: No start on cold days?



mcowden
01-10-05, 03:27 PM
My friend (who refuses to use the Internet) has a 2000 ETC and has a problem starting it on cold days. It cranks and cranks at normal speed but won't fire. If he hooks up a battery charger with 50 amp boost, it fires right up. Once it's been warmed up, it will start fine all day. The next time the temp. drops below about 30, no start until he either jumpstarts it or hooks up the battery charger and sets it to the 50 amp boost. If he runs the charger on 2 or 15 amps all night long, it won't start. Crank it up to 50 and fires right up. I had him watch the volts on the console while it's running and they fluctuate between 13.7 and 14.2, which is perfect from what I know, so that rules out a voltage regulator in my mind. New battery and no change. There are no codes current or history. It's like some connection is loose or something and the extra current from a battery charger or jumpstart battery is enough to bridge the gap and run it fine. Then, once it heats up, the pieces swell enough to keep the connection fine until the next time it all cools down. Another mechanic has looked for loose ground wires and found them all in good shape. Supposedly, he also checked the engine temperature sensor (?) and the crank and cam position sensors and all checked out good.

I'm stumped on this one. Any ideas anyone? What else do you think he should test or look for?

Many thanks in advance for any and all suggestions...

M C
:cheers:

BeelzeBob
01-11-05, 01:24 PM
Replace the crank position sensors.

How did he supposedly "check" them...????.....impossible to do as far as I know.

If they are the original 2000 model year crank sensors just replace them. They need replacing anyway even if that isn't the problem....LOL LOL

mcowden
01-11-05, 03:16 PM
I appreciate the feedback, Bbob. I knew about the sensor issue on 2000's, so I already had him pick up the crank position sensors, and he's going to have them installed this week. I don't know how he had them tested. I just assumed there would be some way to do it with a scan tool of some sort. It's supposed to get down to the single digits here on Thursday and Friday, so it should be a good test. If it fails to start, they put in the sensors, then it starts fine, we can say pretty certainly that the sensors did it. If it still fails to start, he's out the money for the sensors and labor and we're back at square one. I'll post again when this is done and let you know what happens.

This is very frustrating. I don't understand why this would only happen on very cold days or why jumpstarting or charging on boost would make it start. Once it starts, it runs fine until it gets cold again, then it has to be jumped or boosted to start it. Also, there are no codes for the crank position sensors. What I'm looking for is the mechanism of failure. Why would the CPS fail that way? Why does jumping or boosting make it start? Why only cold days? Why does it run fine once it's started? Why no codes? As it stands right now, unless you have knowledge of problem sensors on a 2000, there is no good way to troubleshoot this issue. How would a shadetree guy figure this out without asking you or a stealership?

Again, thank you very much for the reply...

Mike
:cheers:

BeelzeBob
01-11-05, 10:50 PM
This is very frustrating. I don't understand why this would only happen on very cold days or why jumpstarting or charging on boost would make it start.
Mike
:cheers:


One of the failure modes of the 2000 crank sensors was the resistor elements on the circuit boards cracking. With changes in temperature and flexing of the boards the resistance and charactersitics of the sensors would change. Likely the thing that makes it start is the increased cranking speed with the boost....this gives a stronger signal to the sensor circuitry....

mcowden
01-12-05, 11:51 AM
That's exactly what I wanted to know... Thanks again Bbob. He's having them changed out either tomorrow or Friday, and it's supposed to be very cold. If it starts fine, I'm sure it'll be fixed. If not, it's back to searching for corroded, pinched, or loose wires. :bonkers:

dkozloski
01-12-05, 05:15 PM
If you need a place to test it, come here to Fairbanks, Ak. It was -44deg. F this morning. My wifes CTS which is kept in an unheated garage started just fine but she complains that the power steering is very stiff, even after driving for a while.

BeelzeBob
01-12-05, 11:05 PM
If you need a place to test it, come here to Fairbanks, Ak. It was -44deg. F this morning. My wifes CTS which is kept in an unheated garage started just fine but she complains that the power steering is very stiff, even after driving for a while.

