leaks would be directly to the outside edge of the gasket and could be seen as wetness around the block and head intersections.

If the plugs are wet with gas, they will evaporate dry quickly and also smell of raw fuel. If they have coolant on them they will not dry.
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Thursday, March 6th, 2008 AT 5:44 PM

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