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Old 09-04-2008, 11:42 AM   #1
mad-toilet
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Default Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

Up until about a week ago I was getting decent gas mileage - 28-30 miles per gallon, and then my car hit a curb head on...

Now, aside from the wheel well damage (inner tie rod needs replacing, busted rim) my car has recently started showing other wierd symptoms. At first the car started and ran fine with the same gas mileage, but then, starting a couple days ago, the car started having more and more trouble starting, and with that came poor gas mileage - maybe 10-15 miles a gallon. When attempting to start the car it turns the engine over - but only once or twice at times and then quits. Other times it turns it over once hard, then gets smoother and starts. Never does it click or not at least try to turn over - so I am guessing it is not a starting system/battery issue.

This may or may not be related to the curb incident at all, but it seemed pretty coincidental. It should be stated that my ECTS was replaced, along with the wiring harness, about a month ago (temp gauge wasn't showing movement/hard starts when car was warm). Spark plugs were also changed at the same time, but I haven't checked them since the curb incident... so I can't rule them out yet.

Any other ideas (aside from checking spark plugs/wires) based on the symptoms?

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Old 09-04-2008, 12:20 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

What are you driving and how many miles? Try richpin's videos, first post in the How-to library on the crank position sensor (cps), cleaning the throttle body, cleaning and wirebrushing the ignition module/ignition coils. If no videos on some, search for the rest.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 09-04-2008, 01:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

*chuckles*

Can't believe I left out the most basic of information.

It's a 1997 SC1 with 108k on it.

I will watch the richpin videos and get back to you - probably not until next week. I am going out of town this weekend.

Thanks

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Old 09-04-2008, 02:00 PM   #4
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Happy Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

How old is the fuel filter? Do you run any kind of cleaner through the fuel system? Welcome to the forums!!

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Old 09-05-2008, 12:38 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

I changed the fuel filter on the car around the same time that I changed the ETCS, so about a month ago. Prior to that it had never been changed... This was/is my first car - bought it in 99 when I was 22 and had no idea that the car (or cars in general) had a fuel filter. No one to teach me a lot about cars growing up... Live and learn. However, I am now 31 and still love the car as much as the day I bought it!

I have done a fuel additive or two now and then, but nothing to recently. Last one was approx 6 months or so ago, give or take. Prior to that probably another six months...

To add to the story, today I accidentally left my lights on (didn't actually turn them on, but every once in a while when I change lanes I roll the light switch over). My driver side door switch isn't working, so the car doesn't chime when keys are in the ignition or the lights are left on (this will teach me to leave something like that unfixed...). Had to get a tow truck to come out and jump it - but it wasn't quick and easy at all.

He hooked up the battery they use specifically for jumping cars... no go. Wait a few minutes, no go. Then he hooked up the battery from the truck on top of the secondary jump battery, car starts and immediately dies. Start the car again, push the gas to get the engine working, take my foot off the peddle, and the car dies again. Start it again, hold the gas peddle down for several minutes, let the foot off and it tries to die again before I reapply the gas. I ended up having to drive the car home playing with the clutch, brake, emergency brake and gas to keep the engine idle up while breaking when necessary... not fun, but managed it. Most of the drive was down a freeway, so the car had plenty of time with 3K RPM, allowing the engine to help the alternator do its work.

When I got home I let go of the gas, expecting the car to die, but it only stuttered and then caught itself and idled. I Let it idle for a minute before shutting it down. It now seems to me that I have a barely working alternator in the mix - and that might be the whole problem in a nutshell.

It isn't working well enough to kick in properly when the car idles after the battery drained/died, but it is working well enough to give enough charge to the battery to keep it from dying after a long(ish) drive (10 miles or so - 8 freeway miles) - at least enough to (I assume) have some drain from the battery assist the alternator to keep the car idling (if that makes sense). I am not sure if that is how the alternator/battery would work (the whole in tandem idea... if the alternator is under performing then the battery will kick in to help it idea), but it might explain the whole hard starting situation... though not so much the gas mileage.

I am not so sure that I have been completely clear, but if you can wade through that and get anything from it that would make sense and lead to some ideas any help is certainly appreciated.

Thanks for all the help so far and for welcoming me to the forums! This is where I got the ideas and instruction to change the ETCS and wire harness, as well as the fuel filter, so though I just now posted on the board, you all have already helped me greatly!

Last edited by mad-toilet; 09-05-2008 at 12:47 AM..

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Old 09-05-2008, 06:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

No check engine / service engine soon light or codes?

Can you check your battery voltage when the car is off and when at idle?

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Old 09-05-2008, 07:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

As DonP mentioned, you'll need to look at the battery and battery cable connections. Hitting a curb is no fun and the car could have tossed its cookies (whatever you can imagine) including jarring a few things. Battery hold down, cable connections, air cleaner, fuse box, etc.. If its just a loose battery cable connection (wiggle test) maybe retightening the terminal bolts will do it. That simple. At worst, corrosion on the cable terminals requiring dosconnecting the NEGATIVE black cable first then the RED positive cable second for a thorough cleaning and a solution of water mixed with baking soda toothbrushing the powdery deposits off while neutralizing any acid. Water rinse. With a multimeter you can measure the battery voltage; 12v+ otherwise charge the battery with an overnight charger. Alternator testing is simple; engine running at idle, battery voltage should be approximately 13.5v+, above idling speed 14.3v+. Anything below these two voltages would mean either the serpentine belt is loose from an old worn out tensioner or the alternator may be faulty. Stopping by your favorite auto store for the battery/alternator test, free, can help you assess which way to go too.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 09-05-2008, 11:23 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hard Start - Poor Gas Mileage

yeah i would definitely look around the engine bay and under the car for connections that could have came loose when you hit that curb

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