This WEB page is being provided for the benefit of those who ARE or who HAVE struggled with the problem that I am trying to fix on my own car.

Please NOTE: Click on the various images in this article to ZOOM them to a much larger size.


Allow me to give you a little history so that you may realize what a TRULY bizarre, hard to diagnose problem this REALLY is !!

I have now owned the car for about ten years. For the first four it started faithfully within 1 or 2 seconds of turning on the ignition key.

One day I was parked at the beach all day (about 8 hours), and when I went to start the car the engine would crank and spin but wouldn't start. I tried for about 5 minutes and it finally started. All was well for about a week (started as always) and I was parked at the beach (same spot) all day again. Lo-and-Behold -- SAME problem. This was repeated again about two weeks later.

I put in a new battery because the old one didn't have much cranking capacity left (it was almost dead by the time the engine finally started during the last session) even though I put it on a charger when I got home after each of these incidents.

I went to the InterNet and Googled on "2002 Grand AM cranks but won't start". I found PLENTY of forums and sites from people complaining about this and similar problems. The solutions generally fell into three categories:

1. -- Fuel System problems
2. -- Ignition or Electrical System problems
3. -- "Passlock Security System" problems

Let me start by clarifying an issue that may come to the mind of some reading this journal -- at NO point during this ENTIRE procedure were ANY failure codes posted by the car computer. This is ONE of the things (along with the erratic failure rate) that is making troubleshooting of this problem SO perplexing !!

My first attempt at troubleshooting was to check out the fuel system. Many of the sites said to verify that you can hear the fuel pump run for a few seconds when you turn the ignition switch to the "ON" position BEFORE actually starting to crank the engine. This verifies that all of the electrical conditions needed to actuate the fuel pump (fuses, relay, PCM, computer) are met and that the pump WILL actually run. This checked out OK, as did a test on the actual fuel pump with a fuel pressure gauge (55 pounds at the Fuel Injector Rail test valve).

One other area of potential failure relating to fuel would be if the actual fuel pump delivery system is OK, but the computer is NOT allowing the fuel injectors to fire (more on this later). I had no way to verify this. A couple of sites also mentioned contaminated fuel as being a potential problem, ESPECIALLY California's "ethanol garbage". They suggested an additive called, Fuel Medics - 37366, "Ethanol Medic", which can be purchased at Shop.FuelMedics.com and at Amazon.com. It was a relatively cheap and easy solution, so I gave it a try !!

I was elated because this SEEMED to solve the problem. I went for about six months with NO further trouble. Then one day I was parked at the same place at the same beach and, Lo-and-Behold -- the car won't start. This time, however, it was worse -- it NOW took me about 15 minutes of cranking before it started. The engine would just SPIN, giving NO indication whatever that it was attempting to fire (either NO fuel, NO spark, or none of either).

It finally started, and I drove for about 5 minutes and stopped at an ocean overlook (I figured that I would be safe since previously, once the car started, it was fine). I was stopped for maybe 20 minutes, and THIS time it wouldn't start again -- about another 15 minutes of cranking before it would finally start.

To shorten the story, it ran fine for another month or so and THIS time it failed outside of my home and NOT at the beach. I could see that the problem was escalating, so I went back to the WEB.





I had ruled out fuel system trouble for the moment, and I had no way to conveniently analyze the ignition system (PCM, computer, ignition modules, etc.), so I decided to consider the "Passlock Security System".

This is a very simple "Theft Deterrent System" built into the ignition switch assembly and feeding into the PCM ("Power Control Module"). It functions by sending a signal to the PCM when the ignition key is turned to "ON". If the PCM fails to get this signal, it prevents the fuel injectors from firing -- hence, NO fuel is delivered to the cylinders even though the fuel pump IS delivering fuel to the rails. It supposedly prevents "hot wiring" the car to start it since "NO key - NO Passlock Signal - NO start".

A LARGE number of hits on my Google search turned this item up as being a source of trouble. There was only one problem as pertaining to MY particular situation. When the "Passlock System" fails, there is a red "Security" light on the instrument cluster that should be flashing, indicating the lockout condition. Mine wasn't flashing -- it came on with the lamp test when the ignition key was first turned, and then it went out again like ALL of the lights are supposed to do.

I was getting rather desperate now -- the condition (whatever it was) was deteriorating and I DID NOT want to take the car into the garage (ESPECIALLY not the dealer garage). As far as I am concerned, auto service garages (and ESPECIALLY the dealership ones) are nothing more than legalized centers for theft and price gouging -- and the "technicians" are technically incompetent extortionists. Besides, with a problem THIS intermittent, ANY garage would be hard pressed to diagnose it and be sure that they were actually replacing the CORRECT component. The problem was that after the failure, once the car started, it was fine until the next failure, which might be weeks away !!

I found a site with instructions on how to bypass the "Passlock System" very simply, so I thought, "What the heck. Let's give it a try. I don't know what else to do." I ordered some resistors on eBay and promptly forgot about the problem again since I went for another couple months without any more trouble. Then it happened !!!

