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RocketDude Face Time from AZ, United States
Face Time
Aug 20th 2011 at 10:43:52 PM

When's the last time you changed the battery? Is the oxygen sensor busted?

EDIT: @Your signature, Pvt: Reminds me of that concept car that had a body made out of hemp.

edited 21st Aug '11 3:02:14 PM by RocketDude

Tumblr | "Hipsters: the most dangerous gang in the US." - Pacific Mackerel
pvtnum11 OMG NO NOSECONES from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
Aug 22nd 2011 at 1:09:56 PM

Not the O2 sensor. OBD-I cars will start without them, but they'll toss a code as soon as the computer realizes that the O2 voltage is either missing or out of tolerance. It'll affect fuel economy as the car uses the O2 sensor to fine-tune how much fuel to pulse through the injectors based off of engine RPM and load. You could disconnect it and the car will still run.

New battery, too.

You need three things to start the car - air, fuel and spark, and all that has to be done in a proper timed sequence.

No, my problem is probably a timing-related issue. Buick got a lot of complaints about valve-train noise with their 231-cid V6 engines, so one of the fixes was to make the camshaft gear for the timing chain out of nylon. This cut down on the noise, but it also made it so you have a ticking time-bomb under your hood - the nylon will eventually degrade and become brittle, and either shed teeth, crack, or simply fall apart. Usually this happens at about 100k miles, which is roughly where I'm at. I'm thinking I lost enough teeth so that when I tried to start it, the chain slipped a whole bunch and thus knocked my timing way out. With the pistons and valve train no longer in sync, it's impossible to start. The cranking sound is totally wierd, too, almost like I got no compression, which may occur if the valves aren't closed when they're suppsoed to be, and vice-versa.

Other possible culprits to a no-start condition would be no-spark, but I verified that the coil pack is delivering spark (lay a piece of metal across the spark tower and a metal part of the engine, crank, and observe the presence or absence of a spark) and I got spark - so that tells me that the camshaft sensor is telling the coil pck to fire off when it thinks its the right time to do so - that only happens if the canshaft is turning and the sensor detects that it's turning. Budy of mine had his cam sensor quit, and that was a no-start condition. He had no spark, though.

Pulled the oil cap off, peered inside and cranked the engine. Saw that the valves were moving - that ruled out that the timing chain had totally busted itself.

Fuel pump kicks in whenever you first turn the key to run. Pretty loud pump, but it's always like that. I could smell unburned gas from the exhaust after repeated cranking, so the fuel injectors are doing their thing, too. If I had a detachable gauge, I could've checked for proper pressure at the fuel rail. No sense checking for injector pulsing, as I smelled gas - although you can plug in a little light module to the injector wiring harness and see if the injectors are getting the signal to pulse when they're supposed to.

The other cuplrit I ruled out was that the computer died. However, this being an OBD-I car, that's easy to verify. If the check engine light comes on when you first turn the key to run, chances are your computer is still there. Grab a GM-approved Diagnostic Tool (a metal paperclip), short out two contacts on the ALDL connector, and note the flashing Check Engine light. It flashes in a pattern, and I only got Code 12 - which is normal. If the Cam sensor had died prior to me shutting the car off earlier, the car would've continued to run until I killed it - but then it won't start, as it's missing the cam signal. However, it also would've tossed up the check engine light while driving.

So, simple process of elimination - I had spark, fuel, the computer was all there, and the vavle train was turning. Only thing I came up with was that my timing is way out...

All this was done around 11 at night so I was stymied and tired and having to do all of this with a flashlight, so I gave it up and got the car towed to a shop. After decribing the symptoms and what-not, they said they'd check out the timing and troubleshoot.

edited 22nd Aug '11 1:10:38 PM by pvtnum11

Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
RocketDude Face Time from AZ, United States
Face Time
Aug 22nd 2011 at 7:36:42 PM

So, how old is this Buick?

Also, I mentioned the O2 sensor because a bit of recycled plastic connected to the sensor put my dad's Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG (from the 90's, when the C-Class was apparently introduced for the first time ever) out of commission for months. The dealer had to keep putting parts and parts in and it it still didn't work because they never checked the sensor. It was my half-brother who figured that out and after a simple change, the car was up and running again. We gave it away to some guy who later had to change the transmission on that.

Man, when you think about it, it's a good thing that Chrysler isn't owned by Daimler anymore, huh?

Speaking of Daimler, the new Mercedes SLK-55 AMG will apparently get an average of 27.6 MPG, pretty close to the McLaren MP4-12C, and this is a car with a non-turbocharged V-8 engine.

(Also, should we just make this the general "Cobbies talk about cars" thread?)

edited 22nd Aug '11 7:47:37 PM by RocketDude

Tumblr | "Hipsters: the most dangerous gang in the US." - Pacific Mackerel
pvtnum11 OMG NO NOSECONES from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
Aug 23rd 2011 at 12:12:45 PM

It's an '89 Pontiac Trans Am. Buick engine, though. The last true Pontiac engine was the 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-banger. Long gone are the days of the 4.9 turbo engines, 455 Super-Duty's and all the other fun stuff they used to make. They ended up shifting away from individual marquee engines to Corporate (read: Chevy) engines back in the late Seventies. Saves money. One of the last holdouts against this policy was the Buick 3.8-liter V6, which soldiered on in various permutations all the way to 2006. You can find the 3800 in pretty much every GM car on the planet, front or rear-wheel drive, nasturally-sapirated, turbo or supercharged. Very adaptable, durable (except for the stupid NYLON camshaft gear - seriously, why?) and it puts out decent power. You can modify them on the cheap and make real good power with them, too, there are guys running eight-second quarter-mile times with this engine. However, it was also and old design, so it got the axe eventually.

After that, it was all GM High-Value V6 engines, which are basically derived from the older Chevy 60-degree V6 engines (born in 1980). The Buick V6's have a 90-degree vee-bank. 60-degrees is a better angle for a V6 engine, due to the firing order and degrees of shaft rotation between cylinder firings.

Ideally, a six-cylinder is happiest being an in-line engine, but to cram it into smaller engine bays (curse you front-wheel drive!) you can fit six cylinders into a smaller space in vee-format. With six cylinders, you get all six pistons firing once every two crank revolutions, or 720 degrees. Divide that by six, and you get 120 degrees. 60-degrees goes into that real well. 90-degrees, not so much - Buick V6 engines were notorious for running rougher than a cob due to their uneven firing order. Buick engineers ended up splitting the crankpins and evening it out a whole lot, but still, a 60-degree V6 is narrower and runs a lot smoother, too.

(Also yeah, general car talk would be groovy. Not a lot of us here, though.)

edited 23rd Aug '11 12:13:29 PM by pvtnum11

Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
RocketDude Face Time from AZ, United States
Face Time
Aug 23rd 2011 at 9:03:53 PM

It's an '89 Pontiac Trans Am. Buick engine, though.

Okay, that is slightly more confusing than those Vauxhall/Opel/Holden badging shenanigans. Also, they still do the engine-sharing thing, since the Cadillac CTS-V and Chevy Camaro ZL-1 both use the supercharged LSA engine and the engine in the current Corvette ZR-1 is modified from the LSA. Dunno about the economy models, though.

Anyways, have they fixed the Pontiac yet?

Also, as for cars, the upcoming BMW Z4 will be getting a turbo-four engine, I believe.

Tumblr | "Hipsters: the most dangerous gang in the US." - Pacific Mackerel
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