Do you use a battery blanket or block heater or snthetic oil for cranking speed?? Just curious. I'll pass your startability "tests" along to the calibrators....LOL

dkozloski
01-13-05, 01:37 AM
I use the factory block heater and Mobil one 5W-30. During the work day the car sits out in the open and still starts and runs fine. Apparantly the factory uses synthetic grease in the front wheel bearings because they turn okay. You see some people driving along sliding a wheel about every morning.

dkozloski
01-13-05, 02:19 AM
One caveat. The wife got a check engine light in the CTS on the way home. The code was P0638. I couldn't read the freeze frame because my scan tool is not fully CAN compliant. Evidently the throttle plate got behind the commanded position. I'm not surprised, it was -46F at the time and the ratchet rear end in my Ford Ranger wouldn't and it took a while to get moving.

mcowden
01-13-05, 12:04 PM
On top of the battery blanket, block heater, synthetic 5W-30 motor oil, and synthetic chassis grease, I have another suggestion: Get the #311 out of Alaska! :histeric:

Seriously, though, I've heard reports of whining power steering pumps and hard turning on cold mornings from GM cars since I was a kid. My dad calls it "morning sickness," and says that's always been an issue with their power steering setups. Bbob, why haven't you fixed this yet??? Maybe synthetic power steering fluid would help if the problem is pumping ability at low temperatures? Don't forget synthetic transmission fluid, brake fluid, washer fluid, gasoline, and antifreeze while you're at it... Not sure what I'd do if it dropped to -47 here. The occasional day or two of -10 to -20 is bad enough.

dkozloski
01-13-05, 12:58 PM
The problem has passed. We're expecting a heat wave and the temp will get up to -19F today.

Stoneage_Caddy
01-13-05, 02:39 PM
on mcowdens issue ...could it be the battery was replaced at some point with something that either doesnt have the cold crank amps or doesnt produce the advertised cold crank amps ?

happed to me once in fairbanks , itd spin the motor but not fast enough ...

diet of mobil 1 and a interstate battery with 100 extra cca did the trick for me...started at -55 outside after 2 nights with no heaters anywhere (power outtage 2nd night)

-19 ? man thats BBQ weather ...least it was for us

mcowden
01-13-05, 04:14 PM
The problem has passed. We're expecting a heat wave and the temp will get up to -19F today.

All the way up to -19F? It's time to open the windows, put away the sweaters for the season, and get started on that spring cleaning! :bonkers: Let's see, for comparison purposes, when I came in to work yesterday, it was 38 degrees. When I got home, it was 62. This morning it was 34. Tonight, it's supposed to get down to 8. That's a 54 degree temperature swing in less than 2 days. Sure, the car might start just fine, but this weather will make it schizophrenic! (maybe the driver, too) :hide:

To answer Stoneage_Caddy, thank you for the input. He says it cranks plenty fast to start. This is happening when the temperature is below about 30, so it's not even really that cold. To be sure, he did try a new Interstate battery (don't know the CCA rating) and it didn't help. He got the new crank position sensors and they'll be installed today or tomorrow. Since it's supposed to be in the single digits here for the next few days (i know, i know, picnicking and shorts weather in fairbanks) it should be a good test. I'll let you know what happens.

You guys know I'm just kidding all the time, right? Please don't take offense to anything I say 'cuz I'm full of crap and I love to share... :D Many sincere thanks to everyone for the input.

Ranger
01-13-05, 09:46 PM
Hey Mcowden,
Where else can you expirience all 4 seasons in 2 days. When I left Woodstock at 3:00 pm The fog was so thick I couldn't see the end of my driveway. Even the birds weren't flying. Clear as a bell after I crossed the Fox river. 62 degrees & thunderstorms. Snow this morning and below zero tomorrow night. Gotta love this place.

Dkozloski,
I can recall -20F (still air) back in about '81 or '82. That was brutal. I can't even imagine -44.

dkozloski
01-13-05, 10:04 PM
Many years ago my dad made a sled dog run from his trapline to the litle town of Alatna, Ak. to check the mail. It was a two day trip and he had to camp out overnight without a tent. He knew it was colder than hell because he had a hard time getting a fire to burn. The next morning he continued on. He found out from the postmaster that the night before it had been -74 F.

Stoneage_Caddy
01-14-05, 12:32 AM
holy crap dude ! thats hard core !!!!

still chuckleing about a 2 day trip to the mailbox .....only in alaska would that be normal

getting 56mph winds right now here in tampa ....time to go out and put the lawn chairs in the pool

BeelzeBob
01-14-05, 01:06 AM
During the work day the car sits out in the open and still starts and runs fine.




