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PLEASE HELP - 99 Base Lude ran outta gas, now it wont start

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Old 07-20-2012, 02:41 AM
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Icon9 PLEASE HELP - 99 Base Lude ran outta gas, now it wont start

Hopefully someone here can help me figure this out because I'm hitting a wall here. Heres a little history:

I have a 99 base prelude that I bought used about 1.5 years ago from a dude on craigslist. It was my baby and I had it running smooth until about 8 months ago when I gave it to my fiance (I got a WRX ). The previous owner had done a *proper* 5-speed MT swap on it (with ECU jumper and everything) so there are plenty of unused connectors under the hood... Anyways, besides an AEM V2, headers, EGR block-off, and exhaust, the only other mod the previous owner had done was install a MSD 6 series ignition with a blaster SS coil. As I said, it was running fine until about 6 months ago when it progressively started burning more and more oil... I have assumed that its the piston rings and/or valve seals, but I havent had any time to take on fixing all that. Besides the oil consumption, It was still running fine, until about a month ago. My fiance, who'd been driving it, told me that it had been idling rough, sometimes hesitated, and had a blinking CEL (misfire). So I did a little tune up on it about 3 weeks ago...

Heres what I did:

--New spark plugs(NGK), spark plug wires(NGK), and replaced dizzy cap and rotor
--Adjusted valve lash clearance (within spec)
--Reinstalled EGR valve and cleaned out/replaced EGR ports on the manifold
--cleaned out IAC valve

So after doing all that, I drove the car home across town that night. I'd put half a tank of gas (premium) in it on the way. It drove good, none of the symptoms she had told me. So she drove it to work the next day and called me at lunch time telling me the car ran out of gas and she was stuck on the side of the road... There is no way it would have burned half a tank just from her driving to I went out and put 2 gallons in it, however it wouldnt start. Ended up towing it to my parents house, where it has sat and not started since.

After checking it out, I discovered one of the injector o-rings had failed after I reinstalled them after the tune up... so that explained the gas consumption. I went ahead and replaced all the gaskets/o-rings for all 4 cylinders... so I thought the problem was solved however it still wont start.

So here is what I've done/tested/found out (mostly per the Helms manual):

-Fuel is not an issue because the spark plugs smell of gas when taken out and I can hear the fuel pump priming when I put the key in (I assume this means the Main relay is good)
--Battery was charged and tested good
--All fuses checked out good and I even replaced the 100A battery fuse under the hood
--All Grounds (upgraded to 0 ga wire) are good and tight and I even added a few extras
--Havent tested the compression yet, but it doesnt seem to be getting any spark... Ive tested this several ways...with spark plug plugged in, but threads grounded with a wire, I also went and bought a spark plug tester, and I also followed the MSD website's diagnostic procedure... all with no luck
--All the MSD wiring was good so I decided to remove the MSD Ignition box and Wire it to just the MSD coil... still no luck... I dont have the original stock coil, so idk if one or both of the MSD components have failed

Now on top of not finding out anything useful by testing, I'm still confused as to how/why would a car be running fine, run out of gas, and then the ignition system no longer works... I guess it would have to be a huge coincidence for the car to run out of gas at the very same time as some other part of the car/ignition broke/failed?

...So after checking all this stuff out, here is what I'm thinking could be the problem(s):

--Either MSD Ignition box OR MSD Coil (not sure how to test the coil itself)
--Possibly the Scytek alarm with remote start, which I installed myself and has not given me a single problem since I put it in... I'm currently in the process of removing all of the remote start components of the alarm and checking all the wiring... Will report back tomorrow
--Factory Immobilizer?
--Compression maybe? Will rent a tester on the way home from work tomorrow morning

Im pretty good with wiring and testing with a multimeter, I can tear an engine apart and rebuild it no problem, and I know just about every inch of this prelude... but Ive gotten to the point where Im running out of ideas. I have always come to these forums for help/guidance by reading other peoples' threads, but this is my first thread I've started, so I really hope you guys will be able to help me out.

Any insight or point in the right direction would be much appreciated... And thanks for reading this mini-novel on the history of my poor prelude
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:05 PM
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Re: PLEASE HELP - 99 Base Lude ran outta gas, now it wont start

Ok heres an update... I finished checking and rechecking all the wiring and fuses under the dash. I removed all the remote start components from the alarm as well as the immobilizer bypass module... which I found was not grounded... so all that is left is the basic alarm: keyless entry, horn, security LED, etc... I also pulled every fuse inside and under the hood and replaced every one that didnt look like brand new.

I havent actually attempted to start it like normal because, this morning I bought a compression tester (not bad for $30) and I tested the cylinders in what I believe was the correct procedure... I pulled the fuel pump fuses in drivers side fuse box and I also disconnected the coil-to-dizzy wire and grounded it (just in case it decided to spark) I then proceeded to check each cylinder....

First time around I tested the compression as the engine was... meaning that is has been parked for 3 weeks to a month, so the pistons were dry... I took 2 readings per cylinder @ WOT dry, and then I poured about a tablespoon of oil into the cylinders and then took 2 more readings each.

Here's what I got:

Cylinder # - Dry/Wet
Cyl 1 - 30 / 70
Cyl 2 - 65 / 145
Cyl 3 - 60 / 235
Cyl 4 - 60 / 230

So, If it wasnt the spark, the car not starting damn sure had something to do with the pitiful compression in the dry ass cylinders.

So now I'm about to go back out there and recheck the ignition and everything and see if it acts any different when I try to start it.

My question now is why would cylinder 1 be so bad, cyl 2 be only a little better and 3 + 4 seem pretty much alright? is that just the piston rings and/or valve seals being pretty much dead, or could it have something to do with the valve adjustment I did?
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Old 07-21-2012, 02:14 AM
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Re: PLEASE HELP - 99 Base Lude ran outta gas, now it wont start

normally i stay off the 5th gen forum cuz i own a 4th so electronics are way different. but since youve got a compression issue there i can give my opinion on that. you said it was consuming oil so there was obviously a possible ring issue before the car ran out of gas. your head gasket may also be a possibility though. since 1 and 2 had low readings, there may be a leak between those two cylinders. 1 might have been lower only because you did it first and the oil hadnt fully lubed the cylinder yet. since the guy did the manual swap, egr block, and msd ignition, he probably raced and redlined it a few times. normally of course only going a few times wont affect it too much, but the car is 13 years old.
i know this sounds bad but i think its better than having to replace your piston rings because of the chance you might need to resurface the cylinders.
200,000 miles and counting. Only real motors with real drivers last this long.
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Old 07-21-2012, 03:56 PM
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Re: PLEASE HELP - 99 Base Lude ran outta gas, now it wont start

As 671 said above, I would bet that it was driven pretty hard. Recheck your valve lash and do the compression check procedure again. One thing you can do is also let the tester sit for a few minutes after you finish cranking to see if it holds compression. You will be able to tell because the reading on the dial will gradually go down. Then it's on to a leak down test to see where you're leaking the air from. Also, check your oil for coolant and your coolant for oil. Valve seals could be bad too, causing you to slowly leak oil from the valvetrain and getting burned in the combustion chamber. So as of right now, the car will not start at all?
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ignition, no spark, won't start, wont start

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