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Nice Weather is Here and My Vert is Down


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Coming home from the dentist today and my car started running like garbage. It was running fine at light throttle but any throttle beyond that and the car would bog down badly. There seemed to be a rattle coming from the engine when this occurred. It is not there all the time but over the last week or so I have noticed a rattle at times especially when idling. Tonight when I made it home I lifted the hood and looked and listened for any vibration or noise but all seemed good. I blipped the throttle and it stalled immediately. It was hard to restart but I did get it running well enough to pull it into the garage. I checked to see if there were any codes but besides a couple BCM history codes related to an old AC problem there were no codes set. The check engine light is not lit.

I replaced the coils and ICM about a month ago with new AC Delco (Motorola) parts as the old ICM was leaking badly. The car has run great since then and actually it ran great before then as well.

Any guesses or ideas? I am towing it to my mechanic tomorrow but with the holiday and all he probably won't get to it until next Tuesday. The car has just under 100K miles. I am suspecting that the harmonic balancer is bad but I don't know if the symptoms support that.

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The rattle would lead one to think that the Harmonic Balancer could be going bad. A good test would be to remove the serpentine belt and see if the noise goes away. The acceleration problem could be the Mass Air Flow sensor, or the Idle Air Control.

Maybe someone else will way in with more ideas...

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Greg,

The harmonic balancer usually makes some sort of noise for some time giving you awhile to get around to changing it before anything major would happen. If you weren't hearing anything unusual coming from the engine prior, it's unlikely that the HB swiftly deteriorated to the point of damaging the CPS.

Without actually being there it would be hard to diagnose. Maybe some others will step up with some ideas.

John F.

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Greg,

I re-read your post and see that you mention that there was an intermittent rattling noise in the week prior. That could be a HB going bad. There have been many descriptions of the noise. Mine is that it sounds like the noise made by the dice shaking inside the leather cup used in the game of cribbage played at Vic & Jim's Tap. You could search the forum for others description of the noise. In any event... the balancer would have had to rapidly lost considerable concentricity to wipe out the vanes on the CPS. Could happen, I guess, especially if it's the original balancer.

John F.

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check the harmonic balancer for any cracks in the rubber - on both sides. running for a little bit with the belt off with no noise - will confirm it is something belt driven. it may be the crank sensor. BTDT on both the sensor - and due to a bad balancer...

if not belt driven, i'd go with checking what Dave said above!:)

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Thanks everyone for your ideas. I was just surprised that whatever happened didn't set a code. As I need the car running well for the National I don't have time for me to play around with it so that is why it is going to the mechanics today. I suspect that the HB went out and probably took the CPS with it although I didn't see the HB wobbling or any rubber hanging from it. Admittedly I also didn't get a good close look either as I was still recovering from the effects of the Novocaine last night. Still, I was surprised there was no code or CEL. I'll take another look this morning before the tow truck comes to see if there is anything obvious. John, I may have to make a trip to your neighborhood to see what that sounds like at Vic & Jim's Tap.

Greg

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This is just a guess but I will throw it out for discussion. Since the rattle and power loss occurred at the same time it might be possible that the rattling on the engine (hb?) was picked up by the knock sensor (detector) resulting in the ECM retarding the ignition timing to the point that the engine lost power. The knock sensor is designed to detect a certain frequency produced by spark knock. If the rattle was close the the same frequency the sensor might have been triggered to send a signal to the ECM. I have never experienced this but I can see how it might be possible.

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Ron,

Interesting thought.

John, I may have to make a trip to your neighborhood to see what that sounds like at Vic & Jim's Tap.

You won't have to travel as far as the "Vale of Paradise" to get to Vic & Jim's Tap. It is located in Loves Park, IL.

I lived in Rockford, IL. for about a decade and it was the workplace hang out for us. Cribbage, shuffleboard, electronic darts, Pac-Man and a revolving bar tab!

Oh, those were the (bad 'ol) days. Back then, I'd invested heavily in the Smirnoff and Jack Daniels distilleries. Let me warn you... the ROI sux big time!

John F.

