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89 Firebird Won't Start Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   jinxedalot 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:26 PM

I know this is a bit long but please bear with me.
I have an 89 Firebird 6 cyl automatic. It cranks but won't start. It drove fine, then started running rough and when stopped would not restart. Tried new distributor and air flow meter. Reset timing. It then started idled great for 20 minutes then died again. Now it just cranks.
I gave up and took it to the local Pontiac dealer. They said it was probably the computer. Well, $600 later they can't get it to start either. They now think the timing chain has slipped and want another $400 to check that. However, they are not sure that is the problem.
When I was working on it I tried setting the timing to TDC and BDC, It didn't make any difference. It didn't seem to matter how the distributor was set. It just cranks and occasionally backfires.
Is there any thing I'm (or the dealer) is missing that could get this car to start. Does it sound like the timing chain?
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#2 User is offline   yoeasy69 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:41 PM

sounds like your timing to me anyway
Thanks

-Josh
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#3 User is offline   FBN Firebird Nation 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:32 PM

Have you verified it is getting gas and a spark?
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#4 User is offline   RamAirThree 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:15 PM

He said it back fires so we know it is getting fuel but I would check fuel pressure just the same. Also like Bob said check for spark. Then I would just go through a possibility list and then take it from there. By the way does it crank really fast? faster than it did before?
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1 of 32 "Drag Packs" made, 1 of a handful left in the world!
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#5 User is offline   FBN Firebird Nation 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 07:10 PM

haha, just goes to show you how much time I spend actually reading the posts, maybe I would save myself and everyone else some time buy reading them thoroughly eh. :bangin: :bangin:
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#6 User is offline   jinxedalot 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 08:09 PM

It does get a spark and the injectors seemed to be working when I checked them. The dealer seems to think it is getting fuel and spark. I think they have eliminted that as the cause.
I guess I'm concerned about them guessing that it's the timing chain when they guessed wrong so far with $600 of my money.
In terms of cranking it does not crank any faster and the rotor turns so the chain is on I assume.
If it is the chain, why did it start and idel for me for 20 minutes then die again. The idle was perfect. It accelerated perfect.
I undertsand why I 'm stumped (all I have is a ratchet set and some screwdrivers)but I don't understand how a dealer with all the test equipment and tools and tech knowledge available has no real idea as to why it just cranks with the occasional backfire..
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#7 User is offline   WS6RAY 

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 08:40 PM

Take off the ignition module and have it tested at a parts store or the dealer. It is under the distributor, with 2 screws holding it down. Sometimes these warm up and burn out when they're bad, which would explain why it ran for 20 minutes or so and died. Who ever tests it, have them test it atleast 20 times, it needs to heat up really well, then it'll test bad, if it is truly bad. Let us know what happens.
Your Ferrari won't run with these Injuns!!!
-----------------------------------------
1989 Formula 305 TBI----15.6@93 mph (March 2005)
soon to be 409 SBC and faster than 15's!!!!!
UPDATE: New 409 SBC 5 speed initial passes w/
2.76 open diff---13.64 @ 105 mph
1967 Firebird 400---------14.3@101 mph (September 2001)
soon to run with 461 and a tranny that won't grenade in a week!!!
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#8 User is offline   RamAirThree 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 05:16 AM

They changed the computer you said, but it might be the prom and not the computer ofcourse. Did they change or check the prom? A prom could go bad sometimes and not throw up a code. It happened to me with a GM once and also a friend with an S-10 blazer. I know your head must be in a whirlwind right now and the last thing you need is more possibilities, but I think it is important to check that with the dealer that so savagely charged you and did not solve your problem. The prom should always be checked before going to a new computer.

