Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby Duckstar [OP] » October 12th 2011, 10:18pm

Hi guys hope someone can help me, for a little while now my van has at times seemed a little sluggish and lacking in power usually when accelerating at lower speeds or on a slight uphill, but in the last couple of weeks this has happened on a daily basis shortly followed by the engine dying on me. The first time this happened I thought I had run out of fuel as my gauges had been misbehaving, since then the "check gauges" light comes on just as the engine dies but I know there is gas in the tank and once ive come to a stop it will fire straight away. I used to have a similar problem on my old camaro until I replaced the oxygen sensor, could that be the problem here? any input appreciated, cheers!
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby rev_les » October 12th 2011, 11:03pm

Transmission shifting funny too? Pull the engine cowl and do a fuel pressure check.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 13th 2011, 1:42am

I've been reading pages upon pages on this great site for quite a while now, in search for a solution to a similar problem. I haven't yet posted my problem because it's too damn weird, and it's a few other things as well. But I still need help with these issues, so here goes.
My '92 Safari (189,000+miles) has been acting strange for over a month now. It starts right up every morning and runs great for the first 5 min or so, then I lose power. Hitting the gas makes it bog down, sometimes pops and coughs from the intake are heard as well. If I come to a stop I have to put it in neutral to avoid stalling out. Now it gets weird. When I'm chugging along trying to get up speed, I quickly turn the ignition off and on again while in gear and I get a burst of power back! It will run OK for a few min, and will have to repeat this a few times just to get me to work. The ride to work is about 10 miles, and during the last mile or so, the van seems to run fine. If I have a half a days work and the van has sat for 4-5 hrs, It starts and runs great all the way home and then some. On the other hand, if I worked a full day, 8 hrs or more, the ride is like it was in the morn. 5 min of good running, then bad. It will get better when I'm almost home.
Now lately, my temp gauge has been sitting a bit over the 1/2 way mark and will go into the yellow and back down to the same area constantly. It doesn't over heat though. Also, I had great heat up to this point too, but now the heat only comes through once in a while, when I don't need it!

Full tune-up done late summer of last year-
New fuel filter 1 month ago-
New T-stat 2 wks ago-
Flushed heater core today, no blockage and burped cooling system as per this helpful forum.
About to pull whatever hair I've got left out of my head! :confused:
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby Jasen » October 13th 2011, 1:53am

Duck and Vin.
I'm wondering your your CAT's are giving out/clogged. One test for this you can do is pull one of the O2 sensors and see if this gives you some improvement.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 13th 2011, 2:28am

Jasen wrote:Duck and Vin.
I'm wondering your your CAT's are giving out/clogged. One test for this you can do is pull one of the O2 sensors and see if this gives you some improvement.

Thanks for the suggestion, but if it were the cat, wouldn't it run bad all the time? Also, if I have 2 o2's, which one do you pull, before or after cat? And won't the check engine light come on as well if cat or sensor went bad? Mine only comes on at startup so I know it's light works.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby RECox286 » October 13th 2011, 2:37am

To see if the cat is plugged, the best thing to do is go to an exhaust shop and let them do a quick check. Or if you happen to have a gage that you can substitute for an O2 sensor, there should be no more

than 1.25 psi @ idle measured at the O2 sensor hole, or no more than 3 psi @ 2000 rpm. (Use the O2 sensor closest to the engine, or at least one of the sensors upstream of the cat.)

If either of these specifications is exceeded, than consider that there is some sort of restriction in the exhaust system. Usually, there is no modulation, it is either clogged or it ain't.

Perhaps you are experiencing EGR malfunction. You said that the MIL, or SES light illuminated. Did you check for codes ?

OBD1 is easy: shunt the A and B (top right two connectors)of the serial connector (under the kick panel and near the steering column) with a paperclip, then turn the key to RUN, watch for the blinky

MIL/SES lamp. Code 12 x 3 to let you know the PCM is functioning as advertized, then any codes that have been set (each x 3). Turn the key off, then remove your paperclip. To clear codes, remove

the ECM-B fuse for 30 sec, or disconnect the Battery for 30 sec. Let us know what you find.

Good hunting.

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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby RECox286 » October 13th 2011, 2:45am

For the 97, you have second generation diagnostics (OBD2) and need a code reader, or "scan tool" to get the codes from your computor. I'm sure that if you are going to be doing any of your own

maintenance, this will be one of the first "tools" you will want to have in your inventory. I have a simple code reader, but a more advanced tester is available which will not only give the code, but

will give a list of the most probable cause for the malfuncion code. Acton makes these items, they can be seen and purchased at your LAPS. Some stores will read your codes for free. They have

found it helps their parts counter sales. Advance Auto is one such store. Let us know what you find.

Good Hunting

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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby Jasen » October 13th 2011, 2:55am

Not to detest what the others have said by any means.
I had a similar problem a couple years. I just removed one O2 sensor, the easiest one, and took it for a drive, it didn't run great or even good, but it did run noticeably better.
I put a new CAT in and it was fixed.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby RECox286 » October 13th 2011, 2:58am

Lack of Power/Sluggish:

Causes

1 Ignition timing
2 Restricted fuel filter or improper fuel pressure
3 ECM grounds (computer wiring)
4 Injector wires shorted at Air Cleaner
5 EGR partly open or open all the time
6 Generator output less than 9v or more than 16v
7 Cylinder compression, and/or valve timing
8 Worn camshaft
9 Torque converter operation
10 Secondary ignition voltage
11 Proper operation of EST (Electronic Spark Timing)
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 13th 2011, 3:02am

Quote: You said that the MIL, or SES light illuminated. Did you check for codes ?

