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Help! Emergency! 91 Legacy Stranded (Still)


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77 replies to this topic

#1 Lorryb

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 05:48 PM

My 91 Legacy is stranded 4 hrs from home. I'm counting on the USMB to help me out! Here's the symptoms:
Day 1 - Battery dead in morning, boost to start. Drive about 20 minutes to store, hmm seems to be missing, running rough.
Day 2 - Starts OK, drove about 1 hour, still running rough, missing, won't develop much power but still moves along at highway speeds.
Day 3 - Starts OK, runs very rough, missing, runs for 2 minutes, then I shut it down. Tried to start againg 3 hrs later, battery dead? Tried boosting, won't start. Engine spins fine with boost but it won't start.
Any hints/clues?? ECU ??? Maybe a fuel issue? I'm lost.

#2 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 06:55 PM

Might be helpful to know a little recent history.
like; Any guess as to why the batt was dead on day1?


Carl
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#3 Cougar

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 06:59 PM

Start with the simple things first.

You should get the alternator and battery checked out. One or both items could be bad. You may have a battery drain from something else also, causing the discharge.

Check for spark to the plugs and you could try spraying some starter fluid into the intake to see if it is a fuel issue.

#4 edrach

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 07:07 PM

I would guess the alternator is bad and not putting out enough current to charge the battery. In addition, the battery doesn't seem to take much charge and could also be bad. I'm with the previous poster--check the alternator output and battery.

#5 Lorryb

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 09:29 PM

Would alternator/battery problems result in running rough ie missing? I didn't check the car Day 1 when the battery was dead, I just assumed I had left a door ajar and a light wore down the battery but I really don't know. Day 2 the car seemed to start OK but it ran rough, the battery held enough charge after the short run on Day 1 to start Day 2 and enough from Day 2 to start once on Day 3 (Day 3 being today). I might not be remembering correctly but I am pretty certain the rough running began immediately after the dead battery on Day 1, (It ran fine the day before!)

#6 Lorryb

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 09:32 PM

One other thing, it shouldn't be a timing belt issue, I changed the belt less than 25k km ago.

#7 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 09:40 PM

I'm with the other posters mostly, but, in general, some critical look at general conditions might help. is the battery very old? When the car was running, was the 'alt'' or 'charge' light on very faintly (diode trio could be bad) has the car been worked on recently? did some other symptoms show up recently? During the first jump start, was a knowledgable person doing it or could polarity have been reversed by accident? At first glance, it does seem as if voltage is low, this may cause weak spark, weird electronics functions,etc.

Maybe, if your battery could be charged outside the car, or a fully charged battery installed, 2 things MIGHT be tried. An ammeter might show excessive drain from the battery when in series from one of the terminals to a cable. If so, I'd try disconnecting major components to eliminate the drain (I guess some small amount is normal for clock,keyless entry.etc. - maybe someone know about how much is normal) STARTING with the alternator. My daighter's Nissan had an alt. that was both undercharging AND a sneak curretn path to ground - very frustrating. If a different .fully charged battery allows the car to start and run fine, you batt. may have an internal short/bad cell. These are all just guesses.

Carl
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#8 Lorryb

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 09:51 PM

Thanks for the input Tex, The battery is of indeterminate age, ie not too old, maybe 2 years, the alternator was also rebuilt about 2 yrs ago. There hasn't been any engine work done to it since I changed the timing belt last fall. Also we just came back from a major road trip (6000km in 14 days) 2 weeks ago and it ran like a clock the whole time.

#9 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 10:47 PM

If you're willing to try something instead of having it towed, I'd pull the batt. from it, have it charged. If that goes well(normal current draw, good voltage, no swelling,etc.) Then either the alt. is bad, or you have some other problem (I know - that scenario seems pointless)

However, IF the battery is bad, you at least have a chance of slapping in a new one, and starting the car. You may still have an alt. problem (overcharging or some type of intermittent short). I wonder if you noticed any change in the brightness of headliights or something during this ordeal?

2 years is getting old for a batt. in Texas though I suspect it is a 'teenager' in Manitoba!


