20 yr old girl in desperate need of car help!!


Old 12-20-04, 11:23 PM
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20 yr old girl in desperate need of car help!!

hello all. I really do need some help and advice on what to do. I drive a 1990 Oldsmobile cutlass supreme international with 135,000 miles. i bought it not even 2 months ago. I recently took it into the shop last week due to a problem i had been incurring for the past month. when i have my car in drive, with the brake applied for a period of time, say at a red light, my car idles very unevenly, and the rpm's slowly drop to zero, and my car dies, leaving me in the intersection. i can usually restart my car, hit the gas, and not have any problems, but lately, it has been having a harder and harder time staying running after i restart it if i am not able to accelerate right away. i took it in last monday, and they called on thursday saying that they had located the problem, it was the throttle position sensor, and it would be around 50 dollars for the part plus labor. they called later that day, and said it was done. i went in and it cost me 200 dollars to fix. i paid for it, and then went to take it for a test drive. i had not even had the car in my possession for 20 minutes after paying for the repairs before i had to take it back to the shop 2 timesbecause it kept dying on my. the first time, the guy tightened something he said the other guy had forgotten, the second time, i just left the car there for them to look at again. i received a call this morning, saying that he knows at least 1 of my fuel injectors are bad, and he needs to take some parts out of my car to test the rest. i give the go ahead, and tell him to call me if it's more than 1 injector. if it was 1 injector, i thought i could afford that. he calls me back later, adn tells me that 5 out of the 6 injectors are bad, and it will be $876.00 to fix. i tell him to hold on, i can't afford that, i will call him back to let him know what to do. that seems an awful lot to me...is it possible for that many injectors to be bad all at once? wouldn't i have noticed before? are they really that much? i'm afraid he is taking advantage of me because i am a 20 yr old girl living on my own. i work hard, but rely on car for work. he tells me also that he can put used injectors in for 500 dollars? isnt' that a lot for used parts that may go bad again very soon?? i talk with my father, and he tells me to tell the place that i can't afford it, and i will just pick up my car, and when i get the money, i will give them a call. he tells me that he's not going to put my car together, he' s just putting th eparts in a bag! can he legally charge me to put my car back together?? it would not be such a big deal, but i can't leave the car there, or they will charge me for storage, the car ran ok when the parts were in it, but if he's not going to put my car back together, how am i going to transport it?? i have winter parking laws here in wisconsin...even days, one side of the street, odd days, the other side. so i would have to move my car daily, i need my car together. how should i handle this? can they ethically do that? is it really that much for injectors?? and is it even going to fix the problem?? he told me that if i continue to drive on it without fixing it, i would seriously mess up my car. is that true as well? i am currently laid off due to slow business during the holidays...(i used to raise money for the arts, such as operas and symphonies, and no one wants to donate money right before the holidays, so they asked me leave) i got an interview for another job working with children that pays 20 dollars and hour, which would be wonderful, but would require a lot of travel and a reliable vehicle. is it worth fixing?? i really appreciate you taking the time to read this and help me. you all have a wonderful holiday season. ~Kerrie~
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Old 12-21-04, 03:29 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
Posts: 2,417
Ask around for opinions on a good repair shop and have your car towed there explain the situation up front so you don't get any other problems.Some places don't like to work on somebody elses mistakes.The place you are at right know does not know how to repair cars.Have it repaired at the new garage if feasible and take the first shop to the magistrate or small claims court.I doubt 5 injectors went bad together but it's remotely possible.If the injectors were bad it should have more symptoms than just a stalling situation.I would also advise the first shop as to your intentions maybe they will put it back together so if they lose the court case they don't have to pay a tow bill also.
Old 12-21-04, 04:24 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
if it does need five injectors they can be expensive at around 100 dollars each plus labor and you may not want to sink that much money into the vehicle considering its book value and how old it is.
you didnt state engine size but I would assume that it is a 3.1 liter and you do have to remove the upper intake to gain access to all the injectors on this engine,the shop should have given you an estimate on both testing, the injectors and an estimate for the injector that they had already determined was bad so you would of had some idea of the cost of each injector if it did have more than one bad.
you may want to consult a lawyer about your rights if you and the shop cant come to some agreement as laws can vary from state to state.
as per the injectors the electrical part of the injector such as the windings could very well be out of specification which can cause driveability problems such as a rough idle or dying.
I would suggest getting another opinion at a reputable shop.
Old 12-21-04, 10:04 AM
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thank you guys so much!! i really appreciate your help and advice. i had no idea what to do. just one more quick question: he charged me last thursday to check the fuel pressure, shouldn't he have found this problem last time?? it feels as though i paid him to check something twice....i dunno....thanks so much!
Old 12-21-04, 10:39 AM
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Fuel injector failure is very common on late 80's and early 90's GM vehicles with 2.8L and 3.1L engines. The injectors fail electrically and symtoms include dying out like your car to not starting at all. They are tested by measuring resistance with an ohm meter. Off the top of my head, a good injector ( for your Oldsmobile) will read around 12 - 13 ohms. A bad injector that will cause problems will read 10 ohms and lower. The lower the resistance, the worse the injector will be. The fuel pressure test he performed will not show this. The fuel pressure test will only test the pressure and/or volume the fuel pumps puts out, not the electrical integrity of the actual injector. From all my years, I've never seen these injectors fail mechanically, only electrically.

Its doubtful your car needed a throttle position sensor in the first place. More than likey, the injectors were the problem to begin with. I would ask them to give you the difference in price that you paid for the TP sensor and take that off the price of the injector install.
Old 12-21-04, 10:51 AM
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And someone else posted that its unlikely that 5 out of 6 injectors are bad which sounds far fetched but its very possible and I've seen it many times. The thing is, there are varying degrees as to how bad the injector is. An injector reading at 9.5 ohms (which is still under spec) will operate far better than another injector testing at 2.5 ohms.

