1998 Plymouth Breeze Fuel Rich scan, car vibrates hard whil

Tiny
IMHOTEP06
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 PLYMOUTH BREEZE
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 160,000 MILES
Greetings everyone
my vehicle is a 1998 Plymouth Breeze, 2.4L Engine, automatic.

Problem:
1) The primary problem is that when the car is idle (neutral, park, or in drive) the vehicle vibrates vigorously, especially when stopped in drive gear.
2) The power seems to be a little weak when reversing.
3) When actually in motion, the car seems fine
4) Check Engine light is on

I recently had it scanned and the mechanic told me that the fuel is "rich." I think the scan narrowed it down to 8 possible issues, which I don't remember at this point. He said something about "O2 Sensors" and "Map Sensors" possibly needing replacing. I've already replaced the spark plugs, so that's not it.

I just had some other work done on it to replace the timing belt that snapped, and a mount replacement. I don't want to have to "replace" 8 possible items if 7 of them are not the problem.

So I am typing to see if anyone is familiar with this issue, how can I be sure what specifically is the problem, what do you recommend I do before taking it back to a mechanic, and based on your experience and the suggestion you propose, what should repairing this work cost in your best estimate?

Keep in mind I am not a "car guy, " so please explain everything as if I have absolutely no knowledge of what you're talking about (because that is more likely the case). I recently ordered from Amazon the book: Chrysler Cirrus, Dodge Stratus, Plymouth Breeze Automotive Repair Manual: Models Covered: Chrysler Cirrus, Dodge Stratus and Plymouth Breeze 1995 Through 1998 (Haynes Automotive Repair Manual Series) [ILLUSTRATED] (Paperback), to help me get familiar with the set up of my vehicle and how to diagnose possible problems. Hopefully it will be in by next week.

In the meantime, any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

AI
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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 AT 10:25 AM

4 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
This is the best kind of post. Too many uninformed people just throw a lot of parts at their car hoping one will stick and fix the problem, but they're really just inserting a whole new bunch of variables. Also, lots of valuable information to mine for clues. Thank you.

Although I'm not a driveability expert, I can share that the oxygen sensors in the exhaust system only measure unburned oxygen; they do not detect unburned fuel. The computer normally commands the fuel mixture to switch from rich to lean to rich many times per second, then it watches the readings from the O2 sensors to see how they respond. An inactive, (contaminated) O2 sensor won't detect any oxygen. The typical diagnostic fault code would be something to the effect of "O2 sensor not switching properly".

You would think a perfect air / fuel ratio would be ideal for best performance and lowest emissions, and that was true on older cars with carburetors. Catalytic converters in the exhaust system need the lean cycles to introduce extra oxygen that is stored in the material. That oxygen mixes with the extra fuel during the next half cycle, then it is burned to clean up the exhaust. While a perfect mixture is best for emissions, the engine computer would be unable to monitor it without the rich / lean cycles.

As you drive, the engine computer notices that for a proper air / fuel mixture, it has to continually add or subtract a little fuel from the expected value. It puts this information into its memory called "Short Term Fuel Trim". These numbers are continually updated as you drive. After a while, the computer notices that it is always making the same modifications, so it puts the learned values into its "Long Term Fuel Trims". The next time you drive the car, it uses these modified numbers for the various set of conditions as the starting point, then again adjusts fuel delivery around those numbers as necessary.

What's happening in your case is the computer isn't seeing any extra oxygen during the lean part of the cycle. Something is causing extra fuel to be introduced. The computer is trying to subtract fuel from the expected values but is still unable to achieve a lean condition. That's when it sets the diagnostic fault code and turns on the Check Engine light.

The MAP sensor monitors engine vacuum which is directly related to load. Lower vacuum / higher load means the engine needs more fuel. When this sensor reports an incorrect value, it can lead the computer into thinking more fuel is needed. On older cars, this could also be caused by a cracked or deteriorated vacuum hose going to the sensor, but now most of these sensors are screwed directly into the engine. As these sensors fail, they will eventually send a signal that is outside the normal limits. That's when the computer detects the problem and sets the appropriate fault code. Since you didn't have a code related to the MAP sensor, (yet), it is reporting values within normal limits even though they could be incorrect.

To add to the confusion, very specific conditions must be met for the computer to set a code. Besides a simple defect, it also reconciles one sensor reading with the others. For example, a very low voltage from the MAP sensor indicates heavy acceleration. A low voltage from the throttle position sensor indicates the engine is idling or coasting. Even though both readings could be normal, they can't both occur at the same time. The computer has various strategies to figure out which sensor is wrong.

It is also important to understand that the fault codes very often do not specify which part is bad. They indicate the circuit with the problem or the improper operating condition that has been detected. Too many people think the mechanic just hooks up a computer and it tells him which part to replace.