I was at the beach again and went to start my car, and THIS time I hit the jackpot -- NO START. I attempted to start it on-and-off for about an hour with no luck. I was REALLY getting concerned that I was going to damage the starter motor with ALL of the cranking I was doing. It WOULD NOT start, so I decided to leave it overnight and called a friend for a ride home. I figured that I would have no choice this time but to call a tow truck in the morning and have them take it to a garage. I lacked the equipment and expertise to troubleshoot THIS problem !!

In the morning, before calling the tow truck, I figured that I might as well try and see if it would start. Lo-and-Behold, it whined for about 5 seconds, sputtered and coughed a few times, and then fired into life.

This time I decided that the time had come to take it home, park it, and NOT move it again until I found out what was wrong. First off, I ordered an ignition switch on eBay [ Here ] for about $30 since that seemed like a good place to start -- it was fairly easy to replace and the price was cheap !! The ignition switch comes in two modules which are purchased separately -- the actual switch assembly and an inner key-lock assembly. It is the key-lock assembly that contains the "Passlock" mechanism.

I found a good video on YouTube with instructions. Incidentally, had I opted to have the car towed into the dealership garage and have the ignition switch replaced there, the price would have been about $450-550 -- $150 towing, about 1 hour diagnostic fee ($100), 1 hour labor to replace switch ($100) and $100-200 for the actual switch.

However, while I was waiting for the switch to arrive, I decided to do the "Passlock System" bypass modification since I already had the resistors that I had ordered, and certainly had nothing to loose.




****** What follows is the "Real Meat" of this article, the preceding was only background. ******




I performed the modification as described on the following WEB Site. What the modification ACTUALLY does is to completely bypass the "Passlock System" at the ignition switch. The PCM then "thinks" that it is receiving a valid signal, but it is REALLY receiving a "dummy signal from the installed resistor.

As the MOD page states, the downside is that you no longer have a functioning "Theft Lock System", but the upside is that you DO have a car that will start reliably !!

So, the bottom line here is simply this --- If you are having weird starting problems similar to what is described in this article, whether or not your "Security" light is flashing, the FIRST, cheapest and easiest thing to do is to bypass the "Passlock System" !!

The WEB page is [ HERE ] [ www.bergerweb.net/grandamsecurityfix.htm ].

There are two methods to perform this modification. By ALL means use the one that involves removing the radio. It is the method that I used and it is VERY easy and simple to do.

If you are interested, the YouTube video with instructions on replacing the actual ignition switch are [ Here ] [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIXmd8SCGzI ].


An IMPORTANT word of instruction at this point:

The YouTube video calls for removing the upper and lower panels on the steering wheel, the bezel around the instrument cluster, as well as the instrument cluster itself in order to remove the ignition switch. This IS NOT necessary.

Once the radio is removed, you can gain easy access to the ignition switch by using an "open-ended" hacksaw to cut away the left hand wall of plastic that makes up the drawer that the radio slides into. This drawer serves NO useful purpose, and even just to install the resistor, removing it makes the job MUCH easier.

Also, the Bypass instructions show the bundle containing the three wires as being right out in the open. Well, on my car, this was NOT so. The bundle may be hidden and rather hard to find, as well as being TOTALLY wrapped in the black tape. However, consult the photos and LOOK for it where they claim it should be. It IS there -- I finally found it on my car after looking around with a flashlight. I also had to remove the two mounting screws from the ignition switch and move it around until I was able to locate the wires.


My car is a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am GT1, 3.4 L, V6. This modification will, no doubt, work on Grand Am's of other years. It may also work on other related GM models such as Chevy Malibu and Olds Alero and Cutlass (these share the same repair manual). However, I know NOTHING about ANY vehicle other than my own, and it will be up to interested parties to determine the facts regarding THEIR particular vehicle to their OWN satisfaction.





I wish (for my OWN sake) that I could report that bypassing the "Passlock Sensor" resolved my problem, but ALAS -- it DID NOT !!

After doing the aforementioned bypass, I decided to leave the car parked for a week and merely start it twice a day (in the morning and again in the evening). I didn't want to risk becoming stranded again. For the entire week the car started flawlessly, so I thought -- SUCCESS !!

So I decided to give it the acid test and take it to the beach for the day again. I went to my usual location and parked the car in my "infamous" spot. Unbelievable as it may sound, at the end of the day, the car would NOT start again -- SAME old problem. The engine would crank freely but make NO effort at all to fire (start). I was a LITTLE more fortunate this time. After playing with it on-and off for about 15 minutes, I finally got it to start.

The following day I replaced the ignition switch which I had ordered. A valued word of instruction concerning replacing the ignition switch !! There is VERY little available space to navigate the switch around to get at the wiring connectors.

The BIG problem is the "Shifter Lockout" cable that runs from the switch housing to the transmission shift lever. It is a heavy metal cable that extends from the rear of the switch assembly near the wire connectors. It does NOT bend easily nor allow for much freedom of movement. Watch the YouTube video to locate the cable and see how to detach it. It WILL be necessary to twist and pull the switch assembly around until you can access the cable. Once it is detached, it is an easy matter to unplug the two wiring connectors.

