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Old 11-06-2017, 11:29 AM   #1
cdes
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Question dies, no crank, no start

Hi,

my wife's Vue died on the highway access road yesterday. According to her all dash lights came on and the engine went out without any gurgling or other problems. Attempting to restart failed, no crank at all just a click.

It's not the security system, battery is more than acceptable, fuel pump works, all under-hood fuses and relays are ok. I scanned the Vue with the bluedriver just last week, it just had a pending code P0037 about the O2 heater control curcuit bank 1 sensor 2. Additionally, the car has an insurance spy chip with an integrated OBD-II indicating MIL off. I confirmed with the bluedriver, no codes, no MIL apart from the pending code.

I will check the ICM with a multimeter today but am at a loss about what could make the car die and not start afterwards.

...
'06 Saturn Vue 2.2L 5-spd Manual

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Old 11-06-2017, 11:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Addition: this Vue is having the recall issue with the key falling out but I did not get a recall letter nor is any GM station accepting it. They claim it's not one of the affected vehicles despite of me being able to remove they key while with engine running.

Also, the radio works. I read somewhere on these boards that this might indicate the BCM (?) not being broken.

...
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

You may be describing two separate problems - random engine die off and a no start problem. The engine dying off may not matter until you can determine if the starter or starting circuit is at fault. The first thing is verifying a no starter problem.

If you turn the ignition switch to START and hear nothing (no starter sounds) the list of things to check are; battery, battery cables, their connections and last, starter. Power is your main concern before concluding starter failure. A simple way to eliminate power would be using jumper cables, presuming all power related items are good and not ignored, to supply more battery power for starting. If the starter turns over the engine, you have a power problem. If the starter doesn't turn over the engine it's likely a worn out starter. There's a better way to determine starter failure but you'll have to know how to use a multimeter and measure for 12 volts on one starter terminal while someone tries starting. This can be hazardous unless you're aware of risks and/or able to run an extension wire to measure voltage away from under the vehicle. Measuring for 12v on the 'S' terminal or small single wire on the small terminal on the starter solenoid when starting separates the starting circuit from starter issues. Setting 12v on this wire without the starter powering up indicates the starter is faulty. Getting the starter to work will present the next problem of either the engine firing up or not.

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Old 11-06-2017, 08:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

fdryer, thank you! While following your very methodological approach of diagnosing, I had the battery connected to a digital tester&charger&conditioner because "hell why not".

While sitting under the car I heard periodic clicks and the cooling fan of the charger going on and off infrequently - odd. It turns out I put too much trust in my digital gadget since it *WAS* the battery. It's sitting there reading perfect voltage and the tester states OK. Anyway, it was not ok and refused to charge.

After obtaining a new battery, I now have crank but no start. At first I though the engine is flooded with fuel but it's not. In fact I expected some gas fumes but could not smell any. Gas or no gas at crank, it feels like it wants to go but can't. It will start to shake considerably.

Will diagnose further tomorrow.

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Old 11-06-2017, 11:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

No thanks necessary as you haven't fixed everything yet. With a new battery in place and starting occurring without the engine firing up, the next problem is determining whether this is a fuel or ignition/spark problem. Two things to check with one easier to check than the other. Did you check for blown fuses? Other than ensuring the security indicator is off during starting (be sure its off otherwise Passlock disables injector operation for theft protection when security is flashing). Main fuses to check; ecm, fuel pump, bcm.

When turning on ignition, the fuel pump runs for two seconds and can sometimes be heard as a quiet hum/hiss sound. The best way to check for fuel and pressure is depressing the fuel rail test valve, covered by a black plastic cap over the engine. Right after turning on ignition without starting, fuel lines are pressurized instantly so depressing the fuel test valve (same as a tire valve) should send a large spray of fuel - cover loosely with a rag while depressing the valve stem. No fuel spray means a fuel issue. Fuel spray means either an ignition/spark fault or a problem further up in electronics.

Mileage of this car? Maintenance done, parts replaced? EFI systems are a little more difficult to troubleshoot compared to older carburetor systems with spark plugs out in the open. With descriptions to check fuel and pressure via the fuel test valve, spark is more difficult to test since your engine uses a coil pack directly connected to plugs and may require testing differently but relatively easy if a spark issue is the problem.

Last edited by fdryer; 11-06-2017 at 11:16 PM..