Edited by Machiner 55 (see edit history)
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I tried to cold start it this morning and it will crank and tries to fire. It acts like a car that has timing issues. I'm still leaning towards a HB and CPS but I have no hard evidence. I guess my mechanic will figure it out and I'll report back on Tuesday.

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I tried to cold start it this morning and it will crank and tries to fire. It acts like a car that has timing issues. I'm still leaning towards a HB and CPS but I have no hard evidence. I guess my mechanic will figure it out and I'll report back on Tuesday.
That rules out the knock sensor being the problem. I don't think it could keep the engine from starting. I think you are probably right about the Crank Position Sensor.
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when i replaced the balancer and crank sensor, it turned out the fuel pump was intermittent right after that. you might want to rule out the fuel pump by having the fuel pressure checked. it should be around 42psi or so. probably not the problem, but it's easy to check.:)

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I hope it isn't fuel delivery as that could get expensive to have my shop do it. I will have him check the fuel pressure. I did get a chance to look at the HB from the top and it doesn't have any apparent problems. It does look a little ragged around the edge so maybe it broke away from the center hub? It seems to be tight when I pulled on the belt though. I can't see the backside without crawling under and my wife and cardiologist have told me that those days are behind me. I'll let everyone know what is found. It doesn't seem to be a fuel delivery problem, it seems to be more of a timing issue.

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Could also be infant mortality in one of the new igniion components. Or an ICM plug not seated properly.

Fuel delivery/pressure and secondary ignition are two things that will not set a code.

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Finally the right tow truck showed up after waiting 4 hours and one bad dispatch (wrong type of tow truck). Dropped it at my mechanic's and he asked me to try and start it while he watched under the hood. It did what it did earlier (crank but no start) and then stop cranking and act like the engine wanted to run backwards. On the second try after 10 seconds of cranking it did start and run. He said that the HB was spinning true and if it took out the CPS it wouldn't have started. His very preliminary diagnosis was that it jumped time. He asked if this engine had the plastic coating on the timing gears? I don't know the answer but I thought Buick figured out that wasn't good back in the 60's. He's thinking I need a new timing set. Question, is there a timing chain tensioner on this engine? I guess I could look it up in the FSM. I did notice yesterday that the engine was running one bar above top dead center on the temp gauge which also could be because of a timing issue. If it jumped time would that set a code? Not looking for more than speculation as I have no car to work on at this point.

I haven't heard of this being a common issue for the 3800 but the mileage is about right for something like that to fail. He will begin the teardown on Tuesday after checking the crank position sensor and the Cam sensor. He didn't think my problem was at all fuel related, especially with the rattling noise. I hope I can stay out of the poorhouse on this one.

Greg

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Thanks John. I knew back in the 60's Buick put a phoenelic coating on the cam gear to make it quieter. It would last for about 100K and then fail. All the replacement gear didn't have the coating. I had this on my '65 Skylark 300 V8 motors. I didn't think Buick would repeat the mistake 30 years later but he asked.

It may be that the tensioner failed but at this point all I have is speculation. I will report back after he gets into it on Tuesday.

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Diagnosis is in and Padgett wins the prize. The problem was a failure of the new ICM. Ironically I replaced it prior to the old one failing as preventative maintenance. The old one was dripping the green goo so I know I was on borrowed time with it anyway. It will cost me a few beans as I had to have my mechanic order a new one rather than wait for a replacement from Ronnie's store. At least she will be running well in time for the National. I hope I won't have any problems with getting my money back from the Amazon seller.

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I do know he was very confident that it was the ICM. That would mean that he did eliminate the CPS but I don't know how. I'll ask how tomorrow when I pick up my car. Thanks for your help with the Amazon refund!

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Ronnie, I asked him if he eliminated the CPS. He said he tested the CPS and Cam position sensors first for output. When they tested OK, he said that pointed at the ICM. He replaced it and the car ran great. He deduced that the rumbling was due to heavy spark knock.