It was at this point that I found this EXCELLENT troubleshooting guide [ Here ] [ http://troubleshootmyvehicle.com/gm/3.1L-3.4L/how-to-test-a-no-start-condition-1 ] on "How to Troubleshoot a No Start"

One of the items that it mentions to check is the "Crank Position Sensor". Since I didn't have one, what I DID do was to remove the three cable plugs at the ignition coil assembly and spray each of them with a good contact cleaner.

I also ordered a used computer (ECM / PCM) for $30 [ Here ] from eBay -- which I am currently waiting to arrive. AS A NOTE:I would suggest that you try to find one that states that it was removed from the EXACT same model as your car. This will ensure (as close as possible) that the PROM is flashed with the correct values. Otherwise, it may not work WITHOUT reprogramming (which MUST be done by a dealership !!)

This is the status of the problem at the moment. If it fails again, I will replace the ECM.


Well, the car wouldn't start AGAIN today -- and guess WHERE it was parked ?? You guessed it -- the USUAL fateful spot at the beach (something SPOOKY about this, don't you think?) !!

This time I tried another tip that I had run across browsing the InterNet for "no-start" solutions. The tip stated that sometimes the fuel pump would fail to prime itself with fuel and would therefore be unable to pump it to the engine. The tip suggested banging on the bottom of the fuel tank with a hammer or some-such related object. I did this and LO, the engine started. Now pay attention !! I KNOW that the fuel pump DOES run because I can hear it running for a few seconds when I initially turn the key to the "ignition" position.

If replacing the computer and the crank sensor that I have already purchased don't do any good, I guess that the fuel pump will be my next target. I located one on eBay for under $40.00 [ Here ]. ALL-in-all, I am still WAY under the cost of a garage visit -- and I trust that, considering the sparodic nature of the failure, that THEY would not fare ANY better than I am at tracking it down !!!!

Since I already have the computer that I ordered from eBay, I guess that IT will be my next replacement item. The ACTUAL replacment seems pretty easy. I WILL have to do the "PassLock Retraining" procedure (see your user's manual or the "Passlock Bypass" for instructions). I am trusting that apart from this, the flashed parameters of the computer should be close enough to my car for it at least to start and run (even if NOT at peak efficiency).

I replaced the computer today !! Other than the "PassLock Retraining" procedure, it installed and the car started with NO problems. Now it will be a matter of driving the car and being at the beach long enough to see if the problem recurs (probably up to two month as erratic as it is).

Well, it has been a few weeks, and so far the car is starting without problem. The ONLY peculiarity with the running that I notice is that, whereas previously the transmission shifted smoothly in-and-out of gear, there is now a decided "CLUNK" when it does either. No big concern for testing purposes, though.

Stand by for further updates !!!!





I hit a "dead-end" once more !! The computer didn't solve the problem either.

It seems to be failing less frequently, however. I have had this computer in for about 6 months, and the car has given me "starting problems" less than a dozen times. Also, it takes MUCH less time and effort to finally get it to start. Maybe I am "learning the technique".

I am reinstalling the original computer.

I am STILL left with the dilemma of discerning whether it is a FUEL problem or an ELECTRICAL problem. If it is a FUEL problem, it acts like the engine is not getting ANY fuel at all !! While it is cranking, the engine spins totally free, meaning that it is not making ANY attempt to fire -- AT ALL. This sounds like an IGNITION problem (no spark). I checked the fuel pressure with a gauge again, and it reads around 50 psi during priming (prior to starting the engine), during cranking (I pulled the ignition fuse #41 out so it won't start), and while it is running.

The REAL problem is that after the failure -- once the car finally starts -- it runs just fine, and the next failure could be weeks or even months away. There is no sense in taking it into a garage since they would have NO way of troubleshooting the problem. ALL that they would do is to charge me a LOT of money for labor charges and replacing something that probably WAS NOT defective -- and tell me that "the problem is fixed" -- until the NEXT failure !!!

I guess that it is time to get down to some SYSTEMATIC troubleshooting. I have ordered a "GlowShift Tinted 100 PSI Fuel Pressure Gauge" from Amazon.com for $60 using this link [ Here ], that I can install permanently in the dash to monitor fuel pressure at the fuel injector rails. This way, I can see what is happening right at the time of failure.

It can be easily connected to the fuel pressure test connector at the injector rail. You can use a tire valve removal tool for a bicycle to remove the one-way valve in the test connector.

I have installed the Fuel Pressure Gauge. It reads 55-60 psi - while the fuel system is initially pressurizing immediately upon turning the ignition switch to on, while the engine is cranking and during normal running.



It failed again yesterday -- you guessed it -- At the beach !!. At least the gauge served its purpose. The fuel pressure was maintained at 55-60 psi during the whole "trying to get started" episode. Fortunately, this time it DID start after playing with it for about 5 minutes. The previous time I tried for about 1/2 hour to start it with NO success. Finally - I had to leave it overnight. Guess what ?? When I went back the next morning (to the beach also), it started RIGHT up !!

I also noticed a VERY interesting thing. I pulled out the "fuel pump relay" (#18) just to test the gauge and make sure that it wasn't reading 55-60 psi ALL the time. Even with the relay OUT (and no fuel being pumped from the tank), the engine would STILL start and run for a few seconds on the residual fuel in the system.

