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Guest Message by DevFuse

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A little help? 88GL Wagon intermittent starting, no spark

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5 replies to this topic

#1 Bighorncrag


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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

My do-it-myself ability hits a brick wall when it comes to diagnosing ignition problems. Having fully accepted I bought someone else's problems back in April, I'm sending out my plea.

1988GL Wagon EA82 SPFI 4x4 all stock

I'll give a full history of my experiences with the car, however whether or not all the details play into the current problem, I don't know.
From day one, the engine has idled fine, wouldn't necessarily say smoothly but undetectable unless you know what to listen for. Acceleration has a stumbling range up to about half throttle and up to approx 3000rpm. If you mash the throttle to the floor, it accelerates, I guess as most EA82s should. Once over roughly 3000rpm, it accelerates fine without stumbling however not smooth, as if maybe not enough power in the spark, maybe out of time; whatever it is escapes me. Sometime before I purchased it, one cylinder had a spark plug thread repair done shoddily, electrode of plug is appox 3/8" above where it should as the threaded sleeve wasn't installed properly.

Once earlier this past summer, the car wouldn't start one morning (starter engaging as it should, sounded like it either wasn't getting fuel or spark). Around midday, I loosened the collar around the TBI throat and lifted the air intake. Hit the starter, the engine coughed then died. I put the air intake back in place, tightened down, hit the starter and after several revolutions it came to life. Sputtered til it burnt the excess fuel. No problems for several months.

Had the same thing late September or early October of the engine not starting. Tried the same sequence as my previous experience although this time it didn't start. Ended up compression starting and once I dumped the clutch, the engine started. It started fine throughout the day. It has been starting intermittently (problems only in the morning) now for close to two months yet every time I attempt to compression start it, it has always started, until earlier this week.

About a month ago when I was fussing with it not starting, I pulled a plug wire and inserted an old cv axle roll pin in the plug wire clamp and held it close to the plug while an assistant ran the starter. The spark was weak a couple of times when it fired, strong spark one time, but for several revolutions of the engine there was no spark. On that occasion I compression started and it ran fine and started fine the rest of that day.

Now the engine won't start even when compression starting. So far, I have replaced the cap and rotor (although probably wasn't necessary). I purchased a coil as someone told me the coil may have failed and had possibly been producing a weak signal causing the stumbling under a load (didn't make a whole lot of sense as I was getting it to start by compression starting). I tested resistance on the old coil and compared to the resistance of new coil; readings are very close (maybe a needle width on the meter). I intend to return the new coil to the store. I also set up the timing light but it did not detect any spark when I ran the starter.

The symptoms have been intermittent until now. I'm stumped and am ready to take it to a shop. :banghead: Hoping a seasoned mechanic can give me some advice.

Edited by Bighorncrag, 01 December 2012 - 03:30 PM.

#2 l75eya


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Posted 01 December 2012 - 04:41 PM

Acceleration has a stumbling range up to about half throttle and up to approx 3000rpm. If you mash the throttle to the floor, it accelerates, I guess as most EA82s should. Once over roughly 3000rpm, it accelerates fine without stumbling however not smooth, as if maybe not enough power in the spark, maybe out of time; whatever it is escapes me.

This sounds identical to the bogging our Loyale experiences. In our car, it is due to the EGR solenoid. Is your check engine light on?

About the lack of spark and the weak spark, you mention you used a roll pin on the plug wire while somebody cranked and at times it was weak and occasionally didn't spark at all;
Have you checked the other plugs?

See how the spark is from each wire..

Is the rotor in the disty cap in good condition?

I'm not much of a seasoned mechanic, but these are the simple things I can think of.

Don't despair though, if you have the time to wait a little bit, the gurus on this board will chime in here before long.

#3 Bighorncrag


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Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:25 AM

Well, how 'bout that! Yes, the check engine light is on. Learn something new all the time. I never knew there was such a thing as a solenoid for the EGR. Just looked it up and thankfully not something that will break the bank. Any method for checking the EGR vacuum solenoid?

Not to be distracted from the problem at hand, the cap and rotor are brand new. I'll have to check the other wires too but then again, when it idles, it idles relatively smoothly with no exaggerated missing sounds. So without checking the other wires, I'm concluding that if there is weak or no spark in one hole, the others are likely the same.

#4 mikaleda


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Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

There should be a way of testing it with the computer and I would check your codes before you buy any parts. you don't need a code reader there are two plugs you connect and it will flash you the code

Edited by mikaleda, 02 December 2012 - 10:37 AM.

#5 Cougar


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Posted 02 December 2012 - 11:18 AM

It sounds to me that you may need a new ignitor module.

#6 scoobiedubie


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Posted 02 December 2012 - 01:21 PM

Might as well pop open the fuseable link box and check the black fuse wire. That gets hot, hardens and then breaks with age. It goes out with no warning.

For the 86's, the capacitor that attaches to the coil goes out and will keep the engine from starting. The 88's are different and it may be built into the coil or alternator. The first symptom of it going out is a lot of static on the radio.

Corrosion build up on the posts in your distributor cap will cause a rough engine. Scratch off the corrosion on the inside flat face with a flat screwdriver or fine sandpaper.

A bad plug wire will cause a rough engine. If you have a spare long plug wire, you can rotate it around to all the plug wires as a substitute routing, and see if you get any better performance.

The hot wire to the alternator, will get hot, harden, melt the insulation and break, on the 86's. The engine will not function with a broken wire. It runs real rough right before it breaks.

A cracked distributor cap may cause engine failure.

A distributor going out may first cause a red light on the dash to come on. Then suddenly, the engine won't start or it will go out completely while you are driving it. Always carry spares. The vaccuum actuated timing advance system inside of the distributor, gets rough or freezes up in the 86's, and causes uneven performance at different RPM's.

The small black vaccuum pump on engine right, just behind the air filter, can go bad or develop cracks at the hose connectors. Engine runs rough with the ensuing vaccuum leak or failure. There are several gismos on top of the engine, that are part of the vaccuum system. Their hose connectors get broken from just working on the engine.

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