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Fuel problem. Car stalls, chokes, and dies at startup


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#1 Mr. K Car

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 04:35 pm

:unsure: Well, my car is running okay EXCEPT. I don't understand why my car has now had three intermittent startup issues where the fuel does not get to the motor and car dies in park on startup. I will BRIEFLY without too much detail describe what happened:

1. First time a few weeks ago: I went to start my car in the morning. It would crank over and start for a few seconds, and then immediately die. I tried pushing the gas pedal, and it would run for a few seconds, and die. I then starting pumping, starting, and floored the gas pedal almost to the floor. I revved the engine up high and it ran. A huge plume of black soot (carbon?) blew out of the tailpipe onto the street. The black spot is still there. After a few minutes, the car ran normally and I drove off to school. It ran perfectly the next two weeks, with the occasional stumbling at idle on first startup like it was still starving for gas intermittently.

2. Today: Car stalled from fuel issue on both startups today. It was below a quarter tank down to almost empty. This morning, it did the same thing as in the first scenario, but not nearly as bad. It did die when I first tried to start it. I revved the engine high, but not as long or extreme as the first scenario. Little or no black soot came out that I could see. Car ran normally and got me to school. I did not have time to fill it up. When I came out of school to drive to work, I tried to start it. It repeated the same thing again as this morning. I revved it and it stayed running. No black soot that I could see. I listened to the exhaust, and I heard what sounded like a backfire or audible pop like air being compressed and forced out of a tube. I have not heard that before. It sounded like I was forcing air and power out of the exhaust through a blockage. I filled the car with gas and it started normally. I went on my merry way. At least this car is still dependable once you start it.

3. What has been done to the car: EVERYTHING! New fuel pump, new fuel filter, major tune-up. Gets decent but not great gas mileage between 20-24 mpg. IMPORTANT: When my fuel pump failed, I used twice a very powerful German fuel injector and tank cleaner and ran the car three times on 91 Octane due to the advice of someone. I then switched back to 87 Octane. I also use nothing but Chevron now with Techron that is suppossed to be a fuel cleaner. I have ALSO had a bad habit lately of running the car down to 3-4 out 14 gallons left. I accidentally ran it down to 2 gallons once. Could my $450 dollar fuel pump already be having a problem. I hope not! How did you get rid of all that bad carbon that has been in my fuel tank since 1989. Any advice?

Any advice about carbon buildup and what to look for would be greatly appreciated.

#2 95Spirit

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 05:10 pm

24mpg is excellent mileage for that car.

#3 probsty

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 06:37 pm

city or highway milage

#4 Mr. K Car

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 06:56 pm

Combination of the two, more or less. I have ranged anywhere from 20-28 mpg.

#5 probsty

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 07:06 pm

i would have to say that is low

#6 patricklynch

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 07:48 pm

Carbon build up in the gas tank? Never heard of that. Running around with your fuel level very low runs the risk of burning up your fuel pump as its the gas itself that helps keep it cool.

Black soot indicates a rich condition. Check for codes.

#7 Bob Lincoln

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Posted June 20, 2007 at 08:18 pm

Exactly. Beat me to it. Codes.

I'm betting as a first pass, MAP sensor. That's how they act when they fail. It cannot be an O2 sensor on cold start.

#8 Mr. K Car

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Posted June 21, 2007 at 12:43 am

My map sensor was just replaced. People have told me that carbon can build in a gas tank, but I don't know. My Dad's Volvo has done the same thing as my car this week, only it was stone dead, and then it came back to life like nothing happened. Maybe are rich oil companies are using incredibly junky gas here in California. Could someone explain to me the carbon clog theory? I really don't know what to do as I retrieve codes all the time and have had a major tuneup. I have no money to put into this car right now or buy another one. I guess I'll just wait this fluke out and if it really gets bad, then I'll do something. It is like some gas, or something just likes to choke or stall the motor on startup and then I have to rev up the engine to make it go away. At least I have learned what car problems to put off rather than what I used to which was bring the car to a "mechanic' everytime something small or quirky was wrong. It is my guess that my car, like all Eeks, always like to develop intermittent problems that are hard to diagnose or that stupid "mechanics" just don't have the brains or patience to troubleshoot in the simple to fix areas. The "mechanic" complained to me that all Chryslers are good when they run right but impossible for him to fix when something like a "simple fuel pump" goes out. He blamed that on everything else and I am in the process of trying to recover $800. I put out $1300 on this stupid fuel pump, and now my car is running like crap on startup. But, ironically, it can now go over 60mph uphill on a steep incline that it could not do before. That major tune up did help. I have also been ignoring my computer codes 31 and 37 as I am told they are not serious as I think my computer has a short as the light will flicker and then stay on at whim and in random patterns. Sorry, did not mean to rant. Nor am I ignoring you all when you give me repair advice.

