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328 cranking, but not starting?

Discussion in '308/328' started by Mule, Jun 10, 2007.

  1. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Jun 25, 2003
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    1989 328 GTS

    I have been driving it over the last few weeks, and it would not start today. Of course it is a sunny warm day in Alaska, which is rare. I did some searches, which helped me clarify the symptoms.

    Symptoms:
    - Cranks easily, battery and connections good
    - Not catching or close to firing
    - Small smell of fuel
    - Some clicks from the relays at first crank, but then none.
    - All fuses good
    - 3/4 full tank of gas
    - I do not hear the usual hum/buzz at key position II before cranking.

    I know that the fuses pull out fairly easily. Do those relays above them just pull straight out or is there a release or trick? I pulled lightly on one and it did not budge, so I did not want to break it.

    I hope it is just the relay or something simple. No degradation at all, just fine one day, then nothing.

    Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. Steve Magnusson

    Steve Magnusson Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 11, 2001
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    The first checks should be:

    1. Unplug the safety switch at the airflow meter and turn the key "on" -- confirm/deny (audibly) if the fuel pump runs -- it should (and if it does try starting again and report result).

    2. Use a timing light and confirm/deny if spark is present on the plug wires during the starter motor cranking.

    There are several things in the injection system that can cause "just fine one day, then nothing", but the first decision is (still) fuel, spark, or air? (and it's hard to not have air ;))
     
  4. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Steve,
    Thank you for your patience, since I have seen your replies in the other threads I've searched.

    1. With the blue wire disconected, the pump comes on, though right now the battery is on the charger, so I could not attempt to start it. I wore it down checking things.
     
  5. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Steve,
    Car does not start with blue wire disconnected. Unfortunately, I do not have a timing light or something to test the wires at home. Car is back on the charger.

    Anything else to look for, considering my lack of timing light?

    Thanks for the help so far.
     
  6. DGS

    DGS Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Check if the fuel pump runs with the key in "on" with the blue connector connected. If so, you're pumping fuel into the intakes before you start, and it could be too rich (flooded).

    I did some fuel pressure checks on my car (engine off), and it wouldn't start at all afterwards, with a strong fuel smell. A week later, it fired right up (after the excess fuel had evaporated).

    You should have some relay clicks each time you turn the key to "on" from off -- the main relay, the fuel pump safety relay, etc.

    For spark, you can get a spark tester at most auto parts stores -- something to sit between the plug and wire (or in this case, between the extender and wire) that shows the spark.

    You need fuel, air and spark. Fuel can be too little or too much, and it won't fire. Losing both banks of spark at the same time on one of these cars could be expensive -- the Marelli -- or the flywheel sensors. So I'd guess fuel. (Or a newspaper in the starboard side scoop.)
     
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  8. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Thank you for the reply. The car will not start with the blue connector on or off. When it is disconnected, I can hear the fuel pump. By now, it may be flooded, though I did not change anything in my starting technique or anything else from the last successful drive.

    I do get the clicks from the relays. Even swapped both fuel pump related ones. No change.

    I am not able to get a spark plug tester today, though that may be a large step in diagnosing I know.

    No newspapers or small moose in the intake path.

    Other thoughts: It did happen all at once, so something is loose or failed or disconnected somewhere. Car was fine as I backed it into the garage after the last drive. Can't think of anything that may have occured since.

    Everytime I have started the car in the past, there is a hum before cranking. Now there is not. It sounded different from the fuel pump noise when I had the blue wire disconnected, and sounds like it is inside the car. Someone said it may be the ABS pump. I don't know, but that sound is one definite difference from when it worked.

    Thanks for your brainpower guys.
     
  9. wolftalk

    wolftalk Formula Junior

    Jan 27, 2004
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    Just because the pump is running doesn't mean fuel is being metered to the injectors. The airflow plate inside the fuel distribution head must also be depressed for fuel pressure to be high enough to open the injector, and that only happens when cranking/running. There is, however, one exception.

    that'd be the exception. If while doing the pressure checks you close the valve to cut off the pathway through the WUR, then you create enough pressure in the distributor to open the injectors when the airflow plate is in the rest position. You should look at the pressure and open the valve again immediately.

    assuming the wur is connected, you can run the fuel pump all day without dumping fuel into the intake runners.

    you can test the flywheel sensors with an ohmeter from the diagnostic connector, but I'd probably chase over to the auto parts place as dgs suggested and get one of those cheap inline spark testers. That'll eliminate a bunch of potential problems.

    since the ca parts place is no-go today, might as well check the fuses and the connectors along the edges of the fuse panel. Look for blackened plastic.

    the other fuse to check is over on the relay on the fuel ecu plate (passenger side of trunk under the carpet under the antenna), but if that one goes the frequency valve won't buzz when the fuel pump is running.

    if you turn on the key and the abs pump doesn't make a noise, try swapping relay U for another one of the same kind. I don't know if relay U is in the circuit, though, as I can't find a schem with ABS at the moment.
     
