'92 astro won't start

'92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 16th 2009, 4:29am

hi again all,

i thought i was a member but had to re-register, oh well, nbd.

the vehicle: '92 astro ex(full-size), 4.3l vortec w-code motor, 2wd, 218k miles on original motor.

the problem:
won't start hot or cold 95% of the time.

things checked/done:
spark is orange and regular while cranking, battery is good, have fuel, didn't test pressure. about 2 years ago i had a fuel pump short out inside the tank, shortly before i had to replace the fuel pressure regulator. fuel pump and regulator have less than 15k miles on them. also the fuel filter was replaced. i used a new acdelco fuel pump and fuel filter. the fuel came out of the fitting on the engine in a nice strong, steady stream with no bubbles or any other issues. tune up was done with new plugs(autolite platinum plus), new acdelco wires, cap, and rotor. about 2 years ago. maybe 15k miles on the tune up. i also replaced the fuel line from the outlet side of the fuel filter due to rust/cracking.
i drained the fuel tank using fuel pump, put in fresh gas, as i was suspecting a bad gas issue, apparently wasn't the problem.
the previous owner replaced the complete spider assembly at about 100k miles.

the symptoms:
started running rough and sputtering/missing which shortly turned into intermittent engine dying, but it would always restart. then as it got worse, the engine would be hard to start hot or cold, and would die intermittently. then it just died one night. this all happened in the course of three days. i drive about 100 miles each day. the problem was most prevalent when going around corners, starting from a stoplight, and going over heavy bumps/potholes in the road. had it hauled home to work on it. checked the above listed items and used the fuel pressure port to relieve some gas from the fuel line, while cranking. put it back together and it started and ran ok. drove it around the block hard, to see if it would mess up. it never died but it was visibly missing and some heavy sputtering at times, when it tried to die, i mashed the gas and that helped. ok, i let it sit in the driveway for a couple of hours and it started hard, but it started. tried to go home and got about a mile away and the engine just quit. had it pushed part way back to folks and in the middle of that trip, it started and ran for about 5 seconds and then it died again. it will not restart now at all. i drained the fuel tank as i said above, put in fresh gas, still no start except for 1 brief start and immediately it died. i blew air through the fuel injection system(limited air pressure to 50 psi)blew all the fuel i could out of it. the air was applied to the fuel inlet of the engine right where the fuel lines from the body connect. the fuel system also held some air pressure, as when i removed the rubber-tipped blow gun, additional air would escape. to me, this rules out an internal leak from the components inside the plenum, namely the fuel pressure regulator.

so, my questions, besides the obvious are:
can the fuel pump filter bypass when/if clogged? if so, is there another filter at the spider assembly?
what is the expected lifetime of the injector/spider assembly?

the obvious question: what do you think is the problem?

any question, please ask away. i need this thing running as soon as possible, as it is my only vehicle due to a problem with my secondary vehicle('97 geo metro).


tia!
bill
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Matrixx » March 16th 2009, 5:47am

Hi bill demmer

-When was the coil last replaced?
-You need to have the fuel system pressure tested.
-The fuel filter should be replaced at this point.

Please keep us updated, Thanks.:)
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Leeann_93 » March 16th 2009, 3:18pm

Two thoughts:

Orange spark isn't good enough - you need a bright blue spark on these.
Autolite plugs won't last real long in these - try AC Delco plugs.


No, there's no additional filter under the plenum. You could have a restriction at the pump, namely the sock could be plugged. Also, your EGR valve could be stuck open with carbon. But having more problems when hitting bumps or going around corners points more to fuel issues, especially to fuel pump issues to me.
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 16th 2009, 7:56pm

matrixx and leeann_93,
as far as i know, it is the original coil.
i thought orange spark wasn't all that good too.

today, i'm buying a fuel pressure gauge, need to have one for other cars too.

will post results...


ty
bill
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby astro355 » March 16th 2009, 11:58pm

How was spark tested? Was it with a spark plug or a spark tester?
Diagnose 1st, never be a parts changer!

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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 17th 2009, 2:01am

today's update:

fuel pressure is 62 psi while cranking, 52 when it runs(rarely). the fuel pressure shoots to 62 almost instantly upon fuel pump run. when running the needle on the gauge vibrates about +/- 4 psi, this vibration occurs when running the engine at about 2000-3000 rpm. pressure drops to 28 immediately after fuel pump shutoff(engine shutdown). after 5 minutes, the pressure is 22 psi, after 1 hour and 5 minutes, it is 16 psi.the ignition coil has been replaced now with a new one, it was the original coil from the factory(218k miles). the spark is still orange using the screwdriver method from the coil tower to the upper plenum. the spark will jump half an inch, easy. the old coil's spark would jump from the tower terminal to ground(the coil's steel core was the closest point).

