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Electrical/Olds Silhoutte van/ 1999

dorrtotten dorrtotten
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 04/17
Posted: 04/25/17
11:24 AM

I wondered if anyone had suggestions. Originally, my van (180,000miles) stranded me in November 2016, wouldn't start, just turned over, wouldn't fire. Mechanic replaced ignition coils. They were also visibly bad/corroded. Good for 7 months and van stranded me again, same thing. Same ASE certified mechanic friend of mine replaced ignition module and some cam sensors. 1 month ago, stranded again. My friend was away. Took to dealer where purchased. Replaced the sensors wires in the air intake and other cam sensors. Car did it again days later. This time specialists diagnostic troubleshooter/mechanic that works for large dealerships checked it out-new ignition module replaced(defective?). Days later, same thing. I have also replaced the starter 3weeks age. Have not replaced rotor/distributor cap/ wires/plugs and I did a liquid repair (properly) 1-1/2month ago to fix leaky head gaskets(Blue Devil brand and no more leaks)because I did not have $1500. Today when I turn it over now, doesn't sputter like its trying to ignite the fuel in the engine at all. Have try holding gas pedal down while cranking. Just makes van stink like gas. ANY IDEAS?  

Just Try It1 Just Try It1
Moderator | Posts: 2579 | Joined: 08/14
Posted: 04/25/17
02:05 PM

there are no distributors or caps..

that 3.4L V6 model has a crankshaft position sensor. a camshaft position sensor.  an ignition module with 3 ignition coils mounted to the top..

when you are killing so many ignition coils and modules.. you could have several issues,

bad or broken spark plug wires are one failure that will cause repeated ignition coil failures and repeated ignition module failures..

let me describe.

the ignition coils have 2 towers on each.. the ignition module closes the ground connection and the primary winding in the coil builds a magnetic field.. when the module wants to fire the coil it breaks the connection to ground.. this collapses the magnetic field in the primary coil winding.. the collapsing magnetic field lines pass thru the secondary windings and create a high voltage spark that builds voltage until its high enough to travel down one spark plug wire.. across the spark plug gap.. thru one cylinder head.. the block.. the other cylinder head.. jumping the gap on the other spark plug and travels up the spark plug wire to the second terminal on the same coil.  this is a complete circuit..

but.. there is a HUGE issue if the resistance in the spark plug wires is too high of the metal terminals to connect inside the spark plug boot ends have been pulled off the wire..   this happens a lot and sometimes goes unnoticed.  the conductor inside the spark plug wires is usually carbon over a fiberglass core.

failure in a aparkplug wire can break the complete circuit.. the high voltage spark created in one side of the coil now wants to get back to the other side of the coil.  it can do this in several ways... it can take a short cut back thru the ignition module 12 volt positive circuits.  it can try to get there by trying to go thru the power transistor negative control circuits..

if you run 40,000 volts thru a circuit rated at about 18 volts max.. what happens.   destruction.

there are also more issues on the 12 volt circuits.  if the ground connections are loose..
you could have way too much power being generated on the engine block.

i came up with a 5 minute test to verify this if the engine is running..

which component died again???

if you have block sealer in the engine and have been continuing to drive it..  most of the mechanics i know would write the vehicle off and get something else.

the sell or keep is if the transmission has been rebuilt.  if the transmission is less than 2 or 3 years old.  you might consider

i have to run off for a while.. i will be back later..  

dorrtotten dorrtotten
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 04/17
Posted: 04/28/17
08:06 AM

