1986 Lebaron poor fuel economy and lack of power

Tiny
JACKONZOPHI
  • MEMBER
  • 1986 CHRYSLER LE BARON
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 89,000 MILES
I have a 1986 Lebaron 4cyl. 2.5 TBI, automatic, with only 89,000 miles. Looks like new, and has been well maintained.

I have had the car for a year, and no one has been able to diagnose and repair the problem I have been
having.

It has been to the Chrysler dealership 4 times, and all they can do is replace parts that do not even help the problem. Not to mention 2 other certified mechanics that have tested everything they can think of to no avail. So I thought I would give you guys a shot to see if maybe there is something that these guys have over-looked.

Initially the car got 29 miles to the gallon with the air on maximum, as the months have waned it has dropped to 22 or so, without the air on. All the mechanics have agreed it doesn't have a lot of power, but they can not pin-point the problem.

Car starts up every time, idles smoothly, no smoke.

It is throwing "no codes"! I check it everyday, just hoping it will pop something out, all I get is code 55 (end of codes).

Here is the list of all that is new.

Catalytic Converter
(also had exhaust checked to make sure it had proper out-put, which it did)
Timing belt
Water-Pump
brakes
TPS sensor and harness
O2 sensor and harness
Plugs
Plug Wires
Rotor and Dist. Cap
Radiator Cap
Battery
PCV valve
Fuel Filter
Air Filter
Fuses

Things that were checked and considered normal:

Fuel Pressure
Fuel Injector (TBI)
Exhaust back pressure
Vacuum lines

No leaks, no unusual smells.

Someone mentioned to me that the throttle body temperature sensor might be out of wack, but that would be a code 23, and I think is only used for hot re-starts, which it starts just fine.

I'm at a loss. Suggestions?

Thank you for your time!
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Monday, June 22nd, 2009 AT 7:01 PM

11 Replies

Tiny
BUDDYCRAIGG
  • EXPERT
Wow, you've thrown a lot of stuff at this car without getting any results.
You must be ready to pull your hair out.

I've got two things that come to mind.

The first thing you can check yourself really easy.
The second the car will have to be plugged in to a live scan tool to see what the computer is seeing in real time.

First, you said the brakes have been replaced, but that doesn't tell me too much.
I want you to check to see if the brakes are dragging.
Drive the car around a bit and find a very slight incline.
I mean almost flat and stop and then put the car in neutral and take your foot off the brake pedal.
You should start to roll immediately when you take your foot off.

Second, you'll need a scan tool. I would check to see if the ECM is ever going into closed loop.
There may be a way of doing it without a data logger, I'm not a dodge expert by any stretch.

Come back if you have more info.
We will beat this thing to death
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Monday, June 22nd, 2009 AT 7:45 PM
Tiny
JACKONZOPHI
  • MEMBER
I slipped the car into neutral this morning, and it rolled fine into the street. Then I stopped in the street, because it is almost even and let go of the brake, and took off slowly rolling.

I had never thought about the brakes catching?

Last June,
I had the brakes replaced front and back, rotors turned and calipers replaced.

As for the scan tool.I don't have one and I know there not much, but that new timing belt and water-pump blew my extra funding till next week!

My car is 23 years old
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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 AT 5:25 PM
Tiny
BUDDYCRAIGG
  • EXPERT
I've got you beat, I own 3 cars and 2 motorcycles.
The newest one is from 1985.

Let me re-read your posts and think about if for a night.
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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 AT 9:39 PM
Tiny
BUDDYCRAIGG
  • EXPERT
Before I start getting my brains all twisted up.

I want to ask if you had all of the items in your first post replaced AFTER you lost power and MPG?

And still nothing has improved?
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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 AT 10:19 PM
Tiny
JACKONZOPHI
  • MEMBER
.

When I first bought the car, before I even actually bought it, I drove it 3 times, each time every once once in a while while driving it at highway speeds it would for 3 or 4 seconds "hesitate".

I thought all it needed was new plugs. So I bought the car, took it in to Chrysler Dealership right next door to where I work, and let them give it a tune-up and a good going over.

When I went to pick it up, they told me, that everything looked well maintained, and gave the car a clean bill of health.

I Paid for the tune-up and got in the car to go home, and the hesitation remained when I was getting on the interstate.

