Jump to content
Ultimate Subaru Message Board
Tony Cortado

Stumped: Stalled while driving now doesn't start-EA82

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone!

On my slow wonderful journey from Alaska to Arizona! I've had virtually zero issues for the last 3000+ miles of the road trip in my trusty rusty Loyale 5 speed.

 

Just east of Salt Lake, Utah I'm stranded on the trip, luckily close enough to a friend's place, I have a car to borrow for a few days.

 

Driving on the highway, the engine shut off without warning. No sputtering, no backfire. All the dash electronics/lights stayed on. Pulled off to a safe spot, and the car won't start. It turns and turns, without even an instance of firing/ignition.

 

AAA'd it to the nearest promising place for a diagnostic, but had two days to wait.

 

So I tried to diagnose it myself. Fuel pump buzzes like normal while key is turned to on position. Even detached the fuel filter (exit) and turned the key, definitely has pressure ;-)

 

The plugs were old so I decided to replace them. The new ones spark kind of yellowish when grounded and after installation, a few good cranks of the engine, they come out smelling like fuel. Also some fuel smell from the exhaust when I really crank the engine a few times.

 

Ignition coil measures good.

 

Alternator is 2 months old. Battery is 1 week old and charged.

 

No blockage in air flow, even held open the flap to ensure air was getting in.

 

Did a thumb compression test on one of the plug holes, got sprayed.

 

Distributor cap and wires in good shape.

 

Serpentine belt good. Fluids good. Newish air filter. Took off the outer covers and checked both timing belts. Teeth look good, though the belt is about 10k past its due date.

 

As a side note, I have a rusty hole in my fuel tank that's been there since long before I bought this car (in April), just above the hoses at the passenger rear wheel well. Can't full much past 10 gallons. Have been using heet every now and again to remove and potential water issues. Since there's fuel pressure after the fuel filter, I don't think this is an issue.

 

I can not figure this out. There's fuel, air, spark, and compression.

 

What am I missing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be looking for a major vacuum leak and also make sure timing belts did not jump. One tooth off mine wouldn't fire. Check the codes as dee2 said. Sorry about your trip but I'm glad to see another suby owner headed to Arizona, I'm in prescott up north of phoenix by two hours.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be looking for a major vacuum leak and also make sure timing belts did not jump. One tooth off mine wouldn't fire. Check the codes as dee2 said. Sorry about your trip but I'm glad to see another suby owner headed to Arizona, I'm in prescott up north of phoenix by two hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The failure description sounds exactly like timing belt failure.

 

Double check the 3 marks, and that the cam pulls turn with the crank.

 

2nd choice, since you have fuel, investigate spark.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good details and good question.

I'd be thinking about the quality of the fuel, and the timing belts.

 

* Spray starter fluid into the air box and crank it

* Get the belt covers off and look for shredded belt debris along the bottom

 

Did it stop running right after you refueled?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could be a shredded driver's side timing belt.  The passenger side one is still good, so you get compression on that side.

 

But there shouldn't be any spark if that happens.  Still worth a look.  Check the rotor screw while you are at it.

 

The yellowish spark could be a sign of bad plug wires.  My coil wire died once.  It ran OK for 600 km, then wouldn't start.  There looked to be spark, but weak and yellow.  There was enough capacity in the coil wire to make a crappy spark in air, but not in the combustion chamber. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this is either a timing belt break or.........since there is some spark still...

 

more likely a rotor screw falling out.  Infinite random timing generator

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this is either a timing belt break or.........since there is some spark still...

 

more likely a rotor screw falling out.  Infinite random timing generator

 

These are my immediate guesses as well.

 

Pull the distributor cap, and have someone turn it over while you watch the rotor. I bet it doesn't spin.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I'm leaning to some sort of timing belt failure. Both are intact, no debris, no oil or other residue inside, but I was only able to take off the outer cover for both driver and passenger side. Still *looks* like a healthy belt, but whadda I know, I just play the trombone. What is the possibility of a belt actually jumping a tooth or two? The pass side timing belt pulley does rotate but doesn't wiggle, so I think that's good.

 

The dist rotor rotates, i justjl checked the screw and it's solid, no residue or chunks inside the distributor, cables about 6 months old, including the coil wire.