Usually, a short soak like that , even in very very cold weather, is not a problem for cranking. Even though the coolant and oil gets down to the ambient temperature the oil does not thicken... There is a time factor involved in the viscosity increase of cold oil. Even though the oil gets down to the ambient temperature it will continue to increase in viscosity over the next 36 hours...so..it is much harder to crank the motor over after an overnight soak of 12-14 hours compared to 8 or 9 hours at work. With mineral oils this is very pronounced as the phenomenon is mostly because of the parafin crystalline formation in the oil. Since the synthetic has little parafin the viscosity/time factor is low but still there.

dkozloski
01-14-05, 11:24 AM
If a barrel of jet fuel and/or diesel fuel stands out in the cold, look into the barrel with a flashlight and you can see the pariffin crystals. It's a shock for the flatland truckers when the diesel congeals in their truck's tank. Around here they use Arctic #1 fuel. Turbine aircraft have fuel heaters to get around the problem. When the supplier carries around a load of gasoline in the truck at -40 F. it can have enough ice crystals form in it that he has to bypass the filters to unload it. Gasoline and ice crystals have to sit in the underground tank until the crystals settle before it can be dispensed without plugging the pumping filters. Back when synthetic oils first hit the market the gas stations used to have samples of various motor oils sitting outside by the pumps. Some of the old standards looked like they were frozen so hard you couldn't drive a nail in them. Construction of the Trans-Alaska pipeline provided the impetus for the oil companies to do serious research on synthetic oils and greases. Conoco-Phillips was selected as the focal point rather than have the major oil companies do a lot of parallel work. I worked one winter with a consortium of Shell and Conoco lubrication engineers developing synthetic aircraft products. The early oils didn't do a very good job of suspending and carrying contaminents so they required an extra shot of detergents. Lehigh Chemical Co. had been marketing a line of synthetic lubricants under the Anderol label before this but they had enough problems that it disappeared from the market. One oil in particular looked like a can of spaghetti when opened at -40 F. and returned to normal when warmed. This early work was the roots of synthetic motor oils as we know them.

mcowden
01-14-05, 01:53 PM
One of the failure modes of the 2000 crank sensors was the resistor elements on the circuit boards cracking. With changes in temperature and flexing of the boards the resistance and charactersitics of the sensors would change. Likely the thing that makes it start is the increased cranking speed with the boost....this gives a stronger signal to the sensor circuitry....
Well, I wish I had better news... I just got a call about this. Both crank sensors were replaced with the new ones and this morning the car did not start. Temperature was 6F at the time. Same problem. Cranks and cranks and no fire. Hook up the booster and fires right up.

He also said the mechanic watches the output from the sensors using a scan tool of some sort and he said the output was the same with the original sensors and the new sensors during cranking. It looks like the sensors didn't do it. I had him check for good 12V at the coils, and that was good while the car wouldn't start.

Any other ideas about this one? :banghead:

BeelzeBob
01-14-05, 02:00 PM
Well...at least he has new crank sensors...it would have needed them anyway.

So...is it not starting due to lack of fuel or lack or spark???

Next time it won't start, he needs to take the air box loose and give it a good shot of ether/starting fluid to see if it will run on the supplemental fuel. If the fuel pump is dropping out due to the low voltages during crank then it would be a fuel pressure issue.

If it was mine I would screw the fuel pressure gauge onto the fuel rail the night before so as to be able to watch the fuel pressure during crank the next morning to see if it was fuel pressure/fuel pump related.

A fuel pump that otherwise appears perfectly fine can often drop out or make too little pressure when the system voltage is low....like it is during a cold start when the battery is being pulled down by the starter current. The addition of a boost or charger on boost could be enough to keep the pump up and running so that it starts.

That is my next guess without more info.

mcowden
01-14-05, 04:37 PM
Hey Mcowden, Where else can you expirience all 4 seasons in 2 days. When I left Woodstock at 3:00 pm The fog was so thick I couldn't see the end of my driveway. Even the birds weren't flying. Clear as a bell after I crossed the Fox river. 62 degrees & thunderstorms. Snow this morning and below zero tomorrow night. Gotta love this place.
No kidding! 6:00 PM Wednesday it was 63 degrees. Today at 3:00 it's 10 degrees and it's supposed to be subzero tonight and tomorrow. Two days ago I needed an umbrella and polo shirt. Today I need thermals, earmuffs, and boots. The fog was so thick on Wednesday it was hard to breathe without choking. There was a thunderstorm, complete with thunder and lightning, in the middle of the night. Now it's so windy and dry it's hard to breathe without choking. At least in Fairbanks they know what the weather is going to be: freekin' cold!

