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A Series of Unfortunate Problems


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I purchased a yellow 89 TC with the 4 cylinder automatic and 57,000 miles in Indianapolis about three months ago and drove it home without major malfunctions (The speedo and tach stopped working at one point but jetted back on & I pulled the headlight knob out)

 

Got the car home to Winston-Salem NC:

Threw the AC's belt: and had a new compressor installed at a local mechanic. Car ran like a charm.

 

Then about a week later I drove the car three hours and back. On the way back the tach would drop suddenly to 0 and the car would stall out at interstate speeds. Got the fault codes and had the HEP replaced at a Chrysler dealership. Back on the road without problems until.

 

The engine started shaking (but would stop when the gas was applied), and sometimes it would idle so hard it would cut out. But the car was drive-able... until the headlights went out.

So i took the TC to a different dealership and explained the problems and asked for a full servicing on the car to remedy any electrical work along with the engine problems. They came back with; a replaced headlight bulb, a new fuse, and the recommendation that my catalytic converter be replaced along with an engine tune and new spark plugs. 

 

However they advised me the car was drive-able still, so I took the TC 2 hours into the mountains. I stopped the car and thirty minutes later it would not start up and there was a new metallic clanking sound coming form the engine compartment. The whole car shook violently while i was trying to start it, but eventually it took and I gave it enough gas for it to hold and to get it in gear.

 

So I drove it right back to the same dealership and informed them of this new development. They went ahead with the engine tune, catalytic replacement and new spark plugs.... that brings us to today.

 

I pick the car up from the dealership and it was born again hard, solid acceleration and not a hint of the shaking that had plagued it. So I got on the interstate and drove home. At the first stoplight off the interstate, the car 'sputtered' and the rpms dropped to 0 and I lost power steering.

It started back up but died out four or five more times before I got back to my house. The rpm needle would also sputter sometimes and the engine would not go out completely. I got the car into my garage and am contemplating the next move.

 

I love this car; I just recently got it and I cannot stop sinking money into it. Does anyone have a recommendation on what to do next? 

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Quite the story, but not uncommon for a vintage vehicle that's put back on the road after years of little or no use.

 

First things first, you need to get and read the factory service manual so go to:  rockauto.com   then select make, year model and literature. It will be $50 well spent. While you're waiting delivery of your manual I suggest you read every posting on this forum. Every problem you've mentioned and many more that you haven't, have been addressed here at least once.

 

Except for the catalytic most of what you've mentioned can be done at home and it's amazing what a good cleaning of the throttle body and a new fuel filter will do.

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Luckily I have been checking the forums when I've had problems in the past. And I just dug up the page I used to get the fault codes, I'm back with a code 54 (HEP). Im assuming that all of the rattling and other shakes loosened it up or possibly broke it again.

 

Does anyone have good pictures of the HEP and what I need to be looking for under the car? 

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Did you have the cat replaced? a bad cat will rattle inside the casing and when it gets loose enough it can get sideways and block exhaust flow where it sits and it can brake into chunks and plug the muffler. Bang on the exhaust pipe first, then go back to the dealer that installed the HEP. Sorry, no pics.

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Hey man, for what it's worth, I had all the same symptoms as you and it was a dying hall effect pickup, simple as that. I'd say you might have bad HEP connections somewhere or the part you installed was defective. But those symptoms are a lot like what I was dealing with when I had issues with my car and new spark plugs, HEP, and distributor rotor & cap and I was good to go.

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Does anyone have good pictures of the HEP? 

Excuse me! What in blazes is a HEP? Chrysler uses NO SUCH COMPONENT NAMED A "HEP"

Now if you are talking about the 'Hall Effect Pick-up Assembly. That is the component located under the distributor cap. That is what Chrysler calls it, so let us stick with the Chrysler terminology.

I NEVER WORKED ON ANY OTHER BRANDS, so I don't know their 'lingo'. I'm OLD, so humor me please.

Remove distributor cap by loosening the 2 phillips screws, remove the rotor, then just grab the Hall Effect Pick-up Assembly and lift it up. Now just disconnect the 2 connectors.

You should be able to see immediately whether the Hall Effect Pick-up Assembly has been replaced recently.

