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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was dropping my son off at a friends, got out on the main road and hit the gas kind of hard. Got into 3rd gear and the car shut off. Coasted into a side road. Tried to start it and it wont really start. Sounds like its running on 1 or 2 cylinders but wont really stay running. No water in the oil, no knocking or oil leaks.

Does it sound like something happened to the opti spark? What should I look for?

I've had the car for about a month and its has always run perfect and purrs like a kitten. I drive it every day. I drove it last night in the rain for the first time. I just don't know. its on the side of the road now. damn...
 

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I was dropping my son off at a friends, got out on the main road and hit the gas kind of hard. Got into 3rd gear and the car shut off. Coasted into a side road. Tried to start it and it wont really start. Sounds like its running on 1 or 2 cylinders but wont really stay running. No water in the oil, no knocking or oil leaks.

Does it sound like something happened to the opti spark? What should I look for?

I've had the car for about a month and its has always run perfect and purrs like a kitten. I drive it every day. I drove it last night in the rain for the first time. I just don't know. its on the side of the road now. damn...
Well, what was rain for you in S. MD was snow for us in N. MD. So, having seen this several times in similar conditions and based on the background you provided, I'd wager your opti got wet. It'll start up and run again when it dries out, however you'd be advised to pull it and R&R it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Im thinking either opti or fuel. Well, I'm hoping its one of the two and not something major. The previous owner said the fuel pump it new but I know they got bad. Not sure how old the opti is. Giving it an hour then going to see if it will start. The pain in the ass part is trying to get it on the trailer if it doesn't start.

I guess it does have spark because it kind of starts. But like I said, it barely starts and run on like 1 or 2 cylinders. Maybe its fuel? I just don't know.

It started fine when I left my house. Ran perfect for like 5 mins then cut off like a switch while I was accelerating.
 

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I agree about the water in the opti. Hope it drys out. If not and you have a hard fault, your going to need to borrow a fuel pressure test gauge. You are also going to need a test light that is not an LED version so we can test condition of certain circuits. If your at the car, pull the coil wire off the distributor and hold it near a ground while someone cranks the car over and check for spark. Crank it over long enough to see 8 sparks. Will let you know that the ignition control half of the opti is working properly(we still might have to go in after the opti, but more testing first). Run a fuel pressure test. at least 34 will start the car. It wont run well, but it should run. Spec is 38 to 43 psi, key on engine off. It will be in the 38 39 while starting and should rise to 43 to 45 with the regulator vacuum line disconnected. Take an injector plug off and with the light grounded, probe the pink wire terminal and check for power, put the ground clamp of the light on a power source like the aux stud near the fuse panel and while cranking the engine check the other wire for a pulse. That meant that pcm fuel control is working.

If you have no spark, more testing. If no fuel pressure, more testing. If you have no fuel control, more testing. If you have spark, fuel pressure, and fuel control, then the rotor came apart in the opti.

Don't stoptesting after the first test. So run all of them. Spark test first (so your not covered in fuel), fuel delivery (with the test light), and then the fuel pressure test.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks... Going to see if they have a pressure gauge at Advanced or autozone. I may have a Autometer one here somewhere but probably don't have the fittings for it.

I'll check for spark first.
 

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you need a FP gauge that screws into a schrader valve. may be hard to find at a chain auto parts store. JEGS/SUMMIT carry them for around $35

hopefully you can borrow one or find locally.
 

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Thanks... Going to see if they have a pressure gauge at Advanced or autozone. I may have a Autometer one here somewhere but probably don't have the fittings for it.

I'll check for spark first.
the hose fitting is the same as the r12 ac gauge set hoses. standard style for r12/r22 refrigerant .

the pressure gauge can be used for free call auto zone store.