:hmm:
Mike

dkozloski
01-14-05, 05:55 PM
We're having a heat wave today and the temp is up around zero. The startled look that you see on people's faces when they step outside, take a breathe of -40 F air for the first time, and the hairs in their nose freeze is priceless. That is just about the least expected sensation.

mcowden
01-18-05, 12:31 PM
So...is it not starting due to lack of fuel or lack or spark???

Next time it won't start, he needs to take the air box loose and give it a good shot of ether/starting fluid to see if it will run on the supplemental fuel.

If it was mine I would screw the fuel pressure gauge onto the fuel rail the night before so as to be able to watch the fuel pressure during crank the next morning to see if it was fuel pressure/fuel pump related.

It's acting like a spark problem, in my mind at least, more than a fuel problem. He's going to check the fuel pressure and try the starting fluid. Stay tuned! Have you heard of any problems with ignition control modules? (the thingamajigger under the coils) He has mounted an exhaustive search for crimped/pinched/corroded/cracked wiring and ground straps, but this is obviously a tedious and difficult process. Do you know of any that are known trouble spots?

Weather report for Chicago: high of 21 today and up to 20 MPH winds, tonight, a 70% chance of snow with 1-3" possible. High of 34 tomorrow and partly cloudy with a 40% chance of snow late evening.

BeelzeBob
01-18-05, 01:27 PM
Well...it is either spark of fuel....LOL. I assume it is getting "air".

There is no ignition module per se on the 2000 and later Northstars with the coil at plug ignition. Each plug on the 2000 has it's own coil that is triggered by the PCM. If the crank sensors are giving good info to the PCM (as the retrofitted new sensors should) then the spark should be fine. You can check this with several lengths of spark plug wire cable. Remove the coils from the spark plugs on one bank and connect the coils to the plugs temporarily with short pieces of spark plug cable so that the spark can be checked....or....remove the coil assembly from one bank, plug 4 plugs into the coils and crank with the plugs grounded to see the spark. If it is there it is not likely a spark problem.

Fuel pressure gauge is easy to make and easy to connect and will tell you a lot during a situation like that.

mcowden
02-17-05, 02:42 PM
OK, well, it's been a while on this because it hasn't been cold enough to cause the problem any more. The last news I have from the mechanic is that the fuel pressure at startup is just below 50. IIRC, that's OK for fuel pressure. So, what to look for now? Seems like it's not a low voltage condition causing low fuel pressure due to low pump speed, so I'm on the spark bandwagon right now. I can't think of where to start looking for this. Any more thoughts?

BeelzeBob
02-18-05, 04:49 PM
OK, well, it's been a while on this because it hasn't been cold enough to cause the problem any more. The last news I have from the mechanic is that the fuel pressure at startup is just below 50. IIRC, that's OK for fuel pressure. So, what to look for now? Seems like it's not a low voltage condition causing low fuel pressure due to low pump speed, so I'm on the spark bandwagon right now. I can't think of where to start looking for this. Any more thoughts?



Does this mean that the fuel pressure is reading 50 psi while cranking on a no-start morning....or....did they just check the fuel pressure and it is at 50 on a morning when it started??...big difference. They must check it when it isn't starting if that is not what they did.

mcowden
02-20-05, 10:04 AM
Does this mean that the fuel pressure is reading 50 psi while cranking on a no-start morning....or....did they just check the fuel pressure and it is at 50 on a morning when it started?

He came over this morning looking for a free breakfast and advice on the car... :-) According to him, they had the gauge on the rail when it wouldn't start and the pressure was 50 PSI. He didn't know if there was spark or not, but we don't know for sure. He's going to call the mechanic and find out if he checked that. Assuming it's not getting spark, where should we start looking? The crank position sensors were both replaced with the new models. The mechanic has removed the grounds for the block and the starter and cleaned and reconnected them, so it seems like ground should be good. Could it be a PCM problem? :banghead: Bbobynski, you've been offered a bottle/case of your favorite beverage of the alcoholic persuasion. Next time you're in the Chicago area, let me know. :thumbsup: Thanks for your help!