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Old 11-07-2017, 05:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
No thanks necessary as you haven't fixed everything yet. With a new battery in place and starting occurring without the engine firing up, the next problem is determining whether this is a fuel or ignition/spark problem. Two things to check with one easier to check than the other. Did you check for blown fuses? Other than ensuring the security indicator is off during starting (be sure its off otherwise Passlock disables injector operation for theft protection when security is flashing). Main fuses to check; ecm, fuel pump, bcm.

When turning on ignition, the fuel pump runs for two seconds and can sometimes be heard as a quiet hum/hiss sound. The best way to check for fuel and pressure is depressing the fuel rail test valve, covered by a black plastic cap over the engine. Right after turning on ignition without starting, fuel lines are pressurized instantly so depressing the fuel test valve (same as a tire valve) should send a large spray of fuel - cover loosely with a rag while depressing the valve stem. No fuel spray means a fuel issue. Fuel spray means either an ignition/spark fault or a problem further up in electronics.

Mileage of this car? Maintenance done, parts replaced? EFI systems are a little more difficult to troubleshoot compared to older carburetor systems with spark plugs out in the open. With descriptions to check fuel and pressure via the fuel test valve, spark is more difficult to test since your engine uses a coil pack directly connected to plugs and may require testing differently but relatively easy if a spark issue is the problem.
Thanks again. In summary: I seem to have spark and fuel.

I checked the pressure relief valve on top of the fuel rail. Fuel is squirting out in a little fountain. I do hear the 2 second hum of the pump. I even borrowed a loaner fuel pressure gauge from the local auto parts store but it was broken ...

I used a very DIY method to check for spark. There is spark, although tiny. I tested two cylinders and plugs. The latter appeared crusty and since I was at a part store anyway I picked up their super discount Autolite Platinum just to be sure.

Anything else I can check? Cranking but no start.

[EDIT] The yellow padlock security symbol comes on and goes off after 2 seconds.

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Old 11-07-2017, 05:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Try another fuel pressure gauge - even without one, fuel should spray out with force, not shoot a little stream. If you did try a spark test and see spark, the diy method is to remove the coil pack/icm and plugs, reconnect them to lay on over the engine with plug bases grounded to engine block. Fuel pump fuse removed to stop injectors from spraying fuel into cylinders. Have someone crank the engine while you observe for spark on all plugs. Ecotec engines tand to have ignition control module failures as it sits above a hot engine. In your brief testing, seeing spark and fuel at least verifies the the ecm/EFI system is working.

It may be possible to have a flooded engine when several startups fail to get the engine running. If this occurs, clearing a flooded engine requires holding throttle wide open for subsequent starts that should result in the engine sputtering to life. One way to know if the engine flooded is by removing plugs and seeing/smelling raw fuel on them.

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Old 11-07-2017, 05:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Try another fuel pressure gauge - even without one, fuel should spray out with force, not shoot a little stream. If you did try a spark test and see spark, the diy method is to remove the coil pack/icm and plugs, reconnect them to lay on over the engine with plug bases grounded to engine block. Fuel pump fuse removed to stop injectors from spraying fuel into cylinders. Have someone crank the engine while you observe for spark on all plugs. Ecotec engines tand to have ignition control module failures as it sits above a hot engine. In your brief testing, seeing spark and fuel at least verifies the the ecm/EFI system is working.

It may be possible to have a flooded engine when several startups fail to get the engine running. If this occurs, clearing a flooded engine requires holding throttle wide open for subsequent starts that should result in the engine sputtering to life. One way to know if the engine flooded is by removing plugs and seeing/smelling raw fuel on them.
This DIY method was exactly what I was doing. I then got too confident and shocked myself ...

After a while cranking, the car starts shaking pretty badly, this is when I usually stop. Can I damage anything by over-cranking? I can feel the car trying hard to start but it simply doesn't reach that point.

Fuel does indeed shoot out in a spray fountain. Spark plugs smell of fuel.

When I had the plastic air intake ducts off, I noticed some fresh oil residue in the square box with the rubber line attached after some starting attempts. Is that normal?