Sometimes it doesn't do it at all, then sometimes it would do it 2 or 3 times.

2 weeks later, I had looked for a faulty code, and sure enough it needed a TPS sensor, so I dropped it off at the dealership, and told them, they replaced the sensor and the harness. Picked it up, got on the interstate and about 3 miles down the rode it "hesitated"! That was last june, over the past year, I have read everything I can about these K-cars, and then either replace a part myself or take it to a mechanic.

2 weeks after the TPS sensor was replaced, I took it back to the dealership and told them I was "still' experiencing the hesitation. They kept it for 4 days, and called me to tell me they have the problem fixed.
They said they replaced the O2 sensor and harness.

I was excited, went and pickd it up, got it out on the interstate, ran better, got home without a hesitation. Got in the car the next day to go to work, and it hesitated 2 times going to work!

By this time I was broke, pissed, and just gave up and lived with it for a couple of months, then I replaced pvc valve and fuel filter and air filter.

Same problem. In the meantime, I noticed my gas mileage had started "dropping" from 29 MPG on the highway to around 22 to 23 mpg on the highway.

Overall the car was still running about the same.

Nothing much improved, nothing got worse.

Anyways. The rest of the items mentioned above have been replaced, little by little, as extra cash, and time has allowed.

BTW.I am almost certain last year I paid the dealership to "scan" the car, thats when they came back with it needing the O2 sensor and harness.

Then a month ago, right before the new timing belt and water-pump got replaced, the mechanic said he scanned it looking for a potential problem and could not see anythig out of range.

Sometimes, like today on the way home from work, it acted like it just did not want to go, as if I had the brake on and was giving it gas at the same time.

But once your going it just sails down the road, idles smoothly, and when I pull up in the driveway, it idles smooth and quiet.

No gas smells, no oil smells, no nothing, and I have had my sniffer up in that car and underneath it looking and sniffing. But "nothing'.

I am planning on taking it in next week, to have the throttle body cleaned and the throttle plate inspected and the injectors cleaned and set, by yet a totally different mechanic.

I can do some things myself, but my vision is great at seeing at a distance, but upclose even with glasses, I just can't see like I used to.

Anyways. Thanks for your interest and help thus far.

So in answering your initial question with what history I have provided, it started out as a hesitation, without much power, but good gas mileage.

In the months that followed, gas mileage slowly started dropping, and still not much power (sluggish), and the hesitation not as bad or hardly noticable.

The hesitation kinda got better when I replaced the plug wires, rotor and distr. Cap.

I have driven 6000 miles since buying the car last June, almost all of it on the highway to and from work 11 miles one way. 22 miles round trip.
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Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 AT 3:58 PM
Tiny
BUDDYCRAIGG
  • EXPERT
Oh my god my head hurts.

**NOTE**
I do not like to throw parts at a problem with out being totally (or at least 95%) sure that the part is needed.

Saying that. Before you take it in to a dealer ship again, there are two things that those cars were known for.
Well, other than cranks in the head between the valve seats. But I digress.

Other than timing belts, there are 2 things that I have replaced on a lot of mid 80's 2.2s and 2.5s.

The Hall effect switch.
And the SMEG computers in the air cleaner tube. I'm probably saying that wrong, it was Single Engine Management Controller or Single Motor. Oh hell, I dont remember, I do know I had to take a stupid night class on the damn things, cause they were so different than anything else out there at the time.

The hall effect switch is really easy to change. It's right under the rotor, and you only need a screw driver. They cost about 35 bucks.

The computer is also pretty easy to change.
And they're not so bad these days.
15 years ago they cost around 300. But they are down to about 100 now.

So if I had to throw parts at it, it would be those two.

*************************************
now some more things to think about

next time it does it's hesitation thing, drop it in to neutral and rev it a couple of times and listen to the engine, and watch the tach if you have one.
See if it sounds "normal"
you might need to play with reving it in PARK in your drive way if you've never done it before. Cause you wouldn't know what "normal" should sound like.

That's all I've got my friend.

Good luck and be sure to come back if you have new developments.
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Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 AT 8:56 PM
Tiny
JACKONZOPHI
  • MEMBER
Sorry to make your head hurt!

But ya asked? Haha.

