Why won't this damn car start?

Luminaproblem
65

Asked by Luminaproblem Mar 31, 2012 at 11:43 PM about the 1999 Chevrolet Lumina 4 Dr LS Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

1999 Chevrolet Lumina 3.1 V6
1) I have had the car for four weeks. When I first got it it ran fine. No problems at all. Everything was smooth. Filled her up with gas and put some Lucas gas treatment in her. There was a service engine soon light on so I went to Autozone it popped code p0440. Checked vacuum lines and gas cap. I figured it was still running smooth so it might be that there was a bit of a leak in the muffler and another infront of that but after the o2 sensors.
2) After one week it would not start. It would turn over cranked great but would not fire. I could smell gas and the air filter seemed fine. I went to Autozone and picked up some Plugs and Wires ( I would have checked for spark but the guy I bought it from said that he hadn't changed plugs or wires in three years). Installed them and it still did not start at first. It acted exactly the same way. Then I had a friend crank it while I checked for spark. I pulled the plug in the front middle. I forget now but am pretty sure it's fire order #4. The car started and ran for about 6 seconds.
3) I put the plug back and it ran ok. The next day I noticed it idled really rough, get on the gas a bit and it seemed to be fine. Then I was going 65 and almost missed my exit. Stomped on the breaks and she stalled out. Neutral and started right up. That happened two more times in the next couple of days (all the while a rough idle). While going up a rather steap hill I noticed that she would VROOOM higher then lower higher then lower all the way up the hill.
4) I go out to start my car the other day and back to the first problem It cranked fine sounded good but won't start.??????????????

5) PLEASE HELP!

33 Answers

aztec626bf
7,135

I had same problem with my 95 lumina a while back, It ended up being a bad coil. Check all of your plugs and see if some of them are black and fouled out. If so try a new coil pack. You might have one or more that are bad. Just get one (around $25) and move it from one location to the next. It is possible to have a bad backplane on the coils as well. Sometimes you can see a spark leak if you put the car in a dark garage and have someone crank it over while you look at wires and coil packs for spark leakage.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
Luminaproblem
65

Very Helpfull aztec. Question, If I pull one plug from each coil pack and check for spark and it's there would that mean that they are all good? (I haven't done this yet)

aztec626bf
7,135

No that wont give you any definite answer. If a coil pack or backplane leak they can be hard to troubleshoot. They might work for a while then act up for no apparent reason. If you find a bad/dirty plug try changing that coil pack. When you have the coil pack off take a close look at the backplane for cracks or any sign of arcing. Also if there is a lot of grease and buildup around coils clean that off.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Luminaproblem
65

Cool, I will definately try this first thing. Sunday night or tuesday. Also a quick question I thought of while reading what I had been writing. What are the possibilities of it being the Crankshaft Sensor. It's a much much bigger job but was wondering if you thought it a possibility?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Luminaproblem
65

Or maybe even the Camshaft sensor?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
aztec626bf
7,135

These are both a possibility from what you describe. Normally you will get a check engine light when one of these is starting to fail and sometimes these can fail and the computer will go to fail safe mode. You can hook the car up to a diagnostic tool and check if you are getting a signal from these sensors. If you find a reasonable shop they should do it for around $50.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
90V6RedHotLuminaEuro
755

If I were you, I'd recheck all your vacume lines real good. I had a similar problem with my 90 Lumina 3.1/V6, and a 91 Sunbird 3.1/V6. Tug on them check for splits especially where they're connected. You say you stomped on the brakes and the car died. Your power brake booster operates on a vacume... when you step on the brakes... guess what... Does your car idle like crap at red lights and stop signs? Seen this issue many times with other cars. Lady once was going to trade in her car... I was selling cars at the time.... she told me about her problem... I found the leak, and gave her a piece of 6 inch vacuum line, and off she went. Good thing my boss didn't find out... Anyway, you can borrow a Vac tester from Autozone... Loan-A-Tool program... they have other tools for loan as well... and of course they'll scan your codes for free. Your crank sensor could be a culprit. They're cheap and not really too hard to change as you might think... I believe there's 1 10mm bolt you can get at with a combination of 1/4 ratchet components. You might want to do your knock sensor just for fun because it's nearby. It doesn't hurt to change a few inexpensive sensors on an older car anyway. Check all your wiring and connections, especially down at the starter. This is all common sense stuff to do when troubleshooting anyway. But... I'll bet you have a good spark and nice looking plugs. I'd do the above before I'd do the coil pack. I'm not sure, read your book, but I believe the coil pack won't operate if the knock sensor and or crankshaft sensor is bad. In fact my first crankshaft sensor experience... I replaced the ignition module (expensive) and then discovered the crankshaft sensor was the culprit (cheap!). If you get it running for any length of time before it conks out step on the brakes, put it in gear, things like that, if you can... kinda like "what happens when I do this?". good luck! John B.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
aztec626bf
7,135

Right on I should have mentioned putting a vacuum gauge on it..................