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Old 11-07-2017, 07:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

A starter can overheat from several failed starting attempts while draining a battery and straining battery cables. With large starting current, battery cables can heat up unless all connections are clean and free of corrosion. A few 5-10 second starts without the engine firing up isn't good for the starter or battery. You seem to describe a flooded engine that needs injectors to stop operating while clearing the engine in one of two ways; holding throttle wide open for subsequent starts (kills injectors during starting) or removing plugs and clearing the engine of excess fuel by starter use without them. Dry plugs off and reinstall for another try. If this engine is well used and over 100k miles, a compression test may help determine if worn compression is contributing to this no start problem. A flooded engine may lower compression by washing oil away from rings. Some oil squirted into each cylinder may help raise compression for restarting when oil fills piston rings for better compression.

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Old 11-07-2017, 08:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Some questions, fdryer, if I may, some of them ignorant:

With "holding throttle wide open" you mean flooring the gas pedal while cranking or having someone holding the throttle plate in the TB open?

"subsequent starts" are like 3?

The engine is at 115k miles and has been used primarily in short distance city travel. How much oil is "a little bit"?

Would cranking the engine without the plugs not make the injectors to add additional fuel?

I installed fresh spark plugs today, there were on deep discount for $1.99 each and this does not hurt. The old ones were survivors of a valve cover gasket leak and looked just like that.

BTW: attached is a picture of the spark. It's tiny but bridges the gap.


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Old 11-07-2017, 09:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

1-Press gas pedal to floor - whether drive by wire or cable operated, throttle is held open to allow more air while the EFI system detects this wide open throttle electronically and enters 'clear flood mode'. With throttle held open during starting, the EFI system detects slow engine cranking and shuts off injector operation, effectively allowing only air to enter the engine while spark is still generated. Clever engineering figured out almost every scenario possible, including rare instances of several no start conditions where fuel injection continues but the engine never fires up. Shutting off injectors allows diluting a flooded engine with more air until the engine sputters to life.

2-Several 5-10 second starting cycles without the engine firing up can produce a flooded engine and you verified having this condition. I've had it occur once and remembered to trying wide open throttle/pedal pressed to the floor after several starting attempts in winter. The engine sputtered to life. A flooded engine can occur in a few instances so a simple way to allow anyone to start up a flooded engine was programmed into EFI systems. The key is remembering this procedure and applying it when conditions produce a flooded engine scenario.

In theory with everything working, cold weather starting requires rich fuel mixtures (even in hot weather with a cold engine) and near instantaneous starting is a hallmark of EFI systems but there are circumstances where starting fails and repeated starting can lead to flooding conditions. Simple programming allows clearing a flooded engine by holding down the gas pedal.

3-A tablespoon of oil is enough to coat the piston and rings sufficient to provide a temporary compression boost from dry rings for starting. A little more won't hurt but the danger is oil getting onto the plugs and preventing spark from jumping. Oil squirted into each cylinder then using the starter to turn over the engine for a second will distribute oil everywhere for better compression. Reinstall spark plugs and try starting.

Injectors are always operating when the engine is turning over. Removing the fuel pump fuse at appropriate times can help reduce fuel into cylinders when not desired and putting the fuse back on allows pumping/pressurization and fuel injection cycles.

If I'm not mistaken, you're dealing with a staring problem that may be due to flooding. As long as spark and injectors are allowing fuel into each cylinder in the appropriate amounts, the engine should fire up. Engine flooding is rare but does occur with at least two methods to cope with it. Hopefully, this is the problem and nothing more.

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Old 11-08-2017, 11:46 AM   #12
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Thanks fdryer. After the pedal-to-the-floor method, it got up to 500 rpm for a fraction of a second but immediately died after. I'm now charging the fresh battery completely and try again. If still no start, I'll pull and check the plugs again, and squirt a little oil in the cylinders as advised.

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Old 11-08-2017, 03:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Poor proof reading allows unusual typing mistakes like "....dealing with a star(t)ing problem. Perhaps a pun was intended.

If the engine started up, did you release the gas pedal? While it's ok to hold throttle open, revving isn't recommended. The engine may have died from lack of fuel as holding throttle wide open, as mentioned previously, kills injector operation for this purpose, clearing a flooded engine. The engine sucking air dilutes the rich fuel mixtures, enough to allow a brief run then die off without releasing the gas pedal. Starved of fuel, the engine shouldn't run. The brief engine run cleared out the flooded engine condition for a normal restart but this time without holding throttle open.

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Old 11-08-2017, 05:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

The engine runs for just a fraction of the second. The rev meter goes to 500 and stalls.