Now I guess it is time to move my troubleshooting efforts to the ELECTRICAL (ignition) area. I went to eBay and found out that the "ignition coil pack" actually comes as FOUR separate parts -- 3 coils and a base mounting unit with the electronics in it. I had originally thought that it was all ONE piece. I ordered JUST the base unit (ICM) from eBay for around $30 - BRAND NEW. You may find the item [ Here ].

It is HIGHLY unlikely that one of the coils would be bad since the car (when it fails) won't start at all. With one coil failing, it SHOULD at least attempt to start and maybe run erratically. IF the failure is in this area, the base unit is FAR the more likely choice.

I replaced the ignition coil housing (base) today. Had I known MUCH earlier how easy to replace it was (and how relatively CHEAP), I would have made this one of the FIRST items to replace.

During the replacement process, I discovered a VERY interesting item -- one of the spark plug wires going to the front of the block had a LARGE hole worn into it where it has been rubbing on top of the engine (see the red circled area in the two photos). I am not sure about the significance of this discovery, but I replaced the three wires going to the front plugs. A second wire also had a much smaller worn area into it. Another word of financial advise -- when I checked on eBay, Delco wires (the brand on the car) were around $18 PER wire. I found a set of SIX off brand for around $25.

As far as I can tell, the quality of the replacement wires is AT LEAST as good as the quailty of the originals (Delco). The wires can be ordered [ Here ].

However, it seems unlikely to me that this damaged wire would cause a COMPLETE lack of starting. I would think a more likely symptom would be engine missing, erratic running, or HARD starting (as opposed to NO starting). But who knows what a DEAD short from one of the coil outputs to ground would cause in the computer system. Maybe there is a fail-safe circuit there to totally shut off spark under such conditions in order to safeguard the ignition system ????

All that I can do for now is to continue to drive the car a see what the future determines.

Money wise -- I am STILL way ahead of the expense of having taken the car into a dealership garage and having entrusted it into THEIR greedy, corrupt hands !!!!

Stand by for more developments as they do (or do NOT) occur ------------





Sad to report --- the car failed again today !! This time it WASN'T at the beach, but right out front of my house (so much for my theories of "beach demons" or salt in the air).



I didn't realize it until today, but there are TWO main computers in my car. There is the PCM/ECM (Power Control Module) that monitors and controls the engine and emission functions and the BCM (Body Control Module) that monitors and controls the general body electrical functions, including the "Passlock Security System".

I pulled out the BCM, inspected it and cleaned the connectors in both the BCM and the cables with "Electrical Connector Cleaner". It is located under the glove box on the passenger side.

I also cleaned with a wire brush the positive and negative battery connectors, the frame and block ground connectors and the positive battery feed to the main engine fuse and relay block. I also sprayed the connectors with "Dielectric Grease".

If it fails again, I found a replacement BCM on eBay for about $35.00 . See [ Here ]


Further research on the InterNet with Google has opened up a possibility that I HADN'T considered before. I have been focusing my thoughts on NO fuel or NO spark. I have NOW noted the possibility that the problem may be FLOODING of the engine during the initial cranking !!


One possibility that was indicated was the "Throttle Position Sensor". This is an easy replacement ( [ Here ] for video) and only cost around $6.00 on eBay [ Here ]. I ordered one today. We shall see !!!!

While I was at it, I cleaned the " IAC (Idle Air Control) solenoid/motor" [ Here ], which is located right above it. You can purchase one [ Here ] for around $7.00.

You might also want to check out this video on How To Clean The GM Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor.


Today I replaced the Fuel Pressure Regulator. The regulator is held to the block with one Torx screw. Due to the throttle cable, there is not much room to work to remove it. However, if you buy one of these, you can do the job using it and a Torx bit WITHOUT removing anything else. Here is a video to assist you. The fuel line nut requires a 24mm open-end wrench.

At the same time, I also replaced the Manifold Air Temperature Sensor and the MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) Sensor.





EUREKA !! After MORE than 3 years of troubleshooting, I FINALLY located the problem. It was the connector on the Ignition Control Module end of the cable coming from the CPS.

Apparently it made poor contact with the pins in the ICM. When I would push on the connector with a screwdriver while the engine is RUNNING, the engine would die !! Even though I cleaned the contacts with contact cleaner numerous times, THAT made NO difference.

Today I replaced the connector with a new one, and it seems to have solved the problem. NOW when I press on the connector, NO engine dying !!

You may purchase a connector at NAPA auto (like I did) for about $12.00. The NAPA P/N is [ ECH EC19 ]. The original is THREE pins wide (with the center pin missing). It does NOT appear possible to buy this EXACT connector. I merely cut off the center wire on the one that I did purchase.

While you are at it, you might want to make a new wiring harness for the sensor and replace the whole thing. When I say, "make it", I mean purchase a roll of 18 gauge auto wire, a coil of plastic cable sheathing, and the connector for EACH end at an auto store. This will be MUCH less than the cost of a new harness from the dealer. I suppose you could also get a used one from a "junk yard" cheaply enough. You may purchase the connector that plugs into the CPS [ HERE ] for $10.00. It is a TWO pin connector.

