96 Sunfire Runs for a While then Dies

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Old 05-31-06, 09:58 AM
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Angry 96 Sunfire Runs for a While then Dies

I have an automatic 96 sunfire with a 2.2 engine. Recently the car stalled in traffic after running for 20min. When trying to restart, the car turns over but it doesn't catch. It happened a few more times usually in warmer temperatures, so I took it to a mechanic. The mechanic said that the car has no fuel pressure and he thinks we should replace the fuel pump. This is really expensive and I was hoping to maybe do it myself. Can anyone walk me through step by step how to do it. I know that the fuel pump comes as a fuel pump assembly and the whole system needs to be changed.

HELP PLEASE!!
 
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Old 05-31-06, 12:42 PM
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Check Engine light

Is your check engine light on? You may want a second opinion on the fuel pump. I am not sure on the Sunfire, but it is located in the gas tank on many cars and is not a simple DIY job (and it can be dangerous).

If you have a check engine light, get the code(s) read and report back.
 
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Old 05-31-06, 03:00 PM
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Agreed, I'm not sure about the fuel pump diagnosis, maybe it's just the way you said it. Did this mechanic see it in a failed state?
 
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Old 05-31-06, 05:40 PM
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Explain how the car has been behaving in all kinds of driving situations lately.

What do you mean that it died in traffic? How were you driving at the time?

Did it ever start to sputter while trying to go up hills or under any load condition where you have to step on the gas?

Has it ever done this before? Or even acted like it might die?

If you got it going finally...how long would it run before it would perhaps die again. And what kind of driving conditions/throttle position were you in?

Will the car restart after it sits long enough?

When you first turn the key on, can you here the fuel pump run?

You dont' live or work in some area where someone would put something down your gas tank that could clog up the intake screen in the tank?



........................................

To the mechanics and other helpers on this site: Do yo know if there is a filter located before the fuel pressure test valve or is it just after the test valve? (I am presuming according to the OP that fuel pressure test was made..)
 
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Old 06-01-06, 06:02 AM
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The car dies usually while its idling at a stop light. It rarely happens while I'm driving. At a stop light I can see the RPM's dropping from 1000 to 500 and the needle keeps bouncing around. As far as I know the engine light doesn't come on, but the obvious battery indicator lights up. I can feel the car getting ready to die as I'm slowing down to stop. Any time I have to give it a lot of gas (i.e. hills) it doesn't usually act up unless I'm stopped on the hill.

Its happened 3 times, but before it started dying as I pushed the accelerator I would feel a temporary loss of power. THe car would not respond until a few seconds later. I don't know if this is related, but I thought it just needed a tune up.

ONce the car dies it usually has to sit for 15 min and then it starts right up. The frequency of it dying has depended on how long I'm driving for, and I think how warm it is outside. On hotter days I can drive it for less before it starts acting up, where as on colder days I can drive it sometimes without it even acting like it is going to die.

The Car dies when the throtle is in drive, or neutral, and fails to restart in neutral or park. When I first turn the key to on I can hear what I think is the fuel pump turn on.

The mechanic had seen the car in the failed state and said he tested for spark and found it, but when he tested for fuel pressure he said that there was none. He mentioned that 200 000 kms is usually the point when fuel pumps die so most likely it was that. I just want to be certain if I'm gonna spend $1000 on a new fuel pump.

By the way thanks for all your help and your quick replies.
 
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Old 06-01-06, 06:34 AM
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Temp Sensor

I know of two people who have brand new fuel pumps (that did not solve a similar problem) and then got new temp sensors and have had no problems since. There are a few other posts I have responded to in the same manner, but the symptoms are identical and I would hate to see someone waste big bucks for a new pump when all that is needed is a $20 sensor.

The typical symtoms are, starts fine cold, acts flooded if you try to start it hot (will not start unless you floor the pedal and hold it... that is even iffy). The car appears to run fine at speed, but when you idle hot, it chugs, runs rough, or dies (and then you cannot get it started again).