~Lou
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1 of 32 "Drag Packs" made, 1 of a handful left in the world!
1970 Formula 400 RAIII / Muncie close ratio 4-speed / 3:90 Limited Slip 12 bolt Rearend.
All original and matching number car.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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#9 User is offline   FAST RS 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 11:22 AM

If they guess wrong you dont have to pay for that part because that was not the problem with your car and did not fix it. Check your ICM ignition control module could be that.
1968 Pontiac Firebird
455 bored .30 over with TRW forged pistons, Torker 2 intake, 750 cfm Demon Carb, ISKE Cam, Mallory HyFire ignition box with a Mallory unilight distributor Super Comp Headers, 3 inch cutouts, 3 inch exhaust into Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Almunium Drive Shaft, All new suspension Eaton Springs out back Moog up front with KYB gas Adjusts all around.


1991 Camaro RS V-6
MODS: FAST CHIP STAGE 2
MSD 6 AL, MSD COIL
CAI, Underdrive pullys.
And some stuff i cant think of at the moment.
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#10 User is offline   FBN Firebird Nation 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 12:05 PM

I was thinking the same thing Fast RS, I would dispute the charges for the uneeded work and parts myself.
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#11 User is offline   jinxedalot 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 01:48 PM

I stopped by the dealer today. I'm really not sure going to the dealer was a good idea.
I spoke to the mechanic and mentioned the computer. He said since the injectors were firing the computer was okay.
I then asked about the ignition module. Again he said that since there was a spark the ignition module was okay.
That was the extent of the testing he did on these components. They were not replaced or tested any further. If you get fuel and spark does this mean the computer or ignition module are good? That doesn't sound right to me, but then I'm not a mechanic. The mechanic thinks that if you get fuel and spark the computer/ignition module are functioning.
One thing he couldn't understand was why no matter how he moved the distributor the car would crank the same. No change. He still thinks it's the timing chain. I did point out that after the car died I replaced the distributor & air flow meter and the car started and idled great for 20 minutes, then died again. If it was the timing chain I don't think it would come and go like that.
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#12 User is offline   RamAirThree 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 01:59 PM

If you get fuel and spark that does not prove the computer is good/bad. Did he do a noid light test?, fuel pressure test? As a professional he should not guess that is why we have scanners now. Did he try the car on a load with the scanner? I think you should get your money back for the new computer and I think you should find a good mechanic/tech shop. Seems to me this dealer will cost you more then it is worth.
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1 of 32 "Drag Packs" made, 1 of a handful left in the world!
1970 Formula 400 RAIII / Muncie close ratio 4-speed / 3:90 Limited Slip 12 bolt Rearend.
All original and matching number car.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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#13 User is offline   WS6RAY 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 02:00 PM

Try replacing the ignition module yourself, its very easy. On the scale of 1 to 5(hardest), its a 2. Its really worth a shot.
Your Ferrari won't run with these Injuns!!!
-----------------------------------------
1989 Formula 305 TBI----15.6@93 mph (March 2005)
soon to be 409 SBC and faster than 15's!!!!!
UPDATE: New 409 SBC 5 speed initial passes w/
2.76 open diff---13.64 @ 105 mph
1967 Firebird 400---------14.3@101 mph (September 2001)
soon to run with 461 and a tranny that won't grenade in a week!!!
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#14 User is offline   RamAirThree 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 02:49 PM

I agree Ray............ :thumbup:
Posted Image
1 of 32 "Drag Packs" made, 1 of a handful left in the world!
1970 Formula 400 RAIII / Muncie close ratio 4-speed / 3:90 Limited Slip 12 bolt Rearend.
All original and matching number car.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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#15 User is offline   FBN Firebird Nation 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 04:05 PM

I see you have an 1898 firebird, therefore, no computer JK. Did your car come with a MAF? If so, what kind of MAF meter did you put on? It could be a faulty MAF. You are in good hands with Ray and Lou, I don't know much about the 3rd gen myself.
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#16 User is offline   jinxedalot 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 06:35 PM

