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Nerk 06-11-2013 12:56 PM

SOS! Car won't start!
So long story long... (sorry, I just don't see a way around this)

I had a trip planned out to Tennesse to hit up the tail of the dragon, diamond back and devils triangle last Wednesday (awesome roads to drive, a must if you're ever down there). So I wanted to see about getting AC working cause I figured it would be hot and muggy down there.

So I took my E30 to work on the Monday previous to that (we figured out that the condenser was leaking). on my way into work, I noticed some little hicups, or misfires while pushing on hard on the throttle, so much that I had to put on my hazards while merging on the 401. I managed to get to the garage by just lightly accelerating. The mechanic the was doing the AC work took it for a test drive with me before I left, on first thought, he guessed it might be the distributor cap and rotor. So I went to work and left the car with them to do the AC work and troubleshoot why this problem just started happening,

Turns out, they simply cleaned the distributor cap, since it didn't show any major signs of wear and sourcing a new one could take a day or two, but he did say my spark plugs where worn out, so they replaced those...

So drove the car home that night (a 50km stretch), and everything was running better than ever, the hiccups on acceleration were gone, engine running smoothly, AC was actually working quite nicely too, but the mechanic did point out I had a weak compressor.

So I got home, turned the car off, did a little things around the house before I had to head to band practice just down the street (maybe a couple hours). The car started to act funny again... but this time, just sitting there at idle... I sent a message to my mechanic thinking the cap and rotor might have to be replaced afterall... Anyhow, I was going to bring it back in on my way to work the next morning, again there was a few misfires and hiccups on the way, but this time, it was just while cruising on the 401 and not on acceleration... I was going to bring my car in on my lunch hour, but decided to test drive the car a bit before bringing it in again... sure enough, it was acting fine so I didn't end up bringing it in to the garage,

On my way home that night (Tuesday night) I lost all power for a good 10 seconds, I can push on the gas and nothing happened, I pulled over onto the shoulder and feathered the accelerator a bit and got power back and made it home... I called my mechanic once again, and he came over my house to help out... We straightened out the mass air flow sensor (it was tilting down slightly), replaced the distributor cap and rotor from a known good engine I have sitting in my garage and those hiccups seems to have gone away, but he did say he's hearing a lot of spark knock as if I was running lean, we checked for vacuum leaks, but didn't find anything... So at this point we were thinking maybe it was the mass airflow sensor that went bad... We sourced one out in Windsor so the plan was drive the BMW and replace it before crossing over the border to head down to Tennessee... Well, the car didn't even make it past our local church just a few hundred meters away from my house...

Needless to say, I didn't take my E30 for this road trip... had to drive my pontiac vibe :(

I did replaced the mass air flow sensor last night, but still no luck... So right now I'm at a loss... not sure what to check next...

So far we've ruled out:
  • Mass Air Flow Sensor
  • Distributor cap/rotor
  • spark plugs

Some history about the car, it went through a complete fuel system/exhaust overhaul up to the engine bay (new cat/muffler, o2 sensor, fuel pump, fuel filter, tank)

Our next thing to try I guess would be the ECU, I do have a Turner Motorsports chip and going to try putting the stock one back in...

Any other ideas, has anyone else experienced a similar dilemma?


T.Dot_E30 06-11-2013 01:11 PM

Sounds electrical like something is loose...

Check that all your engine grounds and body/battery/etc connections are all tight.
Check your fusable link in the trunk, it could have cracked and come loose or broken/rusted some how.

As it currently sits, does it start? Does it idle fine?

Nerk 06-27-2013 01:03 PM

Towed it to our local E30 expert...

If anyone can fix it, its Alex at ACP here in Windsor.

So far I managed to get it started, but won't keep idle,... its got a hiccup at 1400rpm and sometimes just dies out...

Not sure where he's at with it now... hopefully it will be fixed by the 17th, if so I may be going lapping at Cayuga with it... If not... I'll ride passenger in my buddies E46 M3 with comp package :)

But would really rather be driving my e30 around the track...

325isdan 06-27-2013 01:37 PM

Could the alternator be going?? I know when they do finally go it seems like your car is going to vomit engine pieces everywhere.

DIY 06-27-2013 01:54 PM

I had something veeeeery similar recently .. Turned out my suspension had rattled the ground wire loose from the shock tower.. And another wire from my coil pack! ... Look at those good because I went through a ecu, fuel pressure and also just replaced the injectors and ignition syst. I also had instanced where it would work one day and not the next, for a period it would run fine, and then just stop. I didn't notice it was wires until I was stuck on the side of the highway where my motor just wouldn't fire ... So check your wires!

Nerk 06-27-2013 04:08 PM

ok cool,

I'll check...


Roysneon 07-04-2013 11:11 AM

Did you ever get this figured out?

Nerk 07-04-2013 12:56 PM

I'll know tonight...

We changed the whole ignition system with one from a working car, and it was reported back to me that the car ran flawless with that...

it already has new plugs, the cap and rotor is pretty much brand new, so the only thing left is the wires, so replacing that tonight... hopefully she can make it home... Don't want to pay for towing again, that cost a pretty penny getting it out to the shop, doesn't help that I live out in the boonies either :)

Nerk 07-12-2013 03:51 PM

Oh, we also gapped the spark plugs to 0.4" instead of the stock 0.32" spec for a hotter spark... its running again without changing the wires, but I'm still going to considering I haven't done that yet since I got the car back in 2004... Not sure when they were replaced before that...

propr'one 07-12-2013 04:43 PM

weak ignitor?

Nerk 07-18-2013 01:17 PM

arghh... still misfiring, just took a couple hundred km's to get the symptoms back...

Something seems to be fouling up my plugs... :(

Blades 07-18-2013 01:27 PM

I'm going to say go back to the distributor because you took it off and it looked clean .. did you turn it by any chance? because that could cause the misfire if its off by a little. or maybe a plug is in the wrong place.

DIY 07-18-2013 01:37 PM

So you checked your ground wires?

Nerk 07-22-2013 02:03 PM

yeah, all secured and tight...

propr'one 07-22-2013 05:58 PM

is it flooded when it wont start?

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