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Old 01-24-2005, 02:20 PM   #1
Sman
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Default Starting Problems

This one has me puzzled.

I started the car a few mornings ago and it ran fine, temp was -20C. It ran for about 10 min, when I went back out it was off. I tried to retart it and NOTHING...just a click, no turnover.

Tried a few more times and got it running again (turned over on one of about 10 attempts) so this time I stayed out and after about 15 seconds there was a major squeal from the serpentine belt and she stopped dead.

Now it is back to clicking each attempt and if lucky it will turn over once, maybe twice and stops...it turns real hard.

So something must have seized which would not be starter related, I'm guessing alternator as that would have to do with the running of it.

I thought possible crank, but has oil in it and the crank will turn when I'm lucky to get it to turn over and there is no unusual noise when it does.

By the way I have put it inside a garage to warm it up and same thing...I also put a new battery in it and no change.

Am I on track with alternator and might there be something else it could be?

I have a 98 SL1, auto with A/C.

Any ideas?
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:41 AM   #2
wrenchtnr
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Default Re: Starting Problems

I don't think it is the alternator, or any other accessory. The failure mode doesn't seem realistic, working ten minutes then not turning at all, only to work again the next day. If so they should have been sceaming for the last few weeks.

Does the oil pressure light come on, (do you have one?) If the oil pump wasn't working, I think the affect would be as you described. I hope not for your sake. I don't know how you could test this theory.

Can you loosen the belt, and try turning all the accessory pulleys?
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Remove the serpentine belt (procedures in the How To Library), put the tranny in neutral, and try to turn each of the pulleys by hand. Then put a wrench on the crankshaft bolt and see if the crank turns. That should help narrow down your seizing problem between accessories and engine. Report back and tell us what you've learned.
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Why I am suspecting WEAK COOLANT and a frozen engine here? As in the belt is trying to turn a frozen waterpump...
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Remove the serpentine belt and see if the engine will crank over. If so then one of the accesories is not turning. If not then try to turn the engine over by hand. If not then the engine is not so good no more. If it turns by hand then maybe the starter is not so good.
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Old 02-03-2005, 10:05 AM   #6
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Default It's the engine!

Hi all,

Thanks for the replies...I've been away and have now done some more diagnosis.

Took the serpentine belt off and same exact symptoms so it's engine related...bummer.

To answer the oil light question, yes it did come on, every morning when I started it as it "ticked" until it pumped up, however when it was cold it would take longer to pump up so I fear this is the ultimate factor of this situation. I've been long told by Saturn this was normal if it lasted under 2 minutes which it did, but maybe that morning it took longer where it was so cold.

Should I be starting by pulling the pan off and looking at the bottom (bearing or crank) or just yanking the whole thing? I'm thinking main bearing could be scored where it still turned over hard once in a while after it seized?

I've yet to put a wrench on the crank but if that will turn I'm guessing it's something up higher thus requiring pulling the engine and completely overhauling it, and if that is the case, would I be better off putting another engine put in? Especially considering the ticking I've had at each morning's startup.

Sorry if these questions seem silly, but this will be a new undertaking for me (complete motor) and at least I do have time here and an eagerness to learn! I have nothing to lose here now so this will become a project car for me. Appreciate all your input.
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Old 02-03-2005, 10:28 AM   #7
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Default Re: Starting Problems

I'm wondering if something isn't going to ground after it runs for ten minutes or so. The fact that it would run for ten minutes, then stop, then run again after a few tries has me puzzled. Could the charging wire from the alternator be touch something, and when going to ground cause the alternator to squeal, or perhaps the wire from the starter to the battery?
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Old 02-03-2005, 11:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: It's the engine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sman
To answer the oil light question, yes it did come on, every morning when I started it as it "ticked" until it pumped up, however when it was cold it would take longer to pump up so I fear this is the ultimate factor of this situation. I've been long told by Saturn this was normal if it lasted under 2 minutes which it did, but maybe that morning it took longer where it was so cold.
OMG, that is one of the WORST examples of technical service advice that I've ever heard!

