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Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

 
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:25 PM
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Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

5th gen, 97, regular model, no after market items, 150K

Ok, I have been working on this issue for over a month after reading page upon page of other peoples problems.

Last month I started to work on my prelude due to some idling issues.
After following some posted suggestions, I bled the coolant to get any air out of the system and then topped the coolant off. Worked perfectly. the idle problems ceased and the car was working great.

The next day, i went out and tightened up the throttle wire as it was getting stretched out and loose. I jumped in the car, turned the key, cranked the engine but it never turned over. Put the throttle wire back where it originally was but still did not start.

I jumped back onto the threads and went through all of the issues.
Followed the items on this thread and others.
The FINAL "problem starting engine" thread!!!!!

Two weeks later, i thought I had it working. I drove it for a few days.

My dad topped off the coolant for me after he saw that it was a little low. (which is funny as I had topped it off two weeks before). Well, the next day, it started and got me to where I was going but then it would not start when I was trying to go home.

The Main relay works fine (even re soldered the solder points)
The fuel pump works just fine
The Battery is new
The starter is fine
The alternator is fine
The coil is fine, Igniter is fine, and it has new distributer cap and plugs
Checked all connections

We believe that is has something to do with the coolant leaking into the car somewhere but we are not sure where it is going. the reason for this is because the car has stopped turning over after topping off the coolant. After sitting for a few days, the coolant level goes down and the car will start. however, after driving it for a little while, it quits again. We are not seeing any puddles under the car so it is not leaving the car. we checked the spark plug chambers and there was only gas in them, no coolant.

Where could the stuff be going and what the heck is it doing to make it not work? That is the million dollar question.

Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated. As for now, I am driving my 98 GMC safari van and the mileage sucks.
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Old 12-11-2010, 02:56 PM
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Re: Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

I keep thinking "main relay" when I think of intermittent starting issues. It took me forever to figure it out the first time it happen to me in my Accord. But you said you checked that. Ive seen coolant cause idle issues before, but not usually starting issues. Sure your head gasket isn't leaking?
Oh also check for bad grounds. I've seen bad main grounds cause intermittent starting.
When you say it wont start....do you mean it still cranks? or not? If it doesn't crank either check the starter.
Otherwise check for spark and fuel while cranking.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:36 PM
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Re: Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

sometimes when you solder the main relays it comes out good and sometimes after a little time has passed they start failing again. try tapping on it while starting the car and see if that helps. as far as the coolant leak i would check for white spots from antifreeze spraying and drying. the main culprits are the top tank of the radiator and the heater hose under the dist. the top tank will get a crack in it and only spray out when the pressure in the system reaches a certain level. the crack closes back up until the pressure builds again. the heater hose gets saturated and swolen from oil leaks from the dist. and vtec solenoid and then gets a pin hole or just pops wide open. sometimes water pump weep holes will leak once the car gets hot. you know why they call it a weep hole? cause your gonna cry once it starts leaking....sorry couldn't help myself with some corny old school sayings. anyway you can see the weep hole the best from under the car. just look to the left of the oil filter(lying on your back looking up). you will see the edge of the water pump sticking out from under the timing cover. if it's dry then look elsewhere. hopefully not a bad head gasket. if you have a compression gauge some of them have an adapter on the top where the gauge goes that will hook up to an air hose/compressor. you can rotate the crank pully to close the valves and watch the radiator fill hole to see if air bubbles come out. be very careful! if you have a wrench on the pully when you hook up the air it may jump from the sudden pressure moving the piston. hook up the air and then slowly rotate the crank and check each cylinder.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:21 PM
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Re: Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

Quote:
Originally Posted by CTLude View Post
Sure your head gasket isn't leaking?
Oh also check for bad grounds. I've seen bad main grounds cause intermittent starting.
When you say it wont start....do you mean it still cranks? or not? If it doesn't crank either check the starter.
Otherwise check for spark and fuel while cranking.
I haven't noticed any leaking and we haven't checked for bad grounds yet.

Won't start means engine cranks and sounds really strong, it just won't turn over.

We already checked for spark and fuel with no issues.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:20 AM
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Re: Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

bad starter? bad distributor?>
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Old 12-12-2010, 01:15 PM
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Re: Car won't start most of the time and then quits after it has started

Here is more information on this problem:
This car started right up this morning after sitting over night, usually it takes days for the car to start up after the trouble begins. (And during these down times all types of electronic troubleshooting was done in an effort to find an electronic problem for why the car wouldn't start; battery, coil, ignitor, plugs, cap, rotor, wires, resolder relay, reset electrical connectors involving ignition).

After being able to start the car this morning soon after the idle began to oscillate due to low coolant, even though it was just filled recently, so very little run time is needed to have it go a quart low). I followed standard procedure in order to stop the idling oscillations; filled the radiator, keeping cap off and opened bleed nut until most of the air seemed out and the idle oscillations stopped. Engine idled fine at 600 RPM for about 15 minutes. Then I got inside the drivers seat and gave it a little gas for a second or so and it jumped up in RPM , but when I took the gas off the idle was not high enough to keep it running and the engine stalled because I did not have good control of the throttle using the gas pedal and couldn't rev the engine quick enough to keep it running. Then the car would not start up (my son calls starting, "turning over" which could be confused with engine cranking in his earlier post).

At this point, I think it is safe to discount an intermittent electronic problem. I suppose coolant is getting into the cylinders and that is the reason the car doesn't like to start, but seems to be able to run once it is started (after sitting for days to have the cylinders dry out?). That would explain where the coolant is going even when not being driven, only idling since if we take it anywhere we might not get back, thus I assume no coolant vaporizing with pressure while driving).

I will investigate the post that talked about checking for a cracked head gasket using a pressure and looking for bubbles in the radiator, not sure I understood how to execute it in practice being a novice, but seemed like a good method). Any other suggestions or guesses about what to check or try would be appreciated. BTW, a test with starting fluid was used to see if the low-ignition temperature would help start (weak spark etc), and it did NOTHING (plus, yes, we do see a spark while cranking the engine).

Note: The oil does not seem fouled with coolant, nor does the coolant seem to have any oil in it. I had the plugs off when we changed them and they seemed wet with gas (not coolant), though now I seem to remember that the gas seemed more viscus, more like a very light oil so that it was filling the gap in the spark plug, but it was clear color like gas. Maybe gas&coolant mix was too subtle for me to see? The reason I suspect coolant leaking into the cylinders is because the troubles started with a broken coolant hose and perhaps the car was allowed to overheat. Though the car ran fine for a couple months after the hose broke; but then the idle oscillations started because the coolant is now getting low regularly. Maybe it was a delayed effect?

Thanks for looking.
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