If you do replace the CPS or the connector(s), it may be necessary to (as the service manual refers to it) "recalibrate the new sensor to the computer". In my case, after the replacement of the connector, the car DID NOT start until I cranked it for a few minutes.

However, DO NOT crank it continuously or you may burn out the starter motor. Crank for 5-10 seconds, rest for 5-10 seconds, and repeat.





VERY sad and frustrating to recount, the above DID NOT resolve the problem. After about 6 months from when I repaired the cable (and with NO other problems in the meantime) the "no start" problem resumed !!


This time, however, it was EVEN WORSE -- it failed more frequently and pretty much HAD to be left to sit for from 1 to 2 hours before it would start !! Back to doing a "Google search" in desperation, I found something else that makes the most logical sense (based upon symptoms) to date. On one forum, a person who sounds like he has some knowledge behind his writing, states that the problem sounds like a poor connection on one of the electrical system "grounding plugs". The various ground lines for the electrical system terminate to various "ground plugs", which are then grounded to the frame or engine block.

The photo at the left is pretty much what the ground plugs look like. I can not tell you WHERE they are located - the search was no help for that. The schematic is ONE part of the electrical wiring diagram, showing some of the various ground lines in the car.

A faulty ground COULD result in the computer system setting up a false fuel or spark value - or fail to reset to the default values when the engine is turned off. This would explain WHY the car starts OK after letting it just SIT for an hour or so - the capacitors in the ECM discharge, allowing the value(s) to return to their proper condition. A poor, intermittent connection would also explain the random, sporadic nature of the problem. It would even be effected by weather conditions (humidity, etc.).

Another thing to try is to remove the battery from the car and clean the area where the negative wire connects to the frame and the positive to the fuse box.. These are located on the frame towards the front of the battery and under the fuse box cover. At this point, the frame is painted, and the ground wire depends upon the threaded area of the bolt into the nut for electrical contact. What I did is to remove the nut, use sandpaper and a wire brush to THROUGHLY remove the paint from the frame and any corrosion from the wire lug.

I also connected a ground wire from this point to the engine block. I found an excellent spot at the block by using the bolt that fastens the oil dip-stick holder to the block. Make sure that you use a new lockwasher on each end when you tighten the bolts down. I found an excellent ground wire at Walmart [ HERE ]. It is Everstart SS24-4-77.

Last time that the car failed to start (about 2 weeks ago), I tested this theory by removing the 2 fuses for the ECM, and letting it sit for about 15 minutes (completely resetting the ECM). They are Minifuses 39 and 44 -- labeled "Powertrain Control Module (PCM)" in MY car. Consult YOUR user manual for YOUR car !! Apparently, there are parts of the ECM that continue to have power EVEN when the ignition switch is turned off. One fuse controls this line and another fuse is in the line that DOES get turned off with the switch. Another thing to try is to simply remove the positive battery cable and let the car sit for an hour or so, and then reconnect it (producing the same result).

I then replaced the fuses and WHAM, it started with no problem. Now I am just waiting again to see what occurs.





Well -- It FINALLY happened after 7 years (that's right -- SEVEN-- THAT is how long this problem has been going on [and off] for) !!

The car finally died COMPLETELY -- it will not start AT ALL now !! Well, I guess that the bright side of the situation is that I can do some long-term troubleshooting. I purchased a Remote Starting Switch at Walmart for $15 to allow me to crank the engine and troubleshot by myself.

Today, when the car wouldn't start, I decided to remove the air filter and spray some Starting Fluid into the throttle body asembly. With the ignition switch in the FULL-on position, I squirted a few sprays into the TB, used the remote starter to turn it over -- LO-and-Behold, it started right up !! I let it warm up and turned it off, and it started right up again just fine. I could do this as long as the engine remained warm. If I let it cool down (like a few hours or overnight), it wouldn't start without the Starting Fluid.

This leads to one of three conclusions:

1. During startup (cranking), the engine is not getting ENOUGH or ANY fuel.
2. During cranking, the fuel mixture is TOO lean to ignite.
3. During cranking, the fuel injectors are NOT being pulsed by the PCM.

I had to rule out (3) by necessity, because in order to check the firing of the injectors, it is necessary to connect a light to the injector connector, which is located UNDER the upper intake manifold plenum (need to REMOVE it -- BIG JOB !!)

I more-or less ruled out (1) because the fuel gauge that I installed a long while ago always reads plenty of pressure in the Injector Rail (around 55 pounds). Once the rail is pressurized, it will remain that way for some time if the engine isn't started, even after turning the ignition switch completely off. This is a NORMAL and NECESSARY condition. If it is NOT remaining pressurized, it means that you have a leak in the fuel rail area somewhere, like around the injector seals.

I also observed that if I pressurize the rail and pull out the "fuel pump relay" (#18), the car will STILL start and run for a few seconds before it dies for lack of fuel !! This, to me, eliminates any fuel delivery problem !!

After some more research with Google, I finally decided that the BEST bet was a lean fuel mixture on startup. I decided that it was time to get down to some SERIOUS, Scientific, Systematic troubleshooting, and I turned to the OBD scan tool that I have, together with the Torque Pro software.

