1991 Sunbird won't start


Old 12-05-06, 07:28 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 4
Unhappy 1991 Sunbird won't start

After I've driven the car for anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour, then park, it won't start. Turns over but doesn't fire up. You can smell fuel. If you leave it sit for 2 - 3 hours, it will start. Yesterday it just quit while I was driving it and after two hours it did start. Work I've had done: replace fuel filter, plugs, wires and pvc valve. Of course it doesn't do this for the mechanic or tow truck driver.
Any thoughts? This car has been very reliable since day one.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:17 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: SW Fla USA
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Since you're smelling fuel chances are it's going to be something in the ignition system that is partially failing when it gets hot. To double check you need to pull a plug wire and check for spark when it won't start. This is a fairly common problem. On vehicles with ignition modules, that's how they sometimes go. Troubleshooting can be fun, because you often have to parts-swap until you discover the culprit.

Here's some help:

Old 12-05-06, 06:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 27
Assuming it is the standard GM 4 cylinder, there are two ignition coils. One is probably bad and when it heats up it goes out. Advance auto can bench test them if you take them out. Don't forget where the plug wires go! They can test the brain that they are bolted to also. Most of the time it is one coil as it fires two cylinders.

Good Luck
Old 12-06-06, 02:42 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
would probably suspect the ignition module however an engine size might help, but you really should do some test when it doesnt start like checking for spark and checking injector pulse if you can.
dont really trust the parts store testing a module with an intermitant problem.
Old 12-06-06, 06:37 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 4
1991 Sunbird

Thanks for the info. The car is a V6 3.1 l. I live in a very small town and am relying on the 'small town local' mechanic. So far it won't quit running for him and there isn't an engine fault recording. All of the plugs and wires have been replaced. Should they still test for spark? Does the V6 have two ignition coils as well or is the ignition system totally different from the 4 cylinder?
Notaplumber (and not male)
Old 12-06-06, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
the v6 has 3 coil packs but most cars will run with a bad coil pack they will just run very bad as each coil will fire 2 cylinders if you loose one you would be running on 4 cylinders.
there isnt much that can be done until the car acts up, and spark, fuel pressure and injector pulse can be tested to see why its not starting short of just guessing and throwing parts at the problem which can get very expensive.

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