What's going on with my 97 Firebird


Asked by Nov 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM about the 1997 Pontiac Firebird Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I just recently got this car. For the first week it was running just great, then it started getting harder to start. Then it wouldn't start at all, check engine light came on, tried starting it for about 4 days with no luck. It just turns & turns, then back fires and back fires some more. 5th day it started so I took it to the auto parts stoire nd hooked it up to the diagnostic machine & it read Mass Air Sensor. So I bought a new one replaced it and it started fine for about another week, Then the check engine light came on then it started the whole thing all over again.  After 5 days it started again.. took it to the auto parts store and hooked it up to the diasgnostic again and it read Mass Air Sensor & Miss Fire... Once again it ran good for 4 days then then check engine light came on & now will not start again...Help!!!

19 Answers


look at the harness wires to the MAF sensor for exposed wire or white powdery burn marks.could be a short someplace along the lines.


The problem with the MASS Air could be a symptom of another problem. Such as fouled plugs, Dirty AirFilter, Bad Coil(s), Bad Plug wires, broken vac tube line, dirty throttle body. These are all easy and fairly inexpensive remedies. Chances are very good its not all 3 of the MassAir Sensors. Good Luck

1 people found this helpful.

Step 1. Unplug the harness to your MAF (Mass Air Flow) Sensor. The car will run without this sensor hooked up. Step 2. Try to start car. If the car starts without issue, then you probably have a problem with the MAF harness or got a bad replacement part from Vatozone. But honestly, it's sounding more like you aren't getting spark. Could be a bad ignition coil, ICM (ignition control module, or the Optispark. How mechanically inclined are you?

2 people found this helpful.

@Michael.. I thought there was only one MAF. We replaced one on top of the intake plenum just before the TPS. We will check/repair the items you suggested and let you know what we find. @Samuel.. I thought I was pretty inclined until I got this vehicle.. I have no clue about fuel injection & all these sensors they have ..


When I read Mass Air, I assumed you meant the MAF. There are only 3 sensors before the cylinders regarding air. You have the Mass Air Flow Sensor (omitted from the 93 V8 if you ever own one in the future), the Intake Air Temperature (IAT) Sensor, and the Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) Sensor. The way it works is the MAF has 3 heated wires that measure how much air is flowing over it. The IAT measures the temperature of incoming air. The MAP measures how much air pressure is in the manifold. The ECU combines the data from these three sensors, along with the throttle position as the TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) reads, to determine timing advance, how much fuel to inject, etc. As far as mechanical inclination, it was a question more directed to your aptitude at replacing parts on the engine. Although, it could be a a dying fuel pump, now that I think about it. When you turn your key to the on position, you should hear a whirring noise coming from the rear of the car. If you can hear the pump spool up, I'd still suggest renting a fuel pressure checker from autozone. With key on, engine off, you should have about 43psi at the fuel rail.

3 people found this helpful.

O.K... so far this is what has happened..Again it was running perfect then it just stopped..started searching for loose and damaged wires. Found a few and got them fixed..Car started again perfectly..When those wires were repaired it also solved another problem that when I took it to a mechanic he quoted me a $3000.00 repair that needed to be done to the transmission.. Because when driving you start accelerating hit 40-45 mph and the car stuttered (cut out..)not a little but really bad. The mechanic told me that it was the linkage and things needed adjusted... I must have "sucker" printed on my forehead..lol Anyways, it was starting and it stopped stuttering, then after driving it around you turn it off and try turning it over again & it is acting like the battery is dead.. when it cools down, it would start but now it is dead again... Grrrr.. When turning the key on I can hear the fuel pump.. and when trying to turn it over... you can definitely smell lots of gas.. As for changing parts..I can do that pretty good.. :)

2 people found this helpful.

It could be a faulty ignition switch, though I'm disinclined to believe that since the fuel pump comes on and the starter spins the motor. We know you're getting fuel and injectors are spraying in the motor but lack spark. Lack of spark could be bad plugs, plug wires, ignition coils, ignition control module.

2 people found this helpful.

I also have a firebird, (97) and I also have all of the same problems your having! I'm just about ready to give up on this thing :( the car is almost brand new now because I've just about replaced everything, because the car broke down.I can say this for the firebird when its running good its a ton of fun to drive! Taken off ramps at 80mph ! Lol

I have a 95 firebird 3.4 doing the samething...we changed timing chain n belt and gears all new and set timing correctly,changed plugs and wires and crank,cam sensors also and still wnt start..and I checked the wire harness on both sides of car I replaced 2 sets of wires and still no start! Now a friend of mine told me thats a mech that it could be the fuel pump is not pushing out enough amperage and its to low maybe he said,somebody he knows had the same problem and they brought a brand new fuel pupm and his car still didnt start so somebody tested the new pump it was to low to turn over the car he said! I will check that next week I been on this car for over 4wks and 6 days now and is puzzled as hell!


I'm having the same problem with the same car as Brazilian so any answers plse

All my firebird problems solved! Sold it!


Hey l just got a 1997 Pontiac firebird a my and I was like at 2500 and I don't know where my throttle body is to clean it out

1 people found this helpful.

Idling to high at 2500 .

1 people found this helpful.

Hello, I have a 97 trans am ram air and last night I took off kind of rough then let off throttle to go to 3rd (automatic) when I did the car just didn't have any throttle and sputtered and died. Shifted to neutral and coasted into station. Tried to start back and just sputtered out and died. Fuel pump sounds like it's pumping, cracked line loose on engine side of fuel filter and had pressure then cycled fuel pump with key and fuel came out of filter where I removed the line to engine. Not sure but really would like to hear what everyone thinks the problem might be please? Never had any trouble in the past with something like this but just had the car since 2012. Thanks again for any help

1 people found this helpful.

It sounds like my 93 Firebird LT1 when I 1st got it! Start cheap...fuel filter...fuel pressure regulator! If that doesn't work.....your distributor needs a new cap! Promise! Just a cap...if it's cracked or gets any moisture...it's good as gone

1 people found this helpful.

my 97 formula did the same thing was the ignition switch on steering column under dash. its a bitch to change. but mine had other symptoms as well like when you are trying to start it tries until you let the switch go back to run position. hope this is helpful


i had a friend bring me his 1997 trans am lt1 5.7 on a trailer... after a few days of trying to get it to start... I was sitting in the car daydreaming when i turned on the radio.... i saw the radio flash (blink) then time changed.... i reached for the switch and the car fired right up.... to make a dramatic long story short... the radio had an anti-theft system on it... with a light at the end to tell you it was activated... (blown) being not lit you'd think it was fine... but I had found that the remote wire from the radio to the amp was grounding out under the carpet where his feet had rubbed raw... grounding it out causeing the radio to activate the anti- theft inside the radio in turn causing the car not to start... REMOTE WIRE!!! anti-theft radio....

1 people found this helpful.

also... if the security light on the dash stays on or blinks it's not going to start... it only stays on for about 30 sec... also clean the key and the ignition switch if the key can't communicate with the switch it won't start... another Lt1 i fixed was even simpler ... i pulled the E.C.M. A rat had made a nest behind it and chewed a few of the wires ... if its the radio(going to sound weird) disconect the amp hot wire take a test light and touch the hot wire thats disconected running into the car to the amp... then with the ground off the battery touch the positive or the ground if it lights up.... you have a hot wire grounding out on the body... the juice stored in the E.C.M. WILL SHOW U IN THE TEST LIGHT... who would have thought about that????


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