If it was the fuel pump, I would venture it would not matter if you were doing highway speeds or idling, the car would die when the pump cut out. Since it only happens at idle, I would rule out the fuel pump.

I am not an expert in the area, without looking at the car, it is impossible to know for sure. But based on the symptoms and past experience, your car is not getting enough air at idle when hot (too much fuel) and it is flooding out.
 
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Old 06-01-06, 07:20 AM
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if you trust the mechanic or shop you took the car to suggest you take there advice and replace the fuel pump you could do all the suggestions above but if a car has no fuel pressure it isnt going to run.
1000 for a fuel pump is to high in my opinion while they can be expensive sometimes suggest calling around and getting some estimates and maybe even a second opinion suspect 300- 500 range would be more appropiate for a fuel pump module and labor.
 
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Old 06-01-06, 08:35 AM
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Concern

My only concern about replacing the pump is he said it only happened at idle. If it were the pump, it would not matter if you were at idle or speed, it would cut out whenever it felt like it. Did the mechanic duplicate the problem and take the pressure reading? If he was getting no pressure, I would assume you were unable to start it? How likely is it that a fuel pump would only fail once in a while, only when hot, and at idle (and repair itself when it cools off).

If it happens again (before you fix it), try to start the car while the pedal is floored and see if it starts (or at least fires). If it does, I think the pump can be ruled out.

Will it hurt to replace the pump? No. I am merely suggesting something else they should look into before committing to a costly expense (and, as happened to a friend, being told when the problem is not fixed that you probably still needed the pump).

If you do any DIY work, get the manual, check/replace the sensor. You will only be out the cost of the sensor (about 20) and the manual (there may be sites with repair info also).

I am not trying to be arguementative, it just does not sound like a fuel pump problem.
 
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Old 06-01-06, 12:14 PM
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[Its happened 3 times, but before it started dying as I pushed the accelerator I would feel a temporary loss of power. THe car would not respond until a few seconds later. I don't know if this is related, but I thought it just needed a tune up]
I would expect a cooalnt sensor to occur almost every time the car is driven along with black smoke if it was flooding the engine it may only be 20 bucks and a manual but why spend that much more to repair the car any shop can scan the coolant sensor and confirm if its reading correct engine temp did it die at idle every time its hard to say from the above statement.
 
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Old 06-01-06, 01:36 PM
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Fuel pump

Both people I know with the new fuel pumps (that did not correct the problem) did not have the light or a code, but the sensor fixed it. On my Hyundai, we did get the code (before I had the scanner, the shop fixed it). The hesitation he spoke of is typical of an incorrect mixture... and other things (not a typical bad fuel pump).

If you are not a DIYer, a garage can check the temp sensor by measuring resistance (at least on some) cold and making sure it changes when hot. They can probably also do so by measuring output voltage from the sensor. It is quite possible I am wrong on the sensor, but I cannot see how it can be the pump itself given the symtoms you have stated.

At a minimum, get a second opinion from a mechanic on the fuel pump. If the fuel pump is dead, the car should never run, if it is an intermittant problem, it should happen under any conditions, warm, cold, etc. If it is something like a failing connection (that only fails when hot idling), that would not require a new pump, just a fixed connection.

Let us know
 
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Old 06-01-06, 04:54 PM
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I agree about the fuel pump. I dont think your problem is your fuel pump based on the information you have given. I agree with Dave, the pump isnt going to act up just when its idling. However, if the mechanic is reputable and he says you dont have fuel pressure, then that definately needs to be investigated further before a pump is thrown at it. You could have contaminated fuel, or any other number of things.
Just from the symptoms you have written im thinking it is possibly something to do with the Throttle Position sensoror the throttle body. However, you should get it checked to see if there are any stored codes. This will give you somewhere to start. If it is something electrical it will most likely set a code. But being a 1996 model it could also be on a non-monitored system. So its a toss up either way.

How long does it have to sit after it stalls before you can restart it?

Hope this is helpful to ya,
Billy
 
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