Some fault codes will not be set in memory if other codes are present. The computer compares one sensor to another under various conditions. When a code is present, the computer knows it can't rely on that sensor's reading to compare to other sensors. For that reason, sometimes a defect won't be apparent until the previous problem is fixed. That can lead to additional needed repairs beyond what the original reading of the stored codes found, and that can lead people to think their mechanic is taking advantage of them. It can be a tough position for the mechanic to be put in.

Getting back to the rich condition, a leaky injector can allow too much fuel into the engine. Chrysler has had very little trouble with injectors over the years. GM has had a real lot of trouble. An additional clue to a leaking injector would be an unusually long crank time before the engine starts. The fuel system will normally maintain pressure for weeks without being started. That pressure is needed for the engine to run. A leaking injector will bleed the pressure off. The fuel pump only runs for two seconds when you turn on the ignition switch, (you might be able to hear it), in preparation for starting, but that might not be enough time to build up pressure if it was completely gone. The pump will turn on again when the computer sees engine rotation, (cranking or running). This system is related to Chrysler's very effective and reliable safety shutdown system if a fuel line is ruptured in a crash.

If one cylinder is the cause of the rich condition, a leaky injector for example, the computer will detect that in the exhaust, but it can only control all four injectors as a group, not individually. As a result, it would be subtracting fuel from all four cylinders, including the three cylinders that are working correctly. That is one possible reason for the low power. Three lean cylinders might also explain the rough running condition.

Remember, this is all speculation based on theory. My Auto Electrical course took eight weeks, 20 hours per week to teach electrical theory. Two weeks of that was spent on sensors and that was just normal operation. Later, a different course dealt with diagnosing these circuits, so you can see it's impossible to cover all the potential problems here. I've presented just the tip of the iceberg, but at least what your mechanic tells you might make a little more sense. Hopefully some other people will add additional replies that can shed more light on what to look for on your car.

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, December 12th, 2009 AT 6:23 AM
Tiny
IMHOTEP06
  • MEMBER
This is very helpful. I just got the specific information back and it is as follows:

Trouble Codes
P0172 System adaptive fuel too rich (bank 1)

The mechanic said it gave the following readings:

1) Code set when PCM Conducts test I determine if fuel system is running too rich.
2) STADAP - 5.6 0.78 Upstream

Possible causes:
CAT Converter plug
Fuel Pressure Regulator
MAP Sensor
Faulty PCM
Injectors stuck open
Upstream 025
Harness connector

***********************

When looking online I found the following information in regards to the P0172 code that may be informative:

Possible solutions include:

* Inspect all vacuum and PCV hoses, replace if necessary
* Cleanthe MAF sensor. Consult your service manual for it's location if you need help. I find it's best to take it off and spray it with electronics cleaner or brake cleaner. Make sure you are careful not to damage the MAF sensor, and make sure it's dry before reinstalling
* Inspect fuel lines for cracks, leaks, or pinches
* Check the fuel pressure at the fuel rail
* Check the fuel injectors, they may be dirty. Use fuel injector cleaner or get them professionally cleaned/replaced.
* Check for an exhaust leak before the first oxygen sensor (this is unlikely to cause the problem, but it is possible)

*****************************

These recommendations mention the MAF but it was not given as a possible problem. Would it be wise to follow the above recommendations? In this situation what would you do now that you have more information?
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Thursday, December 17th, 2009 AT 2:23 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
This is out of my area of expertise, but I can offer some observations. Chrysler domestic vehicles have never used a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor. Chrysler is the only manufacturer that has been able to make an engine run properly without one. Their main contributor to fuel calculations is the Manifoild Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor. It measures intake manifold vacuum. Vacuum drops when the throttle is opened, signaling the need for more fuel due to increased load on the engine. Higher engine speeds increase vacuum so the throttle position sensor is also used to determine why more fuel is needed.

I don't know how to interpret "adaptive fuel too rich". Adaptive fuel is the set of memorized values that modify fuel delivery for any set of sensor readings beyond the pre-programmed values from the factory. Does your code mean the computer is continually seeing a too lean condition and is commanding an excessive increase in fuel? Does it mean the memorized values are resulting in too much fuel being added?

The possible remedies all suggest to me there is too much fuel going through the engine. Whether it's caused by something, or it's caused by the computer commanding an increase in fuel in response to incorrect information it receives, I don't know. The "something" could be a leaky injector or fuel pressure too high. The incorrect information could be coming from a defective MAP sensor or a cracked vacuum hose going to it.

If an injector is leaking, it will bleed off the fuel pressure that normally stays in the system for weeks after the engine is stopped. That pressure must be present for the engine to start instantly. If the pressure bleeds off, you will notice an real long crank time before the engine starts.

