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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2005 with 126k 2WD.
A few weeks ago the van didn't start. It cranked fine for about 3 or 4 tries then the battery was dead. I charged it overnight realizing the battery is a least 5 years old. It was in the van when we bought it but the dates weren't pulled.
Fully charged the next day it started right up. I figured the battery is going to need to be replaced soon.
One week ago same thing, no start, 3 to 4 cranks battery dead. Charged over night, started right up. While it was running I checked the voltage and had 14.9V at the terminals. Disconnect the battery and had 12.9V at the battery. I decided the battery was old enough that I didn't want to fuss over it so I picked up a new one. Started right up, drove home fine. Next day started and drove fine. Ran several errands and it started and ran fine. This morning it wouldn't start. Cranks fine. I didn't want to overheat the starter so I tried several times during the day and it tries to catch but when I let off the key it sputters and dies. I tried spraying starter fluid in and that had no effect.
The last time this happened the dealer said it was the fuel pump. Since I was getting ready to go on a trip I needed it fixed right away so I had the dealer replace it. He still couldn't get it started so they decided to troubleshoot it and found the distributor cap was bad. :screaming:
So today I replaced the rotor and distributor cap. Still won't start.
I don't have an OBD2 and I don't have a check engine light on.
I just read about the passlock reset in another post so I'll try that in the morning.
If that's not it, any suggestions on what I should try next? I really don't want to have to tow it to a mechanic since I have all the time in the world. I'm not a mechanic but I have a bit of skill with electricity and wrenches, but not very much money right now.
Thanks in advance, I look forward to your help.
Al
 

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1998 LS AWD Forest Green metallic
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Well, the standard advice is check for spark and check for fuel pressure.
With a new fuel pump, if checked out properly, fuels could still be an issue, but I would look at the ignition system first.
Since the starting fluid did not help, ignition sounds like a potential issue, and there are unfortunately several things that can become intermittent in an ignition system.
Crank position sensor, ECM, and ignition modules are all possible failure points, among others.
You need spark, and at the right time. The pancake distributor issue could come into play, but that is relatively low miles for that, from what I understand, but not unheard of.
I would check with the local auto parts store, and ask about their tool loaner program. A fuel pressure gauge and a scanner will help a lot; either by confirming something IS, or is NOT, a problem ( fuel pump) or by giving you possible clues where to look ( DTC's).

Rod J
Issaquah, WA
 

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Common Sense + Critical Thinking
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As the starting fluid didn't work for you, I would also be focused on the secondary ignition system. Pancake Distributor Disease is common anywhere around 100k and up so definitely worth checking.

Pull a plug or two and check the wires as well, I mean at 100k it's due for a tuneup anyway.

Passlock has a very specific fail mode, where it will start just fine and THEN die. Also, it ONLY disables the fuel injectors so starting fluid would also rule that out.

A cheap OBD2 Bluetooth adapter and the proper software on your smartphone/tablet can be extremely handy, can get started for under $25.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the ideas and suggestions everyone!
I did the Passlock reset and no change.
I'm parked over a puddle so I haven't crawled under to check for spark at the plugs but I clamped my timing light on a few wires near the distributor and get a flash with each rotation, not that that means anything. I'm on my way to the parts store to get a spark tester so I can see it from above as it turns over.

I now have a Check Engine Light so I'm trying to borrow an OBD2 tester as well but haven't gotten a response from friends yet. I may have to buy one.

As I cranked it over this morning I let it crank a little longer and a few times it sounded like it was going to start. When I let go the key it sputtered and ran like it was "dieseling" for a few seconds before it died, if you know what I mean?

Just for the sake of elimination, can anyone tell me the easiest way to check for fuel pressure?
The Astro has been so trouble free I really don't know my way around it very well and with the tight quarters it is extremely difficult to reach anything.
Why do these things always happen when it's really cold, raining or hot as blazes?
Thanks again for all the help.
Al
Auburn, WA
 

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zippy said:
I now have a Check Engine Light so I'm trying to borrow an OBD2 tester as well but haven't gotten a response from friends yet. I may have to buy one.
LAPS will check it for you for free, if you can get it started ;) I recommend getting a cheap bluetooth one from Amazon, something like https://amzn.to/2NcjkfO Better than the readers you mostly find locally, this one will give you access to live data as well as the extended codes with the proper software.

zippy said:
Just for the sake of elimination, can anyone tell me the easiest way to check for fuel pressure?
Only way to check fuel pressure is using a gauge, usually you can borrow them from your LAPS. If not you can buy them pretty cheaply I have this one because I have both older and newer vans and it covers them all. https://amzn.to/2p4UTjV
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Big_Kid, I can't see your video, some kind of error. I tried entering the Playback ID and that didn't work either. I went to the LAP and they don't have the spark test tool.

AstroWill, turns our our Autozone has the ODB tool for loan so I got it. No codes of any kind.

sixsix, No conclusions yet. I have asked for help with the spark testing but I'm waiting for reply.

I notice there is a device between the air filter and the intake. Is it possible that it's closed and the starting fluid is not making it to the intake?

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

Al
Auburn, WA
 

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Was it a flashing check engine light? That means an active misfire.

