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Old 12-15-2014, 05:12 PM   #1
ViperSBT
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Default Cold weather problem starting

I've been searching and searching to try and figure out the true cause for this problem and a real remedy but so far most of what I find seems to be myths.

I have a 2004 Saturn Vue and live in southern Tennessee, not exactly the coldest place on the planet. It seems that when the weather drops below 40F I can't start this thing. When I turn the ignition, it cranks and cranks, but never fires. It doesn't really matter how long I do this, no fire...

Now, once the weather eeks up around 50F she'll fire right away! From what I'm told I need to put an additive in the fuel or top it off each night... This seems crazy and only not a true remedy as I see many people in much colder climates than me not having this problem.

Is there a real solution, or do I just need to make sure I top it off each night?

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Old 12-15-2014, 05:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

no additive and definately do not ever top off any car's gas tank.. When the pump shuts off automatically- that's it..

CHanged the plugs or looked at them? HOw many miles are on them?

...
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by billysvue View Post
Changed the plugs or looked at them? HOw many miles are on them?
I can't recall the last time I did the plugs, but it seems like it has been awhile. This car only gets about 500 miles per month... Plugs are simple and cheap, I do those tomorrow.

But, my question is why the plugs? Is the idea that being old, when they get cold the gap shrink to a point of grounding itself out and when it warms up a couple of degrees the gap is enough to get a spark? All of them at the same time? I'm not getting misfires or anything like that.

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Old 12-15-2014, 08:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
I can't recall the last time I did the plugs, but it seems like it has been awhile. This car only gets about 500 miles per month... Plugs are simple and cheap, I do those tomorrow.

But, my question is why the plugs? Is the idea that being old, when they get cold the gap shrink to a point of grounding itself out and when it warms up a couple of degrees the gap is enough to get a spark? All of them at the same time? I'm not getting misfires or anything like that.
Not spark-plugs - nor much else is going to shrink at the temperatures you mention (40 to 50F).

A possible cause is sticky valves - and a good clue of this condition is if engine cranks really fast during no start episodes - like there's little or no compression in cylinders.

Some really nice - and probably pricey - fuel additives may help ... see the "cold start" attachment.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 2.2 Long Crank When Cold.pdf (23.3 KB, 17 views)

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Old 12-15-2014, 11:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
But, my question is why the plugs? Is the idea that being old, when they get cold the gap shrink to a point of grounding itself out and when it warms up a couple of degrees the gap is enough to get a spark.
NOthing like that.

Engine's fail to start when there's a problem with fuel or spark, primarily.

AS plugs wear, the gap increases. For whatever reason , you VUe doesn't like the cold. Cold shouldn't be an issue.

Pull the plugs to get an indication of how things are burning- should be grey/tan insulator.

NO CEL?

...
'05 ,2.2L, FWD,5-speed stick with transaxle death rattle is history,,,
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by far2grumpy View Post

A possible cause is sticky valves - and a good clue of this condition is if engine cranks really fast during no start episodes - like there's little or no compression in cylinders. .
Maybe OP's motor oil is low/ sludgy, leading to baked valve seals and carboned up guides- which sticks the valves. SOunds plausible.

I wonder how much oil it uses?

...
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Old 12-16-2014, 04:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

What's odometer mileage? When was the air filter replaced or checked? If plugs are replaced, check the air filter and maybe clean the throttle intake. This mini tune up may be all that's needed.

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Old 12-16-2014, 09:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by billysvue View Post
Maybe OP's motor oil is low/ sludgy, leading to baked valve seals and carboned up guides- which sticks the valves. SOunds plausible.

I wonder how much oil it uses?
Due to learning the hard way about how horrible the oil filtration is on this motor, I change the oil every 1,000 - 1,500 miles. This vehicle doesn't get a lot of miles, so that work out to about every other month. The guys that change the oil for me are always telling me it still looks new.

Call it overkill, but for me it is a cheap insurance plan.

...
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Old 12-16-2014, 09:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by far2grumpy View Post
A possible cause is sticky valves - and a good clue of this condition is if engine cranks really fast during no start episodes - like there's little or no compression in cylinders.

Some really nice - and probably pricey - fuel additives may help ... see the "cold start" attachment.
Not sure how to measure if the engine is cranking "fast". It cranks, but there is nothing close to a combustion.

...
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Old 12-16-2014, 11:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
Due to learning the hard way about how horrible the oil filtration is on this motor, I change the oil every 1,000 - 1,500 miles. .
Ok. Just for comparison's sake:::::: My OCI is 7000 miles, more or less.

I am aware of the small size of the filter as I do my own oil changes/maintenance, but not that it filters badly, though I am still a Saturn apprentice and have much to learn.

I use synthetic oil and either Bosch , Purolator or NAPA high end filters.

I've owned it for the last 50Kmiles/2yrs with that interval/ schedule. About every two tanks of gas, I give the motor a cup(8-12 ounces) to keep the GRID on the dipstick covered(measures full). That's where the motor is a happy camper( or so I have read.)

How often do you check the dipstick level?

Not that it matters, but what transmission do you have?

...
'05 ,2.2L, FWD,5-speed stick with transaxle death rattle is history,,,
'17 Suby Forester

245216 mi. VUe is off to the dealer auction
I'm a secondhand vegetarian.
Cows eat grass, I eat cows.

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Old 12-16-2014, 11:07 AM   #11
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
or do I just need to make sure I top it off each night?
If you are referring to gas in the tank, over time, accumulating moisture due to condensation inside the tank that's a valid concern.


SAme moisture turning your gas to crap.., it wouldn't hurt to adda gas stabilizer when you fill up- if that tank will last you more than a few weeks.

...
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245216 mi. VUe is off to the dealer auction
I'm a secondhand vegetarian.
Cows eat grass, I eat cows.