I set up gauges in it for as many of the monitored parameters as I could think of that would affect startup (cranking) and running -- and compared the readings during BOTH scenarios.

To cut a LONG story short (or at least, SHORTER) the reading for the MAF (Manifold Air Flow) sensor seemed rather strange. Even with the engine OFF, it still read about 30 CFM of air flow. That didn't seem right. I would have thought that there would be ZERO CFM of air flow with the engine off !!

Anyway, I disconnected the connector to the MAF sensor, and guess what ???? You got it -- the engine started right up. I tested it doing the same for the next week with POSITIVE results.I ordered and replaced the MAF Sensor. The "patient" is doing well so far !!

You may purchase a MAF Sensor [ Here ]. The unit appears to be of excellent quality , the silver parts where the hoses connect are made out of metal (not plastic). Compare the price of $25 to the $150-$200 for an AC Delco unit !!





Sad to report -- replacing the MAF Sensor made NO difference !! I did however, make an interesting discovery yesterday.

Most of the forum posts that I read state that the Crankshaft Position Sensor is necessary for startup, but the Camshaft Position Sensor is NOT. This is NOT correct !!

The Crankshaft Position Sensor provides pulses to the Ignition Control Module during cranking to fire the spark plugs and MAYBE the Fuel Injectors. After the engine starts, the pulses are transferred FROM the ICM TO the ECM (computer).

During troubleshooting, I unplugged the Camshaft Position Sensor while the engine was running, and guess what --- it continue to run just fine !! However, it would NOT start this way. It appears that this sensor is apparently used to tell the fuel injectors when to fire. Once the engine is running however, if the sensor fails, the ECM continues using a built-in default timimg routine. Doing this DOES set an ECM error code (OBDII code), thought it seems that it must be done a NUMBER OF TIMES before the code is finally set !

This MIGHT account for the fact that when I can't get the engine to start, if I squirt a little starting fluid into the throttle body opening while cranking, the car starts just fine. If the injectors are NOT firing during CRANKING, then the starting fluid might be enough to bypass the need for gas UNTIL the engine turns over and begins to run. Then the injectors start to function ?? JUST A THEORY !!


So far, I still haven't actually found the problem.

You can search YouTube for videos on how to test these two sensors.

One thing that I DID find when I separated the Camshaft Position Sensor connector in order to clean the contacts with contact cleaner was that the cable was stretched VERY tight between a very sharp edge on the engine block (Photo 1) and the bracket that the connector was anchored to (Photo 2).

It occurred to me that over time, the cable MAY have worn at this sharp edge (despite the plastic sheathing around it) and could be intermittently shorting to the block. I tried to examine the cable, but it is rather hard to see it inside the sheath.

What I did do when I finished the cleaning is to NOT connect the cable to the bracket. This way, there is plenty of slack so as not to stress the cable at the corner. I just secured the connector to the bracket with a nylon cable tie in order to keep it from bouncing around.

This, AGAIN, may not have anything to do with the problem, as the engine is STILL requiring a few squirts of Starting Fluid to start !! I am waiting for the Oscilloscope that I ordered to arrive so that I can make the check on the wave forms of the two sensors.



I received the O_Scope today.

Photo #1 is from the Crankshaft Position Sensor while the engine is running at idle (600 RPM). The Voltage scale (Y Axis) is 5V per division and the Time scale (X Axis) is 5 MS per division. Incidently, the resistance reading of the sensor (with an ohm meter) at the connector should be 500-900 ohms.

Photo #2 is from the Crankshaft Position Sensor while cranking the engine (without it starting). The Voltage scale (Y Axis) is 5V per division and the Time scale (X Axis) is 10 MS per division.

Photo #3 is from the Camshaft Position Sensor while the engine is running at idle (600 RPM). The Voltage scale (Y Axis) is 5V per division and the Time scale (X Axis) is 50 MS per division. During cranking (without it starting), the voltage of the waveform is about 9-10V (depending upon the charge of your battery).

Photo #4 is from the Camshaft Position Sensor while the engine is CRANKING (without starting). You will probably have to use settings of [ 2v/Div, 50 ms/Div and the SINGLE sweep trigger ]. This should capture ONE pulse near the right hand side of the screen. If you try to use continuous trigger, you will probably NOT see anything on the scope because the time between pulses is so long.

Incidentally, I checked these wave forms with BOTH the Hantek and the "$25 Scope". They BOTH gave essentially the SAME results. If you just need a cheap scope for checking engine wave forms, I recommend the "$25 Scope". It is also MUCH more convenient than lugging the Hantek Scope and your laptop around. Also, the "$25" Scope holds the wave form on the screen when the input signal ceases, so that you can get a stationary view of it, as well as storing and retreiving the wave form.

You might also wish to watch these videos explaining how to Test your ERG Valve and this one to Replace it .

Replacement valves are available [ Here ]. If you opt to replace the valve, you will also need a New Gasket.






****** Sad to report --- the car is STILL failing !! ******

My current TWO choices seem to be to replace either the "7x Crankshaft Position Sensor" OR the "Camshaft Position Sensor". Based upon my experience in the previous section, I am leaning toward the Camshaft Sensor. It does appear (as best that I can tell) that, during cranking, I am getting either NO signal or a very small signal from this sensor.