 

Last refueling was approx 90 miles ago.

 

I saw some threads about codes on here, so I'll check that out. Can i still check codes when it's not starting?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The failure description sounds exactly like timing belt failure.

Double check the 3 marks, and that the cam pulls turn with the crank.

2nd choice, since you have fuel, investigate spark.

I'm not sure where these three marks are. Looking at the illustrations in a Haynes manual, I see there should be some dots to line up. Is that what you're talking about?

post-67284-0-77075400-1508352448_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The three timing marks are on the flywheel. There's an Access cover right behind the intake manifold. Should be a rubber cover. Pull that and rotate engine till you fine 3 lines grouped together with no numbers. The numbered lines are for the distributor timing. The in marked three lines are for the timing belt timing

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the shop, the mechanic dudes went through all the steps including the timing, timing belts, etc.

 

Fuel injector stuck open, thus continuously flooding the engine. It had smelled a little rich here and there, but I just attributed that to the hole in the tank. Apparently a lot of fumes even in the exhaust system, but again i thought it was the gas tank

 

So, now I'm on the hunt for this part, which is unreasonably hard to find!

 

Thanks for all of the replies! This was the hardest of all to diagnose, and all the replies on here taught me a lot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After reading up a little more, I'm wondering what would have caused this injector to get "stuck" open... debris from a new fuel filter?  Maybe a shorted wire on the injector itself?  :blink:   Hopefully with a new (or, another from a junker) injector the problem will be solved.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the shop, the mechanic dudes went through all the steps including the timing, timing belts, etc.

 

Fuel injector stuck open, thus continuously flooding the engine. It had smelled a little rich here and there, but I just attributed that to the hole in the tank. Apparently a lot of fumes even in the exhaust system, but again i thought it was the gas tank

 

So, now I'm on the hunt for this part, which is unreasonably hard to find!

 

Thanks for all of the replies! This was the hardest of all to diagnose, and all the replies on here taught me a lot!

 

This would yeild at least a stumbling sputter.  And would not have died while cruising.  Would have been a gradual flooding not like a switch.

 

I am not saying it's not possible.  But I am indeed skeptical of this analysis.  

 

I would want to see proof of the injector spraying fuel with KeyOnEngineOff (koeo)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Final Analysis:

 

Fuel injector was the culprit.  Went to a junkyard two hours away and found one, brought it back to the mechanic and bibbity bam, started right up after installation.

 

Some notes about what I didn't notice and should have:

 

Fuel smell was stronger than "normal" -- meaning, the known hole in the gas tank masked my ability to think the fuel smell could have been elsewhere (as well)

 

Compression -- instead of normal compression, when we did the thumb test, fuel pushed the thumb and sprayed everywhere

 

Plugs -- they were definitely soaked with fuel when I took them out for inspection

 

Fuel fumes / drips -- coming from the exhaust, which was pointed out to me by the mechanic (and could have become a disaster if I smoked cigarettes!)

 

Oil / Dipstick -- I had just gotten an oil change some 150 miles before.  The mechanic showed me that fuel has leaked into the oil, so I had to change the oil again.

 

Made it to my destination finally, 4200 miles, crossing the 250,000 mile mark!

 

Thanks for all of the input, guys!

post-67284-0-00126700-1509233442_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm having a similiar issue, tho mine is a 1984 GL wagon. EA81 engine.

Story goes like,

70mph down the highway, engine stubble like a misfire, then a few minutes later, lost all engine power. Everything else besides fuel smell is like what the original guy stated.

 

Alternator was fried, it fried some fuses, all replaced.
Volt meter in dash reads nothing which is very odd.

 

The last time I had a bad alternator this happened but it started right up after replacement and it never fried any fuses.


I'm pretty stumped, because it ran very well beforehand.


The only thing I haven't replaced yet are the distributer cap/rotor. I'm not sure if a starter control module would need replaced also? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This would yeild at least a stumbling sputter.  And would not have died while cruising.  Would have been a gradual flooding not like a switch.

 

I am not saying it's not possible.  But I am indeed skeptical of this analysis.  

 

I would want to see proof of the injector spraying fuel with KeyOnEngineOff (koeo)

Just wanted to add a note, that the mechanic showed me Key On Engine Off injector spraying continuously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×