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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an '04 with 182K miles. Runs like a champ most of the time, but today.... My daughter used it to drive to work today. She says it just died a couple of times while driving, once while turning and once just driving. I have had no problems like that and the battery is not that old - less than a year. No warning lights came on before it died on her. She was able to get it started again after a few tries. (I think I have been having the bad starter switch issue again- I have replaced it several times so taking a few tries is not unexpected.)
I went to drive it tonight and it would not start at all. It was turning over but not like it normally does. It was more of a whirring noise - like maybe just the starter is spinning and did not seem to be turning the engine over at all. I was thinking maybe bad starter, but that should not have caused it to just die while driving earlier? And... I tried starting it in gear and it wanted to move when the starter was turning. I didn't try that very hard since I didn't want to wreck anything else but it seems strange that it is not starting but it did seem to be engaged.
Where do I start to trouble shoot this. Can I eliminate the starter as a problem since it does seem to be engaged? If not that, where else should I look? The rest of the electrical seems to be working OK - radio, fan, dash lights etc. Maybe a starting system fuse or something? If so where would that be?
 

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I'd start with checking the grounds to make sure they're not corroded. I've seen that issue once with a balt ss and turned put to be a broken ground cable
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I presume that is in regards to the car dying while driving - but not related to the non-starting thing? That makes sense since the battery (and I assume the ground you referenced) is in the very leaky trunk. But...If the ground is bad then nothing electrical would be working, right?

My dad-in-law suggested checking the fuel filter. I have not changed it since I bought the car - about 60K ago. I found a thread detailing how to do that and have a question. It says to relieve the fuel pressure by running the car dry. If I cannot get it to turn over there is no way I am going to do it that way. If I take the filter off under pressure how much are we talking about? Any other way to depressurize it?
 

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That was in regards to both. Theres a few grounds under the hood as well.
Fueling could be an issue. If you have access to a fuel pressure tester id try that. Fuel filters are cheap, not a bad idea to do it anyway.

If I remember correctly its around 45psi at the rail.
Could pull the gas cap, pull the pump relay from the fuse box, and try to crank it. Should bleed off pressure.
Shrader valve at the rail will also tell you if it's still under pressure.
 

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The whirring noise from the starter is the bendix not engaging to push out the gear to the flywheels ring to crank the motor. Usually this points to a faulty solenoid. This being said, it very well could be a voltage issue as the other members above have said about the grounding points. Start there because it is the cheapest thing first. Please post them results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
But..if the bendix was not engaging would the car still try to move when I turn the starter over? The battery ground in the trunk doesn't look too bad but I will clean it off anyway. I still need to locate the ground points in the front.

I started with the basics - compression. spark, fuel. Well, I sort of skipped compression since that should be a catastrophic enough failure to notice from working normally when it was parked to not starting a few hours later. My gauge doesn't have an extender that will fit in the plug wells anyway. I checked the plugs and all four were really worn and looked like they had a gap of about .050 or more. Not my primary suspect though since I would expect rough running over time and not a total failure to start. They all four would not likely fail at the same time. I put new plugs in and cleaned the air filter while I was at it. (What a PITA to get that out. I am going to have to put the filter in and try to get the top to seal itself when I put it on. Otherwise I would need to try to disconnect the radiator hose in order to make room to get the whole thing back in....)

I got a new fuel filter and am stuck again. I got the two push connectors off but cannot get the fuel line disconnected. I got the tool from Autozone that is just two metal pieces which swivel to accommodate 4 different sizes. The smallest one looks like the closest fit but it is impossible - so far - to get it inserted more than about 1/2 way. I pulled as hard as I could and can not get the filter off. I twisted it around several times and can hear the tabs grinding but it is not coming off. I tried tapping the tool in but that hasn't worked out so far. I wonder if I can just cut the fuel line at the filter and if there will be enough room to put the replacement on and still get it to clamp to the body? And the new one...it has a plastic clip in the end and not the metal tabs. Should I take that back to Autozone (Duralast brand) and ask for a FRAM or some other one? Most of the other brands I look up have metal tabs. I don't know if this plastic clip is better, worse or?? I don't care how long it lasts since I expect to sell or trade it in a few months. I just want it to work well.