I considered Crankshaft Sensor about a year ago, but was reluctant to replace it because its location is the underside of the engine, deep within a narrow gap between the rear of the engine block and the transmission. There is only a VERY small , cramped area to work around it, not to mention almost NO ground clearance. I went into a garage to get an estimate, and they gave me one at $135 - $100 labor and $35 part. I asked them HOW they were going to get at the sensor, and they replied, "Put the car up on a lift, and acess it by reaching over the top of the transmission." Well, better THEM than ME !!

You can order a new "Crankshaft Position Sensor" for about $33 [ Here ] and a new "Camshaft Position Sensor" for about $44 [ Here ]..


See the following photos. The Crankshaft Sensor is in the red circle -- the Camshaft Sensor is on the passenger side of the engine UNDER the power steering pump.

This video (starting about time 8:15) shows ONE removal procedure for the Crankshaft Sensor (a REAL pain !!). This video shows the replacement of the Camshaft Sensor.


I would take the video for the Crankshaft Sensor with "a grain of salt". It appears to me to be a TOTAL fake (other than the ACTUAL location of the CPS).

At about time 7:10, he claims that he, "Tested the ignition control module" ?? All that he did was touch the ohm meter probes to the outer metal shell and verified that YES, the shell IS metal and that YES, if you connect an ohmmeter to a piece of metal, it will register a short or ZERO ohms (verifying that the meter and batteries are good). This is true with ANY piece of metal. NOTHING is tested as far as to whether or not the ICM works !!

Also, it appears to ME (after attempting his procedure myself) that it is IMPOSSIBLE to change the CPS HIS way, especially doing it completely blind.

There is another video [ HERE ] that shows a POSSIBLE removal and replacement by pulling the front right (passenger) wheel off (start about 2:00 minutes in). It still looks to be VERY difficult -- perhaps not so bad if the car is on a lift !!

Let me clarify an issue that may come to the mind of some reading this journal -- at NO point during this ENTIRE procedure were ANY failure codes posted by the car computer. This is ONE of the things (along with the erratic failure rate) that is making troubleshooting of this problem SO perplexing !!

If this DOESN'T fix the problem, I am going to be at a TOTAL LOSS !! I have verified via the fuel pressure gauge that the fuel system is functioning properly, and this is the LAST of the possible replacement items in the ignition circuit.


P.S. ---- Just a NOTE: I haven't replaced EITHER sensor yet. I am still holding out for other options !!





Summary of things that have been done to TRY to remedy the problem, TO DATE !



Bypassed the "Passlock Security System"

Installed Fuel Gauge in the Injector Rail Check Port (Reads constant 55-60 PSI)

========================================================

REPLACED:
---------------------------

Ignition Switch Assembly

Engine Control Module (ECM/PCM)

Body Control Module (BCM)

Ignition Control Module (ICM)

Engine Temperature Sensor

Throttle Position Sensor

IAC (Idle Air Control) Solenoid/motor

Fuel Pressure Regulator

Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor.

Manifold Air Temperature Sensor

MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) Sensor

Connector on the Ignition Control Module end of the cable coming from the CPS

====================================================================

Checked and cleaned Ground and +12V Connectors at Battery and Fuse Box

Checked EGR Valve and cleaned the Throttle Body Port

Added additional Ground Cable from Frame (at battery ground) to Engine Block

====================================================================

NEVER posted ANY Scan or OBDII codes !!

Did NOT replace the Crankshaft Position Sensor, though I checked the wave form on a Scope.





I purchased a Remote Starting Switch at Amazon for $16 to allow me to crank the engine and troubleshot by myself. One lead connects to the small wire on the starter-motor solenoid and the other to the positive terminal of the battery.

Also, if you own a smartphone, I would HIGHLY reccomend that you order this Bluetooth OBDII Scanner for around $15.00 and this Torque Pro software for $5.00. They are WELL worth the price and perform as good as units costing MANY times the price. A visit to a garage to get a scan done on your car will cost you AT LEAST $50.00, resulting in NO more information than you can get using THIS set !!

You can see a video [ Here ] on setting-up and using Torque Pro.

I have ordered a low cost, self-contained Oscilloscope in order to check wave forms on the two sensors. NOTE: Make sure that you get the "Original JYETech" and NOT a clone !! It will say "JYETech" on the front of the case. Also, make sure that you get an ASSEMBLED unit and NOT a kit.

If you want a much better, 8-Channel Automobile DAQ Diagnostic Generator Oscilloscope, they have an excellent, low-priced (under $100) one that connects to your laptop available on eBay.

You might like to also purchase an EXCELLENT capacitive, inductive, 10,000:1 Ignition Probe. You can read how to interpet the waveforms [ Here ].

Also, if you don't have a good multimeter for testing purposes, one that I ordered for myself (AN8008) for around $25 can be found [ HERE ]. It has a low enough AC range that you can measure the AC signal on the Crankshaft Position Sensor (200-500 mv).