Well driving down the road, and it started doing its thing, and I slapped it into neutral. It sounded normal, nothing out of the ordinary, no miss, no weird vibration. Nothing!

Question?
I was told if the Hall Effect Sensor was whacked it would not even start?

As I "almost" changed it when I went and bought the rotor and distributor cap and wires, but the parts guy at Autozone, said if it was "bad" that the car would not even start!

So your saying. That it could still be working, allowing car to fire up and run, but it might be slightly off?

Thanks for all your advice and time!

Oh. Btw.I turned the air-conditioner on for the first time yesterday.

It blew ice-cold last season, and the car did not run any worse or better with the AC on.

But when I turned on the AC yesterday, the car started idling "rough". Its never idled rough, and its lack of power went from bad to worse.

So I turned the AC back off and continued to sweat on my drive home from work and smoked my cigerette!

Got home, belt is snug.

Just wondering if maybe this is a result of what has slowly gotten worse over the past year?

Again. Thanks.I am going to replace the Hall Effect Sensor this weekend.I'll keep ya posted on the results.

Of course, if this works, you know I am going to have to go to the Chrysler Dealership and knock a few heads around! Ha
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Thursday, June 25th, 2009 AT 8:29 PM
Tiny
BUDDYCRAIGG
  • EXPERT
You know the chase scene in the old Herbie the love bug movie, where the old man is being chased by VWs that have teeth.

That's what i'm going to dream about tonight, only it will be K cars.

Electrical components have 3 stages.
1 working.
2 intermittent problem
3 complete failure.

Normally I would agree with the parts guy that told you not to buy it, but you've replaced every else except for the Power steering pump.
One more shot in the dark ain't gonna kill ya.

And besides, I'm flat out of ideas.
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Thursday, June 25th, 2009 AT 9:44 PM
Tiny
BUDDYCRAIGG
  • EXPERT
I love AC work, but we are not going to talk about that until the rest of it is fixed.
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Thursday, June 25th, 2009 AT 9:46 PM
Tiny
JACKONZOPHI
  • MEMBER
I have worked 7 days a week now for 3 weeks, and honestly, have just been to darn tired to do anything remotely mechanical.

Last thursday, it actually for the first time "ever" died on me turning into the ole HomeDepot.
It started right up and I proceeded into the parking lot. Went in, bought what I needed for work, came back out, started right up, but ran like poop.

Went to my other job (yelp it made it), got home form there. Next day it almost died again, but didn't.
4th of July weekend, it sat till Monday morning, I took it in to yet another mechanic. Left it with them, told them what it was doing, yadda, yadda.

Anyways 4 hours later, they called me, told me it was running fine?
So I went down to pick it up, (no charge) drove it home, ran good or should I say fairly normal?
Anyways, tuesday drove to work, ran good, after work, driving home, it hesitated twice, then ran fine afterwards. Rest of this week it has ran fairly normal, still acting like it wants to hesitate just for a second but doesn't actually go thru with it.

OH.I took it thru emission testing the tuesday before it stalled on me.
It PASSED with flying colors, I really did not expect it to pass. The guy told me, he has cars come thru almost new that did not get the low numbers my old car does.

Anyways, thought this might fry your brain a bit! Ha.

I am having the MAP sensor replaced, and the Hall Effect sensor replaced asap.

I'll let ya know if a "miracle" happens! Haha.
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Thursday, July 9th, 2009 AT 7:18 PM
Tiny
JACKONZOPHI
  • MEMBER
Finally took it to a mechanic that has 28 years experience at a Chrysler Dealership. He seems to know his stuff!

He checked everything out, including the timing!

It was 15 degrees "off"! Unbelievable! It runs better, but still seems off somehow?

In the mean time.I am trying to pinpoint a "almost" over-heating issue.

New top and bottom radiator hoses, thermostat, New radiator, fan coming on just as it start to climb past mid-way on the temp gauge. But still wants to climb to the 3/4 area of temp gauge! Never gets above it, cause I chicken out and turn it off!

I put on a new temp. Sending unit wednesday night.
Started it up, and still the same thing after 15 minutes it starts to climb up to 3/4.

Car has been sitting and sitting! So broke with everything that I have replaced. I am replacing the thermostat AGAIN tomorrow if it is not raining!
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Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 AT 12:32 AM

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