Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby thor124 [OP] » March 14th 2011, 5:55pm

Hi Everyone,

I recently purchased a 1998 Chev Astro. When I took possession of the vehicle it was pretty cold out, and the engine started and ran w/out issue. The exhaust smelt a little rich when it was first started. This vehicle is intended to be my daily driver in about two months when my second child arrives, until then I've been trying to make sure I get it out and about on the roads about once a week. When I went to start it on saturday(temperature was above freezing, and rainy), the engine turned over, but wouldn't catch. The exhaust smells of gas, but not overly strong(ie no gas dripping out the tail pipe).

Two possibilities come to mind:
1) With the temperature hovering around freezing, and the gas cap doesn't seem to seal to well, condensations had a chance to build up in the gas tank. There is only about a 1/16th of a tank in the van at this moment.
2) Cables got damp. No spark?

Any suggestions on where I start to track this problem down?

Thanks!
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby oldtymehockey » March 14th 2011, 8:08pm

From what I know so far...

I would imagine it is possible that there is condensation in your fuel. Perhaps add some gas and maybe some Heet.

Also, in my endeavors, I have had some ignition issues. The first place I was told to check was the cap and rotor. Condensation builds up and causes poor connectivity in the distributor cap.

I am sure you will get more details from more experienced folks. I hope this is a decent start for you though.

Welcome to the forum by the way! :thumbup:
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby paintdrying » March 14th 2011, 9:01pm

Welcome aboard. We will have you back on the road in no time. After you get it fixed please check back and tell us what it was that caused the no spark. Two things immediately come to mind, crankshaft position sensor, and ignition module.
As far as I know the only way to check the crank trigger is by replacement. Supposedly the module can be tested at autozone. I have seen a coil cause a no spark, but generally not. You can try and pull a plug wire by taking off the front wheel then put a new spark plug in there, this is a good way to check spark.
You should also make sure that the coil is getting power. Others will chime in soon, but this is enough to keep you busy for awhile. Good luck
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby Philly758 » March 14th 2011, 9:32pm

I know nothing about fuel/pumps etc... So I'll just share my experience.

My van wasn't starting after rain. It turned over fine but wouldn't catch. Everyones initial suggestion is the cap/rotor (pretty common). I changed these out, followed by the plugs/wires, still issues after rain. It ended up being the ignition coil, which was blatenly obvious. Do yourself a favor and try to start the van with the doghouse off, in the dark, if the coil is failing you will see it spark. I've also read that if you hit the coil with WD-40 this can serve as a quick fix and get you started.

If you don't want to spend any money to start, and time is not an issue. I'd suggest taking the dog house off and watching the coil for sparks. If it doesn't spark, take apart the cap/rotor while you are in there and clean out the lower vent screens (if you have them, i didnt in my 2000 Safari). Inspect the rotor/cap for corrosion from moisture, if it looks fine put it back together and try to start it again.

I'm no mechanic, but this is what I went through. Good luck :banana:
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby RECox286 » March 14th 2011, 11:55pm

Hey Thor,

Remove the center wire from the distributor cap and (with a well insulated pair of pliers, hold it about 1/8 to 1/4 inch away from a metal surface on the engine. Crank the starter, and watch to see what kind, if any
spark you get. Blue is real good, yellow is bad, none is even worse. If you got blue, then check the inside of the distributor cap for condensation and/or a build up of crud on the towers. If you have a build up of crud, replace the dist cap with one that has brass (not aluminum) tower connections. If yellow or no spark, then track down that culprit. When you get the engine running, watch the high tension wires (spark plug wires) and coil while squirting some water mist around them. If you can't see sparks, that's good, if you can then that's bad. If you have visible sparks, replace the spark plug wires with a set that says "direct replacement". These parts will cost a bit more, but will give much better service in the long run. Get yourself a tube of 'diaelectric tune up grease" and use it on the inside of the spark plug and coil wire boots (both ends).
you will also need it for when you replace other ignition related parts (module, etc)
With us so far ??? You're getting the hang of it.

