2002 sunfire no start


Asked by Oct 17, 2010 at 09:04 AM about the 2002 Pontiac Sunfire SE

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

So here's what happened. In the morning I noticed the engine was missing every few seconds at idle. It didn't sound out of the ordinary for this engine though (2.2 eco). So I went to work and the wife drives the car. She takes it in the highway and reaches construction where she slows down as there was one of those real nasty breaks in the pavement. After that from what she describes the car just stalled. (no power steering or brakes). Tow it home and try to start. It seems like the battery is dead and no noise from the fuel pump. Trickle charge overnight and next day its as if the battery is dead again-clicking from the starter. Boost it and it will turn over. So I disconnect the battery and hook up a known good one. She cranks over and I can hear the fuel pump now but still no go. Doesn't even sound like she's trying to start. I've heard that the ignition control modules can blow if theres a bad spark plug, is this true? How can I check it without diagnostic tools? Is there an easy way to check for spark? I checked fuel pressure and it seems like it's getting fuel. I just hate this car.

Appreciate any help/suggestions.

11 Answers


Might not have made it clear but it will crank over with good speed with the known good battery and the fuel pump is making the right noise. I'm really suspecting the ignition module right now... These cars suck!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

i have an 01 sunfire the best way to check a spark plug or coil pack is to connect a volt meter up to each of the spark plugs and turn the ignition on and see if any charge is coming from the spark plugs if only two run the lines back to the connected coil if all four then it might be the ignition module and if you change it you might as well change the coil packs as well but a bad spark plug would cause your car not to start not blow your ignition module. what was the fuel pressure when you checked it

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Didn't have a pressure gauge for the fuel pressure but some squirted out when I checked the port. When starting the engine it's not even trying to start or 'fire'. Sounds as if it is completely out of fuel or no spark. I'm starting to think that its an electrical wiring problem as there are many others with this problem. I think I'll have to pull out the volt meter and do continuity tests :(

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

if u know a mechanic that does pressure test for free id take it to him for it. Your right it could be an electrical problem possibly a negative on the engine came loose.or corrision around the battery post could cause no start without seeing the car its hard to trouble shoot your problem. There will be pressure in the fuel line doesnt mean that the pressure is over 60 psi ignition on (sorry just thought about it)


Yea you're right about not getting enough pressure. On these cars does the pressure have to go to 40-60 psi in order for the fuel injector to fire? I'm going to try some quickstart shortly just to see if I can get it to fire. If it does fire then I know for sure it's fuel related. I just installed a new battery and everything in the car is working great. Fuel pump comes on like a champ, and it even turns over faster. At first glance there doesn't seem to be any noticeable corrosion but I've seen instances where cheap thin wires were used and beneath the sheathing there was just green corrosion. Pretty bad on the auto manufacturer... I'm hoping it's just fuel related. She did go over a bump and then experience this problem, so possibly the fuel tank pickup is clogged or the fuel filter is clogged etc... That scenario would prove to be much easier for me to fix than an electrical issue. Thanks for the help!


Update... With the quick start being sprayed in it won't even huff or puff (nor blow my house down) so I'm really thinking it's just the ignition module as there is no spark. I've heard before that bad spark plugs will kill the module, or it can die a slow death resulting in light missing at idle when warm (which I experienced just a short while before it finally died) and then it will just randomly go bad. So I bit the bullet and will be changing out the module and the spark plugs. It's a gamble but the way the car has been running earlier on this year has been pretty rotten as well as poor (seemingly) fuel economy. I noticed that when I blipped the throttle or put the car in gear the engine would miss or feel like it was going to stall out. I'll update tonight when install the garbage components into the garbage can.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

alright computer died on me last night before i could see your post but let me know if the ignition module was the problem but if not it might be your fuel pump it might sound like it come on but doesnt work properly i've replaced mine twice on this car and my uncles 4 times different symptoms every time but just keep me updated

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

So today I pulled the plugs and and only one of them has a discernible tip left... One is eroded real bad and the other two have no tips left. I changed them all but still no dice. My guess is that the coil pack is burnt up. When she hit the bump in the road the tips probably fell off and the additional gap in the spark probably caused excess voltage. I'm not entirely sure how to test the ohms on the coil pack but I tested all combinations of wire leads and I'm getting full resistance at all settings on my multimeter. So since there is two coils for each bank of cyls, they are probably both roasted. My brother had the same issue on his 2002 grand am except his car was still driveable in the 'limp' mode. I'm going to change the coil pack $180 but the ICM might also be blown from the excessive voltage... I just love these crap electronics that are designed to fail. I hope this info can help someone else in the future. If you own one of these contraptions please don't forget to change the spark plugs after 150,000km or inspect them at the first sign of missing/stumbling/stalling.


Ok well not good. I replaced both ICM and the coil pack to no avail. This is just getting irritating now. With the cost of just those two parts alone for a few hundred extra I could have bought a lower km engine and just swapped the damn thing... Should have bought a toyota.


i hear that im bout to get a f-150 need the extra room for hauling but try taking off the top of the engine and check your pistons and the wall its pretty easy work to do if you burned up your spark plugs then u might've scarred your chamber wall by accident but if one of your pistons is jammed then that might be your problem and you can either rebuild the engine (round 300-400) or replace the engine if that is whats wrong

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

thanks for the reply. I don't think the engine is seized as it does turn over. I'm suspecting either the fusible link at the starter or the crank position sensor. Luckily the crank sensor is very difficult to get at sigh...

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

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