Damsel in distress - 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 02-06-2003, 12:42 AM   #1
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Default Damsel in distress

(I posted this in the "1991 and Earlier" forum too)

I have an 89 Bonneville SSE. I bought it in Sept 2002.

Two days ago, while driving, it started chugging, sputtering and stalling. It starts without any problem but eventually (quite quickly) will sputter and stall.

Yesterday, I had the fuel filter changed, spark plugs checked/changed, high tension leads checked; battery checked. There is definitely fuel getting to the injectors. Everything that was checked is fine.

There are no trouble codes coming up on computer yet my freaking car is un-drivable! .

Somebody suggested that I might have gotten a bad batch of gas.....but wouldn't the fuel filter have been clogged (which it wasn't)?

Anybody have any suggestions??
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Old 02-06-2003, 12:53 AM   #2
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Water in the gas would go right through the filter. Water is heavier than gas, so it gets picked up off the bottom of the tank first. You can get a fuel-drying chemical at the auto parts store. Usually 2 doses are required to fix this.

There'* also the possibility of a 'clog' somewhere. It may sound basic, but when was the last time you checked your air filter? You may also want to get under the car and shake the catalytic converter. It may be clogged up too.

Fuel delivery may still be a problem, depending on pressure.

We need to know some more specifics. Is it under throttle, or normal driving? Is the transmission shifting correctly?

Just a few ideas to chew on. You have one of those classic problems that we need to whittle away at for a bit in order to narrow it down.

Welcome to the Forum!
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Old 02-06-2003, 01:23 AM   #3
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Thanks for the welcome and for the suggestions!!!

I will try the fuel-drying chemical tomorrow. Are they all pretty much the same or are there any I should avoid?

If that doesn't work....I'll try the other things. The air filter is okay, it was checked yesterday too.

I can shake the catalytic converter myself though I'm not sure what one looks like so not sure how I'll find it!!

It seems to be shifting without any problem. It just sputters/misses and stalls no matter what gear I'm in.

Thanks again!!!!
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Old 02-06-2003, 02:10 AM   #4
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one i found to work extremely well is SeaFoam! i love it! its about 5, maybe 6 bucks a bottle, but its good upkeep for your car... your sposed to use it every 2000 miles... well thats my suggestion! anyone else?
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Old 02-06-2003, 02:21 AM   #5
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Just about any commercially available fuel dryer/conditioner. You'll find it near the fuel injector cleaner. It'* in liquid form, and make sure you get one designed to REMOVE moisture. Not just treating the fuel for long-term storage.
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Old 02-06-2003, 04:46 PM   #6
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Thanks for everyone'* help.

I got some Fuel Conditioner for the car. I live in a small town and neither place knew what I was talking about when I said I wanted something to remove moisture. ARGH!!

Anyway, the car is still doing the same thing. Do I need to keep running it (which means restarting it a million times) or does it need to sit for awhile not running for this stuff to work? It says on the bottle it is supposed to neutralize bad gas.....which probably won't help if it'* water right?

I'll try to answer everybody'* questions - no, the car did not sit for a long period before I bought it, it was driven right up until the sale. It is a very recent problem - started a couple of days ago. It hasn't had any problem before, it'* been great. The service engine light has not come on at all while the engine is running - even when it'* sputtering and about to stall. All the gages (oil pressure, temp and battery) have normal readings.

When I started it right after I put the conditioner in it, it ran for about 3 minutes with no problem, then started doing its thing.

After the third stall, I opened the hood and noticed what sounds like a dripping sound coming from the fuel injector area. That can't be good. :(

So, that is where I'm at now - still carless.

But again, thanks so much for all your suggestions and advice!!!
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Old 02-06-2003, 05:47 PM   #7
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Heath,

The fact that your car runs well for a few minutes is an indication that it is a thermal problem--meaning that it is activated when the car warms up. I would focus on this fact as a major clue to what is going on.

Short of that--and a much less expensive "hit-and-miss" repair would be your plug wires. I didn't hear you say that you changed or checked the wires. These can go bad without a hint of wear externally--and have been known to be thermally responsive (first hand experience). This is what I would check before looking at the coil pack and module.

As for the "dry-gas" additive, it is an alcohol additive. It works because water and alcohol mix and gasoline and alcohol mix (even though water and gasoline don't mix). This allows the water to be suspended in the fuel mixture for easier burning. It works well either by letting it sit in the tank OR driving the car--but if you have water in the lines it will take a while to work its way out, as the additive doesn't make it into the fuel line unless you are driving the car. This would not, however, be a thermally sensitive problem, so I doubt that it will cure your symptoms.

As for the catalytic converter (cat), it is located under your car. Follow the down pipe from your exhaust manifold to the first bulbus looking thing on your exhaust system. It should have a heat shield around it, and it may or may not be rusty. DON'T TOUCH IT IF YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR ENGINE! It will be very hot. To shake it, simply kick it semi-lightly to shake up the catalyst inside. Don't knock it off though. This may be your problem because as the catalyst heats up, it will expand and could restrict your exhaust flow. If it is the old pellet type, the catalyst may have melted together and caused a blockage. If it is the newer screen type, it may have buildup from moisture which could be restricting flow.

I would sugest doing the plug wires first--unless you are absolutely confident that they are new.

Good luck and welcome to the club.
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Old 02-06-2003, 11:15 PM   #8
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Heath, I have another thing to try.
It also sounds like it could be a bad MAF sensor, but that should have thrown a code, but here'* an easy way to eliminate it.
I believe on your car, it has the older style sensor that is located in the air tube between the air filter and the throttle body. It will have a big flat side about 3 inches long to it where the wiring harness hooks up. They were notorious for failing. Try unhooking the wires to the MAF sensor and see if the symptoms go away.
I had this happen on my '96, and until I could get a new MAF sensor, unplugging it allowed the engine to run smoothly enough until I could replace it.
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Old 02-06-2003, 11:40 PM   #9
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I'm SO glad I found you guys - you are GREAT!!

I have another question (if you don't mind)....

What should the resistance through the coils be?

Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 02-06-2003, 11:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath
The service engine light has not come on at all while the engine is running - even when it'* sputtering and about to stall.
Pardon an obvious question but you _do_ get a Check Engine light when you're starting the car, right? I mean, the bulb'* not burned out, right? No error codes currently stored?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath
After the third stall, I opened the hood and noticed what sounds like a dripping sound coming from the fuel injector area. That can't be good.
Eh... If there was something internal I doubt you would hear it, and if it'* external I would think you'd smell it, big-time.

Any chance your fuel pressure regulator has croaked? If you can locate it on the fuel rail (if it'* similar to later engines, I think it'* at one end of the fuel rail, a little round canister thingy with a vacuum line attached), with the engine not running, pull off the vacuum line. It should not pee gas all over the place.

If it does, like on our Trans Sport a few weeks back, the regulator diaphragm has sprung a leak, and the combination of manifold vacuum on one side and fuel pressure on the other is allowing the vacuum line to snork up gasoline and basically flood itself. Our symptoms were extremely hard warm-engine starting that required cranking the thing forever before it would fire, but the check for this problem is so simple that I figured I'd mention it here.
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