Car died while driving, cranks but won't start - Team Camaro Tech
Troubleshooting Diagnosing problems done here.

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 02, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 5
I have a '96 Z28. No major influences/modifications to engine performance.

Accelerated to around 45mph and the car died. When attempting to restart, the car would turnover, sound as if it were coming to life and sputter out. Repeated 3 times with same result. Now the car just cranks as if its flooded. Could this be alternator related? In recent weeks its been making a steady whining sound and periodically the car has a strong "melted rubber" odor.

When attempting to start the first three times, a loud knocking sound and shaking occured...

Did I throw something?

[This message has been edited by Ma_USMC (edited 02-23-2002).]
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 02, 01:25 PM
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Engines need 3 basic things to run. Compression, fuel and fire. Does it sound like it's cranking normally? If yes it's probably mechanically ok. Does it have spark? That engine has a pain in the rear ignition to work on. You can get to the coil wire without to much trouble. It's on the front of the drivers side head. I've many of them get badly corroded. There is a valve on the fuel rail to check the fuel pressure. If the fuel pressure checks ok(don't know the exact specs, should start and idle with min of 30-35psi)you can check the injectors for pulsing. Either feel them click with your hand or use the long screw driver to the ear trick.

As for your alt noise/burnt smell, sounds like alt bearing trouble. I've seen a mechanic replace an engine that was locked up, only to find the new one locked up too. Alt was locked up and the belt would not slip. DoH!

Tip- On any electronic fuel injected cars with a no start problem, first check to see if the check engine lite works. That tells you that at least the computer is awake. No since in wasting time if the computer is dead.

[This message has been edited by msb (edited 02-23-2002).]
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 02, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 5
Thanks msb. I checked the coil and all is good. Good sparking. Fuel pressure was good to it was right around 40psi. But when I pulled plug one to check for spark during crank, I got... NOTHING.

Is this effect of something in the ignition? My friend said that it could be a bad Opti-Spark. If it is, does anyone know how to test a bad one? Is this common for them to go out? Or is it in the ignition module?

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 02, 03:12 PM
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If you got spark at the coil, I'd say the ignition module/pickup parts of the distributor are good. Spark at the coil and no spark at the plugs is a bad rotor or cap.

Now comes the pain in the butt part, your dist is under the water pump. Yep, the pump has to come off and you need a small torx bit to remove the cap, don't know the size. I know mine by sight, had to grind it down some to fit in the recess where they stick the cap screws. And they are small, did I say that? Be careful tighting them up, don't need to snap one. The rotor is held on with them too. When you take the rotor off, the optical wheel will fall off too. Pay attention to how to lines up and don't bend it. It's made of beer can material, well close to it anyway.

Don't know about aftermarket parts, GM sells the cap and rotor as a kit.

If you plug wires are old, might be a good time to put new ones on. Would be easier since you have room to get to them with the water pump off.

Tip- The water pump on this car is camshaft driven. It uses a small splined coupler to connect them. Make sure it's on the pump your putting on the engine or you'll have a mysterious overheating problem.

Edit- That sould read INVERTED torx bit.

[This message has been edited by msb (edited 02-23-2002).]
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 02, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Lincoln, NE
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Ok now is there anything I can do to fix the old Opti? Or does it require me to just replace it?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 02, 02:42 PM
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I'd say a new cap and rotor is all you need. Your getting spark at the coil, so that tells me the opti-spark is working.

Do a couple of quick checks when you get the cap off.

Bump the engine over a little and make sure the rotor button moves. I'm sure it will since you are getting spark, but it only takes a minute and it's better to double check while it's apart.

And put the timing mark at zero on the timing tab. The rotor should line up to fire no.1 or no.6 cyl. The cap is not like a regular cap. The plug wires come out of it 1,3,5,7 on the drivers side and 2,4,6,8 on the pass side. You will have to use an ohm meter to see which terminal inside the cap connects to no.1 plug wire and the same for no.6. If it lines up with either cylinder I'd say it's in time.

When you get to where you can see the cap, notice the potting/epoxy material on the outside. This covers the routing they did to get the plug wires to come out of the cap like it does and I'm sure it's burned through and crossfiring under it. But you won't be able to see it.

If the checks were good at this point, put a new cap
and rotor on. Make sure to hook up the vent tubes to the cap, to help keep water/moisture out. Now see if it runs.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 02, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: Austin, Texas
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Just saw this post. I had a similar problem with a '90 IROC rag top. After changing all the ignition parts I could, removing the intake manifold and putting new gaskets in (I had a vacuum leak also around the manifold), new fuel filter, checked the fuel pressure (TPI motor), etc. it still wouldn't start, but sounded like it wanted to. It finally dawned on me the thing ain't breathin' and I disconnected the exhaust pipe just before the cat. converter. It fired rightup - the cat. converter was shot and plugged up the exhaust system. Something to think about. Goose
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 02, 02:20 AM
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Location: Hudson Valley, New York
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I agree with Goose, check the CAT first! That may explain the smell. I had a Cavalier that just died like it was fuel starved on the highway one year. WOuld crank, try to start, run a little, then die. Heard the CAT making a rattling, jingling noise for a few months before. Dropped the head pipe and it started right up, the cat was plugged.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 02, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Lincoln, NE
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But would that still cause no spark on plug 1 during crank? I haven't done anything to the car yet until I get income tax back so any further suggestions are appreciated.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 02, 05:53 AM
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He ALREADY said he had no spark to the plugs so I doubt it's the convertor.Check another sparkplug wire to confirm your suspicion about a rotor problem.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 19th, 02, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 5
Just thought I'd update for you lot.

The waterpump had a leak and dripped into the Opti. After many months of this the opti started rusting and the wearing on the bearing...

During the last operation the opti tore itself apart and pretty much broke everything inside.

Replaced the water pump and the opti (which costed nearly $500 for the new version)and all is well again.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 20th, 02, 04:30 AM
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Location: niagara falls ny
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glad to hear u got it up and goin again
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