  10. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Thanks, Phil. About the only thing I could check tonight was the fuse under the antenna. It was good.

    I had already checked the fuses up front, but certainly could have missed something.

    Time to call it quits for this evening. Thanks for all of the help so far. With 20 hours of daylight up here, I need to get out and enjoy it.
     
  11. Steve Magnusson

    Steve Magnusson Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Of course, but you're putting too much finesse or expectation on this FIRST test. It's more the other condition that gives useful information -- i.e., safety switch unplugged with key "on" and the fuel pump doesn't run = the engine isn't gonna run so stop cranking it over until you get that corrected first. Since he reports passing the "audio" fuel pump test with the safety switch unplugged, IMO it would be more useful to confirm/deny ignition before getting the fuel pressure gauges out -- was just trying to give him some easy preliminary tests.
     
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  13. wolftalk

    wolftalk Formula Junior

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    #10 wolftalk, Jun 11, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    hey steve,

    the comment about the fuel pump was refuting the statement that disconnecting the blue plug and running the pump would flood the intake.

    if the pump runs with the blue plug out, then only a completely blocked fuel filter/line would result in the engine not firing at all due to a fuel system issue. Even if the injection ecu was dead and/or the frequency valve wasn't running, the engine should at least stumble and die....assuming a rodent didn't gnaw through a fuel hose and drain the tanks :)

    so my suggesting the fuse on the injection ecu protection relay was a bad idea...doesn't match the symptoms.

    the problem is almost certainly with the ignition system or the upstream electricals. If the ABS pump is not running, an issue with the fuse box, relays, or ignition switch would seem most likely.

    if the alternator light doesn't come on with the key in the run position, then the ignition switch is probably not passing 12V to terminal 15, which would also kill power to the ignition ecu.

    anyway, here's the diagram of the diag connector again, which can be used to verify power at the coils (if it's there, the ignition switch is ok) and measure the resistance of the flywheel tdc sensor.
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  14. DGS

    DGS Four Time F1 World Champ
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    ... presuming the injector opening pressure is right. But if the injectors are 18 years old, ...

    One of my complaints about early Bosch injection systems is that a lot of little things can go wrong, and it will still work -- more or less. So they don't get fixed. And then, when it stops completely, you have an engine bay full of red herrings. And no OBD.
     
  15. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Well, up here we have engine bays full of pink salmon!

    Update:
    Wel, I guess I said the right prayers before bed last night. I thought about some other threads where guys talked about the alarm systems messing up their cars. Mine has an old Alpine system in it that I do not use. So, I set the alarm, then turned it off, hoping to reset something in the ignition. I knew the car was flooded from yesterday's fun and the headache I had from the fumes.

    Knowing it was flooded, I pressed the accelerator and it sputtered to life. Very rough, but smoothing out a little. I do not have time this morning to continue, but I have progress.

    I have no idea if the alarm had anything to do with it, or pure dumb luck. I will take it out tonight and see if any other problems arise. I do know that I may not have fixed the problem, only that it may be intermittent, so this thread may continue where it left off.

    Thanks for all of the help; I will post results tonight.
     
  16. homiedaclown

    homiedaclown Rookie

    Jun 11, 2007
    4
    Guys-

    I own a 348 and my Brother owns a 328 that had not been driven in about two years with 17K on it. That is another story, but I started in Saturday, drove it twice, then Sunday when washing it, I could not get it to Start. Cranks fine, I can smell a but of fuel while cranking it.

    Where is the safety switch at the intake that is listed as the first item to do if the car wont fire? Is it odd for a car to fire after sitting for so long then not start the next day?
     
  17. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Well, I got home tonight and it started right up. Drove it for a while and everything was normal.

    So:
    1. Car was flooded and would not start on Sunday, and I didn't think to press the gas pedal, or
    2. Some electrical glitch that happened once, or
    3. The beginning of an intermittant problem, that I think is electrical and not fuel.

    Thanks for the help so far. Hopefully this is the end of it....

    Homie,
    Is yours the 328 or the 348? If the 328, the wire is blue and on the fuel "distributer" just left of the airbox, close to the trunk. If you have the 348, you may want to post your question in the 348 section. Best of luck!
     
  18. homiedaclown

    homiedaclown Rookie

    Jun 11, 2007
    4
    Thanks Mule!

    Mine is the 328. Glad to know that yours started up! After reading yours I went out to try and start it and no luck. I am getting a bit of that fuel smell. I guess we will check in the next couple days. Thanks for the insight.
     
  19. homiedaclown

    homiedaclown Rookie

    Jun 11, 2007
    4
    Thanks Mule!

