1993 Pontiac Sunbird runs very rough / then dies at low idl

Tiny
STREET_ROD_GUY
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 PONTIAC SUNBIRD
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 167,000 MILES
HI.
We have a 1993 Pontiac Sunbird. Recently the car started running hot. I checked and found out the electic fan motor had quit. Replaced the fan motor, and all was fine.
A couple weeks later the car was climbing a hill, and died.
We got it home, the next day I tried to start it. It would start but runs very rough. It stays running if we keep the idle up. And the rough idle is 'better' When we let it idle down it runs even rougher, and when you put it in gear and start to move it dies.

SO this just came up all of a sudden. So I am at a loss as to what it may be. Someone said maybe the catalic converted may be clogged. But I assumed it would start running rough, and then get worse as it clogged more?
Transmission itself seems to be fine, and tranny fluid is a like new color, and is full. IT also has no type of smell like it is burnt.

I am disbaled, and my Girl friend is only employeed as a temp. Needless to say we have to have a running vehicle if she hopes to get a full time job. Money is very tight. I am hoping I can get some suggestions on fixes, and try to do it myself. We can't afford to have it hauked to a repair shop, and then pay to have it fixed. SO maybe I can do it myself. I am 'fairly' handy, but need to be pointed in the right direction or given a couple options on what to check.

OH. The check engine light is NOT on, and so I assume it has no codes.
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Monday, July 12th, 2010 AT 5:02 PM

10 Replies

Tiny
STREET_ROD_GUY
  • MEMBER
HI. It's been 24 hours and no reply

I see this is posted on the site

"if you elect to donate a small sum of your choice, we will guarantee an answer from one of our certified technicians within 24 hours. If we are not able to help you, we will gladly return your donation"

SO much for any type of priority for putting in a donation. SO far not even any "views". So none of the 'experts" have even bothered to look at the question I posted.
Hhuummmm smells fishy?
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Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 AT 4:16 PM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
Hello and thanks for donating

First off, I do apologize for a slower than normal response and regret that you feel as though the site is "fishy".

As for your vehicle's issue, this seems as though you have a fuel starvation issue. The most likely culprit, especially with such high mileage, would be a clogged fuel filter. It is relatively cheap and easy to replace the fuel filter and should be done so on a regular maintenance basis anyhow. The check engine light would not come on for a dirty fuel filter either.
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Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 AT 5:21 PM
Tiny
STREET_ROD_GUY
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the reply.
I'll try that first. We discussed that. And thought it may be a possibility. GF ran out of gas a few weeks back. So highly possible it could be full of trash.

Was curious if it may be catlyitic converter. But wasn't sure how it would act it that was clogged up.

I just changed the fuel filter on my old Caddy, so it should be pretty much the same.
Stay tuned. If that doesn't work. I'll be back. If you think of any other possible problems. Feel free to throw them out.

It's a 1993, and with 167000 miles, the blue book value I am sure is less than $1,000. SO can't afford to hire anything done.
Thanks again for the reply
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Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 AT 5:32 PM
Tiny
2CARPROS LINSEY
  • MEMBER
Thank you for using 2CarPros. Com. We appreciate your donation and look forward to helping you in the future.
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Friday, July 16th, 2010 AT 1:09 PM
Tiny
STREET_ROD_GUY
  • MEMBER
Well we found out it isn't the fuel filter.
On to other options.

Any suggestions. I would work on the assumption that all the plugs and plug wires are fine. What else could be an issue.
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Friday, July 16th, 2010 AT 1:37 PM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
You would want to have a fuel pressure check ran on the vehicle. The fuel filter may be fine but there are more to the system then just the filter.
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Friday, July 16th, 2010 AT 5:35 PM
Tiny
STREET_ROD_GUY
  • MEMBER
Wondered if maybe it could be a coil problem.
The power was fine one day. Was even driving the car when it just lost it's power. All of a sudden type thing.

Someone suggested it could be something electrical.
Do you Have an opinion.
Thanks for all the help.
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Friday, July 16th, 2010 AT 7:19 PM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
Yes it could be spark related, however I was under the impression that the spark was already ruled out?
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Friday, July 16th, 2010 AT 11:28 PM
Tiny
STREET_ROD_GUY
  • MEMBER
Sorry If I gave the wrong impression. Some of this stuff is hard to figure out even when everyone is on the same page.

Here's where I am.
I THINK I have figured out what it is.
I am thinking the coil is bad.
Here's why.
I know when you remove a spark plug, and ground it that the spark should be bright blue.
Ours is a yellow color. Someone said it could be the coil. Sudden lose of power / pull, wrong color fire, etc.

SO I been trying to figure out HOW to remove the dern thing. It is way in the back, next to the firewall, and under some of the major motor parts. I can't even SEE it, let alone figure out how to get it off. All I can do is follow the plug wires around and 'feel' where it is located.

Any suggestion is what all is involved with removing the dern thing. I can't see any way to get at it from the top, or from underneath.
Also I was curious about possible prices on this part. I saw one place on-line they are about $200. Does that sound about right.
If I can't fix it myself. The cost involved looks like it'll be more than the car is worth.

Thanks for all your help. Sorry to be such a bother.
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Saturday, July 17th, 2010 AT 11:55 AM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
All of this talk about coils just jogged my memory, I recall these older sunbirds having issues with their ignition modules failing. This may be what your problem is. Undo the two Phillips screws on the distributor cap and remove the cap. Pull the distributor rotor off the shaft. The module is mounted flat across the surface directly below the rotor. It is a semi-circular dark grey or brown piece taking up about half the surface of the distributor face, held on with two small hex-head screws. Also, normally when a coil pack fails it fails completely, meaning there would be no spark at all at the plug, not just weak orange spark.
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Sunday, July 18th, 2010 AT 11:28 AM

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