Sputtering

Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
  • 1994 BUICK REGAL
  • 3.8L
  • V6
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 150,000 MILES
My car started sputtering randomly after fueling at a station we never use. After putting heet and fuel injector cleaner along with some premium fuel. Still sputtering. The sputter was still at random times. Changed the fuel filter and spark plugs, and changed the oil. Sputters worse now than it did before. It was just hesitating and sputtering only when it pulled a hill. Now it does not matter. Could this be the fuel pump causing this? And can you change it without dropping the tank?
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Saturday, May 12th, 2018 AT 6:49 PM

22 Replies

Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
Yes, it could be the fuel pump. But let me address some other possibilities first. (1) Those cars are super picky about their spark plugs and wires. What spark plugs did you use? Did you change the wires too? (2) Have you run a spark test on it at the coils yet? Coils can pretty randomly go out on these cars.

First off, checking for sparks is pretty simple. Just get a spark tester and hook it up to one of the plug wires (where it connects to the coil). Here is the in-line spark tester that I have: https://www.amazon.com/Lisle-20610-Inline-Spark-Tester/dp/B0002STSC6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1501325755&sr=8-3&keywords=spark+tester - it's also available at the local parts shops.

If you find one or two plugs that are bad, replace their individual coils. The images below contain instructions on replacing the coils.

Fuel pump information is below.

Fuel pressure can be tested by borrowing a gauge from the local parts store (AutoZone, Advance Auto, O'reillys). Herei s a general how-to guide that we've written up: https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-check-fuel-system-pressure-and-regulator

I am also attaching AllData's information regarding fuel pressure and how to test it in the images below. Run this check and see what comes up. You should get 41-47psi with the key on and engine off.

And no, you cannot replace this pump without dropping the tank. For simplicity's sake, I will attach AllData's instructions for replacing the pump in the next post momentarily.
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Saturday, May 12th, 2018 AT 7:47 PM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
Okay, here are those instructions. Again, if I were a betting man, I would probably put money on it being spark related and not fuel related. I have dealt with more than a couple of bad coils on GM 3.1 and 3.8L engines.
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Saturday, May 12th, 2018 AT 7:50 PM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
When we opened the hood today to check the regulator, we found that the vacuum hose on the regulator was cracked. I am attaching some pictures. I hope that this is the issue! While checking yesterday, we did not see that! I will post back if that is the problem.
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Sunday, May 13th, 2018 AT 8:18 AM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
This is the hose that was cracked, that we replaced. It was the problem! We seem to have had our share of vacuum lines cause problems. Thank you so much for the answer, and here is another problem to check for if you are having the same issue.
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Sunday, May 13th, 2018 AT 8:26 AM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
Nice work! I am glad you could get it fixed. Please feel free to come back anytime.
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Sunday, May 13th, 2018 AT 3:03 PM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
Well, darn thing started doing it again. Checking spark now.
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Sunday, May 13th, 2018 AT 3:14 PM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
Well, checked the spark on all six wires, all are sparking good. Have to get the gauge tomorrow to check the fuel pressure. *Sigh* it is driving me and my husband crazy chasing this down.
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Sunday, May 13th, 2018 AT 3:29 PM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
Our neighbor suggested it could be the cam sensor causing this too. Any input on that?
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Monday, May 14th, 2018 AT 8:43 AM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
Cam sensor would likely throw a trouble code. Is the service engine light on? If so, have you tried to retrieve the trouble codes? Here is how to get them: https://www.2carpros.com/articles/buick-cadillac-chevy-gmc-oldsmobile-pontiac-gm-1983-1995-obd1-code-definitions-and-retrieval-method
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Monday, May 14th, 2018 AT 6:01 PM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
The service engine light has been on for a while. Our computer port is one of the original ports. No one (even the local Buick dealer) has the adapter needed to use it. This car was a gift, and was in fantastic condition, it still is, just starting to have little things go. And thanks for the information for the obd1 jumper and codes! I made sure to bookmark it!
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Monday, May 14th, 2018 AT 8:22 PM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
Ah, okay, definitely retrieve those codes. All you need is a piece of wire or a paper clip and you will be able to get them without any special equipment. Once you do that, post the code(s) here and we will go through them together and see what we can figure out.
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Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 AT 5:42 AM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
Okay, I am attaching two pictures of the port. There are only four spots to connect the paperclip. We went across the top two, the bottom two, then across the first two top to bottom, then the other side. He even went diagonally. No lights blinking. The service engine light just stayed on. No other light blinked, other than the low coolant light, but it was so dim, you could barely see it. It blinked like three times, and went out. More like a flicker. Not sure where to go from here.
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Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 AT 5:03 PM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
You should be able to connect those top two and then turn the key and get the codes. Maybe try using a different jumper wire or a paperclip (my favorite tool for this job). If that does not work, then you will have to find a private mechanic that has been in business for a while. They will have the old school scanner for that car.