I also discovered this site [ Here ], which might of been VERY helpful had I found it a LONG time ago !!

There is also an EXCELLENT series of diagnostic and repair articles [ Here ].

[ Here ] is an EXCELLENT video series on auto diagnostics and maintance.




If anyone out there has any ideas, PLEASE eMail them to me !!!!

More results later !!!!

Send an eMail to TLC





Photo #3 is from the OLD Camshaft Position Sensor while the engine is running at idle (600 RPM). The Voltage scale (Y Axis) is 5V per division and the Time scale (X Axis) is 50 MS per division.

Photo #5 is from the NEW Camshaft Position Sensor while the engine is running at idle (600 RPM). The Voltage scale (Y Axis) is 2V per division and the Time scale (X Axis) is 20 MS per division.

EUREKA -- I believe that I have FINALLY found the problem !! I replaced the Camshaft Position Sensor.

I would like to offer few words of GREAT caution regarding this item, however:

Do NOT buy the cheap Chinese units available on eBay. I have purchased many of the sensors for the car from eBay - usually from the cheapest seller. I never had any problem with them. I initially did the same for the Cam Sensor. This time, however, it "bit me in the as_" (as they say) !!

I had the sensor installed with about 1.5 hours in labor. Upon finishing the installation, I turned the ignition key, expecting a short crank and a roar of power as the engine sprang to life. Alas, ALL that I received for my effort was a LONG, continuos cranking !! Not even thinking that the sensor might be bad, I arranged for my next suspect to be replaced, which was the Crankshaft Position Sensor. Fortunately, the mechanic couldn't get to the car for over a week.

In the meanwhile, I decided to put the scope on the sensor to see what I could see. To my amazement, what I saw was NO pulses at all, a completely DEAD sensor. I ordered another sensor from eBay, this time from a different seller and for $5.00 more (the first was $15, this one $20). When it arrived, however, I noted that it looked EXACTLY like the first one. I decided to do an "off-line" test on it by connecting the sensor to the car connector, and moving a magnet past the end of it while monitoring the output signal with a scope. To my amazement, what I observed was that this BRAND NEW sensor ALSO had NO output -- TWO brand new, DEFECTIVE sensors !!

This is when I decided to order an ACDelco sensor from Amazon. When I receive this one, I decided to do some further testing as to resistance and wave forms. This is when it started to get WEIRD (as though this WHOLE problem hasn't been weird enough) !!

When I put the scope on the ACDelco sensor and pass my magnet (or large metal screwdriver) past the metal core at the round end, I received strong, clear square waves. The only problem was that on THIS sensor, the base line voltage was +12V with the pulse going down to 0V (see photo #5). On the original sensor (when it was working), the base line was 0V with the pulse going up to +12V (see photo #3). I then did a resistance check, first between ground (black) and 12V (red), and then between ground and signal (green). Keep the negative or black lead from the meter on the negative voltage pin. On the ACDELCO, both readings were about 5,000 ohms. On BOTH of the defective ones AND the original, the resistance was too high for my meter to measure (tending toward an open circuit).

Getting rather paranoid now, and NOT wishing to be out ANOTHER $80.00 to install another sensor that didn't work, I decided to buy two more from two different auto parts shops (I figured that I could just return them when I was finished). I got a "Standard" from OReilly Auto and a "Duralast" from AutoZone. (both $36 each).

Continuing with the weirdness, the "Duralast" gave me the same readings as the ACDelco, while the "Standard" gave me the readings of the ORIGINAL sensor. My knowledge of electronics (and the resistance readings) tells me that the ACTUAL circuit design and makeup of these two different sensors is NOT the same. Also, one has positive pulses from a zero baseline, while the other has negative pulses from a +12V baseline. Since BOTH types, however, DO appear to work IN the car, I must conclude that what the computer is ACTUALLY looking for is a 0 to 12 volt transition, and not so much which direction it goes in !!

BOTTOM LINE IS -- I put in the ACDelco sensor, and the car started right up, and appears to be running fine. We will see in a month or so how it is going.





A VERY Difficult Decision -- Would You Rather Pay $25.00 for a Replacement Programmable Ignition Key or $320 ????? Duh-h-h-h-h-h


This section has NOTHING to do with the preceding account of my ignition problem. I am merely inserting it as DRAMATIC reinforcement of my contention that Auto Dealerships (ESPECIALLY their service section) are nothing less than legalized centers of theft and extortion !!

My housemate went to the Ford dealership to see about getting a new ignition key (4 function programmable) for her 2014 Mustang. At left is the estimate that she was given.

The dealer made NO mention of the fact that, if you get a blank fob, the car allows you to program it yourself as long as you have TWO working keys. The instructions are actually in the user manual !!

You may purchase one programmable key fob on eBay for $18.95 (shipped, no less, from within the US). You read that correctly -- NO ERROR -- $18.95. The part number from the dealer invoice is 164-R8073. Other than the programming, all that you have to do is to take your current key to a locksmith to cut the blank ignition key section. The eBay link is [ HERE ].

AMAZING !!! ****** A total cost of maybe $25.00 vs. the $330.00 charged by the dealership !!!!! Are the dealership CROOKS or what ?????





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