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94 Cavalier, 2.2L/auto. Randomly dies after startup or while driving.

  • 70monte
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20 Mar 2020 12:49 #38485 by 70monte
This car recently started having some issue where when you went to start it, the starter solenoid would make a clicking sound for like a second and then it would start with no issues. The battery and alternator are new and when I tested both, they both tested good. Battery was at 13.5 volts and the alternator was charging at about 14.3 volts.

The other issue that went along with that would that the car would die right after start up but would immediately fire back up.

This morning when my fiancée went to drive it to work, the car fired with no problems but then died and all of the dash warning lights flashed and flickered and then went out with the key in the on position.

She then started it back up which it did normally and then drove off. A couple miles down the road the Anti-lock brake light came on and then the car died as she was driving. It started right back up and she brought it home to get her truck.

The clicking of the starter solenoid issue has not happened in several days. The starter was replaced about 33,000 miles ago and the car has about 134,000 miles on it now.

To me these symptoms are comparable to an ignition switch problem. The ignition switch was just replaced less than two months ago and about 2,000 miles ago. This is the third ignition switch in the last 34,000 miles. All of the other times we had symptoms of the car just randomly dying while going down the road or dying right after startup.

The other issue with this part of the system is the ignition key buzzer. When you open the driver's door with the key in the ignition, the buzzer sounds and is supposed to go out when you take the key out. Sometimes it does but a lot of the times the buzzer continues to ding for several seconds or more after the key is removed with the door open.

The only other thing that I think it might be is that the car leaks water inside when it rains. It must be coming from the cowl somewhere because the windshield has been replaced and that did nothing to stop the water intrusion. There are never any drips from under the dash but the inner firewall will be wet. I've looked at the wiring near the upper left part of the firewall where it goes into the multifunction alarm module and where another harness comes together but it's all been dry with no apparent corrosion. I replaced the multifunction alarm module a couple month ago with a used fairly low mileage one when I was chasing down a parasitic battery draw.

I would appreciate any ideas or suggestions on what I can do next. Sorry for such a long post but I wanted to give as much info as possible. Thanks.

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20 Mar 2020 14:22 #38491 by guafa
Hi monte,

I think you have different issues with this one and you need more clues.

Every engines needs air, fuel and spark to keep running. Due to sometimes engine starts for a while, let's assume it has enough air getting into the chambers. Then, is it dying because of spark or fuel?

Do have scope? What tools do you have?

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20 Mar 2020 15:04 #38494 by 70monte
I would say it's an electrical issue since when it dies it's like you turn off the ignition. I don't have a scope but do have several multimeters, test lights, and an amp clamp. I also have several scanners but they are on the lower end scale. My newest one is an Innova 5610.

I'm going to try and check the various grounds to make sure they are clean and tight.

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20 Mar 2020 15:19 - 20 Mar 2020 15:21 #38495 by guafa
Monte,

I agree with you it seems an electrical issue, but i think is key to know whether is spark, fuel or both at the same time.

For instance if when engine dies, you see that spark and fuel die together, i would focuse on pcm (voltage, ground, signal)

On the other hand. If you notice only spark dies, then i would bypass voltage and ground of distributtor/coils.
Last edit: 20 Mar 2020 15:21 by guafa.

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21 Mar 2020 10:25 #38515 by 70monte
I don't believe it's fuel related because every time you turn on the key, the fuel pump kicks on. The car always starts back up. This car does not have a fuel pressure port to connect to test pressure and when it dies, it's not like a fuel problem.

Yesterday I removed both of the main ground wire attachments near the starter and on back of the block and cleaned all of the wire ends very well and re-tightened them down. Everything was pretty clean before and there was no corrosion so I don't know if me cleaning it all did anything.

I also removed the wiring harness block on the engine compartment side to check for water or corrosion but found neither. I did spray electrical contact spray on all of the male and female connectors and used a copper brush of the male connectors just to be sure.

So today we drove into town and did six startups at different places and so far no issues of the car dying, issues with the dash lights, or starter solenoid noise.

I'm still not convinced anything is fixed since this has been an intermittent problem and all of the grounds that I cleaned were not really dirty or corroded. It's not been raining since yesterday so maybe that is why no issues are coming up.

Thanks for the input.

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