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new member with fuel system prob...


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#1 ca95965

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Posted 20 August 2004 - 12:34 PM

Hi, Everyone. This is my first post and I have what I have been told is likely a fuel system problem.

My specs:
1987, 4x4 wagon, fuel injection, and the title says GT, I believe, but when I first bought a part for it, a headlight, the Auto Zone guy didn't find that in his computer, and he walked out and read "GL" on the back. I mention that just in case any of you keep having parts probles.

It also has a built-in defect - I will do my best to describe this properly, but I don't know what I'm talking about, and I hope any responders will talk to me like I'm 5 years old - when you remove the rotor cap and put on a new one (when tuning) there's some shaft that has a hole with a set screw - I have not done this myself, so I can't tell if it's like the set screw on my jigsaw where it's just used to hold something in place or where it actually enters another piece, like on a doorknob. The factory flaw is that whatever it is that receives that set screw is a bit "off." You have to get the screw in the hole then jiggle it around until you feel it go in.

This car has always been what I call gutless, but only to the point where I won't try to get out of a parking lot quickly and to where I have to downshift to get power enough to come up the grade to where I live. I mean, I didn't have to in my Toyota truck, it just zipped and went like crazy.

I recently had to get it smogged (California) and it seemed fine but when I next went to town I went by the shop because I couldn't find my receipt and was just curious about what he had done, and what he had done was that rotor cap thing. Oddly, just as I left the "check engine" light came on and I had not seen that one before. I say it was odd because I turned right around and went back to the shop, and the mechanic took a look. It was only then that I mentioned that cap/set screw problem. It just didn't occur to me to mention it when I first had it in. He messed with it and sure enough, that was the problem.

I can't figure out why I drove it home, something like 20 miles from town, then back to town again with no symptoms, then when I was near the shop...

Anyway, when I left the shop that time another light came on and I just can't remember, but I turned around again and the guy apologized and said that he had simply disconnected the _______ in order to have better access to the distributor.

I took a trip out of town and parked it and didn't start it again for some hours, like overnight, and it started up like a champ. I drove two blocks to take something to a friend and it chugged when I tried to start it again, something like 1/2 later. But it did start and it started up again just fine when I stopped to get gas.

This sluggish startup seemed to be mostly but not always when warmed up. It happened here at home when it had cooled overnight, and I put in a new battery and it still did it sometimes. After the first time I parked it on an incline because it pops into gear just great, and I live out in the middle of nowhere and need to have a car when I need it.

Recently it's been doing it more and more, and several days ago it died while I was driving - this was after driving it a long way at high speed. Where I live the last mile is unpaved and horrible (nice and private, unless I need help!) and I use 4x4 low gear, nearly all first gear, for that part of the journey, and at very low speed it began to backfire a little bit.

All I can think of to describe what happens is when I was a teenager and none of us had much gas money and the level would sometimes get low, and after putting gas in we would get on the highway and floor it. People said that it was a bit of moisture in the gas tank and we needed to force it out, or something like that. It's the kind of thing where if I had a manual choke I would pull it out and mess with that until it ran evenly. Kind of like how a chainsaw starts up then gags a bit then if you don't turn of the choke it will die.

When it died that first time I was able to pop it in reverse, so that was nice. It happened again on that road, when I had it in neutral long enough to get out and leave a box of fruit at a neighbor's, and it was not more than maybe 30 seconds. I tried to start it back up but it just chugged, and the neighbor heard and came out and messed with it but was really at a loss, and eventuall it did start up and I was able to drive the approx. 10th of a mile home. Oh, it did NOTdie as I put it in neutral to open the gate. It backfired once after I started it, and that was the first time it had done that.

Then I was in town two days ago and was stuck there for a couple of hours because twice when I went into a store for a minute and leaving a spare key in the ignition so I didn't have to turn it off, it died while idling, and I had to keep pushing it and popping the clutch. It did seem to me that I would have to leave it off for at least 20 minutes in order to get it going on flat land where it was going at a crawl, like if I was pushing it by myself. I'm puny. It started and kept going, finally, but when I got on the dirt road it began to backfire, and I managed to get it home but maybe a 1/2 mile from here it started backfiring like crazy and bucking like a bronco. So whatever it is it does seem to be getting progressively worse, and now I don't want to drive it at all until it's rectified.

I hope that I have given enough information that one of you mechano-genius types can diagnose. I apologize for the verbosity, but I have no idea which details are superfluous.

Mary

Thanks in advance for any help - my father joined this group and attempted to get advice but I don't think I described it properly. He did mention the fuel filter as possibly being the cause.

#2 MorganM

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Posted 20 August 2004 - 02:59 PM

Wow... I dunno if I got all of that but I did read the whole thing :-p

Welp lets start with the distributor since this was the last thing messed with since the car started acting like this. Maybe your rotor keeps getting loose? Take the distributor cap off and wiggle the rotor. The cap should come off with 2 screws; leave all the spark plug wires attached. There should not be more than like .5mm play when you wiggle the rotor; should be almost solid. If it's loose then tighten the screw that holds it in and see if that fixes it. From your post it sounds like the mechanic has done this before? Maybe it needs some loctite on the screw to hold it in good now? Also ask the mechanic what else he messed with. Didn't it run fine before you took it there?

#3 canajun2eh

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Posted 20 August 2004 - 09:23 PM

Two possibilities come to mind:

(a) Bad temperature sending unit. There are two sending units, one just for the temperature gauge, and the other for the engine control computer. I suspect that you have a bad electrical connection, making the engine control computer mis-read the engine temperature. I bet that there's black smoke coming out of the tailpipe when the engine chugs.

(B) Bad purge control solenoid valve. This isn't as likely, since you don't mention poor idling when the engine is warm. This thing is supposed to open when the engine is warm and running at more than 2500 RPM. When open, engine vacuum draws vapours out of the charcoal canister. You can see that if the valve is stuck open, you'll experience poor idling and bad acceleration, especially when the engine is warm and the engine computer has stopped enriching the fuel mixture (equivalent to "choke").




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