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Old 09-20-2005, 02:35 PM   #1
Monroe44
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Default Two or Three tries to start when warm?

I've had my '97 SL2 for a few months now, put on about 17,000 miles (149,000 on it now), and it has always had this problem for the time I have had it. If I drive for about 20 or more minutes (enough time for it to get good and warm), then stop and come back to drive again... well here are the conditions of it:

0-about 5 minutes: starts right up (like after filling up with gas)
10-50 minutes: takes 2 or three tries to start (cranking engine for about 5-8 seconds each time)
60-90 minutes: could take two tries, or one long crank to start
- When it does start, sometimes it will have a slight stumble for a couple seconds, but it always clears right up.
- No codes coming from this
- Replaced ECTS with brass tip one when I bought the car, along with plugs (non-plat.) and wires
- Runs smoothly all other times, idle is where it should be (7-900 I think)

After sitting for two hours or so, it always starts right up. It also starts fine after sitting for a longer period, like overnight. Or if I pop the hood to let it cool faster, it will start with less cranking.

I doubt it is the fuel pump loosing pressure because I let it prime each time, and I have tried without letting it prime as well, and it does the same thing.

I am led to believe that it is ignition related and some component is becoming heat-soaked causing it to take a bit to function properly after being hot.

I have not yet put a timing light on it to check it while it is doing this, or checked the fuel pressure just to be sure on that front. I have not been able to find that the Crank Position Sensor acts like this when it is bad, but part of me believes it could be the problem. I have also been thinking about it being the module, but I don't want to start throwing parts at it unless it would be to swap out to trouble shoot the problem.

Thanks in advance, Jon

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Old 09-20-2005, 04:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

You've covered most of the usually culprits. About the only thing you haven't done is to clean off the back of the ignition module and the bolts on the coil packs. You might try that.

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Old 09-20-2005, 04:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

And when you re-bolt the four bolts, remember you'll be torquing into aluminum; The hold can be easily stripped.

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Old 09-20-2005, 04:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

What could this cleaning do? I will go ahead and try it. Hopefully tonight.

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Old 09-20-2005, 04:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

The ignition module grounds through the bolts and the back. If it's not grounding well, that could be the problem. I'll provide better instructions.
Take both coil packs off. The square plate thing they sit on is the ignition module. Take the wire harness loose and pull it out. Clean any corrosion off the back of the IM, clean the spot on the transaxle where it sits, put a little dielectric grease on the transaxle, clean the bolts and sand the underside of the bolt heads, and put everything back together. That MIGHT solve your problem.

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Old 09-20-2005, 09:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

97s are famous for fuel pump check valve problems, I've got one myself. You might try the fuel pressure gage check just to be sure.

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Old 09-20-2005, 09:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

I left work before reading the last post, but I pretty much figured it would be a grounding issue with the corrosion.

I took it apart, there was some corrosion to be expected, but nothing too bad. Sanded the block and trans where it sits, and the back of the module. The module has slight pitting from the corrosion, but nothing major. I sanded the small area where the head of the bolt contacts the coil, and wire brushed the underside of the head of the bolts. I also cleaned up the spark plug towers on the coils, nothing too bad there.

I am wondering how the corrosion could act differently under the conditions I described with the not starting hot. Who knows, but I'll figure it out tomorrow if it helped. Still a good idea to keep it free of the corrosion, and when I get some dielectric grease I will put it between the module and the block, and on the plug towers.

Will know more tomorrow, thanks for the input so far.

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Old 09-20-2005, 10:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

Would, or could the fuel pressure check valve be affected by the heat soak condition? Even at that, after letting it prime for many seconds, or not letting it prime, it still behaves the same way.

In what way would I check the fuel pump check valve? Leave the pressure gauge hooked up for 8-12 hours to see if it leaks down? Or check the pressure while cranking when it doesn't start when warm?

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Old 09-20-2005, 11:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

Monroe44, I have a '97 SW2 with 130k miles on it, and identical symptoms. Over the last couple of months, I have spent a lot of time and a little money on engine mounts, ECTS, checking ignition components, cleaning throttle body, decarbonizing with a cleaner soak, MMO in gas. The car has never run smoother or quieter, with nice acceleration.

But, it still has the starting quirk that you describe. I have come to believe that it is the '97 fuel pump condition described here & in other threads. I have gotten into the routine (recommended by others) of turning the ignition on while I buckle up. I typically hear the fuel pump prime. If the engine is cold or hot, it usually starts with the touch of the key. If warm, it may crank hard, and if it doesn't take right off, I turn the key off and let it site for 3-5 seconds back in the run position. I often hear the pump again, if there is no radio or fan motor on. It will usually take right off on this second try.

I never sit and grind the starter any more. I have checked battery condition and starter circuit connections, and do not find any major shortcomings. As you describe, it starts great with a cold engine!

I asked the local Saturn dealership here in Canada if they had any recalls or bulletins related to the fuel pump issue, and they said not. So, I have been living with the conditions as described, and watching for any indication that things have deteriorated to the point that a problem can be identified. With my OBDII code reader, I get no full or pending codes being thrown. And as much as I might have liked to replace the coil packs at one point, I measured lots of voltage coming from the existing packs, and turned my attention to cylinder compression and carbonization.

