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Old 03-26-2018, 08:37 AM   #1
davatk
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Default 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

Greetings,

Sorry to dump a problem with first post, but unfortunately, that seems to be when we are most likely to join vehicle forums.

I have a 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD that will not start. I will mention that this vehicle had what appears to be the same issue about a year ago, and after having multiple shops try to diagnose - both came to the conclusion that it was "probably" the ECM, although they weren't willing or able to commit for sure. Anyhow, I ordered a used ECM - that was programmed for the vehicle and sure enough that resolved the issue. We are not experiencing what appears to be the same symptom and I am contemplating ordering another replacement ECM and changing it out myself. However I was wondering if anyone on the forum has any suggestions on how I might more accurately determine if the ECM is indeed the failure. I am competent to do some basic mechanical/electrical checks, however I don't have advanced diagnostic tools like a repair shop would have.

Asssuming I do have to replace the ECM, I am also curious to know how to best access the unit. As it is mounted to engine to the left of the battery holder/tray, I assume that should be removed and would allow easy access ?

Thanks in advance of any assistance.
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Old 03-26-2018, 09:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

There are two ways to describe a no start problem - a) no start as in dead silence after turning the key to START or b) turning the key to START and hearing the starter turn over the engine/cranking but the engine doesn't fire up.

1-Which no start problem fits your situation?

2-Is the security symbol ON, flashing, blinking or off during starting?
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Old 03-26-2018, 10:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
There are two ways to describe a no start problem - a) no start as in dead silence after turning the key to START or b) turning the key to START and hearing the starter turn over the engine/cranking but the engine doesn't fire up.

1-Which no start problem fits your situation?

2-Is the security symbol ON, flashing, blinking or off during starting?
Thank you for your response ! Sorry I guess I should have been more descriptive. The engine does crank, and there seems to be plenty of battery power. The security symbol does not flash or blink, or stay on. It simply comes on with all the other dash lights when switch is initially turned on, then goes out. The fuel gauge does read plenty of fuel in the tank. The RPM meter does not move when attempting to start. (I've read those observation may be important). Thanks in advance for any further guidance you can provide !
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Old 03-26-2018, 11:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

Before you spring for another ECM, take a look at these threads . . .
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=182160
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=182956
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Old 03-26-2018, 12:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

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Originally Posted by davatk View Post
.... Sorry I guess I should have been more descriptive. The engine does crank, and there seems to be plenty of battery power. ....... The RPM meter does not move when attempting to start. (I've read those observation may be important).
No apologies necessary as many describe this issue and unaware of descriptions for two different symptoms. What's important is clarification and another clue that may point to a crucial part, the crankshaft position sensor. The tachometer needle not moving during starting is a clue since the signal comes from the ecm.

GMs EFI system relies on crankshaft position sensors for the equivalent of an electronic heart beat to the engine computer. When the engine turns over, the crank sensor detects machined teeth on the crankshaft to generate timing signals. These precise timing signals turns on the ecm to; turn on fuel pump, initiate spark timing and pulse injectors. A tach signal from the ecm drives the tachometer (your clue). A dead crank sensor will not allow the ecm to run so the entire EFI system is dead. The 3.0L V6 engine is very difficult to test spark and injector operation without dismantling things compared to other engines so various clues are needed to pinpoint where a fault lies. There is one way to test spark and fuel - spray starting fluid into throttle.

Spraying starting fluid supplies fuel and relies on spark from the ignition system to fire up the engine. If starting fluid doesn't result in the engine firing up, replace the crank sensor.

Most starting problems are either a fuel or spark issue, not both. In certain situations, loss of both are usually traced back to an intermittent or dead crank sensor. There are many crank sensor failures that have been reported in most of these forums, enough to see a distinct pattern. Your crank sensor is next to the oil filter, mounted with one torx bolt with the leads snaking up to a connection point. It can be tested after removal if you have a multimeter to measure resistance. Normal resistance values for these sensors are between 700-1200 ohms. A dead one would measure as infinite resistance, an open circuit.
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Old 03-26-2018, 01:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
No apologies necessary as many describe this issue and unaware of descriptions for two different symptoms. What's important is clarification and another clue that may point to a crucial part, the crankshaft position sensor. The tachometer needle not moving during starting is a clue since the signal comes from the ecm.

GMs EFI system relies on crankshaft position sensors for the equivalent of an electronic heart beat to the engine computer. When the engine turns over, the crank sensor detects machined teeth on the crankshaft to generate timing signals. These precise timing signals turns on the ecm to; turn on fuel pump, initiate spark timing and pulse injectors. A tach signal from the ecm drives the tachometer (your clue). A dead crank sensor will not allow the ecm to run so the entire EFI system is dead. The 3.0L V6 engine is very difficult to test spark and injector operation without dismantling things compared to other engines so various clues are needed to pinpoint where a fault lies. There is one way to test spark and fuel - spray starting fluid into throttle.

