89 Camaro Won't Start - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old May 26th, 04, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2004
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I've got an 89 Camaro RS, manual 305. I'd been having trouble with the car in that it wouldn't start from time to time. You'd turn the key and nothing would happen. Still power to the radio, A/C, etc, but the car wouldn't turn over at all. Then, maybe 10 minutes later, it would start just fine.

As of 3 weeks ago, it's been completely unstartable with the key. I can push start the car (as it's a manual) and it stays running just fine.

What I've done to try and nail the poblem so far is:

Used a screwdriver to jump the leads on the starter to see if it was getting juice. It started purring right away. Just to be sure, I took the starter off and took it into Autozone to be tested. Again, it tested as working perfectly.

Then I replaced the ignition switch. It was a pain in the *** to drop the steering column to get at it, but I replaced it according to spec and there was no change when attempting to turn the key. Still nothing. Same with checking the alternator and the car battery. Both appear to be fully operational/charged.

After that, I replaced the neutral safety switch, thinking that maybe the switch had gone bad and wouldn't start because the car thought the clutch wasn't engaged. Again, no dice.

As of right now, the last thing that I can think to check is replacing the positive and negative battery cables, just in case they're allowing enough current for the accessories (because the a/c and radio still work great) but have too much impedence to support a start.

So beyond that, I'm at a loss. Do you have any suggestions as far as what the problem might be and how to fix it? Like I said, I can push start it and it runs fine, until the key is turned off again. Any help is welcome. Here or at [email protected]
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old May 27th, 04, 12:36 AM
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Does your security light on the dash come on (as in to show you the lamp isn't burned out) when you try to start the car?

Sounds sort of like the VATS system is acting up, but I don't thinkyou should be able to could push start a car is the security system has been engaged.

You did get a matched ignition key (dealer checked the resistor value) for your VATS system when you replaced the ignition switch didn't you?

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old May 27th, 04, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I replaced the entire battery and bought a new positive cable, just to be sure and still no dice. The truth be told, that battery needed replacing, but I'm still dead in the water. Turning the key provides no clicking, no turnover, nada. Moreover, I can still push-start the car so I would assume (possibly incorrectly) that it's not a vats issue. I even had a brand new key made at the dealer's, just to make certain the chip in the key wasn't funky.

So, there's juice reaching the starter, the starter will crank if you cross the posts with a screwdriver and I've got a fully charged, brand new battery and cable. The only think I can think of that's left in the loop is a problem with the ignition module in the steering column. Anything I might be missing?

BTW, yeah, the security light (as well as all the dash lights) flare on for a moment during the intitial key turn, after that, only the brake light comes on while trying to start the car.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old May 27th, 04, 05:18 PM
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Sounds like a broken VATS wire out of the ignition lock cylinder.

These 2 wires are very small, and they spend their lives flexing every time the ignition key is turned.

The air bag, if it has one (read precautions first), steering wheel, lock plate, and turn signal switch must be out of the way to replace the cylinder.

The hardest part is routing the new VATS wires back down through the column. I just tie the new wires on to the old, and pull through from the bottom.

The new key will of course have to match the key pellet you have now.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 14th, 07, 08:03 PM
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Re: 89 Camaro Won't Start

my 89 camaro (a/t) is doing the same exact thing. i have checked and had others check all my ignition related components and had no luck. i replaced the neutral safety switch, ignition switch and several other things. Still nothing when i turn the key. I was just thinking about buying a new key (yes with the resistor/ "chip"). But i see from this conversation that it didn't fix your problem. so scratch that.

time to check the vats crap.

my email is [email protected] for further conversation on this topic.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 15th, 07, 04:14 AM
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Re: 89 Camaro Won't Start

ya know, testing the starter isnt infallible...if the solenoid hangs up in its bore, you wont hear a click or anything...and it will test perfectly fine as long as it doesnt hang up during a test...when the thing stops turning over by key, go under the car with a test light, and test the momentary wire while someone turns the key over...if light, but no click, replace the solenoid...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 15th, 07, 04:32 AM
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Re: 89 Camaro Won't Start

One has to eliminate VATS. VATS only kills the start signal, the car can still be push started, or rolled down a hill and let out on the clutch. Use 4th gear as it is much easier on the trans.

Insert key and attempt to start 1 time. No start, return min of 3 minutes with same key and starter should engage to start engine. If the starter turns over, follow Don's advice to replace switch tumbler.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 15th, 07, 07:22 AM
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Re: 89 Camaro Won't Start

There is a way to bypass the VATS module. Somewhere buried in the archives is a post explaining how you can install a fixed value resistance accross the VATS wires coming from the ECM. The resistor should match the chip resistor's value in the key. This may be a good test to eliminate VATS as a culprit. You could restore VATS to it's original configuration once you've ruled it out.

Here are couple thoughts on bad connections and such. If you have a bad battery cable or a bad ground, when you crank the engine, all your system power will be pulled near ground. Usually that condition is accompanied by solenoid chatter. Keep in mind that Accessory power will always shut down in the crank position. The interior light might be a good visual indication of overall electrical system power while you attempt to crank the engine.

You might want to get a schematic to figure out what all is installed in series with the solenoid wire. You've knocked out most of the things that come to my mind, such as the ignition switch and neutral safty switch. Perhaps there is a clutch switch or a relay of some sort in the line that is flakey.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 15, 07:59 AM
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Re: 89 Camaro Won't Start

Hello , im new to this site, i just recently acquired an 89 camaro rs and someone beforeme gutted out the interior harness to install a push button start switch and a separate toggle switch to act as the key ignition switch to turn everything else on., now ive changed the wires , ignition control module ,had tyhe old one tested and was told nothing wrong with it but i bought and installed a new one anyway . Bought a new battery and the engine turns strong and fast but wont start ,last week the engine started but wouldnt stay running on its own ,i ve tryed everything i know but still cant get it to start and run , it only squirts fuel maybe every 8 turn of the engine once and thats it wont start, i dont want to regret buying this car ,but i need some help as to where do i need to look for to start this car,i already reset timing , not it , wires , not it ignition control module ,not it im hitting a brick wall with nowhere to turn with this car ,could making this tbi engine into a carb be the solution ?
But then there is the legal side of it will it pass inspection that way so i can get it registered with the dmv ? All help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advanvce
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