89 Bonneville LE not starting up right away? - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1987-1991 Parley with regards to your 1987 to 1991 Bonneville, Olds 88 or Buick Le Sabre Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 05-20-2004, 09:34 AM   #1
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Default 89 Bonneville LE not starting up right away?

*Sighs* One more problem that I seem to be having. For some reason, when I first bought the car, whenever I would go to start it up, just turn the key, and like a split second later the thing would start up. Now more and more I am noticing myself holding the key to turn it on a little bit longer... sometimes to the point where I let go of the key just in time for the engine to struggle to catch up... What would be causing this? How much would this be to fix? Easy?
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Old 05-20-2004, 10:08 AM   #2
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It could be lots of things. The first thing that comes to mind is fuel. Have you replaced the fuel filter recently? Does this happen more when the tank is near empty? When was the last time the plugs, ignition wires, air filter, pcv, or O2 Sensor were replaced?
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Old 05-20-2004, 10:56 AM   #3
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After the obvious, my next thought would be the fuel pump relay. Easy way to check is to just jump the prime connector to 12v for a few seconds and then try to start. If fires right up, there you are.

GM uses a very strange circuit for the fuel pump possibly a remnant of the '70s. Back then GM began installing an interlock between the fuel pump and the oil pressure sender. Loose oil pressure and hopefully the engine will stop before terminal damage occurs (of course the cut off is around 6 psi so good luck).

Be that as it may, GM cars of the seventies often took a bit of cranking to start. If the float bowl was empty you have to crank for long enough for the oil pressure to come up before you got gas. When I put dual quads on my Sunbird I had to add a prime button to get it to start without killing the battery.

When FI came along you did not have a float bowl any more and you had to have 20ish psi in the rails to do anything.

On the 3800 they had to add two things: first a "double rattle" of the injectors to act like it used to when you pumped the pedal on a carb engine, and second a circuit that turned the fuel pump on for a few seconds to make sure you have pressure in the rail. Since the ECM cannot drive the fuel pump by itself, a relay was needed.

So you have two parallel circuits powering the fuel pump. One through the oil pressure switch that once drove an idiot light, and the other from the ECM through the fuel pump relay. If the realy fails and the car has been sitting for long enough to lose pressure then it will not start until the oil pressure comes up.

Does it start immediately if was running and you turn it off for a moment ?

ps on our '90 Bonne, the prime connecor is bright green and is loose behind the battery. Goes direct to the fuel pump so you can either apply 12v to turn the pump on or connect a test light to see if the relay is working. Every FI GM car has one though the location varies.
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:14 AM   #4
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God I wish I knew a lot more about cars, hehe. Regarding the startup after shutting it down... no, I'm able to start it up, shut it down, and it will still take just as long [this is not a constant issue, sometimes slow, sometimes quick] as previously.

Also, this occurs at various points with my tank of gas. I also decided to use some Fuel Injector Cleaner on Tuesday, but this problem has been occuring before then. I have been filling it up using regular gas.
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Old 05-20-2004, 04:09 PM   #5
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Next step requires a fuel pressure guage on the fuel rail. Should have at least 30 psi when starting. The alternatice I use is to pour about a 1/2 oz of gasoline directly into the plastic vacuum connection (has three or four vaccuum lines and is on the top of the manifold behind the throttle plate) and try to start.

If start is immediate, is a fuel delivery problem. This also bypasses clogged injectors. If still cranks a bit I would be looking at the ignition system.

For this type of problem you need to divide the complex engine system into simpler ones.

BTW I am not a fan of the Magnavox ignition. All of my cars are now converted to the later Delco which is a plug-in, good silicone plug wires, and AC Rapidfire #14 plugs (now available from GMPartsDirect in a quantity of six instead of eight ).
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Old 05-22-2004, 12:41 PM   #6
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Let'* not forget the off chance of a dying starter. I had problems similar to yours for the last year or two. Where sometimes it starts on what seems like a 1/4 of a second and barely a turn of the engine and then other times when it took so long I myself didn't want to push the starter any harder and just let of the key (sometimes this would result in a last-second turning on of the car while other times the engine would stay off till i tried again to start it. about 90% to 95% of the time the engine would start up fine with the only variation being on how long i have to hold the key in the 'start' position.
This changed last week when I went to the store and i tried to turn it in and it took a while (starter seemed to turn fine) but engine wouldn't start. So i tried again and it worked, i drove home fine.

Then I got home, turned off the car and remmebered i had to go somewhere else so i turned the key to start the car and I heard the most pathetic starter noise trying to turn the engine.
Important to note is that I had NEVER heard my starter sound so weak. What i'm trying to say is my starter had these 'minor' symptoms we discussed for a long while without any real problems (the car would always start by the third try) but one day it just went all out and wouldn't start.
I replaced the starter (~$50.00 u.*. after exchange) and i have had NO problems (neither major NOR minor) since.

P.*. on my '87 Bonne, it was quite an effot to remove the starter. It was simple to remove the 2 bolts that hold the starter BUT it was hard to slip the starter out from under the car, I had to unbolt my front exhuast headers (stock) and slip them off a little in order to make a space to pull out the starter. Other than that it went well though.

Good Luck! Any questions just ask.

Mike Diaz
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