Spraying starting fluid supplies fuel and relies on spark from the ignition system to fire up the engine. If starting fluid doesn't result in the engine firing up, replace the crank sensor.

Most starting problems are either a fuel or spark issue, not both. In certain situations, loss of both are usually traced back to an intermittent or dead crank sensor. There are many crank sensor failures that have been reported in most of these forums, enough to see a distinct pattern. Your crank sensor is next to the oil filter, mounted with one torx bolt with the leads snaking up to a connection point. It can be tested after removal if you have a multimeter to measure resistance. Normal resistance values for these sensors are between 700-1200 ohms. A dead one would measure as infinite resistance, an open circuit.
Thank you very much for these detailed troubleshooting steps. It certainly sounds like it is work shooting some starting fluid and/or measuring the resistance of the crank sensor - both things I can easily handle. If the crank checks out ok, do you think the next likely option is the ECM ? I would suppose the only other thing is the fuel pump itself ?

Thanks again !
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Old 03-26-2018, 01:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

It's to easy to blame engine computer failure in the PC age but there's one exception to this rule compared to PCs. Engine computers suffer more under various weather conditions than our tablets, laptops or home PC. Even cell phones crap when dropped. Leave all the electronics outside and see what happens to them when exposed to weathering. The last thing to fail is the engine computer when sensors, power, wiring and unfamiliarity mislead many into jumping to conclusions. Another way to look at this is to ask do engine computers fail regularly in every vehicle around the world? A large perspective is needed to ask this question to see if there's a pattern. Personally and with a few years observing one small family of vehicles and a complete lack of "the world is coming to an end as engine computers are failing everywhere....", engine computers are very rugged and durable. The few that do fail are the exceptions. The rest of us diyers resort to knowledge, diagnosing and troubleshooting to find the reason for failure.
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Old 05-11-2018, 09:09 PM   #8
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Dizzy Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

Thought Id follow up on this post, the issue ended up being the ECM. Was able to get a used one programmed to VIN from EBay.

Thanks for the help !

Now if we could just get the radio reprogrammed. It shows LOCK.
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Old 05-11-2018, 10:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

Two ECMs??? You may be the only member here with back to back ecm failures without rhyme or reason. Hopefully the third time's the charm....
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Old 06-23-2018, 10:31 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

There is a TSB on ecm ground issue that can cause this problem. I added a second ground wire. Never had a problem since.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:52 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Two ECMs??? You may be the only member here with back to back ecm failures without rhyme or reason. Hopefully the third time's the charm....
Sorry to have to restart this thread, but this Saturn is dead again with a similar symptom of cranking and not starting. Going with the assumption that yet another ECM had failed, I was able to get the supplier to replace the prior one and program it for the VIN. The vehicle has been sitting a few months, however yesterday I reinstalled the replacement ECM. I sanded all mount points and added a new ground strap so it now has 2 ground straps.

After reassembly, I proceeded with the ECM security relearn procedure with the doors closed on the vehicle. I waited 10 minutes, leaving switch on after each attempt and waiting for the security light to go off. As expected, on the third attempt the security light went out quickly, which seemed to indicate the relearn was successful. However I will note that the battery was in a depleted state at that time and did not crank the engine with much force. My subsequent attempts to crank the engine were not successful due to the depleted battery, so I jumped from another spare battery hoping that the engine would start, which it did not. I am not sure if the relearn procedure was interrupted by th depleted battery, or if it actually was successful. I do know that the security light no longer stays on when the key is left in the on position.

Anyhow, I hope to continue troubleshooting this issue in the coming days and would like some guidance as to how to confirm ECM signal is getting to fuel pump etc.

Thanks in advance for any assistance !
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:43 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

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Anyhow, I hope to continue troubleshooting this issue in the coming days and would like some guidance as to how to confirm ECM signal is getting to fuel pump etc.
Sorry to hear you're back in this club. There's a bunch of ECM troubleshooting towards the end of this thread - hope it helps . . .
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=236117
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:19 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

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Sorry to hear you're back in this club. There's a bunch of ECM troubleshooting towards the end of this thread - hope it helps . . .
Thank you very much for the response. Lots of good info although a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately I did not see a final outcome. However a few food places to start my troubleshooting. I plan to check the crank sensor resistance, if that checks ok, will then proceed to squirt some starter fluid into the throttle body to see if I have spark. If that checks ok I will then jump the pins on the fuel pump relay to check if fuel pump runs and creates fuel pressure up at the injectors. I will report back my findings to this thread. One question, when jumping the fuel pump relay does the ignition switch need to be in the on position ?

Thanks so much !
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:32 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2003 VUE 6 CYL FWD - Won't Start

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One question, when jumping the fuel pump relay does the ignition switch need to be in the on position ?
Sadly, way too many threads left unresolved.
It doesn't look like the ignition has to be on. There's always B+ to Pin 87 on that Relay.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/att...8&d=1544204401
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