sudden death of a 90 LE - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 02-28-2005, 09:05 PM   #1
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Default sudden death of a 90 LE

I've been lurking around these forums for a while, but here is my first post, as I've not had anythign really constructive to contribute and haven't really needed assistance until now. Ok, so I've had very few problems with this car since I've had it. I replaced a waterpump, and have been changing the oil, but thats about it. Anyway. I starter her up, and back out the space I'm in and the engine jsut flat out quits on me. I put it back in Park and try to restart it. no dice. it jsut cranks seemingly endlessly without even making an effort to start. I've never had a car jsut fail on me so suddenly and absolutely.

My only car experience is workign on old chevy'* with carburators, mechanical fuel pumps, and a real distributor system., so I'm struggling a bit with this computer controlled, electronic stuff. Anyway. I figure its either
a) dead fuel pump
b)failed ignition system(I dont know what its called but the box that the sparkplug wires connect to.)
c) perhaps some part of the computer system jsut up and died.

First thing I do is have my room mate crank the engine while I hold one of the spark plug wires a little ways away from the terminal on the box and look for spark. No spark. If this was a distributor I would now have it narrowed down, but I really dont' know the nature of this beast.

Second thing I do is use the bent piece of wire to access the "self diagnostic" or whatever. It doesn't flash anythign at me, so thats kinda a dead end.

What do I do now? is the box of electronics that is the ignition system my culprit? The thing looks expensive and have an uncle who told me he paid like 280 bucks for one for a sunfire or something. WHat is the thing called anyway, jsut so I know what part to ask for at the auto parts store.

Any help/advice is welcome. Thanks
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:14 PM   #2
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First off, the 'ignition box' is called the ICM [the part below the coils], and the Coil assembly. Now, your diagnosis seems about right. But, by any chance do you have a Tachometer? This will help GREATLY in diagnosing your problem.


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Old 02-28-2005, 09:19 PM   #3
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If you mean a dashboard tach, then yes. if you mean a hand held tach, the no. I have to wonder what use a tach is in diagnosing a car that doesn't run at all.
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:22 PM   #4
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For the diagnostics, if you didn't get the handshake 12 code at LEAST, you either did it wrong or the ECM itself is suspect. And the ECM failure could cause your problem.

Make sure you got the right terminals jumpered!
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:28 PM   #5
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ok. Just to make sure I got this diagnostic thing right.. its the top far right and the top next to far right one? I've got a Haynes manual for this thing, but its extremely vague about things. it has a list of codes, but doesn't tell how the car communicates these codes.

Ok, its the flashing service engine light. it flashes patterns right. i got the 1, pause, 2 lfash pattern. I assume thats the code 12.

After paperclipping it and getting the 12, I pulled out the paperclip, turned the key back, then turned it forward again, and lo and behold the beast starts. IT stuttered, then started like there was no problem. I'm getting more frustrated by the minute.
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:36 PM   #6
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It should flash 12 three times. Communication is good.

Then it should flash any codes present three times each.

Finish up with code 12 three more times.

You didn't wait long enough.
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:52 PM   #7
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ok. I ran back downstairs and watched it flash again.. nothing but 12'*.
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:58 PM   #8
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i luv intermittant problems!

i guess all you can do now is just hope it was a fluke.
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:01 PM   #9
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I would check the battery ground for looseness or heavy corrosion. Sounds like something I've encountered before.
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:23 PM   #10
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If the battery ground was corroded or loose, wouldn't it have failed ot crank over at all? Only times I've had loose battery connections it jsut kinda clicks.
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