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1990 Buick Reatta Now ONLY Starts on Second Attempt


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Have owned and operated my Reatta for 30 years.  For 28 years had no problem starting the car.  However, about one year ago, my Reatta started having problems when attempting to start. 

 

Have noticed the following:

 

1.  Car now fails to start on first attempt 99% of the time, when attempting to start IF the car has sat overnight or engine has been off for 2+ hours.  The battery is strong.  When turning the key, the starter strongly attempts to turn over the engine (as normal).

2.  To get the car to start:  After first failed attempt to start, I have to turn the key to “off” and wait about 10 seconds (not 3 and not 15 seconds) and attempt to start the car.  95% of the time the car then starts right up (as normal).  I do not initially have to place my foot on the accelerator to get the car to start (on either first or second attempt).

3.  The car then idles roughly for about 30-60 seconds.  When I place the car in gear I have to give it some extra gas to prevent it from stalling. 

4.  But once the car gets moving there seems to be no problem.  (I drive this car every day and have made two cross-country trips within the last year with this “starting problem”)

5.  Three notable exceptions within last year are two times when I rounded a corner with a relatively low amount of fuel and the car (engine) completely shut off.  I was also on a major highway recently traveling between 30-60 mph and the car (engine) completely shut off.  In this case, I put the car in neutral, restarted the engine, revved the engine, placed in Drive, and kept driving without incident.  

6.  This “second attempt starting problem” has consistently occurred every day for past year with two different engines, new spark plugs, and three new batteries.  Including starts at 100+ and -10 F outside air temperature, and altitudes ranging from sea level to 7000+ feet.  Seems to be more pronounced when fuel level is low but also happens with a full tank of gas.

 

Greatly appreciate any insight as to how I might fix this problem.

 

Thanks and best regards,

 

BRD

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    I would guess a fuel pump getting weak, or a leaky pulsator (its mounted above the fuel pump inside the tank). You could try turning on the key and let the fuel pump run (should run only a few seconds), turn the key off for a second, then turn the key back on and let the pump run for a few more seconds again, then try to start. This procedure should get full pressure to the injectors.

    I think this also works for some older Reattas that had an old Prom version in the ECM. The newer Prom would let the fuel pump run longer to prime the system to full pressure.

The pulsator "quiets" the pressurized gas coming out of the pump. Sometimes mechanics replace the pulsator with a short piece of fuel line, which could prematurely rot out and  seep fuel back into the tank causing low fuel pressure. You may also hear a buzzing noise from the fuel tank area with no pulsator installed.

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Sadly BRD most of the intelligentsia have left the forum.  From 1 to 10 years ago there would have been 20 replies by now. 

 

We are all just guessing.  My 1st thought was the key code/key wear.  Daves89, Ronnie, the Kevins, Barney, and hundreds of others who have left the forum would know better than I.

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35 minutes ago, B Jake Moran said:

Sadly BRD most of the intelligentsia have left the forum.  From 1 to 10 years ago there would have been 20 replies by now. 

 

We are all just guessing.  My 1st thought was the key code/key wear.  Daves89, Ronnie, the Kevins, Barney, and hundreds of others who have left the forum would know better than I.

 

He also posted over on Ronnie's site and is getting help there. 

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12 hours ago, rogold99 said:

    I would guess a fuel pump getting weak, or a leaky pulsator (its mounted above the fuel pump inside the tank). You could try turning on the key and let the fuel pump run (should run only a few seconds), turn the key off for a second, then turn the key back on and let the pump run for a few more seconds again, then try to start. This procedure should get full pressure to the injectors.

    I think this also works for some older Reattas that had an old Prom version in the ECM. The newer Prom would let the fuel pump run longer to prime the system to full pressure.

The pulsator "quiets" the pressurized gas coming out of the pump. Sometimes mechanics replace the pulsator with a short piece of fuel line, which could prematurely rot out and  seep fuel back into the tank causing low fuel pressure. You may also hear a buzzing noise from the fuel tank area with no pulsator installed.

Thanks for the insight and recommendation rogold99.  This morning I tried cycling the key "on" and "off" five times without engaging the starter.  But it did not work.  Only after second attempt after engaging the starter (about 10 seconds after initial attempt) did the car start.  I had similar problems about three years ago and had the fuel pump replaced by a national garage chain.  It's possible that the "new" pump they installed was (is) faulty or weakened by another factor, as you mentioned above.  Have also run several fuel injector system cleaners through my car over this past year without any change in the start/idle behavior.  Will forward your recommendations to a local mechanic as we further troubleshoot the problem.

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3 hours ago, B Jake Moran said:

Sadly BRD most of the intelligentsia have left the forum.  From 1 to 10 years ago there would have been 20 replies by now. 

 

We are all just guessing.  My 1st thought was the key code/key wear.  Daves89, Ronnie, the Kevins, Barney, and hundreds of others who have left the forum would know better than I.

Thanks for the forum insight and key code suggestion B Jake Moran.  I appreciate your recommendation and will pass on to a local mechanic as we further troubleshoot the problem. 

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4 minutes ago, Buick City said:

I would guess the fuel pump !   I just replaced 3 ,on 3 different Reattas ! One was doing what yours did,and just quit for good ! ( fine now )

Thanks for the recommendation Buick City.  I also generally suspect it might be related to the fuel pump.  However - after 27 years of my original fuel pump working fine - I had to replace it about three years ago (at a national garage chain).  So, either the "new" fuel pump they put in was (is) faulty - or it is a combination of a number of things that is creating the challenge or causing a new fuel pump to fail again within three years.  Received a number of great recommendations in the forum and will pass on a local mechanic as we further troubleshoot.    

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It's possible the fuel pump is good but the rubber seal/connector for the pulsator (shiny metal part) has failed allowing the fuel in the system to drain back into the tank when the pump isn't running.

 

fuel_pump_dis-assembly-3.jpg.ca3d18a10a589d28f2435c8dc8dff170.jpg

 

 

 

 

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On 11/20/2019 at 10:12 AM, B Jake Moran said:

... From 1 to 10 years ago there would have been 20 replies by now. 

 

Sad but true. When I came here about 11 years ago this forum was a busy place where everyone was friendly and eager to help.   It appears those days are over.  There are still a few diehards here that try to keep this forum going but they are disappearing fast.

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On ‎11‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 4:32 PM, BRD said:

two different engines

 

Except for this and no mention of gas mileage, or exhaust odor when first started, everything described suggests a failing fuel pressure regulator.

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Both cars sound like they have the original prom (can check on the display, ED99). Not to say may have a weak fuel pump or clogged filter (check with gauge on rail). But is where I'd start.

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