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Luminaproblem
65

Tonight I after picking up a coil pack on my way to work, Tried the new coil pack in all three of the spots on the coil module. The car still cranked and did not start. Knowing that I have new plugs and wires I checked for spark at each pack. Thankfully I had none at any. I say that because it brings my means closer to an end. Next I think I should figure out a way to check the Coil pack Module (not sure if thats what it is called but it should be)(Because it holds three coil packs and is mostly referred to as a panel or module) If anyone has a reference on how to test this 3 coil holder which has Three Plugs or Wire Harnesses coming into it that information would be very helpful. At any rate I have figured out that one of the three is a Crankshaft Sensor The other two I'm not sure what the plugs do (kinda). Any and all information given from this post will be helpful and much appreciated.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Luminaproblem
65

But... I'll bet you have a good spark and nice looking plugs. ********sorry 90V6RedHotLuminaEuro you must have missed the part where I said I have NO SPARK. Plugs and wires are new and I will definately check the Crankshaft sensor and the Vacuum. Although I must be honest in saying that I'm not sure where to start for Vacuum checks or even what to look at.

Luminaproblem
65

Gonna have to look up that Knock sensor also...Damn I had three beers before I read any of your post. Thank goodness we write this stuff down : )

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
aztec626bf
7,135

Sounds like your getting in narrowed down to either Ignition control module (just under the coils) some also call this the coil backplane, the crank sensor, knock sensor (also called Piezoelectric sensor). I am steering away from knock sensor and leaning toward Ignition module under the coils. Also there is a fuse for the ECM also worth giving a look. This probably is not the issue but just remembered that in 1999 luminas had theft lockout. If you have it watch the light for it to see if its working properly........here is the bypass sequence if its acting up..................................... 1. Insert the key in your Lumina's starter, attempt to start the vehicle as usual and let it stall. Once it stalls, leave the key in the "On" position. In other words, don't switch the key to the "Off" position. 2. Observe the "Theft Sys" light on your Lumina's dashboard and wait for it to stop blinking. This takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes. 3. Turn the key immediately to start the car once the "Theft Sys" light is staying on steadily. Do not turn the key to the key to the "Off" position. This will bypass the passlock system for your Chevrolet Lumina and enable you to start it as usual..........

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
aztec626bf
7,135

As far as the vacuum I realize you cant check that now with car not running but when you do get it running here is some info. with the vacuum gauge plugged into vacuum system you should see 17-22 inches of Hg and the needle should be steady. 1. A low reading indicates ..............intake gasket, leaking vacuum hose. 2. Regular drop of about 2-4......valves 3. Irregular drops or flick of the needle .........sticky valve/valves 4. Rapid vibration of about 4.............worn valve guides 5. Slight fluctuation up and down .......ignition problems 6. Large fluctuation.....look for bad head gasket, weak/dead cylinder 7. Slow fluctuation over wide range..........blocked PCV system, incorrect fuel air mixture, intake manifold leak, or worn throttle body.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Luminaproblem
65

Tonight I put a new Ignition Module (the part that holds the coil packs) in. Still no spark and still cranks over. Not sure what to do next accept that I have a crankshaft sensor that I will probably put in. While tracing the wires off of that new module I noticed that they run to a fuse box with some big square fuse looking type deals in them. Does anyone know what settings a Multimeter would have to be set to in order to test one of these while they aren't plugged in?? THanks for the help guys.

aztec626bf
7,135

These are relays for various components. I think at this point I would get a Haynes manual for specifics on testing coils and contacts in these relays. Also since you already have the crank sensor and it is a possible source of the problem. I would install that. On the bright side when you do get it going you should be running for a long time with much of ignition system new.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
90V6RedHotLuminaEuro
755

To test those relays... you buy a new, known good, relay and swap them out... but they're probably for your radiator fan or fans and/or AC (mine has two, one for when the AC is running). Inside that "box" may be the fuse for your ECM. I'm sure I mentioned earlier about changing the Crankshaft Sensor first... Replace that sensor... and post your results. Too bad you can't just pluck that ignition module off of there and return it... oh well... so you have a spare part... There are 2 other possibilities I can think of and maybe a 3rd... one ain't so bad, one is a PITA... and one is very sad...

