She Wants to Go, But Can't Get Her There!

Asked by Aug 11, 2013 at 10:38 AM about the 1990 Chevrolet Lumina 4 Dr Euro Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have had my 1990 Chevy Lumina 3.1 for almost 5 years, and of course with an older
car, there have been issues. I know quite a bit about cars, but this has both me and
my mechanic stumped. A few months ago it was running very hot (but did not overheat)
while running errands. When I tried to start her, it would not turn all the way over. I let it
cool off and then I adjusted the idle air control and managed to get it home. Since then
I have checked/replaced the following items; fuel filter, spark plugs, throttle position
sensor, checked all fuses, and even swapped out the ECU. My mechanic said there
was plenty of fuel pressure and plenty of spark, but can't get a reading for codes (too
old a model). Anyone have any thoughts? I much appreciate you letting me pick your

6 Answers


Will it turn over as normal but just wont start? if so Have you done a compression check? This will rule out loss of compression(blown head gasket - valves not seating properly - ect).

You are correct, and no, I have done a compression check, but in the past when I have had a blown head gasket (other cars), it would start but idle very rough and blow smoke out of the exhaust, and the radiator fluid would be very milky. That isn't the case with this car.


"A few months ago it was running very hot (but did not overheat) while running errands. When I tried to start her, it would not turn all the way over." These symptoms as reported were "a few months ago". What are it's symptoms now/today? Starting? Running? If it runs, does it run Hot? Does it stall? ...and if so, do you have to let it cool off before it starts again? .....if it runs, do a vacuum test..... have your Mechanic do it, or borrow a MityVac from AutoZone and do it yourself. You can read the codes from your ECM..... are youi familiar with the procedure? If you don't have a Haynes manual, I highly recommend that you get one for troubleshooting. It will tell you how to read your codes, and what the various codes mean. It will also tell you how to read your Vac guage. A Vac guage can tell you a great deal about the health of your engine.... Another very important question..... is your Radiator Fan working properly and does it come on at the Specified Temp? When the car is running, what does your water pump sound like? If you haven't done it in a while, change your thermostat. If you haven't done so ever, change your Crankshaft Position Sensor, and your Knock Sensor, which is near/above the CPS..... they're cheap and easy to replace. Your car is a '90..... Old..... like mine..... if they're old too, change 'em..... trust me..... when/if you change them, be careful with the connectors, they may be a bit rotten from age and heat and grime and all that..... if your Vac is low, check/replace hoses as necessary, check them real good anyway, they too are getting rotten..... some of the Vac lines are thin plastic covered with a spiral plastic flexible wire conduit.... they can get dry rotten and crack, and you won't even know it..... listen real close for any hissssinggg..... nwiring insulation also gets rotten, check all that while you're checking hoses.... you may have wiring, a bundle, routed sort of beneath/under the power steering pump, smashed against the block... get them out of there if this is the case, they often get rotten, check them good, and if you can, reroute them above/behind the pump..... none of this may solve your problem, but should be done, being that your car is over 23 years old (like mine)..... and just for additional info, not related to your engine troubles..... check All your rubber and plastic, in, on, under, and around your car.....including but not limited to your subframe bushings..... if you need to replace your subframe bushings, GM has upgraded bolts for you..... the original installed bolts are too thin..... has great deals on parts for your car..... oh, one more thing, your timing chain, if your engine has 125k miles or more, you may want to consider replacing it, expensive, but, if it pops, your valve train will get wrecked, and it will be even more expensive to repair..... I call it the achilles heal of the 3.1..... give your car a real good going over, just for good measure..... because, like mine, your car is OLD..... may have some help for you as well.... looks like a nice car..... would be kind of you to keep it alive and running well..... good luck..... I have to go now and do some repairs on my own '90 Lumina Euro Coupe..... the gas tank which, of course has a bit of rust and rot, has a leak along a seam..... Later!


Ps. don't let the pic of my ol' red 90 fool you, the paint and body need a massage, that'll be next, after all of my mechanical, functional issues are attended to, updated, upgraded, repaired, whatever..... (cool wheels?! craigslist, 40 bucks! with tires! fact, got the whole car from craigslist, 800 bucks... believe me though, at the time of purchase, 800 may have been a bit too much to pay... boy do I got some war stories about this car..... whatever you do, have fun with it, become one with the process, make sure you have your AutoZone Rewards Card handy at all times, eat some grease, break some knuckles, drink a few beers, and laugh a lot... enjoy!)

Knowledge is power, thanks for the info. Unfortunately I missed your response 90V, as I spoke with the mechanic again and we decided it was best to just sell it for parts. I am going to miss her, but your input is helpful if I get another one like her! Thanks again!


...oh so saddddd... maybe, like chitty chitty bang bang, she'll see a new life some day... and drive on to new exciting adventures..... hmmm... wait a minute... where do you live? I need a drivers side front fender!

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