The front plugs are relatively easy to get at, I would seriously pull one from each side and take a look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No, it was a steady light.
I also just had my wife come and turn the key to on while i listened at the fuel tank for the pump and it ran and then shut off.
I'll try to see if I can find the front plugs but last night I couldn't see them. It looks really tight.
Thanks for your help.
Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Todays update
I have spark and fuel and no codes. The check engine light is out. While yesterday it sounded like it was catching and almost running, today that is not the case. I am really struggling with the access and confined space. I can't see anything I'm trying to do and everything is by sense of touch.
I don't know what to do next and may have to have it towed to a mechanic next week. I am out of time today and go back to work on Monday.
I want to thank everyone for their helpful suggestions.
Al
 

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I have found the best way to test for spark is place a spark plug in the coil wire at the distributor cap have it grounded to engine block then crank the engine look for WHITE/BLUE spark if it's yellow and intermittent replace the high failure coil. IF the spark is not hot white your motor isn't gona run. You don't have to crawl under to remove a plug remove one from lawn mower to test it's winter anyhow the grass ain't growing now. Remove the doghouse and there it is.
 

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I had a crank but no start problem in my 99 just after purchasing it. I switched the ignition/AC relays around and away she went so I just replaced them both and it's been fine since, having said that it's only been a day but I've started it and driven it about five times. Might be worth a shot
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Old Barney said:
I have found the best way to test for spark is place a spark plug in the coil wire at the distributor cap have it grounded to engine block then crank the engine look for WHITE/BLUE spark if it's yellow and intermittent replace the high failure coil. IF the spark is not hot white your motor isn't gona run. You don't have to crawl under to remove a plug remove one from lawn mower to test it's winter anyhow the grass ain't growing now. Remove the doghouse and there it is.
Thanks, I'll give that a try.
 

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The coil is replaceable by drilling out the rivets and reattaching using stainless screws and lock nuts from local hardware store. Also use some star washers between the bolt/screw head and bracket even when using lock nuts. This will insure good electrical ground contact as the star washers dig in when tightened. Next time a drill will not be needed. I have not replaced the ICM yet to get a van running. But I would suggest while the coil bracket is out remove the ICM and get some heat transfer grease from auto parts store. clean off the old and put some new. I don't think heat sink compound gets old? But it's cheap and easy to get to at that time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
AuSafari77 said:
I had a crank but no start problem in my 99 just after purchasing it. I switched the ignition/AC relays around and away she went so I just replaced them both and it's been fine since, having said that it's only been a day but I've started it and driven it about five times. Might be worth a shot
Just got back home to pick up the wife and she doesn't like riding in my old pickup so I thought I'd give that a try. That would've been sweet but it didn't work. I also swapped the other relays and that didn't help either. I also checked all the fuses while I was in there.
Thanks for the suggestion though.
Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
sixsix said:
zippy said:
"I get birds drunk and rate their singing ability."
Do you have any feelings about the western common starling ?

I've ( we've ) tried Rye with no success.
My feeling are, they are harmful to our native birds. They will take over a nest and push out the eggs.
They don't sing very well when drunk :lol:
 

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zippy said:
AuSafari77 said:
I had a crank but no start problem in my 99 just after purchasing it. I switched the ignition/AC relays around and away she went so I just replaced them both and it's been fine since, having said that it's only been a day but I've started it and driven it about five times. Might be worth a shot
Just got back home to pick up the wife and she doesn't like riding in my old pickup so I thought I'd give that a try. That would've been sweet but it didn't work. I also swapped the other relays and that didn't help either. I also checked all the fuses while I was in there.
Thanks for the suggestion though.
Al
Bugger! Good luck with it mate
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Status Update! It's running! :banana:

Last night while looking for a YouTube video on how to test and change the coil I came across a video on the exact problem I was having. The technician put a tester on and went through the test steps. The video is by "Pine Hollow Auto Diagnostics" and the title is "Crank no-start P1626: GM 4.3 Chevy Astro"

He went through the Passlock code issue and he did the procedure a little different that I did. He actually cranked the engine then left the key on for a few seconds then removed the key and restarted and it ran.

After watching the video I read a few comments and one said "Flooring it and cranking" disables the injectors (clear-flood).

I hadn't tried that yet and I had pumped the pedal, sprayed starting fluid, and tried the propane trick, too. I figured it wouldn't hurt to clear all that out.

I got up early this AM to give it a try before going to work. I did the Passlock again the way he did, then I put the pedal to the floor and kept it there while cranking. All of a sudden it felt like it was going to start when there was a VERY LOUD BANG and it started running like it was on 5 cylinders. I turned it off as quick as I could and started cursing because I was sure I had blown out a spark plug or put a rod through the block. I've never had that happen so I don't really know what that sounds like but that's where my imagination went. The bang was so loud it woke up the neighbor lady.

I looked around in the engine bay and underneath but didn't see anything unusual and I didn't smell any new smells and there was no oil or water dripping on the ground. I decided to give it a quick crank to see if I could hear any clanging but to my surprise it started right up. It ran a little rough and died, but hey, progress.

I tried to start it again and it ran but real rough and started to die again so I gave it a little gas. After a few seconds it started to smooth out. It was still vibrating so I wasn't sure what was going on. I drove it over to Autozone on my way to work and had them test it but there are still no codes. I decided to get a fuel filter while I was there and I picked up some injector cleaner as well. I drove to work and stopped for coffee, stopped at the office for awhile then headed into Seattle, on the freeway. It started every time and it runs real nice but it still vibrates a little at idle.

If I have time tonight I'll change the fuel filter and we'll see if that and the injector cleaner help.

Again I want to say thank you to everyone for their helpful suggestions, ideas and knowledge. This site is a great resource.

Al

edit: added youtube video BK

 
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