If the engine will crank, but not catch, then squirt a little starter fluid down the intake, and if she catches, find out why the fuel system is not working. I'll leave that lesson to whomever...

Good luck hunting.

Bob

BTW: If you plan of doing your own maintenance, may I suggest that you get a Factory Service Manual. Look on Ebay, deals are to be had. At the least, you should invest in a Chilton or Haynes manual available at your LAPS (auto store).
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby cowboydan » March 15th 2011, 12:38am

the secret to the coil is rain/ radio interference. i have had issues with the cap n rotor but only after submerging the truck. i use wire dryer (spray) cause it gets the water out of the cap with no residue. but i'm sure a bit of rain would do little to effect the cap, if it does, then the cap was gone long before. i use wd40 before i hit any trails but it makes a mess.... cheap insurance though. if your going to pull the dog house off to inspect, you may as well change coil, cap, rotor anyway... jmo. 75 bucks for reg maintinence= reliability.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby thor124 [OP] » March 17th 2011, 3:12pm

Thanks for all the tips guys, I'll investigate this weekend and let you know what I come up with!
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby Mr_Bowtie » March 18th 2011, 3:04am

X2 on the WD40 that stuff works. It will get you buy for a while if there is moisture causing your problem.

Also check the coil for good blue spark.....pull the coil wire off the coil a little and crank it over see if there is good blue spark. Yellow spark is bad or weak spark. Do this before you spray WD40 everywhere.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby thor124 [OP] » March 19th 2011, 5:44pm

Hi everyone,
A quick update. Got the dog house off this morning. The cap and cables look good. When I hold the central cable near a grounded part of the engine I get a yellowish spark. Testing the ignition coil as described in my chilton tells me it's bad. So after lunch i'm off to look for a new one. Thanks for all thr help so far!
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby RECox286 » March 19th 2011, 9:11pm

I love it when things work as they were designed to...

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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby thor124 [OP] » March 19th 2011, 10:42pm

Another update. Success! It was a vacuum issue in the end! When i got back I noticed a vacuum hose loose in the engine compartment. Reconnected it, and the engine sprang back on the first try. Not sure what the hose was connected to, it was near the pvc valve. the van ran really rough, and missed the first few times I accelerated, with a bit of white smoke. But after about 10km it smoothed out, no more smoke or mises. I'm going to guess the weak spark was because the battery was getting low.
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The hose with the green tape on it was the problem
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby thor124 [OP] » March 21st 2011, 5:34pm

Out of curiosity, anyone know what the vacuum hose was connected to? It the hose w/the green tape in the picture above. The PCV valve is in the foreground on the right side of the picture.

Thanks!
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby Vanjoe » March 22nd 2011, 12:43am

thor124 wrote: So after lunch i'm off to look for a new one. Thanks for all thr help so far!



Ok???? So did that fix it?

I have been having this problem for months whenever it warms enough for the snow to melt or when it rains. I also went thru this a couple years ago but then had a mechanic do all the repairs. Even back then, if I let it sit for 3 days and it rained at all, I would have trouble starting.
It is dark out now , so I will go out and look for sparks at the coil. The cap does have crap on the alum posts but is dry and clean inside. Screens are clear too.
So, I'll check for spark and then hose it down with wd40. I bought silicone spray for this. Is wd40 better? I always thought spray silicone was the thing to use to prevent moisture trouble?
Thanks, Joe

ETA.... sorry, didn't realize there was a second page.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby Mr_Bowtie » March 22nd 2011, 1:48am

Hard to tell what it is..............I have had a TBI motor in a while......I would think its a solenoid that controls something with vacuum.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby cowboydan » March 23rd 2011, 1:00am

Vanjoe wrote:
thor124 wrote: So after lunch i'm off to look for a new one. Thanks for all thr help so far!



Ok???? So did that fix it?

