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Old 06-13-2022, 12:22 AM   #1
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Default Is the engine dying (and some dumb things too)?

On Wednesday afternoon, June 1, the beginning of the dreaded LGBTQwerty+-/*@#%&= pride month, my car exhibited a problem I'd never before experienced with it. After starting the engine it was running very roughly. My hunch was an engine misfire. I thought that I might be able to "nurse" it back home, returning via surface streets from my work location sixteen miles away. After less than two miles of driving the engine could barely maintain an idle - the roughness was very bad with significant power loss. The engine sound was so irregular and very noisy that I feared the possibility of a spun crankshaft or rod bearing, or even a thrown piston rod. I chose to park it and call for a tow truck.

I had it towed to my house and looked at it the following day. A DTC of P0303 was confirmed. I did what checks I could do manually - listen for fuel pump noise from the tank (yes), check for fuel at the rail (yes), verify engine compression (all at 180 PSI), and spark plug gaps appeared even. I replaced the Coil Pack and the engine ran normally. (BTW, the Coil Pack replaces both coils [each coil covering two cylinders]. You cannot replace one coil at a time.) However, one thing was odd - the usual firm contact between the ICM (Ignition Control Module) and Coil Pack was now loose. That would become a problem.

On Friday afternoon a new DTC appeared, P0340. The cam signal was not present. I believed that the new Coil Pack was bad so I picked up a second one from O'Reilly's. After installing it the car wouldn't start! (What on earth is this??) After further consideration and research I decided to replace the ICM and the CKP (Crankshaft Position) sensor. The latter was more as a preventative measure although I'd hoped its installation might solve the problem. It did not.

Now I was a little worried, but I decided that the only thing left to do was to install a new ICM. (The camshaft position is provided to the PCM via signals from the coil pack and the ICM. The ECOTEC 2.2L lacks a CPS [camshaft position sensor].) The ICM from STANDARD included an adapter for male to male contacts between the Coil Pack and the ICM. That original small adapter part was apparently lost after separating the other ICM from the factory original Coil Pack. This was why the aforementioned firm contact between the two parts was missing. After installing the new ICM with the male to male connector/adapter the engine started as it normally would. Interestingly, the engine picked up some lost power with the new ICM installed. So this was a win all the way around. Looking back on it, though, I was a bit of a fool. I believe that I was wrong to condemn the first replacement coil pack.

So why did the engine run with the old ICM and a new Coil Pack? It due to the presence of a sizeable amount of dielectric grease on the Coil Pack contacts. It allowed electricity to pass between the two components, but not quite enough and thus the computer showed the DTC P340. Later, when the engine failed to start it was because there was no dielectric grease present on either component. The new ICM provided dielectric grease to be used on both sets of contacts before connecting them through the adapter. The DTCs are gone. No more P0303 nor P0340... Lastly, the new Coil Pack and CKP sensor were also STANDARD brand parts. Amazingly, after 373K+ miles the car got a new Coil Pack. The old ICM was a factory warranty replacement. It had about 50K fewer miles on it. So that's the story here.

Next up, a new thread to come about the replacement of a rear window regulator that failed on the same Wednesday afternoon.
...
377K miles - Holy canolli!
Biden/Harris predictions, '21 -'25: weak economy; weaker military; more terrorism; emboldened RED CHINA. Sadly, B & H are proving me correct...too bad... now Russia?!

Last edited by pierrot; 06-13-2022 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 06-14-2022, 11:13 PM   #2
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2002 L-Series 3.0L Wagon
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Default Re: Is the engine dying (and some dumb things too)?

Does your car use any oil yet? I have not replaced either the coil set or the icm on any of my L61s. I did send a set to a friend over on Saturnforum. I do have a couple more sets of good used OEM components as spares. I am way behind you on miles, I am somewhere around 266k I think. Putting more miles on the car every other week. 300 miles one week and 400 the next due to Doctor’s appointments out of town.
...
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Old 06-15-2022, 11:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is the engine dying (and some dumb things too)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pierrot View Post
On Wednesday afternoon, June 1, the beginning of the dreaded LGBTQwerty+-/*@#%&= pride month, my car exhibited a problem I'd never before experienced with it. After starting the engine it was running very roughly. My hunch was an engine misfire. I thought that I might be able to "nurse" it back home, returning via surface streets from my work location sixteen miles away. After less than two miles of driving the engine could barely maintain an idle - the roughness was very bad with significant power loss. The engine sound was so irregular and very noisy that I feared the possibility of a spun crankshaft or rod bearing, or even a thrown piston rod. I chose to park it and call for a tow truck.