I have squirted a little oil in each cylinder.

I have double checked all fuses.

Checked - as far as I could - the ignition electronics. Coil pack springs read no significant resistance. Coil pack pin 1 and 4 across read a 4.10 kOhm, 2-3 the same. Continuity checks out when circuit is open (naturally on a bench, not the car).

The ICM inputs are spot on. The output (middle of the 3 grouped pins on bottom) reads solid 12V with ignition on, pin 1 and 3 oscillate to ground when cranking (just as the transistor should make them to). I used a test light to mitigate my lazy update frequency multi-meter. I am not equipped to do amp testing.

Spark plugs look fine - bought and installed them yesterday. I cleaned them anyway.

Dunno what to do apart from a craigslist ad.

...
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Last edited by cdes; 11-08-2017 at 05:25 PM..

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Old 11-08-2017, 07:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Quote:
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I checked the pressure relief valve on top of the fuel rail. Fuel is squirting out in a little fountain.
No such thing as a pressure relief valve, if you mean the pressure test connection that looks like a tire valve, fuel squirting out in a little fountain doesn't tell you much. It might do that at 10 psi but that's not enough to keep the engine running if it should be 50 psi. Until you put a real gauge to it, you're just guessing. At least get a can of starting fluid and see if it does better with that.

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Old 11-08-2017, 07:03 PM   #16
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

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The engine runs for just a fraction of the second. The rev meter goes to 500 and stalls.
Sound like it barely starts off with low fuel pressure, and then as it runs the fuel pressure drops even more as fuel goes into the cylinders. I'm betting on a bad fuel pump, assuming the tank isn't empty.

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Old 11-08-2017, 08:36 PM   #17
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Tank is 9 out of 10. I picked up a can of starting fluid and will check with a buddy tomorrow. It's easy enough. On the rails relief valve, the fuel is spraying out quite strongly.

My amateur mechanics mind is still chasing the reason it initially stalled. The wife reported it just going off just after exiting the interstate with no bucking, gurgling or anything. But I cannot tell how loud the music was or how much attention was paid to the dashboard.

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Old 11-08-2017, 11:19 PM   #18
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Even YouTubers play music in the background that's annoying when asking for help. Most understand distractions except for the few that are clueless. Cellphones record all background noises and cannot discriminate the way humans can. If microphones can be aimed then the noises that need to be recorded are recorded instead of hearing everything inside and outside a car.

As mentioned, a fuel pressure gauge is valuable to avoid second guessing but if you are certain fuel pressure is up and squirts out the fuel test valve, move on. At this point, you're looking to see if a normal start occurs after all you've done. And if it wasn't mentioned, fuel filters are replaced every 100k miles.

On a side note, I won the lottery for the earliest fuel pump failure, around 85k miles two years ago. Stranded in New Jersey on the way back from a day trip to a local ski area. My nephew picked us all up while car was pushed into a station. Next day tow car via road side assistance from insurance to a repair shop and $650 later a new pump and filter returned my car back to me.

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Old 11-09-2017, 09:14 AM   #19
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

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Originally Posted by atikovi View Post
No such thing as a pressure relief valve, if you mean the pressure test connection that looks like a tire valve, fuel squirting out in a little fountain doesn't tell you much. It might do that at 10 psi but that's not enough to keep the engine running if it should be 50 psi. Until you put a real gauge to it, you're just guessing. At least get a can of starting fluid and see if it does better with that.
I totally overlooked this reply on my tiny screen. I'll go to another auto parts store to get another loaner gauge. You are right, I just eyeball it right now although I tried to be thorough: I compared the spray to the one of my Ford V8, it seems to be generally in the same ballpark.

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Old 11-09-2017, 04:47 PM   #20
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Default Re: dies, no crank, no start

Technically, service manuals describe the fuel test valve on fuel rails as described because it's used to monitor pressures with a fuel pressure gauge and with GM equipment, used to bleed off pressure when advanced testing of the fuel system is performed. While not used often, pressure relief valve is appropriate since it will bleed off when the valve stem is depressed by hand or while connecting/disconnecting a pressure gauge before sealing occurs. Semantics.

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96’ SL2 Sputters/Dies/Won’t start Tyrant_007 S-Series Tech 6 02-06-2008 12:07 PM
Battery Dies on crank frereagle S-Series Tech 3 04-24-2007 09:02 PM


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