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Old 11-22-2009, 06:17 PM   #1
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Default My poor 99 SW2, any suggestions, multiple issues- Ignition, Alignment, and idle

Hey there, I know that a few of my issues have been discussed but I want to see if I can get some help in one place. So starting with the specs-

1999 SW2 140,000 Miles Automatic Bought used

First issue-Alignment

I bought this car with my ex-wife to help haul all the things I needed and give her something small enough to park with ease. Success in both of those arenas. Along the way though we have found wear on the inside passenger tire and have had the car aligned at our local tire place a few times. The issue comes back. The frame is straight and free from accidents. Tires have been replaced (All four at the same time followed by alignment). So anyone have suggestions on why my tire is wearing the way it does?

Second issue-Ignition

This is the mystery issue I keep seeing on these forums and it is not fun and rather frustrating.

So the issue began a while back with my ex-wife. She would get in the car and out of the blue it wouldn't start. After a few times and frustration she took it to the local dealership that declared the battery dead and the need for a new alternator. She obliged and paid way too much for very little labor. About a month later when things seemed better they started again. My ex gave me not enough detail to describe the attempts at starting. Begin my account here. After the divorce I kept the problem car. The problem started for me not even a month after having the car in my possession. I went to get in the car and it wouldn't start. I would turn the key and all the lights would go off and the car would not even click. No hum no nothing. I tried to jump start the car which in turn set off the alarm which in turn taught me the battery in my keychain was dead. After replacement the alarm was fine for a while. So one day leaving work I was near a stoplight turned up a song on the radio. As soon as the first beat hit the speakers the car's RPMs tank and the car is dead at the light. I get the car towed to the dealership where they tell me it should be as easy as replacing the alternator. I proceed to cuss and yell that if they looked in the service records there is no reason a car should need a new alternator six months after the same dealership had already put a new one in. I explained the issues and a day later I get a call and they tell me that the fuse block or relay block had nearly melted. I am a bit in shock and they told me a loose relay probably was arcing and melted the block. They put a new block in my wallet is lighter and all seems well. Of course things are great until one day while accelerating the stereo goes dead and comes back on completely reset. The car does not show any signs of any other issues. A week or two later the intermittent starting issues begin again. The car will not start and the stereo resets and all of the sudden is able to start. Fast forward again. Today I go to the store I come out the car won't start. As the ice cream melts I take a breath and take the car out of park and put it back into park. I have heard issues with the gearshift in an automatic and it was the first thing to come to mind. This time after trying to start the lights don't come back on. Oh and one detail skipped this is on a battery less than 6 months old. I am parked next to a curb. I push on the curb to rock the car a small bit. The door lights and dash lights come on the stereo resets and this time the car starts. I get home with no issues and open the hood. I look for corrosion, loose wires, melted items, and there is nothing. So please help. Went back out and the car started like it was ready to go.

Third issue- Idle

This issue has started recently and I am concerned it has started with the ignition issues. While idling my idle drops dangerously low. The car has stalled once and most times at night I can see the headlights dim at stoplights. Not sure what is going on but this I have a feeling is linked to the above issue.

Three items that could help in the detection of the problem. The stereo is aftermarket and probably was not hooked up very well. It was in there when we got it. The car alarm since the block melting has been out of comission. Third is the cigarette lighter is dead. The light around it comes on but there is no juice coming from it. I have tried several items and no luck.
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:05 PM   #2
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1995 SW2
Default Re: My poor 99 SW2, any suggestions, multiple issues- Ignition, Alignment, and idle

The tire wear could be caused by lower ball joint bushings being worn and even though the alignment would push them out for a while, they would continue to wear quickly. A simple check for this is to grab the tire and try to wiggle it left and right, if it moves more than a little bit the lower ball joints are probably shot. Bad news is that to replace these you have to pull the lower control arms out... Unless you're a lot more patient than me, take it to a shop.

As to the melting electronics and low idle. This does sound like a few issues in one. First and foremost, check all the connections on the alternator. Repair shops are freaking stupid sometimes. (an easy way to get the alternator tested is to take it off and go to autozone where they will put it on a bench testing machine for free to see if it is not making enough juice.) If all those connections are ok they you probably need to pull that stereo out. 1. does the system have an external amplifier? If so, is it working correctly, not jury rigged to function such as with tin foil wrapped around a blown fuse? I've seen some weird stuff. 2. If it has no amp, check the power cables connected to the back of the stereo. Hopefully they didn't cut into your stock wiring harness and used an install kit to put the stereo in. If they did butcher the wiring harness testing the load will be a bit harder. 3. with the car running, use a voltmeter to check the power at the stereo it should be about 12 volts. If it is high or low. there could be other issues at the underhood junction block or at one of the fuse panels. There are a few near the driver side kick panel and possibly on the passenger side kick panel. These panels are very easy to pull off. (velcro... Go through and carefully pull each fuse and check it by holding it up to the light. If one even looks a little cooked, replace it. Fuses are cheap, cars on fire, not so much.

Other things to try to smooth idle out.
The throttle bodies on these engines get gummed up. get a can of throttle body cleaner and clean the gunk out of the intake. (search on these forums for step by step of this)

If all that doesn't work try cleaning the contact areas underneath the coil pack. (*on the transmission housing at the front of the engine bay, where your plug wires go)

Again search the forums for step by steps on this...

I'm too tired right now to think of anything else that might help...

I don't have my wagon anymore after an unfortunate run in with a guardrail after hitting ice and spinning... still miss it though.

Good luck.
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Old 11-23-2009, 10:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: My poor 99 SW2, any suggestions, multiple issues- Ignition, Alignment, and idle

Thank you that is a lot of good advice. I have eight days off (paid woo!) and will be able to take a look at a lot of these things.
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Old 11-29-2009, 01:17 AM   #4
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2005 ION-2 Quad Coupe
1993 SL1
Default Re: My poor 99 SW2, any suggestions, multiple issues- Ignition, Alignment, and idle

this may be stupid of me, but did you check and look at the bearings on the rear tires????

also in relation to the idle/ignition issues, did the shops happen to clear & or re-set the computer?? i know this is probably stupid, but most common fixes the shops don't do it 'cause they overlook it 75% of the time.
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alignment, idle, ignition, starting problems, sw2

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