I would sure be interested to learn if you are able to track this condition down to some electrical component that is sensitive to engine temperature. It's not cold enough here yet for me to determine if the problem will disappear in the winter; I don't remember back to last winter. I do think that my wagon starts easier with the A/C off. It is a good runner, and a hard starter.

Let us know what you find out.

Stu

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Old 09-20-2005, 11:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

My 98 SL had the exact same problem with the exact same time frames. It gradually got worse to the point where 2 hours wasn't enough to let it sit to restart. It did end up being the crank pos snesor. Probably was cracked inside and thats why the signal worked when cold or when the car was just shut off. It was that middle range of 15 minutes to several hours at the end when I had the no start problem. Once the car did start it ran flawlessly as you describe. This is an inexpensive repair and something that does go on these cars pretty often. I think the part was around 20- from Saturn. If you replace the sensor and that still isn't it, you still have the spare sensor in case you get stuck when and if it does go. I know there are fuel issues on the 97 cars, but I don't know a lot about it so I would read up on some of the others who have had fuel problems with the 97. Good luck.

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Old 09-21-2005, 08:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

Ok, after cleaning the module corrosion last night, I drove my hour to work, and just now after letting it sit for a half hour, I tried to start it and it fit the problematic conditions from the first post in this thread. Cranked for a few seconds first time, then let it prime again, and cranked minimally and fired up.

Unless some other experience leads me away from it, I think I will just start with the CPS. It's pretty cheap, and it seems like it can be problematic like the temp sensor, so getting a new one is fine by me. It will be a Saturn part.

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Old 09-21-2005, 12:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

I had the same issue as described by dave.sl with the CPS. I replaced with a cheap one from somewhere else and it only lasted a year. I would definitely buy from a Saturn dealer. Another time I had an issue when warm and one of hte harnesses was not getting good contact when warm. Had to take it off and use a needle to tighten it up and use a little dilectic(sp) greast in there and have not had an issue since. It was found by just moving the connections around when somebody was trying to start the car.

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Old 09-21-2005, 02:07 PM   #13
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

I ordered a CPS from saturnparts.com (cheaper this time than saturnparts.net). I drove the car over lunch, and it is still doing the same thing, so hopefully I am on the right track with the CPS.

Any word on how to check the fuel pressure check valve?

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Old 09-21-2005, 11:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

I would start with a fuel pressure and residual pressure test. If nothing else than to eliminate that possibility of a fuel supply system problem. ie: fuel pump, leaking injectors...... You can also buy yourself an HEI ignition tester ($10-cheap) and check for spark when your problem occurs. Don't use a screw driver. It's not calibrated for the high voltages your DIS will put out. You did not mention if you checked/changed the CTS electrical connector. If it's corroded the tiniest bot, change it!

http://www1.autozone.com/servlet/UiB...3d8019a25d.jsp

You want the "System Pressure Test"...You can keep guessing or you can do some actual diagnosis and testing and start eliminating possibilities by factual information and not trial and error.


FYI: The Direct Ignition Module IS NOT grounded through it's base. It is grounded through a seperate wire in it's wiring harness. The only function the base serves is to transfer heat from the module. According to GM, Dielectric grease may interfere with this transfer and recommends you install the DIS module clean and dry.

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Old 09-22-2005, 08:35 AM   #15
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

Thanks for the info on the fuel system. I am going to look into that as well. The part that I am wondering about is that the pressure regulator seems to fail by a gradual leak-down over time. I am assuming that the described System Pressure Test will still cover this condition?

My thinking behind replacing the position sensor is that it seems that they have been problematic anyway, so even if it is not the problem, it can still be viewed as $20 in maintenance, and in this case, not trial and error. My original Coolant Temp Sensor looked great when I replaced it with the brass tip one. I could not see even a very fine crack, therefore I am not worried about the corroded connector.

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Old 09-22-2005, 10:24 PM   #16
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

Hey, it's your money. Personally I like to see actual proof that a component is faulty before I replace it. Occupational hazzard I guess. Like I said, do the fuel pressure tests and buy a spark tester.

You've basically got 2 totally different paths you can take...fuel or spark. If you're fuel test come up bad...start concentrating on the fuel system.... If you've got no spark....have a look at the ignition side. If you really want to troubleshoot as you stated in your 1st post, then you've gotta cover the basics. After you've exhausted the possibilities from the results of your test and still can't find your cause...then you can start swapping parts.

To answer your question...
The remaining pressure in the system after you shut the engine off and when you restart are the pressures you're looking for.

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Old 09-23-2005, 08:19 AM   #17
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

I will troubleshoot the problem after I get the CPS in. I am not viewing the CPS as throwing parts at it blindly. I have read in many posts about the CPS being somewhat problematic, so even if it turned out to be something else, I would still like to have a new CPS in there.

Tabb, I appreciate your help and input, please don't think I am ignoring what you suggested. From what I can tell with the car, it feels (no diagnostic proof here) slightly flooded when it does start, so like I said I am leaning away from fuel causing the issue, but not ignoring it, I will be looking into it when I can get down to a friends shop to work on it. I am also working on getting update cards for the scanner we have to check over the system (current snap-on update goes through '96, which could work, but we need new ones anyway). Thanks again to all.

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Old 09-23-2005, 10:44 AM   #18
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Default Re: Two or Three tries to start when warm?

Like I said....It's your money.....Good luck!!! Hope you get it figured out.

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