I appreciate all the advice. I know after talking with the mechanic that I'm going to have to tow the car back out. The $600 bill so far does NOT include a new computer. You know I towed the car in so they could run the diagnostics that I couldn't. The only diagnostics they did was pull the plugs. Yeah you got spark. And the injectors. Yeah you got fuel. Guess the computer is good. Done. I already did that. No diagnostics tests were done.
By the way the dealer is Patrick Buick Pontiac in Ashalnd VA. Anyone have any experience with this dealer?
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#17 User is offline   RamAirThree 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 06:56 PM

No but from the way you are describing them, they sound like they suck and do not want to work.
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1 of 32 "Drag Packs" made, 1 of a handful left in the world!
1970 Formula 400 RAIII / Muncie close ratio 4-speed / 3:90 Limited Slip 12 bolt Rearend.
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Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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#18 User is offline   FBN Firebird Nation 

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 07:27 PM

jinxedalot, on Jul 21 2005, 07:35 PM, said:

I appreciate all the advice. I know after talking with the mechanic that I'm going to have to tow the car back out. The $600 bill so far does NOT include a new computer. You know I towed the car in so they could run the diagnostics that I couldn't. The only diagnostics they did was pull the plugs. Yeah you got spark. And the injectors. Yeah you got fuel. Guess the computer is good. Done. I already did that. No diagnostics tests were done.
By the way the dealer is Patrick Buick Pontiac in Ashalnd VA. Anyone have any experience with this dealer?
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



WTF was the $600 for then? I would fight that dude, no joke. We will help ya if you want!
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#19 User is offline   FAST RS 

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 12:27 AM

Ya you got raped no offence. The icm is easy i think you need a 6.5 mm socket or it might be 5.5 you can get it at AZ it actualy says its for a ford ignition module but it is the only one that will fit our cars at least on my 3.1 distributor. When an ignition module goes bad it will work when its cold but when it heats up it will make the car shut off.

I am just gonna throw some stuff out at you.

Basicly the car just cranks and cranks correct it does not start and die does it?

Have you ever changed your fuel filter maybe it is clogged and not getting enough fuel?

Try unplugging the MAF and see what happens when you try to start it.

I have heard of a clogged catalytic converter also causing a no start conditon when they get clogged.

It does sound like it could be something with the timing as well. If i remeber correctly to tell if your timing chain is loose put a socket on the harmonic balancer bolt take off the dist cap and turn the engine over by hand the rotor should move as you rotate the enigne over.


How many miles are on your car? I changed my timing chain at 220,000 it was loose but did not effect much parts was like 20 bucks for new gears and a chain and i borrowed a harmonic balancer puller and installer from autozone.

This is all i can think of for now.
1968 Pontiac Firebird
455 bored .30 over with TRW forged pistons, Torker 2 intake, 750 cfm Demon Carb, ISKE Cam, Mallory HyFire ignition box with a Mallory unilight distributor Super Comp Headers, 3 inch cutouts, 3 inch exhaust into Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Almunium Drive Shaft, All new suspension Eaton Springs out back Moog up front with KYB gas Adjusts all around.


1991 Camaro RS V-6
MODS: FAST CHIP STAGE 2
MSD 6 AL, MSD COIL
CAI, Underdrive pullys.
And some stuff i cant think of at the moment.
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#20 User is offline   FAST RS 

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 06:21 PM

Was it running good before it died? Have you done a compression test maybe you have a bad headgasket?
1968 Pontiac Firebird
455 bored .30 over with TRW forged pistons, Torker 2 intake, 750 cfm Demon Carb, ISKE Cam, Mallory HyFire ignition box with a Mallory unilight distributor Super Comp Headers, 3 inch cutouts, 3 inch exhaust into Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Almunium Drive Shaft, All new suspension Eaton Springs out back Moog up front with KYB gas Adjusts all around.


1991 Camaro RS V-6
MODS: FAST CHIP STAGE 2
MSD 6 AL, MSD COIL
CAI, Underdrive pullys.
And some stuff i cant think of at the moment.
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