    Mine is the 328. Glad to know that yours started up! After reading yours I went out to try and start it and no luck. I am getting a bit of that fuel smell. I guess we will check in the next couple days. Thanks for the insight.
     
  20. wolftalk

    wolftalk Formula Junior

    Jan 27, 2004
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    if the injectors leak, the residual fuel pressure will bleed off through them after shutdown and you'd have warm start problems. Cranking for a long time will flood the engine, running the fuel pump by itself won't.

    getting off that soapbox, if you removed the alarm, you most likely fixed the problem. Most alarm systems are inserted in the power line to the coils so they can disable ignition, and the usual way to do that is to cut the wire from the ignition switch.

    if the alarm is still in there, and you don't use it or you want to keep it for something like remote door unlock, I'd find where they chopped into the ignition circuit and put that back to factory.

    wrt the 328 not starting after washing, check for water in the plug wells (not common on a 328), and more likely water over by the coils and/or the electrical connections near the rear drivers side shock.
     
  21. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    That may be it. When I get some more free time (and my daily driver truck back from the shop), I will dig into where the alarm is. I do see the small Alpine box in the passenger footwell. Still don't know if that was it or not, but right now, I am not complaining.

    Thanks again for the help.
     
  22. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    So, nine years later, the exact thing happened again.

    First start of the season - I charged the battery, checked the air pressure, and turned the key. About 4 seconds of cranking and it fired right up. I backed it into the driveway, and shut it down to go into the house for a minute.

    When I tried to re-start it, it was the exact conditions as post #1, and would not re-start:

    - Cranks easily, battery and connections good
    - Not catching or close to firing
    - Small smell of fuel
    - Some clicks from the relays at first crank, but then none.
    - All fuses good
    - 3/4 full tank of gas

    Thinking it was flooded, I let it sit for an hour and tried again. It kind of caught just once, so I was optimistic it was just flooded. After a few hours, it would not start, so I pushed it back into the garage.

    This morning, I tried again, and nothing but cranking without spark. I pulled a plug, and it was a little wet, but not soaked. There was a little bit of fuel smell from the pipes.

    I tried again, and started on the first crank, like it was new. Drove it out into the driveway, and let it run for about 20 minutes, then shut it off. Tried to start it again nervously, but it fired right back up.

    So, a thought - when I first started it, it was probably running rich, like the choke was on until it warmed a little. Maybe I shut it off too soon, and flooded it. But it seemed like there was no spark at all for two days, then (without me doing anything), it just cranked. Could the computer have been stuck in any kind of mode that didn't want to start?
     
  23. spicedriver

    spicedriver F1 Rookie

    Feb 1, 2011
    3,093
    Sounds like you either have a fuel problem, or an ignition problem. Isolate by getting a spare spark plug. The next time it won't start, pull one of the plug wires and connect your spare plug. Lay the plug on an exposed metal part of the engine so there is a ground. When you crank the engine, you should see a good spark there. You can also do this by pulling one of the plugs out of the engine and using that one. If you have 2 coils, it's probably not a bad coil, because the engine will run on just 1 bank. It becomes a 4 cyl. engine. You can run the car with no fuel by spraying starting fluid into the fuel distributor. Press the metering vane down, and get the starting fluid inside the fuel distributor. The engine will keep running as long as you keep spraying the starting fluid in. Wet plugs do not like to fire. Try cleaning all the plugs with a propane torch if they are wet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vi3M3vJDKk

    If the car won't start with clean plugs, and starting fluid, it's probably not getting any spark.

    My car has a Marelli Ignition Module. I would suspect that as being faulty if there were no spark.
     
  24. andyww

    andyww F1 Rookie

    Feb 7, 2011
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    #21 andyww, May 31, 2016
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
    The alarm system, if still fitted, has to be the primary suspect.

    Secondary would be crank sensor. If this type of crank sensor, which is a simple coil, develops a shorted turn or gets caked with dirt and gives low output the car will often run fine and also start fine on first turn of the key sometimes, but fail to start after some cranking when the battery voltage is lower.

    The sensor connections go through plugs next to the top of the LH shock so worth checking for corrosion here and also the multi-pin Molex plug next to these. These can be accessed by removing the LH wheelarch liner.
     
  25. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    Thank you Spice and Andy,

    From the symptoms both times, it seems there is no spark, then miraculously it has spark. Something electrical is intermittent, but only happens once a decade (I hope).
     
  26. Elentinos

    Elentinos Formula Junior

    Sep 8, 2011
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    Try the flywheel sensors. Mine were bad and got to the point that they just could give the signal to the ignition module. Most of the time there was no problem, only once in a while. Changed them and no starting problems since.
     
  27. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
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    I think that will be next on my list. As far as my records go, they are original.

    Thank you
     
  28. furmano

    furmano Two Time F1 World Champ
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    +1

    My flywheel sensor went bad a couple of years ago. Car would crank but not turn over.

    -F
     

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