Turns over, but wIll not start


Asked by RP Apr 02, 2010 at 03:03 PM about the 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

New computer. New Fuel pump. New dist. pack plus wires. It's getting spark.  New Cam pos. sensor. Ignition switch looks good.  Mechanic says it gives the code of now getting power to the ecm.  Still won't start. Any other suggestion?

11 Answers

Danny Wang

is the fuel pump relay good or is the fuel pump getting electrical power? is the crank sensor good?

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Have not checked the relay, but if pump is pumping, I assumed that relay was working as well. A new one is only about 7 bucks... or I could check for continuity if I which pins to contact. Is is possible to have placed the cam sensor in wrong... does it have to be at TDC or something?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Jay Sicht

If it's getting spark, I would think the ECM has power. You need to see if the injectors are firing (also controlled by the ECM) and that you have proper fuel pressure at the fuel rail. The injectors can be checked by unplugging the electrical connector at the top of each injector and plugging in what is called a "noid light", made by mfrs. such as Borg Warner, Standard Ignition Products, etc. It should pulse as the engine is cranked. Fuel pressure should be in the neighborhood of 35 PSI, but as long as you're getting ANY volume of fuel at the rail at all (when you depress the Schrader valve that looks like a tire valve, fuel should spray out.) I am not that familiar with the anti-theft systems on these cars, but wonder if a problem with that would allow spark but not for the injectors to fire?

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

I will check for power at the injectors via the "noid light". Not sure about the anti-theft system, though. If FI's not getting power or opening, what does this mean? Pardon the ignorance on my part, but what is failing if this happens? (ECM?) Also, I haven't checked the other "basic" re: timing chain/belt. What's a quick and easy test for this without having to make a visual inspection of said chain/belt? I really do appreciate everyone's help.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Jay Sicht

Well, an engine needs several things to run: Fuel, air, and spark. It needs enough compression to run well. You can check that the timing chain has not broken by checking compression. A compression tester screws into the spark plug hole. If the timing chain is broken, compression will be low. I'd recommend subscribing to an online DIY "repair manual" information site such as www.alldatadiy.com. It is much more comprehensive than the typical Chilton or Haynes manual, and also has many diagnostic guides and technical bulletins. The ECM has "drivers" inside that tell the injectors when to fire. I am unsure, though, if this car has an antitheft system (PASS key with a resistor in the key), and if so if it disables only the injectors and not the ignition. The online repair information ("manual")l would lead you in the right direction. I've been in the automotive parts/service industry one way or another for the past 15 years and am a serious do-it-yourselfer (mostly with GM, and had an '88 Cutlass Supreme with a 2.8), but I am no expert on the subject. Regardless of whether you tackle it yourself or have a mechanic help, though, the more diagnostics you can do on your own, the better off you'll be. One thing I don't understand is the code "not (that's what I think it meant to read) getting power to the ECM." If it's not getting power, how is it operating to give a trouble code and is getting spark?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Jay Sicht

Here's a good short article about the GM antitheft system, even though it's on an F-body site: http://sethirdgen.org/vats.htm But again, I'd recommend alldatadiy or similar. There should be a troubleshooting flowchart to help you eliminate possible problems and help you come up with a solution. Good luck and let us know what you find out!

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.

My 97 Grand Prix has this same issue. About a month ago, the car alarm started randomly going off also (I seen your other post). It's in the shop now, and they are having issues diagnosing. I will let you know what I find out.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I was having the same issue. The dealership said the battery is on it's last leg and needs to be charged or buy a new one.


When one of the cells on the battery starts going bad, it trips up the alarm system (hence the car alarm going off randomly). The battery had charge, just a compromised cell which tripped up the alarm system not allowing the car to start.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

i have a 98 grand prix an i put a new moter an trans in it an new plugs an spark plugs new cam sincer basicly every thing now but no spark any thing im missing here?? it has a 3.100 in it

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

My 01 grand am was doing that about 2 years ago, and I changed many sensors, spark plugs, boots, and probably a couple other things, myself. Before all that, it would turn over but wouldn't start. Tried it so many times that it wouldn't turnover at all. Keep in mind, I was reading and teaching myself as I went. But the culprit was either the ignition coil/coils and/or the coil pack. I don't have a tester, so when i got enough money, I changed both coils and the coil pack. With my husband not helping and just telling me i just needed a new car. But since we don't have a money tree growing in our yard, I did it. And my car, "the beast" started! My car has 333,000 miles on it and original transmission. My brother said it should be in a museum being that it's a pontiac with all those miles and still going.lol But now I think timing chain broke.??????? My car broke down on my son today. Which means me in the blistering heat, trying to diagnose the problem. The only thing I'm sure of, is I'm broke and my car broke. Gotta laugh or I'll just be crying. It halfway turns over but don't start. Before it died, it was hesitating, and there was a metal rattling noise for the last few weeks. Thinking, timing chain?????????

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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