I am going out again today to battle this F****r and it is supposed to start a stretch of rain tonight so --- yuck! I need to get this done. Thanks for any insight or miracle cures! I know I probably should have taken this one step at at time and tried each step separately but I thought it would be so easy to just crank it all out at once.....ugh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
But..if the bendix was not engaging would the car still try to move when I turn the starter over? The battery ground in the trunk doesn't look too bad but I will clean it off anyway. I still need to locate the ground points in the front.

I started with the basics - compression. spark, fuel. Well, I sort of skipped compression since that should be a catastrophic enough failure to notice from working normally when it was parked to not starting a few hours later. My gauge doesn't have an extender that will fit in the plug wells anyway. I checked the plugs and all four were really worn and looked like they had a gap of about .050 or more. Not my primary suspect though since I would expect rough running over time and not a total failure to start. They all four would not likely fail at the same time. I put new plugs in and cleaned the air filter while I was at it. (What a PITA to get that out. I am going to have to put the filter in and try to get the top to seal itself when I put it on. Otherwise I would need to try to disconnect the radiator hose in order to make room to get the whole thing back in....)

I got a new fuel filter and am stuck again. I got the two push connectors off but cannot get the fuel line disconnected. I got the tool from Autozone that is just two metal pieces which swivel to accommodate 4 different sizes. The smallest one looks like the closest fit but it is impossible - so far - to get it inserted more than about 1/2 way. I pulled as hard as I could and can not get the filter off. I twisted it around several times and can hear the tabs grinding but it is not coming off. I tried tapping the tool in but that hasn't worked out so far. I wonder if I can just cut the fuel line at the filter and if there will be enough room to put the replacement on and still get it to clamp to the body? And the new one...it has a plastic clip in the end and not the metal tabs. Should I take that back to Autozone (Duralast brand) and ask for a FRAM or some other one? Most of the other brands I look up have metal tabs. I don't know if this plastic clip is better, worse or?? I don't care how long it lasts since I expect to sell or trade it in a few months. I just want it to work well.

I am going out again today to battle this F****r and it is supposed to start a stretch of rain tonight so --- yuck! I need to get this done. Thanks for any insight or miracle cures! I know I probably should have taken this one step at at time and tried each step separately but I thought it would be so easy to just crank it all out at once.....ugh.
Wow - I finally got the filter off. Once it was off I tried pounding the tool straight down into the old filter and it would not go in more than maybe 1/4 inch so maybe the tool is bollocks. I can't see how that would get in far enough to free the tabs. Which, BTW, are a free floating ring. I assumed they were attached to the inside of the filter. I ended up just twisting it back and forth enough to munge up the tabs. I was able to bust up the ring with a small flat blade screwdriver and get the filter off. It did scratch up the back side of the fuel line but did not cut it.
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Important program note: Do NOT cut the fuel line. It has a ridge about 1" from the end which catches on to the filter. Whew! Thank goodness I was not that desperate - yet. Dropping the fuel tank to replace the whole line was a whole 'nother level of "I don't think so".
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I am going with the filter I have (Duralast). For anyone who - like me - was careless when taking the red cover off of the new filter and not noticing the orientation of the plastic plug, it goes open end facing out. I was wondering how that held on to the fuel line so I tried it both ways. It holds on securely once the lip on the fuel line goes past the clips on the side.
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I do wonder, however, how one would replace this since the fuel line connection 'tool' I bought would do nothing for this connector.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
When all is said and done...no luck. I cleaned the ground in the trunk and one in front near the air filter. I put new plugs in and verified there was spark when the starter ran. New fuel filter in place and is not leaking, that I can tell. Still, it sounds like the starter is just running - with the bendix not engaged but the car does try to move if I turn it over while in gear.
I heard a clicking noise- a relay maybe - which seemed to come from somewhere under the valve cover - each time the key was turned. Sometimes it would turn over, other times it just clicked.

I see a fitting with a black cap in front of the fuel rail. It has what looks like a tire pressure valve sticking out there and I am betting that is the Schrader valve. Soon as my ride gets home I will head up to Autozone for loaner fuel line tester.
Could something dramatic have happened with the injection system and maybe it is not pumping any fuel in?
 

