Check engine light after air intake mods - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1992-1999 Series I L27 (1992-1994 SE,SLE, SSE) & Series II L36 (1995-1999 SE, SSE, SLE) and common problems for the Series I and II L67 (all supercharged models 92-99) Including Olds 88's, Olds LSS's and Buick Lesabres Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 11-19-2002, 11:18 PM   #1
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Default Check engine light after air intake mods

I recently bought a '96 SSEi.
Last Saturday I removed the stock air box, filter, and all associated junk.
I fitted a piece of industrial 4" ID flexible duct hose to the stock rubber piece just outside of the MAF sensor. The other end of the duct recieved the 4" conical K&N filter used on my last car (a '95 LT1 Formula Firebird). For good measure, I also removed the screen on the MAF.
Upon starting the car for the first time after the modification, I was startled by the sound at idle. I later realized that the sound was from the cold blower- it quiets down after the car warms up a little. What is cool is the very pronounced blower whine heard under boost conditions. Seems that the elaborate and restrictive factory air intake setup was designed to reduce noise.
Cooler yet is the additional power. I swear that the thing is now as quick from 60 to 90 MPH as my old modified, bad-a$$, recently-deceased Formula!
Questions:
Shortly after the described mod, the "check engine" light came on and has yet to go away. Since I have never messed with a supercharged car, I need to know if I can damage something with the drastically changed air filter setup.
Can any of you guys help educate me with a reassurance or warning?

Also, since the above mod, the "traction control off" light will appear after full-throttle runs involving first gear- even when the gas pedal is slowly applied.... The traction light will go away after a few minutes.
Is this a normal thing on modified cars? Will this damage the traction control?

This is my first post here. While I am a 44 year old "wrench-head", the SSEi is my first vehicle with front wheel drive, a supercharger, and traction control.
Any comments will be welcome and appreciated.

Randy
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Old 11-20-2002, 01:02 AM   #2
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As far as your SES light is concerned, without scanning the codes, there'* no way to be sure. I'd check the IAT sensor, make sure you got it reconnected after the filter install. Check your MAF sensor. If your air filter was over-oiled, it'll fry the MAF. Re-install the MAF screen to see if that helps. If you don't have a smooth walled intake pipe, the air will be too turbulent, and it'll need the MAF screen. Read the article up in Techinfo/Specifications. Also check your TPS harness. It'* in the near vicinity of where you were working.

Your traction control is unrelated, and the only way to diagnose it is to take it to the dealer. It could be the PMV/Pump assy ($320), the EBCM ($700) or a wheel speed sensor.
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Old 11-21-2002, 11:18 PM   #3
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Default CES light

Willwren: Thanks for the response.
Now the SES light appears about 4 out of 5 times upon startup. I plan to reinstall the screen this weekend- maybe that will help.
The IAT sensor is in it'* original position and properly re-connected.
I don't think over-oiling the K&N has much potential as an issue here, as I cleaned and oiled the filter well in advance of installation, and have over 10 years experience running K&N'* on ALL vehicles owned by my wife and myself. One never knows, though.....
The duct hose I used for this purpose is pretty smooth. I have used the same hose on other fuel injected automotive applications with success. The convolutions inside this hose are much smoother than the one'* in the factory piece it'* attached to.
My main concern was the awful noise when starting the car cold. Must be the SC, and it quiets down after a couple of minutes.
I just wanted to make sure that such a radical change in the air intake/filter setup would not cause any damage. Having no experience with SC'*, I feared the potential for damage to hot parts being exposed to cold air while unencumbered by the ridiculous stock setup. I love the SC whine while in boost mode..... the stock setup must be restrictive as HE*L!
Guess I'll have to scan the codes.
After about 500 miles, the car still has a smooth idle, at least as good gas mileage, and more "seat of the pants" power. The only hangup is the SES light. Guess I can live with it, if necessary, at least until they start emission testing in my area (50 miles North of Atlanta).
As for the traction control light: From day one with this car, I have been amazed at how easily the thing will break traction upon acceleration. The obviously increased power resulting from the air intake/filter setup seems to cause slippage of the front wheels, even while gradually opening up the throttle in first gear.....
* ? Does wheelspin cause the traction control light to come on for a minute or two? If so, the extra power is the culprit, I hope. I think that such is the case, as the TC light never appeared before the power-enhancing mod described- with the exception of a few "stoplight drag racing" incidents when I accidentally spun the tires.
Compared to my last car, the SSEi is not as stout. But, the "sleeper" effect is more fun than driving my LT-1 powered, modified Formula Firebird. At stoplights, I have surprised more people in the last few weeks with the SSEi than I did the 4 years I had the Formula.
I have driven powerful cars since 1974: GTO'*, Lemans'*, an old GP, big-block SS Chevelles, a stout Camaro, souped-up Mustangs, and so on. My SSEi has been more fun so far than any of the old cars when it comes to surprising other drivers. The only car in my personal history that almost compares, "sleeper"- wise, is the '72 Electra I drove for a time with a slightly souped up 455- and that Buick did not perform as strongly as my current car! And it got 10 or 12 MPG.
Also, compared to my last car, a 1995 "Arrest-Me Red" Formula, my silver SSEi seems to be invisible to cops. With it, I'm just another middle aged, clean-cut businessman in a sedan going about his business.... Heh, heh, heh.... this old fart will never stop being a juvenile delinquent!
Any comments from anyone, technical or otherwise, would and will be appreciated......
Thanks in advance,
Randy
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Old 11-22-2002, 12:35 PM   #4
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From one old Fart to another welcome. Glad to see someone on the other side of 40 to keep me company. As for your problems these kids have most all the answers.
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Old 11-22-2002, 04:56 PM   #5
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Oh my God. You used 4" flexible duct hosing.... Bad ideas. We must not let this spread. I am from Angry Duck Tofu Racing and we dont even use 4" for the intakes we make for Crown Victoria'* and they hav 4.6L'* (I know smaller than your Formuals engine). And you used ducting.... bad ideas. I bet you MAF hates it plus the 4" ducting is so bad for power. That'* why you only feel the increase from 60-90MPH, when the air is already moving but I bet it didn't help down low. I would put the stock airbox back on man. And the SES light will kill your power a little bit since the computer will be a little hestiant and not getting correct reading to make the max power of the factory fuel curves. Other than that, you are doing great! Heh.