 

As to the catalytic converter, just follow the exhaust pipe from the engine, the first large component you come to is the Catalytic Converter.

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 I've seen brand new parts store brand HEP switch's fail (Distributor Pick Up Plate work for you Hemi? :lol:  That's what the dealership called mine when it went out when my car was 3 days old) but not the OE dealer ones so I consider it highly unlikely that your new HEP is bad. However, where the HEP plugs to the engine harness there are two 3 pin weatherproof rubber plugs, one gray one and one black one.  Unplug them there and using a nice bright flashlight check to make sure the female pins aren't 'loose' or 'widened'  You'll know because the female pins are formed into a rolled sleeve that accepts the male pins, if they are loose, they will have a large gap along the seam.  It's easy to gently bend them shut again with a little patience and a jewlers style screwdriver.   After that to me with what you describe is a likely a fuel supply issue, most of the time a bad fuel pump. The classic symptom I've seen over and over again is that the car will restart and run for a short time after it has 'rested' a bit.  Generally it runs for less and less time each time it restarts. Personally I'd throw a fuel pump at it anyway if it's original OR the car has sat for years with the previous owner.

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 I've seen brand new parts store brand HEP switch's fail (Distributor Pick Up Plate work for you Hemi? :lol:  That's what the dealership called mine when it went out when my car was 3 days old) but not the OE dealer ones so I consider it highly unlikely that your new HEP is bad. However, where the HEP plugs to the engine harness there are two 3 pin weatherproof rubber plugs, one gray one and one black one.  Unplug them there and using a nice bright flashlight check to make sure the female pins aren't 'loose' or 'widened'  You'll know because the female pins are formed into a rolled sleeve that accepts the male pins, if they are loose, they will have a large gap along the seam.  It's easy to gently bend them shut again with a little patience and a jewlers style screwdriver.   After that to me with what you describe is a likely a fuel supply issue, most of the time a bad fuel pump. The classic symptom I've seen over and over again is that the car will restart and run for a short time after it has 'rested' a bit.  Generally it runs for less and less time each time it restarts. Personally I'd throw a fuel pump at it anyway if it's original OR the car has sat for years with the previous owner.

That works for me TwinCamFan and don't get too much blood on you hands. I call them the very same thing, just not HEP because I'm not 'HIP'. ;)   :rolleyes:

Some times fuel pumps just quit all-together without any warning other than having 279 thousand miles on them. Kind of the same thing as old people  :wacko:

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As has been suggested, check the plugs going to the Hall Effect (HEP is the common term used by most on the forums...easier/faster to type). Also, most of the time the wiring harness in that area is not being held in the correct position and that puts extra stress on those wires. Make sure they aren't frayed or broken. I actually wrap the wires coming off of the HEP itself a few times with electrical tape to reduce bending stress and possible chafing in that area.

 

Something else to look into while you are checking out the HEP is to make sure the shutter wheel plate (reluctor as some call it) inside the distributor isn't loose. A good majority of our distributors used only melted plastic rivets to hold the shutter wheel to the distributor shaft. Over time that can get loose and cause the whole thing to wiggle. This isn't good for many reasons. It's an easy fix with a drill, either rivets or screws, and some patience. You don't want to break the plastic.

 

I think it was already suggested, but take off and clean the throttle body. The idle bypass passage can get gummed up pretty bad over time and cause sticking idle problems and stalling. A bad TPS could also cause drivability issues. This can be checked with an ohm meter either on the car or at the bench. You want to see the sensor sweep through its range evenly with no "dead spots".

 

As others have said, a dying fuel pump can also be intermittent. It probably wouldn't hurt to have a new fuel filter sock on it anyway...replace ALL of the rubber fuel line while you are at it. Make sure to use fuel line rated for fuel injection. Also, if you do replace your fuel pump, make sure the hose that comes with it is rated to be submersed in fuel. If it's not, it will turn into a gooey mess inside the tank. Not fun.

 

Any time the car acts up, pull the codes using the key-on/key-off method and the check engine light (CEL).

 

Lastly, and a biggie, check your grounds! Bad grounds can cause all kinds of nasty issues! Don't rely just on continuity, either. That mistake basically cost me an entire vehicle...that I found YEARS after getting rid of it! Physically check the connection AND the wire!!

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