when i put the new coil on, it did start right up, but it also would restart after sitting sometimes with the original coil. it starts about 40% of the time now. it still dies(with 62 psi on pressure gauge). when it does run, it usually runs very, very rough, with a heavy miss and raw gas smell. it can also run perfectly smooth at an idle or at 2000-3000 rpm. there are no dtc's in memory and i've not gotten an ses light either.

this thing is driving me nuts!!
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Leeann_93 » March 17th 2009, 3:45am

your leakdown numbers suck - your fuel pressure regulator's leaking, hence the the raw fuel smell, rough running, etc.
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Matrixx » March 17th 2009, 8:01am

Hi bill demmer

-What name brand of coil did you use for the replacement?
-Are the coil connections clean? (ground as well).
-As mentioned, the leakdown isn't good, no.
-When you turn the ignition on you get 62 PSI, what happens when you turn the ignition off without starting the engine? Does it hold pressure then or bleed down the same way?


Please keep us updated, Thanks.:)
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 17th 2009, 1:13pm

matrixx,
any time the pump shuts off, including an aborted start cycle, the pressure drops rapidly to 28 psi, and slowly bleeds down from there.
just a reminder, the fpr was replaced about 2 years/less than 15 k miles ago, by me. it was replaced with an acdelco fpr, robbed from a new, in the box, acdelco spider assembly(i had a friend in the GM parts business back then). i replaced the one that was on the new acdelco spider with a new fpr from 1a automotive.just so it's clear, the fpr on the van now is the acdelco one, the fpr in the acdelco box that i returned was the aftermarket one, which looked exactly like the acdelco one in every way, in every little detail, right down to the date coding font and format, etc.

is there any way the injector itself could be leaking?
what is the normal lifespan of the fpr?


thanks again all! :)
bill
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Matrixx » March 17th 2009, 1:36pm

Hi bill demmer

That really doesn't mean to much at this point bill but thanks anyways for letting us know.

You need to split the front from the back. Remove the fuel line after the schrader valve or at the plenum. Block the line off completely and do the pressure test again. What are the readings at that point? This will give you a very good direction to go in. Fuel tank or plenum.

Please keep us updated, Thanks.:)
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 18th 2009, 1:58am

matrixx,

thank you for your help so far. how do i go about testing the fuel supply pressure with the supply line disconnected? my gauge only has a schrader valve connection. as you know, the schrader valve is on the plenum side of the connector. i am not an expert in this fuel injection stuff, i'm a carburetor man myself. i am not arguing here, just somewhat out of my league with this.

a former GM mechanic(chevy dealership) buddy of mine is thinking it is an intermittent fuel timing or ignition timing issue relating to CMP and/or CKP sensor(s). he is also trying to diagnose this over the internet(lol).


thanks again to all that have replied,
bill
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 18th 2009, 2:08am

leeann_93

the only time i get a raw gas smell is when the engine is running and severly missing, not at any other time.
this thing can run perfectly smooth or miss like a mofo, all at any given moment, when it is running.
i did go through the fpr failure routine already, this problem is not acting like that one at all. gas mileage is not down significantly like it was then. it is more like fuel delivery to the cylinders just stops or is erratic at times.

i do value your input too, don't get me wrong on that please.

thank you,
bill
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Matrixx » March 18th 2009, 8:05am

Hi bill demmer

Hmm, you're an old style plenum, sorry about that. If their is away you could pinch the fuel supply line off while you have the pump boosting pressure in the line and pinch it off from the tank, then shut the key off, you would know for sure by the readings on the pressure gauge where the leak was coming from (plenum or tank). If it still bleeds down, then you know it's a plenum problem, if it holds pressure, then you know it's a tank problem.

Just something to try if you can.

Please keep us updated, Thanks.:)
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby bill demmer [OP] » March 19th 2009, 5:35am

well, i think the answer is:
bad gas. i t seems to be contaminated with diesel fuel.
it has a faint diesel smell to it and is yellow.
i am able to idle the van now, above about 2500 it misses, sputters, and dies. can restart with carb. cleaner sprayed into the plenum through a vacuum port. it will eventually run on it own then.

i filled the tank with fresh gas, and i had it idle in the driveway for over an hour.
next step is to clean/replace the plugs and replace the fuel filter. i will also add fuel system cleaner.

here is where the advice came from: http://blogs.tech-recipes.com/qmchenry/ ... s-vehicle/


ty,
bill
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Matrixx » March 19th 2009, 10:04am

Hi bill demmer

Diesel? wow, ok that would do it I guess. I know it would have given of a dark cloud out the exhaust with a distinct smell to if for sure. I'm glad you found your particular problem BD, good work.:)
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Re: '92 astro won't start

Postby Leeann_93 » March 19th 2009, 2:09pm

Oh, what a mess.....but yellow fuel sounds like a varnish (old age) issue to me, not diesel.

Since you let it idle in the driveway for an hour, I'd top off the tank with yet more fresh gas after you dump in some Techron (the concentrated version). Run that until it clears some, then do the plugs and filter.

I'm glad you've found the mess, though.
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