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Old 12-16-2014, 01:09 PM   #12
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
Not sure how to measure if the engine is cranking "fast".
Pay attention to tachometer next time engine cranks with no start and compare with crank RPM when it does start.

Most seasoned drivers can also tell when crank RPM is faster than normal by listening to starter motor and / or general feel in seat of pants.

If it were in my driveway I'd use a compression gauge to quickly determine if valves are sticking.

If you have poor compression on cold engine - and its related to valves - you could try to clean upper cylinders and intake valves by using something like Seaform - or equivalent.

Check this out:

http://seafoamsales.com/vacuum-line-...with-sea-foam/

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Last edited by far2grumpy; 12-16-2014 at 01:17 PM..

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Old 12-22-2014, 11:48 AM   #13
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

With a variety of potential resolutions to this, I figured I would go with the simplest first to see what the true issue is.

As the weather warmed up, I started the car, first crank no problem. The tank was at 1/4, so I went and filled it up. I have now been driving it for a couple of days and will let it drop to 3/4 before filling it up again.

Since having the tank full seems to be allowing me to start in the cold mornings, what is the problem? I've read about water in the fuel that may be freezing and blocking the lines? How do I get this water out of there?

As an aside, I have had many people tell me that the fuel stations around here have water in their tanks... FWIW...

...
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:12 PM   #14
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Ok, going on the theory that you have frozen water in your tank/lines when it's cold =cause of no start condition.

easy way> you get rid of it by getting rid of the fuel- road trip! But you add a bottle of Seafoam/Techron/fuelsystem cleaner of choice to the tank and then fillup. But that was already suggested along with many questions

that may also free up your sticky valves...



My guess is it's "full of cobwebs" and never gets driven more than 5 miles at a time- engine never really warms up, the oil level is rarely checked and gets low , sometimes, it's also oxidized due to all the moisture byproducts. then throw bad gas into the equation......

...
'05 ,2.2L, FWD,5-speed stick with transaxle death rattle is history,,,
'17 Suby Forester

245216 mi. VUe is off to the dealer auction
I'm a secondhand vegetarian.
Cows eat grass, I eat cows.

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Old 12-22-2014, 05:06 PM   #15
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by billysvue View Post
Ok, going on the theory that you have frozen water in your tank/lines when it's cold =cause of no start condition.

easy way> you get rid of it by getting rid of the fuel- road trip! But you add a bottle of Seafoam/Techron/fuelsystem cleaner of choice to the tank and then fillup. But that was already suggested along with many questions

that may also free up your sticky valves...



My guess is it's "full of cobwebs" and never gets driven more than 5 miles at a time- engine never really warms up, the oil level is rarely checked and gets low , sometimes, it's also oxidized due to all the moisture byproducts. then throw bad gas into the equation......
I'm not against the other suggestions, I'm just trying to understand the reasoning.... Why does the level of fuel in the tank effect sticky valves, etc. when starting the vehicle?

If the vehicle started and ran rough or tried to crank but couldn't get started... Then I could see some of these other suggestions... But, I'm still scratching my head about the level of fuel effecting the ability to start.

By the way, the oil is clean and never low. It gets serviced more than enough as mentioned earlier.

Normal daily driving is about 10 miles per day, but once couple of months it makes a trip to Nashville (about 150 miles from here).

...
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Old 12-22-2014, 06:14 PM   #16
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
I'm not against the other suggestions, I'm just trying to understand the reasoning.... Why does the level of fuel in the tank effect sticky valves, etc. when starting the vehicle?.
I don't recall where anyone said it did.

Engine Oil levels getting low ( and quality) affects lubrication in the head- leading to sticky valves.

...
'05 ,2.2L, FWD,5-speed stick with transaxle death rattle is history,,,
'17 Suby Forester

245216 mi. VUe is off to the dealer auction
I'm a secondhand vegetarian.
Cows eat grass, I eat cows.

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Old 12-22-2014, 06:17 PM   #17
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
Why does the level of fuel in the tank ....
Has to do with how much airspace is in the tank-> how much airwith the potential to hold moisture/condensation on the inside of the tank- since your Vue sits most of the time.

...
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I'm a secondhand vegetarian.
Cows eat grass, I eat cows.

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Old 12-23-2014, 02:39 PM   #18
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Sounds like fuel pump is weak. More fuel easier for pump to pump. After the initial start pump is primed and ready for day. After sitting up all night loses prime no start. Temp goes up puts more pressure in tank easier to start. You could have a pressure regulator going out also but not seen them go out very often but they do allow fuel to go back to tank to regulate and that doesn't seem to be a problem. Only way to diagnose properly is fuel gauge left inline overnight.

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Old 12-31-2014, 03:00 AM   #19
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Default Re: Cold weather problem starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViperSBT View Post
I've been searching and searching to try and figure out the true cause for this problem and a real remedy but so far most of what I find seems to be myths.

I have a 2004 Saturn Vue and live in southern Tennessee, not exactly the coldest place on the planet. It seems that when the weather drops below 40F I can't start this thing. When I turn the ignition, it cranks and cranks, but never fires. It doesn't really matter how long I do this, no fire...

Now, once the weather eeks up around 50F she'll fire right away! From what I'm told I need to put an additive in the fuel or top it off each night... This seems crazy and only not a true remedy as I see many people in much colder climates than me not having this problem.

Is there a real solution, or do I just need to make sure I top it off each night?
Well,we don't know how many miles on the car,when you last had a tune up,and had the cars computer read for codes.When did you last change the gas filter?If your car cranks and cranks, you could be dumping fuel into the engine and will burn up your cat real fast.Hope this helps.

...
2004 Vue.Standard trans.2.2 4cyl.Black,grey interior.98,800 mi.

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