Hard start on 2004 Buick Park Ave

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#1
Make
Buick
Model
Park Avenue
Year
2004
Miles
136000
Engine
3.8L GM 3800 Series?
I don’t know much about cars but my cars been acting up for a few weeks now. When it starts, it drives well. Changed my spark plugs out for what seemed to be the first time on the vehicle and it began running even smoother, but after driving and turning the car off, it immediately wouldn’t start. Just replaced my battery cause it died yesterday, and my fuel filter this morning. After the fuel filter was replaced the car started, but I had to press on the gas a little. after turning the car off it went back to trying to start, but the engine won’t turn over. When the open throttle is sprayed with starting fluid the engine will start when it’s given some gas, and will continue to run until I turn the car off, but will not turn back on after that. Any advice? Looking for practical at home repairs, I’m avoiding the shop, I dont believe it’s the fuel pump, starter, or alternator, but any and all advice is welcome
 
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#2
If audio or video of the cars attempts to start would help with a diagnosis, please let me know and I can upload a file.
 
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#3

nickb2

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#4
Since the battery was swapped out, probably lost all data, so asking for a check engine light code is out.

I too suspect lose of fuel pressure, that is easily ruled out once you get your guage on it as Jack asked for. But mostly, suspect a faulty fuel pressure regulator. This was a classic back then, once the guage is hooked up, watch for fuel pressure drop once key on, not starting, turn back key to off, what does the fuel pressure do, the regulator also acts as a sort of check valve.

Post back results, if fuel pressure is good, no leak down of said pressure, we will go further in diagnosis.

Have to head into work, doing saturdays to help with winter rush up here. Will check back in this afternoon and post some hard start check lists/charts from alldata or mitchel to help you along.
 
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#6
1996 and up, OBD II stores codes in flashram, like a USB memory stick, do not lose codes by disconnecting the battery.

With problems like this start off with a compression check, timing chain or belt could skip a link, ignition, timing, then fuel, even water in the tank, ethanol makes this worse besides making it economically unfeasible to eat a steak.
 
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#7
So I got it up and running consistently yesterday, check engine light turned off. After driving it around a bit that evening I was idling the car and my check engine light turned back on, drove it home cause I got nervous. Left in driveway all day, started immediately when I went to go start it. Left it off for about 30 more minutes and went to start, kicked for one revolution and fizzled out. Now here’s where it gets interesting, (to me, at least) when I turn my key to position 2, it engages my fuel pump. After engaging my fuel pump 3 times for a few seconds each time, my car started with about 3 ticks of hesitation. Haven’t turned it off since cause I’m running errands but curious if this is significant.
 
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#8
Also, I rented a fuel pressure test kit but wasn’t sure how to use it, and my battery was dead so I couldn’t have used it anyways. Brought it back to the store with no information. Any info on how to use it would be beneficial and then i can go re-rent one tomorrow morning. Thank you all for quick and informative replies
 

grcauto

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#9
You should have a gauge with hose and schrader nozzle. Find the schrader valve on the fuel rail and hook it up.
 
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#10
After engaging my fuel pump 3 times for a few seconds each time, my car started with about 3 ticks of hesitation. Haven’t turned it off since cause I’m running errands but curious if this is significant.
That info even further indicates the pressure is low. The multiple engagements are probably getting the pressure up just enough to get the engine started. This is a rather common scenario. Since you stated " you do not know much about cars" It may be time to see a pro because if it is a fuel pump replacement you need, you probably would want him to replace the pump that is in the gas tank. Not a fun or easy job, but doable if you want to.
 

nickb2

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#11
1996 and up, OBD II stores codes in flashram, like a USB memory stick, do not lose codes by disconnecting the battery.
Hmmm, not sure about this statement as a whole. I don't want to start a debate and hog thread, but most ecu's do store codes in volatile memory chips that use a capacitor to keep alive memory. Depending on make or model, this statement may or may not be true. But for most, freeze frames, adaptive memory can and or will be lost if the capacitor drains out. That was me trying to sound smart, but it is my understanding.

So this is a disclaimer.