As an aside he also showed me that the new AC Delco ICM I bought on Amazon was actually a used part. If anyone is buying parts on Amazon from a company name of Stocklifts I'd advise you to check over the part carefully before installing it. They only offer a 30 day return policy so there is no warranty beyond out of box failure. Amazon was no help. The seller eventually agreed to send me a replacement that I don't need because I had to find one locally to get my car running again. My fault for not checking further when I bought it. When dealing with Internet companies be very careful to understand the terms and conditions. In the future, when dealing with expensive electronics on my Reatta, I will be spending a little more and getting parts locally that I can hold and inspect prior to ordering them.

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As an aside he also showed me that the new AC Delco ICM I bought on Amazon was actually a used part.
I'm very disappointed to hear that. I don't know what else to say.
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Ron,

It's not your fault that a supplier to Amazon does business like this.

Stuff like this happens on Ebay all the time.

I purchased a "New" motherboard for my wife's HP laptop from some outfit who listed "Factory - New in box" boards. They showed pics of boxes with smaller boxes stacked inside with the *HP* logo on them. When I got the board, it wasn't in one of those boxes. Just a bag. The bag was sealed and had all the right stickers on it. But, I was skeptical. Using a wearable magnifying hood like tool and die makers use, I could see dust particles on the board and witness marks around the holes for the mounting screws. This indicated that the board had come out of laptop and not off the assembly line. I contacted the seller, sent pictures and told him what I'd found and that I was willing to keep the board if: 1.) It worked and 2.) They would credit me the difference between the cost of a new board compared with the price of a used one. If they were in agreement, then nothing more would be said. They agreed.

As KDirk has been professing lately, people seem to have no qualms about "stretching the truth" or even outright lying in their business dealings. I understand it has always been a "Buyer Beware" kind of world but its getting to the point where you need a team of lawyers and investigators just to buy a pack of gum. Sheesh!

John F.

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John and all, I don't feel what happened with Greg's ICM purchase was my fault personally. If I had collected his money I would have cheerfully refunded it. The fact is I have no control over that aspect of the transaction.

Even though it wasn't my fault I do feel a responsibility to do what I can to make things right. As an Amazon Associate member, I filed a complaint with the Amazon Seller Support representative concerning Greg's treatment by Stocklifts, LLC, the company that actually shipped the product and would not refund his money for the defective part.

I passed on to Greg the instructions and a non-public email address the Amazon Seller Support representative gave to me to contact Amazons "Seller Guarantee Team" . That information gives Greg another avenue to pursue that will hopefully lead to him getting the refund he deserves. I hope it works out for him.

If a situation like this happens again I will probably shut down The Reatta Store. I don't want to recommend any products that the sellers will not stand behind the warranty on the product they sell. Hopefully this is just an isolated case and isn't how Amazon sellers normally do business.

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I'd like to make it very clear that I do not hold Ronnie or the Reatta Store responsible in any way for my problems. Ronnie has been very helpful so far in seeing that a problem that was not of his making is rectified. As it sat a couple days ago, the only option I had was for the seller to replace the defective and used (sold as new) part with another. It was partially my fault for not reading the terms and conditions carefully enough to realize that the seller (again Stocklifts, NOT Ronnie) had a 30 day return policy. As of now I have accepted the replacement part as it seemed to be only way I didn't come out a complete loser in the transaction. I appreciate that Ronnie went the extra mile to get Amazon to look again at their poor handling of the issue. I have no faith that pursuing this further with Amazon would net anything beyond more wasted time and a much unneeded raise in my blood pressure. As I have accepted the replacement part as restitution I am closing the matter pending the receipt of it.

I don't want anyone else to fall victim to what led to my problems. There is still a lot of danger in ordering parts online from Amazon and other online sellers and resellers. In the future I will not order any more parts online unless I know the seller and have had past successful dealings with them. It is sad that some sellers don't have the integrity to do the right thing when they screw up and stand behind their products. It paints all sellers with a broad brush. In my case the part I received was NOT AC Delco, was not new, and was defective. It may very well be that Stocklifts received this part as a return and didn't inspect it carefully before returning it to their inventory.

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while i understand "ol' yeller's" frustration and his making clear that Ronnie had nothing to do with this - it was "Stocklifts" - that let the part go thru, i want to make it known that i have purchased several parts thru "The Reatta Store" and NEVER had a problem!!!

i think most of "us" have had a positive experience using "TRS".:)

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