Another thing is, heat will play a factor in resistance readings. I've seen faulty injectors cool off and read just about close to normal. As soon as they heat up, the resistance drops way down. That's why it may start up and run normal when the vehicle starts up but as soon as it reaches operating temperature it will start to show symptoms like stalling and rough running.
Old 12-21-04, 07:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: So Cal
Posts: 248
Before I'd invest in replacing the injectors, I'd spend the $75-80 to have the injectors cleaned using a MotorVac or similar system and see if that helps.

Although injectors do go bad, my gut feeling is this shop is "shotgunning" in hopes he fixes it.

Personally, I would have cleaned the throttle body and checked the idle air control before replacing the TPS.



Oh, and you might want to find a new mechanic. Usually the best recommendation comes from a friend, family member or co-worker.
Old 12-21-04, 09:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: nc
Posts: 616
Just my 2 cents....

I have a friend that had a similar problem with a honda accord. Turned out it was a brake light sensor. All his brake lights weren't working at the time also. Just though of it since you mentioned the problem was happening when the brakes were applied. Make sure you tell the mechanic the problem happens with the brakes applied and they should test it this way before you pick it up. Not sure if you have the same idle problem with brakes not applied and car in park or neutral.
Old 12-22-04, 03:02 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
I would suggest you just get a second opinion, and if the injectors are bad due to low resistance wich I suspect this is what the shop was checking when they removed the intake, they would have to be replaced you cant bring the resistance back in specification by cleaning the injectors so dont even waste your time or money on this service.
Old 12-22-04, 03:50 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
Posts: 2,417
As I said before this shop can not repair cars.If they can not tell if a throttle position sensor is bad why would anyone beleive that they could tell bad injectors from good.I may even be suprised if they even own a dmm which they would need to ohm the injectors.Then wonder if they knew how to use it.Specs are 11.4-12.6 ohms.Injectors can show good with a resistance test when bad also,a live test measuring voltage across the injector is the preferred method or a lab scope.You don't have to pull the plenum that way either.
Old 12-22-04, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
I would agree that a simple ohm meter test is not going to always find a bad injector and there is better ways and equipment to test the injector circuit.
sure you could lab scope each injector on vehicles with sequential injection each having their own driver but alot of early model gm only used 1 or 2 driver circuits for 6 injectors wich makes it necassary to gain access to the injector by removing the intake.
as per the equipment this shop has and whether the tps was bad or not I would not know, but a second opinion may find the same problem or a completly different one.
Old 12-22-04, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: US
Posts: 109
I had a problem with a 93 dodge voyager.Ran up I-95 fine. At the 1st stop sign it would die but then restart OK. My mechanic told me to pull the hose from the air filter to the air intake butterfly valve and spray the butterfly valve & whole inside area with air intake cleaner(Gumout,2+2,CRC...). It would get dirty & stick. Also use fuel injector cleaner (STP or others) in the gas tank once a month or so. Keep a clean air filter & use high octane gas on long trips. It solved the problem & is pretty cheap too.
Old 12-22-04, 06:24 PM
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thank you all so much

well..the shop really gave me no choice...they told me they could either fix it or give it back to me in parts...we told them to go ahead and fix it, but are taking them to small claims court...becuase the only option they were giving me was to pick up my car in pieces and that was not acceptable to me. me and my boyfriend are consulting a lawyer...i can understand that it may be hard to diagnose the problem...cars i know nothing about, so i have a lot of respect for anyone who has knowledge of them. But i also find it unacceptable to experiement on my time and money with my vehicle. i really appreciate all your help, and i am definitely taking it elsewhere in the future. they have now had my car for 2 weeks, and that is also frustrating. you all were wonderful, giving cheaper ideas and solutions to the problem first, and the shop did nothing of the sort. just one more quick question..if i continued driving with bad fuel injectors, could i permanently ruin my car? they were telling me i was screwed if i did not get it fixed, and i found a law stating that mechanics cannot legally tell me that if not true. just curious, to see if i have more ammo for my case. i appreciate all your input and help. take care, and enjoy your holiday season!! ~Kerrie~
Old 12-23-04, 05:12 AM
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Worst case scenario would probably be that you could damage the catalytic converter. Or if an injector was so bad it was spitting a large amount of raw fuel, you could get some cylinder damage due to lubricating oil being washed off.

In my never-to-be-humble opinion you are probably wasting your time with the lawyer and/or court. You're probably going to find that there are just too many ways for them to weasle out of any responsibility and a lot of what you might consider "evidence" will be he-said/she-said. If you are really convinced that you got the short end of the stick from this garage, just make sure you tell all your friends, relatives, and anyone else that will listen not to patronize that establishment. On one occasion I've even seen a local establishment (NOT one we tow for) picketed by a highly irate customer, but that's time-consuming and may get you some satisfaction, but won't put any money back in your pocket.

Chalk this one up as lessons in Life 101.
Old 12-23-04, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 1,531
Small Claims court,

In NY you can go for a max of $3,000 and the Judge usually dosen't know about cars, cost around $20 to file and you represent yourself (very informal).
Old 12-24-04, 02:07 AM
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You didnt say if this place was a corner garage or it was a dealership. Make sure you go all the way to the top and let them know exactly what happened. Dont stop at the person behind the desk. Just ask to speak to there boss and keep going up until you get to the owner. The higher up you complain the more they will listen.

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