If you have more questions, Willwren and Me are around.

-Hector
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Old 11-22-2002, 07:29 PM   #6
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There'* an intake modification article posted in Techinfo that covers almost everything we've learned about these 3800 intakes. There are some quirky things about it that are unique to our powerplants. They are VERY picky aobut turbulent air!

I'd recommend a custom intake from a company who makes them specifically for the Bonneville. There'* only one so far, and that'* Hector.

Please keep us posted, because we're still learning new stuff......you might come up with something good here, and we can add it to our knowledge base.
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Old 11-25-2002, 01:03 AM   #7
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Default CES light

Thanks to everyone responding.
Yes, it'* good to know I'm not the only "old fart", Buckman.
Willwren, thanks for the reference to the Techinfo article. It was informative and interesting.
Today I disconnected the battery and replaced the MAF screen. After a few hours I reconnected the battery and drove the car. The SES light was still on the first time or two the car was driven. The traction control light has yet to surface....
The last couple of times the car was started and driven the SES light remained OFF! I have just come back in the house after checking for the light one last time. For now it'* gone and I hope it stays gone.....
The car still idles and runs smoothly and powerfully. The MAF screen did reduce the blower noise a little, but I can still hear the thing. Cool.
99BonnevilleSE: You stated that "the 4" ducting is so bad for power". In my opinion, the reinstalled MAF screen has straightened out the flow sufficiently, even when using the duct hose. The smooth, strong, and versatile type of duct hose I'm using is one of many industrial maintenance products I sell for a living. I have at my disposal many sizes of this duct. You mention a "3" Custom I/E" in your signiture. Would that be a better hose ID size to use for this application? If not, what size ID is considered ideal for my SSEi?
What about the insulation?
Would I be better off modifying and reinstalling the stock air box, with my big conical K&N inside, for temperature and "forced air" purposes?
Any comment, from anyone, would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance, with many more questions to come...
Randy
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Old 11-25-2002, 02:37 AM   #8
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Well.. I think it'* got to do with that 3" the air has a higher velocity ( speed ) entering the TB and into the cylinder then a 4".. the 4" will carrymore volume in and therefore better only at 60+ miles... correct me if I"m wrong on my theory.. this is my theory.. and not the facts.. I"m basing this on physics.
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Old 11-25-2002, 05:22 AM   #9
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I think you're onto it Drifter. Not only that, but then you hit a restriction at the TB where it has to step down in size......creating more turbulence. Also turb from the flexible hose.
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Old 11-30-2002, 05:40 PM   #10
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Default Still no warning lights

After 500 miles and almost a week, the SES and traction control lights have yet to reappear. Not once. I guess the problem is solved, thank goodness...
Evidently, the reinstalled screen is straightening out the air flow enough to make the MAF happy.
You guys keep mentioning how duct is not smooth enough, but the factory rubber piece between my MAF and duct hose is WAY more convoluted than the duct and probably causes more turbulance than the duct.
Anyway, the car runs like a top and still has a little more power than stock. I can still hear the blower whine too, but the screen quieted it down a little.
I can see how my new setup can draw some warm air coming through the radiator, and my next step will be to somehow isolate the big K&N from as much warmth as possible.
I may eventually experiment with 2 1/2" or 3" duct, but for now the car is running perfectly.
Question: Does opening up the air intake like this affect the amount of boost? Before the mod, I never saw the boost/vacuum gauge go past the mark that should indicate 7 1/2 pound of boost. Now, the gauge climbs past that point and actually nudges the yellow warning area right before the transmission shifts to the next gear.
I assume this is good, unless something is in danger of being damaged.
Does this situation sound safe to you guys?
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