I have been having this problem for months whenever it warms enough for the snow to melt or when it rains. I also went thru this a couple years ago but then had a mechanic do all the repairs. Even back then, if I let it sit for 3 days and it rained at all, I would have trouble starting.
It is dark out now , so I will go out and look for sparks at the coil. The cap does have crap on the alum posts but is dry and clean inside. Screens are clear too.
So, I'll check for spark and then hose it down with wd40. I bought silicone spray for this. Is wd40 better? I always thought spray silicone was the thing to use to prevent moisture trouble?
Thanks, Joe

ETA.... sorry, didn't realize there was a second page.


wd40 is a very versitile can. silicon spray has it's place. wd40 has many uses. it's like ducktape that way
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby billy d » March 23rd 2011, 9:06am

hi I have the same problem but mine wont start when it is warm,i have changed everything from fuel pump/filter ,coil ,cam and crank sensor.I have spark and fuel but darn thing wont hit a lick.it just cut off like you turned the key off going down the road we let set over night and it started for about three minutes then off again.I shot ether down the throat of the intake and it started so I thought it was pump again so I replace and still no start.checked all fuses (good) and ran a scanner on it miss fire code and a emissions code.can you tell me what you found on your van so maybe I can check there or if anyone that reads your post can point me in a direction I would be most thankful because Im about to pull my hair out. Thanks Bill
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby cowboydan » March 23rd 2011, 12:20pm

billy d wrote:hi I have the same problem but mine wont start when it is warm,i have changed everything from fuel pump/filter ,coil ,cam and crank sensor.I have spark and fuel but darn thing wont hit a lick.it just cut off like you turned the key off going down the road we let set over night and it started for about three minutes then off again.I shot ether down the throat of the intake and it started so I thought it was pump again so I replace and still no start.checked all fuses (good) and ran a scanner on it miss fire code and a emissions code.can you tell me what you found on your van so maybe I can check there or if anyone that reads your post can point me in a direction I would be most thankful because Im about to pull my hair out. Thanks Bill



modules fail like that. i had to tow a friend or 2 because of them. they can be tricky to test.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby chevymaherchevymaher is online! » March 23rd 2011, 1:48pm

cowboydan wrote:
billy d wrote:hi I have the same problem but mine wont start when it is warm,i have changed everything from fuel pump/filter ,coil ,cam and crank sensor.I have spark and fuel but darn thing wont hit a lick.it just cut off like you turned the key off going down the road we let set over night and it started for about three minutes then off again.I shot ether down the throat of the intake and it started so I thought it was pump again so I replace and still no start.checked all fuses (good) and ran a scanner on it miss fire code and a emissions code.can you tell me what you found on your van so maybe I can check there or if anyone that reads your post can point me in a direction I would be most thankful because Im about to pull my hair out. Thanks Bill



modules fail like that. i had to tow a friend or 2 because of them. they can be tricky to test.

Coyboydan got a point.I just worked on a furd ranger a while back everything tested good but it had weak yellow spark and ran like garbage after ten miles then cleared up for another cycle.the EEC had been wet and had mud in it from a window leak.Ran better once it was cleaned with circuit cleaner but still acted odd to a lesser degree.anyway the reason for all this rambling :blah: :blah: :blah: :blah: Is that once new (used)one was put in it ran flawlessly every since.they do funny things when modules going out.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby billy d » March 25th 2011, 7:57am

isnt the module in the dist. if so that is what I replaced advance called it a cam sensor... is the module elsewhere...most chevys are in the dist. under the rotor button.
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Re: Van was running well. Now it won't start. No Spark?

Postby billy d » March 25th 2011, 8:04am

chevy and cowboy ....can it be the cat it has lost power (like getting on interstate) i will copy and paste another post that I tied to someone else's post is has a better description of what it done and is doing....thanks for yalls help......this is why I work on appliances and not cars for a living....but I did find a site and read on here about how easy it is to put a TPI 350 in her OMG im looking at maybe this option this would be so so sweet.
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