Carl
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#10 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 11:00 PM

I notice from you first post you have 2 '91s.
Have you considered renting a car and taking the batt AND alt. from your other Soob out there? Most parts dealers won't let you return used electonics parts but you have the opportunity to borrow from yourself. Of cousre, this all depends on you ability to do the work under roadside conditions. Still, might save you a 4 hour flatbed tow.
It si odd that a jump now spins the engine but it won't start - that part is weird if we are trying to pin this on a bad alt. - I don't suppose the dead battery on day one could be immediately after buying bad gas?


Carl
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#11 Lorryb

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 11:08 PM

2 years is well within my expectations for the life of a battery, Do you think the alternator can cause that missing? I have a spare so I will take it out to the car tomorrow, charge/replace the battery (I have a spare one of those as well) and see if that's the answer. I sure hope so, its a long drive to my car (4 hours, its at my cottage and I am home now) I sure don't want to have to tow it, that would be awfull spendy! Even if I can only limp it home it would be great. I can't think of what else it might be. One thing tho' my check engine light has been on lately, I pulled the codes and it indicated the Purge Solenoid thingy was bitched. I have kinda ignored it as somebody told me that this was only a anti-pollution doo-dad that controlled the amount of exhaust gases fed back into the intake manifold. Do you know anything about the Purge thingy? Would a faulty one have this type of impact upon the engine running smoothly? Thanks Carl
....Lorry....

#12 Lorryb

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 11:13 PM

My 91 sedan may turn into a donor car for my wagon allright, I hadn't decided what to do with it yet, but I was gonna pull the alternator and take it with me. I don't really think bad gas is too likely, I filled up and had run out about 1/2 a tank when the problem started. I filled up on Monday, drove about 200km on the tank, then parked the car for 2 days, then the problem showed up. I'll check the board again in the morning, maybe somebody out there has some other ideas on what the problem might be.
Thanks again............Lorry

#13 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 11:58 PM

Do a search here for the Purge Solenoid. I recall discussions about it but I have to tell you, there are others here with MUCH more specific knowledge than me. And I hope they will reply. I am a new Sube owner and new to this board. I'm just trying to help think through the possibillities. Don't discount the chance that 2 things happened coincidentally.
The canister could be causing some type of over/under rich mixture I guess. Plus, when your batt. is dead/disconnected for a period the ECU tries to use factory defaults. That sounds good but it can mean that the system loses all of its 'accomodating' adjustments to little issues here and there. That MAY explain the rough-running after the first jump start. It may have taken several 'cold start' cycles to make its adjustments again. I 'feel' there is a chance you can limp home and I hope for that, but you should prepare yourself for disappointment.
Pleas let us know how it turns out OK?

Carl
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#14 Setright

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 03:43 PM

The purge valve is part of the evaporative emission control system. Intake vacuum is "stored" when the engine is off and used to draw gasoline fumes (mainly from the tank) into the charcoal canister. Later, when the engine is running, the purge vavle draws the fumes into the intake and burns them in the normal engine cycle.

If the valve is stuck open it will feed too much air into the mix, behind the MAF thereby fooling the injection system, and causing a very slightly weak mixture. Usually, this will show up as a slight stumble on pick-up from standstill, but once cruising, there shouldn't be any problem.


If I you hadn't told me about the whole dead battery thing, I would have suggest replacing your spark plug cables, going on the other symptoms.

#15 Lorryb

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 11:03 PM

Visited my dead Legacy today..(nice sunday drive if you like 8 hour sunday drives!) .... Changed the alternator, charged the battery, changed the spark plugs and leads including the coil? or whatever that block is they connect to. Also added some new (better?) gas. Alas no change, It doesn't seem to want to start, it doesn't even sound like its firing! Also turning over the engine seemed to kill the battery rather quickly, it sounded like the starter was having to really work to spin the engine over. I am at a complete loss. I searched for the black leads under the dash in hopes of getting the ECU codes, but couldn't find them. I did find a pair of wires with black connectors (one wire was red) but when I connected them and then turned the key to on, the check engine light just flashed continuously. Any suggestions???