Maybe he'll pitch in and help you get a replacement motor, eh?

Quote:
Should I be starting by pulling the pan off and looking at the bottom (bearing or crank) or just yanking the whole thing? I'm thinking main bearing could be scored where it still turned over hard once in a while after it seized?

I've yet to put a wrench on the crank but if that will turn I'm guessing it's something up higher thus requiring pulling the engine and completely overhauling it, and if that is the case, would I be better off putting another engine put in? Especially considering the ticking I've had at each morning's startup.

Sorry if these questions seem silly, but this will be a new undertaking for me (complete motor) and at least I do have time here and an eagerness to learn! I have nothing to lose here now so this will become a project car for me. Appreciate all your input.
Before you start planning a rebuild or replacement, put a wrench on the crankshaft bolt and see if the crank turns. Then report back and tell us what you've learned.

You may simply have a bad starter, like ssicarman suggested, or possibly the coolant in the block/waterpump is frozen, like wolfman suggested.

Has the car been outside (below freezing) during the interim?
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:09 PM   #9
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1996 SW2
Default Re: It's the engine!

Do as Razorbak suggests, but FIRST remove the spark plugs. With NO compression, shoot, you should probably be able to turn the crankshaft just by putting two gloved hands on the pulley and turning. There's nothing "higher up" that would require an overhaul.
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Old 02-03-2005, 01:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: It's the engine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue
Do as Razorbak suggests, but FIRST remove the spark plugs. With NO compression, shoot, you should probably be able to turn the crankshaft just by putting two gloved hands on the pulley and turning. There's nothing "higher up" that would require an overhaul.
Good suggestion about removing the plugs first.

One possibility of failure "higher up" is a broken timing chain, with valves bent from impacting the pistons.
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Old 02-03-2005, 01:31 PM   #11
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Don't give up on this motor yet!

How many miles on this car?

The oil light is on? Have you checked oil level before the start? It maybe low. Also, do you know what grade of engine you put in? In -20C weather, always use Synthetic oil.

After you loose the serp belt, (other than the main Crank), have you tried to hand rotate each pulley and feel any major resistance?

Your motor maybe already in FLOOD mode. It won't start until you clear it.

Make sure the oil level is correct and battery is healthy. With your foot FLOOR the gas padel all the way and turn key to crank the motor for 5-10 seconds (or until you feel like the motor is starting). See if this works before you proceed to the "extreme" steps.
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Old 02-03-2005, 01:41 PM   #12
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1996 SW2
Default Re: It's the engine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razorbak
One possibility of failure "higher up" is a broken timing chain, with valves bent from impacting the pistons.
I wondered about that, but on the second, final stall, it would've made a hellacious (sp?) noise that he wouldn't forget, right?

Wolf, can a seized accesory like a water pump actually stall the engine via the serp belt? I woulda though it would just snap the belt.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:20 PM   #13
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Thanks for all replies, I'll try to elaborate.

No weird sound upon sudden stop and it still did turn over a bit after so I doubt it's a broken timing chain. I had it inside for a few days and did turn all units on serpentine belt, seemed ok. It is now milder (+2 C) but have not tried anything today.

I do still need to put a wrench on crank and check out resistance, a buddy of mine will clear out some space for me to get it inside in the next little while! I'm pretty sure it's the engine, be it starved of oil in an area as I now fear idiot light, while it lit at startup briefly during ticking, that I may have had low oil pressure for some time and was just above the threshold for triggering the light while running full time.

The engine gets 5W30 at every 5000 K and has 118 K on the engine, not much and this car does not get much mileage.

As for dumbest technical advice, well I was stupid enough to listen I guess...but I did seach that topic and others had reported same thing at morning startup so it did not concern me too much.

I'll take out plugs and give it a crank and report back...might be a couple of weeks before I get it inside.