You might also try checking the battery cables and their connectors at all ends. Loose, dirty, or corroded connectors can cause all sorts of weirdness. Here is our guide on that: https://www.2carpros.com/articles/everything-goes-dead-when-engine-is-cranked
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Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 AT 7:57 PM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
We used a paper clip, but will try something else. Also, will try to find someone with that old scanner. Cannot afford to get a different car, so trying to get this one running. I will keep you posted.
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Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 AT 8:24 PM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
You are one of the lucky few, that is the OBD port used on some 1993 to 1995 GM cars that use the SFI/TPI systems with a MAF sensor. It is a transitional system that GM used in those years and decided that the ALDL connector did not need to have the diagnostic access pin in the connector. The attached shows the possible pins and what they are used for. Test pin B is missing on yours. But the upside is that with the correct scan tool like an older Snap-On brick, the OTC Genisys and 2000 plus the Tech 2 with adapter can access that system and get OBD II type data feeds from it as it uses an OBD II system laid over the original OBD controls.
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Friday, May 18th, 2018 AT 10:16 PM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
Well there. I learned something new and it is not even 7:00 am yet. I thought that was only on 1995's.
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Saturday, May 19th, 2018 AT 3:31 AM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the information Steve W. That seems to be the problem. No one seems to have that adapter. The darned local GM garage does not have it! We drove our beastie about twenty minutes south last night, and we had intermittent hardly noticeable hesitations, and only one sputter incident. It seems to be calming down some, but we changed the fuel filter, the plugs, plug wires, and tested the spark. I think the terminals are good, but we will check those too. We had some of that 'weirdness' when we got the car. Just ongoing ghosties.
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Saturday, May 19th, 2018 AT 8:27 AM
Tiny
HARRY P
  • EXPERT
I should have thought of this earlier, but try putting a bottle of Heet in the gas tank. If you got bad gas, this will help dry out any water in the gas tank. Some gas stations and the auto parts shops carry it.

Iso Heet: https://www.walmart.com/ip/ISO-HEET-28202-Premium-Fuel-Line-Antifreeze-Water-Remover-Injector-Cleaner/16879747?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=1122&adid=22222222227009478515&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=52923942311&wl4=pla-84844374791&wl5=9009593&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=101593696&wl11=online&wl12=16879747&wl13=&veh=sem

And here is the scanner that Steve and I are talking about: https://www.ebay.com/itm/2-SNAP-ON-scanner-MT2500-w-accessories-adaptors-carraiges-to-2004-mt-2500/282973272311?epid=1411827082&hash=item41e28578f7:g:-90AAOSw0l9a6Ps2
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Sunday, May 20th, 2018 AT 4:30 AM
Tiny
PUMAKITTEN
  • MEMBER
Heyman 1104, we already put a bottle of Heet in the tank. That should be all gone by now. We even put a bottle of fuel injector cleaner in. I remember seeing that scanner at AutoZone, but they do not have the adapter. I guess we could put in another bottle of heat. We are taking a long drive today. About seventy miles one way. We will have to see what happens. Have not had a chance to check the fuel line pressure yet. Fingers crossed!
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Sunday, May 20th, 2018 AT 7:21 AM
Tiny
KEN L
  • ADMIN
Please let us know what you find. We are interested to see what it is.

Cheers, Ken
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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 AT 10:57 AM

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