'02 Impala 3.4L, 170.3k: Sudden NO-START yesterday morning

Colt Hero

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'02 Impala 3.4L, 170.3k: Sudden NO-START yesterday morning

Bought this car brand new in 2002. All original parts except battery, intake gaskets (of course), plugs, wires, radiator and hoses, coolant level sensor, brake pads, can't think of anything else...

Went out in the AM (8:30) to go to work (clear weather), opened the driver's door, had a mouth full of mouthwash (typical) that I needed to spit out, decided to start the car first, so I turned the key - NOTHING (no click, no nothing), door was still open, foot was off the brake (figured that was it), closed the door, put my foot on the brake, turned the key - STILL NOTHING. Radio worked, fan worked, headlights looked strong, battery (side) terminals clean as a whistle. Suspecting the starter (original part), went back inside to grab a hammer, but had to roll the car back away from my '89 Colt (a statue since '02) so I could shimmy underneath. Tried the key first, just for kicks, and the car started!! Drove to work, car re-started when I got there (twice - once for gas along the way, another after parking it). Drove home, started two more times going out to eat, and started fine this morning.

So which is it:

1.) Transmission selector? I didn't think to try starting the car in NEUTRAL. Did rolling the car back manually 3' somehow effectively do the same thing?

2.) The Starter? There was no 'click' when I turned the ignition key. NOTHING. That's why I suspected the starter. But #1 probably cuts out the starter all together, right?

3.) Low fuel? Probably not, right? I only mention this because I drove home from work the night before with the LOW FUEL message lit. I've done this many times before over the years because it's only 27 miles home and I know the message appears with 2 gallons remaining (which is worth about 40 miles, conservatively speaking). The next morning I probably only had 1.5 gallons in the tank (but maybe less). Could I have a weak fuel pump (also original part), and rolling the car caused the fuel to swish around in the tank, aiding the start? I drove the car about 16 miles back to work on this 1.5 gallons left and stopped to fill up, so the tank is full right now.

Oh- there *are* a couple of codes on the computer: 102 and 442. One of them (442, I believe) has been there since I cleaned the throttle body out about a year ago. The other one (102) is new ... but looks to be another cleaning issue (MAF ?). Both probably un-related to this starting problem, right?
 
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#2
starter relay?
There was NO security light on?
My favorite villain remote starter?
THe CEL is on (p0192 and p0442) - So will need to rescan for something new.
 

Colt Hero

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#3
kev2:

By starter relay, do you mean the piggy-backed solenoid (if this starter even *has* one)? Or do you mean some relay in a fuse box somewhere in the engine compartment, or underneath or on the side of the dash? This relay could work intermittently?

No SECURITY message (I forgot to add that to the original post). That *has* appeared a couple of times in the last 6 months, however, but with no apparent effects (usually while driving). Before that, it came ON about 5 years ago and the car would not start. 10 minutes later, it started. So the situation was similar, except no illuminated message this time.

No remote start on this car. It has keyless remote (doors), but I don't use it. Wife used to use hers and I just threw mine in a drawer figuring she'd destroy hers at some point and I'd give her mine, but she never did. Now she drives the 2011 Equinox.

The first code was P0102, *not* P0192. "Mass or Volume Air Flow Circuit Low Input" (according to Actron booklet). MAF probably needs spraying?? Never been done on this car. Not once. But probably a separate issue, right?
 
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#4
P0102 and P0442 are seperate but they have already set the CEL on and a new code would be hidden without rescanning.

Yes there is a seperate relay in underhood box... top box I think.

Keep in mind your thought about shifter - moving to N -
 

Gus

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#5
Does you theft system have PassKey or PassLock?

I think you need to scan for "B" codes......which most scanners can't do.....

There is a crank relay, usually in the underhood relay center......If a "B" code is set, this relay will not be energized.....
 
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#7
There is also a tsb about an intermittent no crank/ no start condition on your vehicle...It says it is caused by a bad battery cable connection....you might take the loose and clean them inside even if they look OK on the outside....Jim
 
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#8
A couple of months ago, my neighbor had a problem like that on his 2002 Trailblazer. I told him it seemed like a battery connection problem and told him to do what Jim suggested. He did clean them, but said everyting looked ok to him, but he cleaned them anyway. He had had no problem since. It was happening about every so often and would leave his wife stranded. I finally found the TSB and showed it to him. It says to replace the bolt on the side cable connection, but he didn't , but has no problem since. Who knows?
 
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#9
Not exactly like a 1930 Chevy with a floor pedal that would jam two contacts together. An old trick to get a car started with a poor battery connection was to blow the horn first.

Perhaps Jim or others will post your starter circuit diagram so you know what you are dealing with, my last no crank problem was in the ignition switch using bare copper terminals, green with hard caked on grease on it, but in your case, just a guess. Starter has its own terminal.

A newly created problem over the years was using a cast iron starter housing on an aluminum bell housing that causes electrolysis. Starter nor solenoid can't get a good ground.

Another new problem that didn't exist before was using thick commutators that could be turned and undercut several times. Today, paper thin. Consider if your starter is still working after 180K miles, miracles do exist.
 

Colt Hero

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#10
Haven't done a thing and haven't had another problem ... yet.

Feels just like the SECURITY lockout problem, but without the message being posted (at the time of the failure).

If it was battery-related, wouldn't the lights have been affected?
 
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#11
I am leaning towards starter brushes worn down to almost nothing after 170K miles.

Those symptoms fit perfectly. They will intermittently work for a short period of time. It doesn't take much at all to get them back to seating, even a tow truck pull home or any movement. That it the reason for the "hammer" trick.

I would get new brushes and install them.

Even if that is not the problem--it will be soon at 170K..

Jack
 

Gus

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#12
If the battery connections are ok, starter connections are ok, battery is ok, still won't start by shifting to neutral, then you have to put a test light on the "S" terminal(purple wire) while cranking....if it lights, it's the starter....if it doesn't, check for a B2958 or B2960.....
 

Colt Hero

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#13
JackC, Gus:

Thanks for your input. Right now I'm preoccupied with my '97 Taurus (see recent post on my ongoing front cover/oil pan project), and so I haven't done anything with the Impala.

When that gets resolved, I'll come back to the Impala to see if I can determine the exact cause of the no-start problem ... but if it comes down to "B" codes, I'll be out of luck because I cannot read those codes (unless I purchase another reader).
 

Gus

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#14
Then I would concentrate on running a wire to the "S" terminal and attach it to a small bulb socket that you can readily see......if the bulb doesn't light, you know you have no power to the starter solenoid....shift to neutral and retry...if still no power, then I would be feeling crank relay to feel for a click with the key in the crank position....

 

Colt Hero

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#15
Just happened again ... no start ... almost one month later from the initial problem.

Tried moving the transmission selector back and forth between "N" and "P" but no luck each time.

To answer Gus' question: this car has the "Passlock" security system. Here's what the owner's manual says:

"If the engine is RUNNING and the SECURITY message comes on, you will be able to restart the engine if you turn the engine off. However, your Passlock system is not working properly and must be serviced by your dealer ... you may want to check the fuse ..."

I HAVE seen the SECURITY message pop up on the dash while driving the car from time to time ... and it's happened recently (prior to this failure). I'm thinking this is likely the problem.

WAIT !!! I just waited 15 minutes (while typing this), went back out to try and start it ... no luck. But then I tried moving the transmission selector around again and it *finally* started in Neutral. Then I turned the car back off and it started again in "Park". So now it's working again.

Not sure what to think now ... but I need to get to work, so ...