Hi,                                                                      4/27/17
   Thank you for the response. I have printed your Voltage Drop Testing sheet and will be going through that shortly. Talked more w the dealer. After the computer aided diagnostics, the ignition module was replaced,started up no problem. So far have replaced ign module, ign coils, cam sensors, MAF sensors, fixed 3 vacuum leaks,and starter, and fuses were all checked. When I got it back, six days ago on Saturday I drove to 3 or 4 different places. On Sunday,I went somewhere and 2hrs, later returned, wouldn't start. Next day, went back, started right up. Got back home, parked it, shut it off. 10 minutes later, no start. Tue-no start. Wed and up to today-started w no problem(have not gone anywhere with it). If I let it sit , like overnight and cold engine, it often restarts no problem.
   I will be checking the grounds for tight connection and clean contact. With a battery, too much corrosion on that negative terminal, and that thing wont work. Same idea I'm thinking. I am gonna replace the spark plug wires. What you said reminded me of the importance of good wires and I am betting the wires are being a huge problem and damaging components. The three wires closest to the fire wall will not be fun. For kicks, I will do an resistance test on each wire after I am done.
   QUESTION: I do have good compression with the temporary gasket fix for now.I was going to replace the head gasket but the 80% I had saved so far for the repair fund got wiped out with four repair bills related to the no start. Once the no start is resolved, I was still going to re save the money and replace the head gasket.  They claim the product as a permanent seal so I think it will hold for another couple of months while I re-save the money. I am wanting to do it based on the good shape of the body,frame, suspension/steering,southern car, and that other Silhouette owners are beyond 250,000 miles with theirs. What issues do you think might be encountered once the gasket repair is started?    Thanks-  

Just Try It1 Just Try It1
Moderator | Posts: 2579 | Joined: 08/14
Posted: 04/28/17
11:11 AM

with the BLOWN head gaskets. the van is ready for a head gasket replacement and heads surfaced.. or valve jobs performed..

block sealer is a temporary fix.  it does not cure the issues all those motors have..

please .. if you are going to do the head gasket change.. you must invest in a 3/8 drive torque wrench and not exceed the proper torque on the rockerarm bolts. way too many have been pulled right out and cause excessive labor time to repair..

putting in helicoils or solid thread inserts.

if only your intake gaskets blew out. and at one point of time cars and vans with that motor all over the world were parked while replacement gaskets were durability tested.  there were NO intake manifold gaskets anywhere in the world for them  none at the dealer.. none at parts stores.  the plastic supporting the silicone molded seals was too thin. .  

dorrtotten dorrtotten
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 04/17
Posted: 04/30/17
06:58 PM

   Did the voltage drop test.Had issues from

positive post to fuses at .10


positive post to alternator post at .17.

Changing wires tomorrow now that they are in.

As for head gasket repair - no way. Wont be doing that one -lol. Garage will be doing it.  

Just Try It1 Just Try It1
Moderator | Posts: 2579 | Joined: 08/14
Posted: 05/01/17
06:27 AM

on test 5...  positive to the fuse block.. please inspect the electrical connection at the fuse block..  it could be dirty.. a 3 buck stainless steel wire tooth brush is perfect for cleaning both sides of the ring terminals  and the face of the mounting point..  the underside of the fastener.

test 5 at 0.1 is not that far out of range..

on test 6... alternator to battery.. 0.17 is not bad..  its worth taking a look at but i expect up to 0.3 volts.  because of the amount of electrons pushing thru the wire..  

dorrtotten dorrtotten
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 04/17
Posted: 05/04/17
06:51 PM

Hello,                                                         May 4, 2017
    Thanks for all your helpful feedback. It's been great to have your help. I finished changing all my plugs and wires today but what a job that was. Had to remove so much stuff to get at the three plugs by the firewall, in addition to cinching the motor forward, and then they were also difficult coming out.
    Anyhow, redid the tests and #6 came back with a new reading of only .07 which I liked. Cut some of the old wires open and the core was a little bit on the weak/brittle side. My gap for plugs is .60 and the old plugs had from .74 gap and up to one where the electrode was missing: ....yeah. I hope it helps with the no start issues which I will be able to put to the test more tomorrow with some driving/ shut off/ restart from various safe spots like friends homes and etc in case I have to leave it behind - LOL. I will be cleaning the connections as well like you had mentioned for #5. I will post the results after some days of driving. Thanks again.  

dorrtotten dorrtotten
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 04/17
Posted: 06/20/17
02:04 PM

      I wanted to post a final update. Changed a lot of parts, spent a lot of money, almost got rid of it but I felt God gave me no peace with that answer. I was sure it was probably something simple. Checked with one more mechanic at $100/hr and good at no starts and it was worth it. He found bad wiring from the crankshaft sensor to the ignition module, replaced them and problem solved! What a nice feeling. Thanks for your help in getting me closer to final repair. Be blessed!  

Just Try It1 Just Try It1
Moderator | Posts: 2579 | Joined: 08/14
Posted: 06/21/17
05:55 AM

thanks.. this is why i do this. just for the thanks..  

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