2000 Cavalier, won't start

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  #1  
Old 12-08-03, 04:18 PM
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2000 Cavalier, won't start

2000 Chev. Cavalier, 2.2L, auto, 105K miles (yes, 105!).
Way overdue for new plugs and wires. I'm way overdue for a day off so I can do it.

Once in a while, in colder weather (meaning between 20 and 30F, which is antartic for Charleston, SC) the car won't start. Starter turns the engine just fine (seems to have plenty of juice from the battery). It will occasionally sputter as if nearly starting. Once in a while it cranks up, after three or four minutes of cranking (in 5-6 second shots, resting briefly--- dont' want to kill starter). Other times I have to jockey my wife to work--- the car will *usually* start in the afternoon once warmed up. This whole fiasco has happened about 4 times.

It only occasionally does this, and only happens in cold (and probably wet/humid) weather. But not always in cold weather. Only when the stars are out of alignment and there are sunspots and when karma isn't on my side.

First time, the guy at the parts store said that some computerized cars won't crank on cold days *if* the voltage from the battery isn't enough for the computer to notice. EVEN if the voltage is enough to turn the starter at a seeming normal pace, the computer won't notice. So I replaced the battery.

It happened again, two weeks later. I was able to get it cranked after several trys. So much for the battery idea.

This last time, no luck with anything. My favorite troubleshooting shop looked at it. Get this: He turns the key, starter winds as normal, no start. He walks over to get equipment, hooks up diagnostic equipment. Turns key. Fires up like there never was a problem. Freakin ghosts.

No engine codes. Battery good. Alternator good. Fuel movement was normal.

Do I need a mechanic or an exorcist?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-08-03, 04:33 PM
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Try hitting the gas about halfway to the floor next time it won't start.Sounds like you may have a coolant sensor starting to go bad.Would be nice to know if the coolant sensor and air intake sensor read the same when cold during the no start.
 
  #3  
Old 12-08-03, 04:58 PM
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I've tried patting the gas pedal (as if it were a carburated car) and tried holding it to the floor, no luck. I don't remember if I tried the "halfway" thing, though. Will keep that in mind.

If this works, do you have tips on replacing the coolant sensor? I haven't a clue where it is (other than a wild guess that it's somewhere in the coolant flow passages/tubes).
 
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Old 12-08-03, 05:52 PM
KurtDixon
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Holding the pedal to the floor on a FIed car just shuts off the injectors, I am not sure how the half way thing works, sounds like a good thing to try first. Have you got a tune up yet though? That may be a good place to start (although it doesn't "sound" like the problem)
 
  #5  
Old 12-08-03, 07:12 PM
mike from nj
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after rereading your first sentence----have you, or have you not replaced the plugs and wires EVER in this thing. if the plugs are original at 105,000 miles, i would be betting that's your problem.


you don't need a day off to do them, you need a good hour (like a lunch break)
 
  #6  
Old 12-09-03, 04:03 AM
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Originally posted by mike from nj
after rereading your first sentence----have you, or have you not replaced the plugs and wires EVER in this thing. if the plugs are original at 105,000 miles, i would be betting that's your problem.

I was wondering the same thing. You talk about aligning the stars. How about just giving it a complete tune when your supposed to. Make sure you change the wires and filters also. At least give it a fighting chance.
 
  #7  
Old 12-09-03, 04:22 AM
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laughing to myself...

...i must agree...take care of your maintenance needs before you go throwing computer parts and trying alternative starting methods which you shouldn't have to perform anyways. those worn out plugs will cause all kinds of driveability problems...not to mention the stress you are putting on the coils to fire them
 
  #8  
Old 12-09-03, 07:00 AM
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I had a feeling I'd get pelted for this. If you worked 30+ hours a week and went to college full time, you'd understand what it's like to not have money to pay a mechanic to do it and not have time to do it yourself. Nothing personal.

The mechanic had it over the weekend and checked all that stuff. Said it needed replacing but that wasn't the problem. He wasn't sure what it was. It needs a tune up for sure, but that's not the cause, he's certain.
 