It just lights quickly and goes out after engine is started. The only time it was lit with engine running was when I unpluged the coolant sensor near the thermostat to check it. Pluged it back in and it went out. Will I still get any codes even though the SES is not lit?
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby RECox286 » October 13th 2011, 3:41am

You won't know if there are codes set in the computor's memory unless you do a reading as set out in the above proceedures. The MIL/SES light illuminates when the key is on run, momentarily during

engine start. It is a bulb check, and is normal for all the lightbulb indicators to illuminate.

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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 13th 2011, 3:49am

Thanks, I'm going to do a reading and see what turns up.

After a flash of 1-2 I got a 1-3 meaning code 13. Oxygen sensor voltage stays between 0.35 and 0.55 volts for 60 seconds. Engine was at normal operating temperature and had been running for at least 2 minutes after start with a throttle angle above 5%. (info from troublecodes.net for VIN Z)
What does it mean, I need an O2 sensor?
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby RECox286 » October 13th 2011, 2:13pm

Probable Cause for a Code 13:

Indicates that the O2 sensor circuit or sensor was open for one minute while off idle.

Code 13 will set if:

=Engine at normal operating temperature.
=At least 2 minutes engine time after start
=O2 sensor voltage steady between .35 and .55 volt
=Throttle position sensor signal above idle
=All conditlions must be met for about 60 seconds
(NOTE: If the conditions for a Code 13 exist, the system will not go Closed Loop)

Possibility that the fault lies in either the wiring between the ECM and the O2, or that the sensor is at fault.

My input:

Since O2 sensors are fairly cheap (about $20) If you have more than 100k mi showing, I would swap in a new sensor because they do weaken with age.
and you definitly want the ECM to go Closed Loop for fuel economy. (Open loop is kinda like driving with the Choke closed on a carbureted engine)

Good hunting

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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby Duckstar [OP] » October 13th 2011, 6:30pm

Funny you should mention the trans Rev Les, it has been slow to change gear at times, I will start with the fuel pressure and take it from there! Thanks for all the other replies and good luck with sorting yours Vin!
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 14th 2011, 2:47am

RECox286 wrote:My input:

Since O2 sensors are fairly cheap (about $20) If you have more than 100k mi showing, I would swap in a new sensor because they do weaken with age.
and you definitly want the ECM to go Closed Loop for fuel economy. (Open loop is kinda like driving with the Choke closed on a carbureted engine)

Good hunting

Bob

Thank you so much and everyone for the input!
Sounds like you hit it on the head, Bob. Especially the part where it drives like a closed choke since I know what that's like from past vehicles I've had. And this is very much the same feeling. Could this condition also affect engine temp as well? It always ran much cooler until this popped up. Maybe it's another issue, but I have borrowed the slotted socket to remove and replace the 02 sensor and I will report the results of the 'hunt' later.
EDIT...
...forgot to mention: I found a big hole in the side of the fuel vapor canister. Seems it was eaten up from battery acid that leaked on it at some point, being located just below and left of the battery. What kind of issues should I expect this to cause?

@Duckster: Hope your problem finds a good ending as well!
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby rev_les » October 18th 2011, 10:46pm

Either of you guys get 'er fixed? Enquiring minds wanna know.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 21st 2011, 4:05am

Thanks for asking!

I had problems getting the O2 sensor out as it got stripped using the split socket. A friend and I will try tomorrow with a torch and a pipe wrench. In the meantime, I changed the throttle positioning sensor being the engine's idle was up and down. The old one seems to stick/bind a bit when I try to turn that piece in the center. My parts guy said if it still runs the same, he'd take it back and refund my money. But I think I'll save myself the grief replacing it again and keep it. Now when it idles, it seems better, but it will stall after a few mins. Haven't taken it for a run yet, but will do that after I replace that O2. Damn, I hope it fixes this thing.

I had asked in my last post about the hole in my canister,(the one having to do with the fuel vapor and gas tank). Anyone know if and/or how it effects engine performance?

Will report back after the O2 sensor is changed.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby chevymaher » October 21st 2011, 11:36am

If the vapor canister is basically wide open.Then that will be a vacuum leak.Rough or high idle.Alot of the symptoms yours displaying.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby VinsaneOne » October 22nd 2011, 12:54am

chevymaher wrote:If the vapor canister is basically wide open.Then that will be a vacuum leak.Rough or high idle.Alot of the symptoms yours displaying.

You may be right. It's still running poor as if I didn't change the sensors at all, so that's next on the 'to-do' list.
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Re: Help, engine lacks power then dies!

Postby Duckstar [OP] » November 6th 2011, 7:01pm

Well mine seemed to fix itself and all was well for a couple of weeks so I ignored it like you do! Then after work one evening it was misfiring badly, smelled real rich and had no power at all so I had to abandon it and get a mechanic out. Turns out the coil had cracked, Ive just fitted a new one today with help from chemists how to thread and she now (touch wood) runs better than before, has more responsive shifting and hopefully no more stalling!
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