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Luminaproblem
65

Again thanks guys for your help. Today I put the new Camshaft sensor in of course that was not the problem so after I eat I am gonna get at that crankshaft sensor. I did the camshaft first because it was the easiest job and I figured I already had it right there might as well just pull the power steering pump and put it on. ONly took a half of an hour so no biggy. I also tested the relays and did it exactly how you said to. Just bought one for 20 dollars and swapped them out. I really hope it's the crankshaft sensor because I keep getting this gut wrenching feeling that the final conclusion if not would be timing.....BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I hope that's not it and anyways NO SPARK at all even with bad timing doesn't make sense to me at all.

Luminaproblem
65

AINT SO BAD>>>>>PITA>>>>??????

Luminaproblem
65

Pain in the ass ^^^^ I looked up internet slang to find out what PITA meant BAHAHAHA.....Anyways at least I know it now LOL.

Luminaproblem
65

After talking to my uncle I think I am pretty confident in the problem being a crankshaft sensor. I know you guys both told me to replace that part first. However my working conditions are outside in a parking lot after work in the dark so I still haven't done that. Today I should have just replace the crankshaft position sensor instead of messing around with all of the other stuff I did. At one point today I pulled the starter and brought it to Autozone to have it checked....BAHAHAHAH I only did it because there was a cute girl working who thought I should. At any rate I'm out of energy and been through an emotional rollercoaster over this, I think I will not mess with it any more tonight and try and fix it in the a.m.

Jason Zane
3,235

after all the work, it should run really smoothly now ;)

Luminaproblem
65

It was the crankshaft sensor all along. Put a new one in and VROOOM. Thanks again for all of the help guys!

90V6RedHotLuminaEuro
755

well... there you have it... but check your vacuum lines anyway as a maintenance thing... your car is at that age... all those rubber and plastic lines/hoses, some coming out of the throttle body... if any of them look dry cracked, replace them. Good Work! Good Luck!

aztec626bf
7,135

I'm happy for you. It should go for a long time now.

tportice
0

Hey,I got a 98 lumina 3.1 and i notice alittle smoking under hood,while it was running.i looked too see what was smoking and i seen oil coming from a line that comes from the back vale cover to the air box hose.so i was wondering why it was backing up.i took the hose off the fuel body and opened the air box.it had half quart of oil in air box.pvc vale is not sticking so i have no ideal what it is making it backup.any ideals why thats happening?

April Cox
0

i had the same problem with mine, the cat was plugged.

michellefae33
0

I was looking for a little help for someone please ~~ I have a 93 lumina 3.1 v6 ~ and I was losing power going into the engine, didn't want to idle ~ and when it did, it idled very low ~ wanted to shut off ~~ thought it might have been the coil packs.. due to that was the issue last year when it was doing the same thing. I replaced 2 of them then ~ there is only one left to replace... but then thought it could be something as simple as just spark plugs. Tonight ~ had someone replace them... and when they took them out ~ they were corroded and caked with gunk. After they were replaced and we took it for a test drive, the car ran like a champ.... you could tell the difference. But when we stopped at a gas station, and shut the car off ~ took the keys out.. the parking lights came on without the keys in the ignition... and when we put the keys back in the ignition... nothing. Not a click, not a sound. So what the hell.... ?!?!? Does anyone know what this could possibly be? Not sure if he changed out the wires with the new spark plugs ~ could it be just that simple? Or could it be more complex than that? Any advice would be great at this point :) Thank you

Jason Zane
3,235

Michelle, you might wanna make your own post on "have a car question?" and click on "ask" to send. ...first try pulling & inspecting & re-hooking the fuses ONE AT A TIME, and check each one for open (burnt out) contacts. are the wires in back of the alternator ok? is the housing for the wires on? seems like it could be a powerline short. this is a first step probe.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
michellefae33
0

Jason ~ thank you... I just realized I did ask this question on someone elses ~ sorry about that.. I will take this to my own question if you wanna follow me there :)

Rjnaranjo
10

i had the same problem, but i fix that , may be you problem is from the coil module where you put the coil.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
suda
50

i bought 2 batterys and then gets charge then a hour later it goes dead what could be wrong

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Roberto Naranjo
30

Suda , if u bought 2 batterys and then gets charge and it goes dead. that is a problem with your alternator. buy a new alternator.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
90V6RedHotLuminaEuro
755

...but FIRST, check your "HVAC" fuse... ( I'm not sure exactly where your fuse box is, but mine was in the glove box ) The "HVAC" Fuse (Heating Ventilation Air Conditoning) is also the Fuse for the Alternator Turn-ON Signal/Voltage... if that Fuse is blown, the Alternator won't Turn ON (ie. will not produce a charging voltage to the battery)... (Ref: Your Schematic in The Haynes Manual)

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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