#16 Tiny Clark

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 12:19 AM

Do you even know if you have spark? Hook one of the old spark plugs up to a plug wire, or pull one out of the engine, clamp the base to ground and crank it over to see if you have any spark at all.

If you do have spark and it doesn't start, pull a plug to check for wet gas on the plugs. If they aren't wet, your problem is fuel, or lack thereof...

If you have fuel and spark, then I would have to guess that it's a severe timing problem.

Tiny

#17 GLCraig

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 01:18 AM

Have you checked to see if the timing belt is broke

#18 Cougar

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 06:29 AM

As mentioned, you need to find out if you have spark getting to the plugs first. If you have spark then you need to see if fuel is getting to the engine. Spraying some starter fluid into the intake will let you know if it will run or not. If those things don't work then I would check the timing. You may have slipped a tooth on the belt. You can move the distributor while trying to start it to see if that will help. Mark the position before you move it though.

It also sounds like you have a bad short somwhere that is killing the battery.

#19 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 06:42 AM

We could guess at this for a long time but , I think we can conclude your car needs to see a mechanic. Its not like you haven't eliminated several possibilties - its just that the symptom is now so severe its difficult to perform any diagnostics. Starting with 'first principles' spark,fuel is a good idea AND a slipped/broken belt seems possible too.
Again, there may have been 2 coincident problems. The first morning the car may have run rough because it lost its 'acommodating' settings for the engine OR you slipped a tooth on a belt during the start.(or????)

maybe someone will have an idea that just clicks, but, another unsuccessful trip will be very stressful. Call a friendly tow truck company. It'll be OK.


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#20 rallynutdon

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 11:24 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Cougar
[the belt. You can move the distributor while trying to start it to see if that will help. Mark the position before you move it though.

No distrubutor on 2.2 motor!!!!!!!!

#21 Cougar

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 02:08 PM

Thanks for the heads up Rallynutdon. I am used to dealing with older technology.

#22 meep

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 05:44 PM

I assume all fuses have been checked-- fuel delivery and ignition, etc.

Mike

#23 Lorryb

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 06:55 PM

Thanks for the input everyone, I'm making a list of things to check when I go back,
1. Fuel Delivery
2. Spark
3. Fuses

I think the connectors I found were in fact for the codes, but when I connected them and then turned the key to on, the "check engine" light flashed continuously not in any sort of morse? code. Any ideas what's up with that.

My wife had the car in at the dealer's about a month ago and one of the tech's pointed out a (in my wife's words) valve? that should be changed. He advised the car could just stop if it quit altogether, but she can't remember which little piece it was, just that it was on top of the engine. I have contacted the Tech but he hasn't returned my call yet. Any ideas on what little thingy he could be talkin about? O2 sensor perhaps? I'll keep y'all posted

#24 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 07:44 PM

Well, far be it from me to second guess something heard second hand and related to this board concerning this particular car/episode but my extremely wild guess would be the PCV valve. And as others have pointed out in other posts here it can be inexpensively and usually easily replaced or fairly easily cleaned. While it can lead to problems with leaky seals I think that's the main issue with it. It is sorta the clean air upgrade to the old 'breather cap' and sends crankcase blowby fumes/pressure to the intake to be burned. Perhaps someone else here will know if it relates to any of your car's symptoms. Seems unlikely.

good luck on your next trip!

Carl
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#25 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 10:19 PM

Your commentabout the way the engine was turning over has me wondering if you really might have a broken or drastically shifted timing belt/cam timing.
If you insist on continuing to troubleshoot this yourself, I'm thinking popping the cover and confirming belt integrity AND com/crank timing may be worthwhile. I wouldn't doit unless you're convinced you have spark and fuel first. I think slipped timing can also be felt as a puulse of suction on the tail pipe during cranking(assuming no muffler holes!) You might hold a piece of paper next ot your good car to see how it behaves and do the same with the stranded vehicle to see if the paper is sucked towards the tailpipe. I may be remembering this wrong - anybody else?

hope this idea gets to you in time. good luck


Carl
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