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How waa the pressure when you disconnected the fuel filter? Did it blast out?
And clicking would be a battery or starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nothing blasted out when I disconnected the snap on connections. It just kind of dribbled. It will turn over and when it does it seems strong, just doesn't kick in. Of course it is getting a little weaker since I drain it more each time I try. I can re-charge it and start over but want to rule out other problems as well. I am not sure about the starter since it does move the car when I try starting it in gear. Would still do that if the starter was not engaging? I plan on getting to AZ today to borrow their fuel line pressure tool.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Dad in law suggested blowing through the old filter to see if it was clogged. It apparently was not as I was able to blow through it somewhat, but the gas I had poured out of it when I removed it was pretty black?

Got the fuel pressure tester hooked up to the Schrader valve. No noticeable pressure once the fuel pump finished priming with the key in 'Run'. Didn't change when I cranked it - although I didn't expect anything else from an electric fuel pump. It should run all the time, I believe. I did get a couple of cc's of fuel to bleed out of the tool when I reset the gauge. It also dripped very slowly at the valve while the tester was hooked up and the line was pressurized - such as it is.

Does that suggest it is likely a bad fuel pump? Will that go out, bam, just like that? Or maybe dying while driving the other day might be consistent with that going?

Anything/anywhere else I should test before I take the tool back? I read that the pump is pretty easy to install but I need to drop the tank to do it. Have to find somewhere to put 6-8 gallons of gas first. Could be a problem...
 

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Well no fuel pressure would be a good starting point.
They are fairly easy to replace. Just be careful, all the hard plastic lines are brittle.
While the car is down for a fuel pump, you can have the starter tested at a parts store for free. Can save you a few bucks.
Parts are getting pricey these days
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Before I take the tank all the way out...I wonder about verifying the fuel pump more first? I saw a YT video with someone bench-testing a pump. The fluid came out pretty readily on that one but it was hooked directly to a 12v source.

Rather than pull the tank off and the pump out can I just disconnect the hoses going to the filter and turn the key to see what the pump produces? I got no pressure at the rail but will the pump still put fuel out at the pump itself or would you expect there to be significantly less flow if mine is indeed bad? It only runs for about 15 seconds - is that enough time to see that there is or is not viable fuel pump pressure?

Getting the tank out doesn't look all that challenging - a few fuel lines, the electrical plug and both straps. Videos seem to imply I should be able to work it out without removing any exhaust components. I'd just rather not mess with siphoning 5-6 gallons of gas out and watching out for brittle plastic connectors etc. if this would confirm the fuel pump as the issue...or not.

Not to mention the forecast for the next week is either cold, rain or both!!
 

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You can do that. But that won't verify adequate pressure to the rail. You can check the fuse first. Make sure power is getting to the pump.
It won't hurt to do it like that. But you'll know for sure if you don't take a shower in gas, its a bad pump.

Your weather sounds about like mine here in East texas.
But were getting random drops into the 30s and 40s for a couple days, them back up to 70s and 80s
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You can do that. But that won't verify adequate pressure to the rail. You can check the fuse first. Make sure power is getting to the pump.
It won't hurt to do it like that. But you'll know for sure if you don't take a shower in gas, its a bad pump.

Your weather sounds about like mine here in East texas.
But were getting random drops into the 30s and 40s for a couple days, them back up to 70s and 80s
So if I do take it off and get 12v power to it I still don't know if it is pressurizing correctly? How would I test that? I seem to have a weather break today so I am going to at least see about the shower part :) I would like to rule the pump out or not if I can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OK, turned the key on and got about a cup of fuel the first time. Nothing on subsequent turns so I guess I can confirm the pump is bad. I assume I can skip checking the fuse since it would not run at all if that was bad? Got the tank out - it got a little hung up on the heat shielding on the front side (I think) but I managed to wiggle it out. May be interesting getting it back in.
I found that the jack point I was using was right in the way of sliding the tank out so I had to re-position the jack a little. I am only jacking it on one corner so I hope I can figure out how to get the heat shield on the tank to slide into/under/next to the piece on the frame. Not much room for me to get that far up under there. Sure wish I had a hoist! Guess I might try jacking more from the side instead of back by the wheel.
 

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Yep. Pump is dying a slow painful death. Lmao
Power is good since you got fuel from it.

Sounds like youre on the right path. Just wait for reinstall 😂 its soooooo muchhhhh funnnn
 

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