I daily have to swap out batteries. Haven't seen a obd1 car in a while, I mostly work on 2012 and up cars and I regularly run into data loss because of loss of batt+ power. Point in case, thursday, honda civic 2005ish came in during night on towing. Dead battery, but client left a note to check the car for codes, check engine light was on. Boosted car, immediately went to check for codes, all data was gone. No check engine light, and could not recreate what client was having as a problem. Probably a low voltage code/s across all modules which erased themselves when batt went to zero overnight. Again, I see this ALL the time.

In alot of cases, when I do a current draw test, I will lose codes and data, yes, on obd2 cars. So I don't think ALL cars as of 1996 apply to this statement. Some may, some don't and we could go on long debating this, and I am no engineer.

So back to problem, yeah, there is a shreader valve on rail as Jack wrote, and this is sounding more and more like a low fuel pressure problem also as he wrote. That needs to be ruled out before attacking compression or a jumped t chain. Op says it runs fine once up and running. So more a bad ignition module or low fuel pressure. Betting on a bad pump or regulator or leaking injectors etc. We will know that when op actually hooks up the gauge. Here is how. Screenshot (52).png
 
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nickb2

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#12
FP should be 53-59 psi. You will see in above pic, right of regulator, the test port is there with a black plastic cap that looks alot like a tire valve cap.

Of course, you need to remove the engine cover by removing the oil filler cap and pulling up on the cover at the rear tabs. Should jump at you once that cover is removed on the left side fuel rail.
 
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nickb2

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#13
Once you have the guage hooked up, don't attempt to start the car. Just read the psi. Record it. Note psi reading with each bump of key (3 as you say it took to start, yes?) without starting. Does it increase with each pump to 53ish or does it straight to a steady no drop 53-59psi for at least a few minutes?

Then attempt to start engine. Once engine is running, note engine running psi. Post back results.
 
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#14
Changes had to be made to use even 10% ethanol in gas that started in 2007, prior vehicle years do not have these change and it does cause damage to fuel pumps, regulators, and injectors. With evaporative emission controls, have three fuel lines between the tank and pressure regulator, fuel feed, fuel return, and just one on top of the tank to gather fumes. If any of these leak, could have poor fuel pressure, and really doesn't take much of a leak.

Switching the ignition on and off 3-4 consecutive times with out going into start will increase this pressure, have to examine all three lines. On the newer crap, putting the carbon filter at the back of the tank so only two lines too worry about, but that sucks up road water in a rain and put gas into your tank. Water is heavier than gas, fuel pump pick up is at the bottom of the tank, has to be if it were on top, would only get the top of the tank gas into the engine. Bean counters did this to save adding that third line but sure didn't decrease the price of vehicles, price goes up every year/

Shops around here love to replace fuel pumps, have to drop the tank, average price is around 1200 bucks. Most don't remove those three tubing fitting, cut them and patch with a piece of fuel line, that leaks very quickly.

Fuel pumps are not much larger than electric motors found in RC model cars, have carbon brushes close to an inch long, they get very short after 100k miles, some newer one are finally using brushless motors, like an induction motor, driven by and AC converter that can be made in China for a couple of bucks.

With OBD I cars removing just the negative terminal of the battery, all memory was lost including your radio presets, and the ECU learning was also lost. So the vehicle had to be relearned, on some would take a half an hour to set the idle speed, all this ended with OBDII where flash memory as we called it did not lose its data when the voltage was removed. And the same was with error codes. But some foreign vehicles are different, and Canada has different laws than our EPA.

First vehicle with fuel injection was a 1985 Honda SEI that used an external fuel pump that was very easy to replace, but because it was, even with 260K miles on it, never went bad.

Security is having a full tank of gas, but not if some idiot hits you, also that is when your in-tank fuel tank goes bad, no way to drain it, siphon it out, tanks were moved to the bottom of the rear seat, so do need an external fuel pump to get that fuel out. With three fuel lines coming out of the tank, have to guess which one works. Nasty job.
 
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#15
2 days, 14 posts, 2 academic debates or rants, the fuel pressure cannot be checked (Skill level?) - I'm thinking its time for the poster to seek a professional to assist them..