#9 Mr. K Car

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Posted June 21, 2007 at 12:49 am

By the way, back to the problem at hand, I guess the map sensor could be failing. But I have no computer code showing up for it. What is the BEST brand to buy that will last at least a year. Can I buy the part, swap it out as practice, see if it works, and then return it to the seller if it does not fix the problem? I do notice sometimes my idle shudders a tiny bit when I come to a stop. Will it only cost me like $20 dollars or something to buy the part and swap it out. I guess it would be worth the mechanical experience for me as I still have not attempted to fix something in my car myself. My 02 and coolant sensor were all replaced by the "mechanic." I have been told that electrical sensors have the shelf life of a banana. In fact, mabye that map sensor is the old one as the "mechanic" did so much swapping that mabye he put the old one back in. ;)

#10 Bob Lincoln

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Posted June 21, 2007 at 07:40 am

Geez, it seems like we have to pry relevant information out of you, or it comes out randomly:

I have also been ignoring my computer codes 31 and 37 as I am told they are not serious

Code 31 Bad evaporator purge solenoid circuit or driver.

The evap purge DOES affect your mixture, perhaps not as much as the MAP sensor. But it tries to feed accumulated gasoline vapors from the canister back into the mixture. If it isn't getting those vapors, or if the purge driver is intermittent, the computer might be going crazy trying to compensate by changing the mixture and running it too rich. I'd check the whole evap setup, hoses, canister, electrical plugs. That code is there for a reason.

And no, carbon cannot build up in the gas tank. There is no combustion going on there. :P When gasoline evaporates, it can leave a gummy film, but that is not strictly carbon. And if the vapor pressure gets too high in the tank, the rollover valve vents it into the vapor canister.

#11 Doug D

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Posted June 21, 2007 at 08:01 am

i would have to say that is low


20-24 mpg might be a little low, but it still falls near the EPA standards for that car. All my EEK's averaged 24-25 mpg in combined driving.

#12 Bob Lincoln

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Posted June 21, 2007 at 09:44 am

But we know it's running rich and not starting or idling correctly, so that's not indicative.

#13 Blakhart

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Posted June 21, 2007 at 07:31 pm

I would look into a new injector and regulator, or at least o-rings and gaskets for same.

#14 Mr. K Car

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Posted June 22, 2007 at 03:52 am

:huh: What do you mean by O-rings? I only used that fuel injector cleaner twice. One of you said that the cleaner could ruin the O-rings. Also, could a bad purge selenoid cause a car to have trouble running on startup when fuel is below a quarter tank. I notice that my car ran okay today once I was above the quarter tank limit. Also, as for running rich, I don't seem to get the black soot all the time. It seemed to happen only on that morning when the car really choked and would not stay running. Visible black powder blew out of the exhaust onto the street. Also, Michael Stanhope had mentioned the possibility of a vacuum hose being misrouted and causing the rich condition? I guess that is something I can check. Yet, the car does run faster and with a lot of power after that major tune-up. Also, once I get going, the car idles "okay" and stable at every stop. It is so hard for me to even tell when my car is not idling properly as you can probably never get a K car to idle perfectly. I would like to know what the black soot is, if some is normal, and what can be done. Also, I do lose a little oil. Would not some of that cause a little black soot on initial startup? Overall, I just want my car to run properly while I am going to school. I don't want to ruin the engine by having stuff misrouted or it running too rich. The startup idle was back to normal, until these computer codes showed up, after the major gas pump repair fiasco. Also, I did smell fuel when I had the startup problems. I do not see any smoke coming from the tailpipe while the car is running. Also, will a code 31 usually throw a code 37?

#15 1993duster

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Posted June 22, 2007 at 08:05 am

I'm with Bob Lincoln on this one, check your EVAP and vacuum lines. Also, test your EGR to make sure it's working correctly.


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