I had it towed to my house and looked at it the following day. A DTC of P0303 was confirmed. I did what checks I could do manually - listen for fuel pump noise from the tank (yes), check for fuel at the rail (yes), verify engine compression (all at 180 PSI), and spark plug gaps appeared even. I replaced the Coil Pack and the engine ran normally. (BTW, the Coil Pack replaces both coils [each coil covering two cylinders]. You cannot replace one coil at a time.) However, one thing was odd - the usual firm contact between the ICM (Ignition Control Module) and Coil Pack was now loose. That would become a problem.

On Friday afternoon a new DTC appeared, P0340. The cam signal was not present. I believed that the new Coil Pack was bad so I picked up a second one from O'Reilly's. After installing it the car wouldn't start! (What on earth is this??) After further consideration and research I decided to replace the ICM and the CKP (Crankshaft Position) sensor. The latter was more as a preventative measure although I'd hoped its installation might solve the problem. It did not.

Now I was a little worried, but I decided that the only thing left to do was to install a new ICM. (The camshaft position is provided to the PCM via signals from the coil pack and the ICM. The ECOTEC 2.2L lacks a CPS [camshaft position sensor].) The ICM from STANDARD included an adapter for male to male contacts between the Coil Pack and the ICM. That original small adapter part was apparently lost after separating the other ICM from the factory original Coil Pack. This was why the aforementioned firm contact between the two parts was missing. After installing the new ICM with the male to male connector/adapter the engine started as it normally would. Interestingly, the engine picked up some lost power with the new ICM installed. So this was a win all the way around. Looking back on it, though, I was a bit of a fool. I believe that I was wrong to condemn the first replacement coil pack.

So why did the engine run with the old ICM and a new Coil Pack? It due to the presence of a sizeable amount of dielectric grease on the Coil Pack contacts. It allowed electricity to pass between the two components, but not quite enough and thus the computer showed the DTC P340. Later, when the engine failed to start it was because there was no dielectric grease present on either component. The new ICM provided dielectric grease to be used on both sets of contacts before connecting them through the adapter. The DTCs are gone. No more P0303 nor P0340... Lastly, the new Coil Pack and CKP sensor were also STANDARD brand parts. Amazingly, after 373K+ miles the car got a new Coil Pack. The old ICM was a factory warranty replacement. It had about 50K fewer miles on it. So that's the story here.

Next up, a new thread to come about the replacement of a rear window regulator that failed on the same Wednesday afternoon.
I believe dielectric grease is non conductive. So your theory is not correct.
...
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Old 06-17-2022, 02:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is the engine dying (and some dumb things too)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lrbraner View Post
I believe dielectric grease is non conductive. So your theory is not correct.
You are correct, Irbraner. I was wrong.
...
377K miles - Holy canolli!
Biden/Harris predictions, '21 -'25: weak economy; weaker military; more terrorism; emboldened RED CHINA. Sadly, B & H are proving me correct...too bad... now Russia?!
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Old 06-17-2022, 02:35 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2012
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Default Re: Is the engine dying (and some dumb things too)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 02 LW300 View Post
Does your car use any oil yet?
Yes, it does. Presently, it's ~one quart every two weeks with my commutes as they are. Thus far I'm not aware of any excess smoke from the exhaust system. With regard to the ICM and coil pack it seems to me that these items are rather robust, remarkably durable components.
...
377K miles - Holy canolli!
Biden/Harris predictions, '21 -'25: weak economy; weaker military; more terrorism; emboldened RED CHINA. Sadly, B & H are proving me correct...too bad... now Russia?!

Last edited by pierrot; 06-17-2022 at 02:40 AM.
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