  #9  
Old 12-09-03, 07:12 AM
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busy, huh?

we're all busy...i have two jobs, one for each kid and the list goes on...my point is, if you don't have time to take care of your vehicle's maintenance needs, it's going to sooner or later, let you down...and then how will you get to work and class? As for your "mechanic"...how does he know for certain that it's not the tune work that it needs? Does he own a scan tool and has he tried using it on your car when the probelm is occuring?? All good technicians rule out those maintenance things first as a cause for problems....just like your doctor asks you about your personal habits before he just starts prescribing medications. personally...if he had time to look at it, he had time to stick a set of plugs in it...it's certainly cheap enough and the surest way to eliminate them as a possible cause. if you and he aren't willing to go that route, as it sounds, he ought to have it when it's going to be cold and you can do without it so he can experience the problem first hand.
 
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Old 12-09-03, 07:29 AM
bubinga1
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Said it needed replacing but that wasn't the problem
How did he check the wires and coil, etc.
Are we sure there is proper secondary voltage to the plugs?
I had one in the shop one time with the same problem.
Wires looked fine, but on a scope, there was not enough 2ndary voltage.
Turned out in that case it was the coil wire.

(of course my "boss" at that time sold the customer his own(the customers) coil.

Thanks, Tony D.
 
  #11  
Old 12-09-03, 04:46 PM
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Have your so called mechanic check the fuel pressure.Mako you need a minimum of plugs,wires,fuel filter,air filter before you even try to fix it.An oil change probably wouldn't hurt either based on the way you maintain this vehicle.Take a weekend and fix the car,study as need be but no other free time like fishing,partying or fun stuff.Sounds like you need the car better save it before it's too late.Just my opinion do it yourself means at least a little sacrifice for the money savings.We can help guide you but we can't hold the tools for you.
 
  #12  
Old 12-09-03, 05:49 PM
KurtDixon
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I'll add, you can do that maintenance Davo suggested in no time. Or if you get a mechanic to do it, it will be much easier now than 10,000 miles from now when the tune up parts are totally failing. It is also much cheaper to do this maintenance now than when the bad tune up parts take out other things (like as was mentioned, the coil for ex.)
 
  #13  
Old 12-09-03, 08:31 PM
mike from nj
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yes, high resistance wires and plugs will definitely take out a good coil.

you never answered the question: are the plugs and wires original? (perhaps are you venturing a career in politics)

try this, put the plugs and wires in the trunk. when it refuses to start again ever, pop the trunk and replace the parts. then you'll have time.

i earned 60 credits in 2 years and still worked part time, my brother earned his MA in 6 years and worked too, as is my other brother currently and sister too.

open the hood, take out the parts and replace them, then don't worry about it again for another year or two, especially when your driving the interstate at 3 in the morning in february.

i've had cars towed in, as a 'no start' condition, the fix was plain maintenance, a tune-up. only thing now, is they paid for a tow bill, plus diagnosis and then the tune-up.

you don't want to know how many engines i've replaced for 'lack of maintenance'!!

isn't winter recess in 2 weeks?

(sorry, i had to jump on too)
 
  #14  
Old 12-10-03, 04:17 AM
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Another case in point. I had a 1993 Camry in the shop a few weeks ago that quit on the owner while driving. He had it towed in. He already told us he had never done anything to it. It was obvious. The ignition wires crumbled at my touch. Almost every one of them left the tip on the plug when I gingerly removed them. The the spark plugs..... whoa... they were BAD. Original parts+over 10 years+150k miles=no start. I replaced Cap, rotor, wires, and plugs (and fuel filter while I was there). Took me about 2 hours to complete, as this thing you have to remove the intake plenum to get to the rear plugs and wires, and it ran like a champ when I was done.
We cant stress it enough here: Proper maintenance is Key to longevity of your vehicle. Regular Oil changes IS NOT proper maintenance. It is a step, but not quite enough.
Im off my soap box now!
Billy
 
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Old 12-10-03, 02:45 PM
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Ya'all think he's getting the message yet? I doubt it.

I know I don't have any shoes on but why are my feet frozen?
 
  #16  
Old 12-10-03, 11:45 PM
mike from nj
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desi

or,
'why should i fix the leaky roof, it's not raining now'
 
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