Appreciate all insight.
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: It's the engine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sman
Hi all,

Thanks for the replies...I've been away and have now done some more diagnosis.

Took the serpentine belt off and same exact symptoms so it's engine related...bummer.

To answer the oil light question, yes it did come on, every morning when I started it as it "ticked" until it pumped up, however when it was cold it would take longer to pump up so I fear this is the ultimate factor of this situation. I've been long told by Saturn this was normal if it lasted under 2 minutes which it did, but maybe that morning it took longer where it was so cold.

Should I be starting by pulling the pan off and looking at the bottom (bearing or crank) or just yanking the whole thing? I'm thinking main bearing could be scored where it still turned over hard once in a while after it seized?

I've yet to put a wrench on the crank but if that will turn I'm guessing it's something up higher thus requiring pulling the engine and completely overhauling it, and if that is the case, would I be better off putting another engine put in? Especially considering the ticking I've had at each morning's startup.

Sorry if these questions seem silly, but this will be a new undertaking for me (complete motor) and at least I do have time here and an eagerness to learn! I have nothing to lose here now so this will become a project car for me. Appreciate all your input.

First thing to do now is to try to turn the engine over at the crank by hand. If it will turn over then you need to look at the starter. Either the electrical to it is bad or the starter is bad. If the engine does not turn over it is siezed and needs a rebuild or repalcement. One thing to remeber as well that there is a remote chance (very remote) that something in the trans may be stopping the engine from turning if it will not turn over for you. More likely on a maunal trans than auto.
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Old 02-03-2005, 11:24 PM   #15
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1996 SW2
Default Re: Starting Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sman
I'll take out plugs and give it a crank and report back...might be a couple of weeks before I get it inside.
With the plugs out, you can turn the engine by hand, from above, without getting down close to the dirty icky melting snow. Shouldn't be too hard to do at about 0C (I just did my engine mount and belt at about 2C).
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Old 02-23-2005, 02:49 PM   #16
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Surprise, surprise - I got it running. I checked all pulleys and were free so I turned the crank by hand and it turned. I figured what the heck and stuck the key in and it ran! I put the serpentine belt back on and it still ran...I guess I has a little "good" luck as I've done nothing to warrant it running.

"Bad" news is there's a (single) knocking sound in it that was not there before. I've isolated it (with a wooden broomstick) to the bottom part of the engine around where the flywheel is so I'm guessing either the crank or bearing has a problem. Someone told me I may have turned a bearing and it worked it's way back somehow allowing it to start?

I did take it for a little run, seems ok in moderate acceleration (not pushing hard to make things worse) but upon letting off gas and decelerating, the knocking is much more prevalent (more like a chatter in this instance). No warning lights in dash and seems up to regular power.

From what I can tell, appears this is a pull the engine job now...or can the crank come out with the engine in? I see the oil pan can come off without pulling engine. Fortunate I have a buddy who's pretty handy at internal engine stuff.

Am I making sense? I'm not real wise on the insides of an engine, but appears I will soon learn!
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Old 02-23-2005, 03:05 PM   #17
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Default Re: Starting Problems

On a manual transmission, you can pull the oil pan, remove the windage/baffle tray, and remove the main caps to inspect the main bearings with the engine in-frame, but you can't remove the crank unless you removing the drive axles, unbolt the tranny and pull it back, and then remove the flywheel. By the time you do all that, you might as well have pulled the engine. I don't have an automatic transaxle, so I don't really know what's involved in pulling the crank in-frame on one of those.
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Old 02-24-2005, 08:52 AM   #18
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Thanks, this is an automatic, but based on steps for a manual, seems prudent to pull the engine right off the bat.
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Old 02-24-2005, 12:08 PM   #19
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Default Re: Starting Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sman
Thanks, this is an automatic, but based on steps for a manual, seems prudent to pull the engine right off the bat.
Wolfman posted a detailed thread in the How To Library describing the steps required to remove an S-series engine with an automatic transaxle. Check it out.
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