Two forces act on a person about to parachute out of a perfectly good airplane. The wind causes a vacuum that pulls him out and the guy behind him pushes him out. Similarly, a molecule of fuel has manifold vacuum and fuel pressure acting on him and his buddies. An increase in vacuum, such as when coasting, will pull in too many fuel molecules resulting in an overly rich condition. To prevent that, the hose to the pressure regulator transfers manifold vacuum to the diaphragm to reduce pressure. Higher vacuum with lower pressure equals a steady rate of fuel flow through the injector. GM has had a real lot of trouble with leaking regulators. The fuel goes past the diaphragm and hose into the intake manifold. This unexpected fuel results in black smoke out the tail pipe, and the engine computer won't have enough control to correct the mixture. Also, most of the fuel will go into the one or two cylinders next to the vacuum port, so those two cylinders will have an overly rich mixture, and the other cylinders will be overly lean from the computer trying to lean out the mixture. The extra unburned air and the extra unburned fuel combine and are burned in the catalytic converter which can overheat and turn red hot.

The good news is again, Chrysler has very little trouble with pressure regulators. To check for leaking, pull the hose off a minute or two after stopping the engine. There should be no sign of wetness.

Besides reading the fault codes, your mechanic will use the hand-held computer to watch the sensor values change as the engine is running. He can induce a lean condition by pulling off a vacuum hose, or a rich condition by adding propane, then watch how the sensors and computer respond. They have a lot of other tricks to diagnose the problem.

Hopefully this will help a little in understanding what your engine is doing. Maybe someone else can add information or corrections.

Caradiodoc
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Thursday, December 17th, 2009 AT 7:26 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
This is out of my area of expertise, but I can offer some observations. Chrysler domestic vehicles have never used a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor. Chrysler is the only manufacturer that has been able to make an engine run properly without one. Their main contributor to fuel calculations is the Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor. It measures intake manifold vacuum. Vacuum drops when the throttle is opened, signaling the need for more fuel due to increased load on the engine. Higher engine speeds increase vacuum so the throttle position sensor is also used to determine why more fuel is needed.

I don't know how to interpret "adaptive fuel too rich". Adaptive fuel is the set of memorized values that modify fuel delivery for any set of sensor readings beyond the pre-programmed values from the factory. Does your code mean the computer is continually seeing a too lean condition and is commanding an excessive increase in fuel? Does it mean the memorized values are resulting in too much fuel being added?

The possible remedies all suggest to me there is too much fuel going through the engine. Whether it's caused by something, or it's caused by the computer commanding an increase in fuel in response to incorrect information it receives, I don't know. The "something" could be a leaky injector or fuel pressure too high. The incorrect information could be coming from a defective MAP sensor or a cracked vacuum hose going to it.

If an injector is leaking, it will bleed off the fuel pressure that normally stays in the system for weeks after the engine is stopped. That pressure must be present for the engine to start instantly. If the pressure bleeds off, you will notice an real long crank time before the engine starts.

Two forces act on a person about to parachute out of a perfectly good airplane. The wind causes a vacuum that pulls him out and the guy behind him pushes him out. Similarly, a molecule of fuel has manifold vacuum and fuel pressure acting on him and his buddies. An increase in vacuum, such as when coasting, will pull in too many fuel molecules resulting in an overly rich condition. To prevent that, the hose to the pressure regulator transfers manifold vacuum to the diaphragm to reduce pressure. Higher vacuum with lower pressure equals a steady rate of fuel flow through the injector. GM has had a real lot of trouble with leaking regulators. The fuel goes past the diaphragm and hose into the intake manifold. This unexpected fuel results in black smoke out the tail pipe, and the engine computer won't have enough control to correct the mixture. Also, most of the fuel will go into the one or two cylinders next to the vacuum port, so those two cylinders will have an overly rich mixture, and the other cylinders will be overly lean from the computer trying to lean out the mixture. The extra unburned air and the extra unburned fuel combine and are burned in the catalytic converter which can overheat and turn red hot.

The good news is again, Chrysler has very little trouble with pressure regulators. To check for leaking, pull the hose off a minute or two after stopping the engine. There should be no sign of wetness.

Besides reading the fault codes, your mechanic will use the hand-held computer to watch the sensor values change as the engine is running. He can induce a lean condition by pulling off a vacuum hose, or a rich condition by adding propane, then watch how the sensors and computer respond. They have a lot of other tricks to diagnose the problem.

Hopefully this will help a little in understanding what your engine is doing. Maybe someone else can add information or corrections.

Caradiodoc
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Thursday, December 17th, 2009 AT 7:28 AM

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