I do not drive my 96 impala in the rain . when I pulled it this year to replace the opti [18 years old] had no evidence of water in it . the bearing had worn down so I replaced it when I replaced the water pump that blew out the back.

if you have an air compresser you could blow out the opti with low air pressure and see if you have water come out.

using the two venting hoses . I would set the regulator to 5 psi ..
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Trailered the car home. I have spark on the coil wire and I pulled a plug wire and have spark at a plug. I have a gauge for FP but it won't work with the fitting. I'll go to autozone and see if I can borrow one. Or I may be able to make some kind of fitting with what I have here.

I haven't checked the power on the pink wire yet on the injector.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Check the fuel pressure. Got about 40 with the key on and a couple more when cranking.

I have spark.

So, I guess I need to check the pink wire on the injector.

Chris, can you give me some more info in what I should be looking for?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got 11+ voltage in the pink wire. My only tester is a multi meter so testing the other wire while turning the engine just gives me the same voltage. I'm guessing that wire turns the ground on and off correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I wonder if its possible that my timing chain jumped a tooth or something..??..

I can see the rockers moving through the oil fill hole so I know its at least the chain isn't broken and I do get oil pressure while cranking.
 

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Got 11+ voltage in the pink wire. My only tester is a multi meter so testing the other wire while turning the engine just gives me the same voltage. I'm guessing that wire turns the ground on and off correct?
when cranking the injector return side should pulse / pcm grounds the return injector opens. using a light you can see this .

using a digital meter you may not see the voltage drops.
 

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Just a guess, but the rotor may have come loose inside the opti. Had it happen to two different b-bodies. The screws backed out of the rotor, and caused it to frag apart. This is why it is often suggested to use loctite on the rotor screws. On both occasions, the cars died when I was laying into the gas pedal. A loud pop and stall, then all they would do is spit and sputter when trying to crank. If you pull the opti and it sounds like a baby rattle before you open it, you found your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just a guess, but the rotor may have come loose inside the opti. Had it happen to two different b-bodies. The screws backed out of the rotor, and caused it to frag apart. This is why it is often suggested to use loctite on the rotor screws. On both occasions, the cars died when I was laying into the gas pedal. A loud pop and stall, then all they would do is spit and sputter when trying to crank. If you pull the opti and it sounds like a baby rattle before you open it, you found your problem.

That's just about what happened too. I laid into the gas and boom.

Its looking like that may be the problem. I just need to test the ground pulse on the injector. If that looks ok then I'm going to have to dig into the opti I guess.
 

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...I'm going to have to dig into the opti I guess.
Yes. You will have to. The C&R are maintenance items and once the seal is compromised w/ age, use and temperature fluctuations and/or the vent hose(s) get clogged, moisture/condensation collects and the contacts become corroded. The first symptom of this is when it suddenly dies like this after rain/car wash/what have you.

Provided the bearings and OEM optical sensor on the housing are still OK, you can pair a new C&R onto the existing housing using loctite on the rotor screws as suggested (this is a MUST). Additionally, the MSD C&R is a better design than OEM. Run a (thin) bead of RTV around the perimeter of the housing to cap O-ring to further insulate it from rain/car wash/what have you. Do change the 2 small shaft O-rings preferably w/ Viton seals since the standard rubber ones become hardened and brittle. These 2 O-rings (See Post #17) offer stability to the shaft and bearing. W/out them, centrifugal forces compromise the housing bearing and ultimately lead to bearing failure. Finally, verify that the vent tubes to both the intake manifold and air induction are clear and that the one way check valves function properly.

I've delved into many opti's, both aftermarlet and OEM. The above is the absolute best pairing of OEM and aftermarket that I've come up w/. Follow the above advice and you won't have to worry about the opti again for over 100k miles and I'm not exaggerating one bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I was able to see a fluctuation in voltage with my multimeter on the - side of the injector. So I am assuming Im getting signal.
'
I took off #3 spark plug wire and I had spark. Does this still mean my opti is bad?
 

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I was able to see a fluctuation in voltage with my multimeter on the - side of the injector. So I am assuming Im getting signal.
'
I took off #3 spark plug wire and I had spark. Does this still mean my opti is bad?
if you have water in the distributor the arcing internally will show on the plug wires but the arcing will jump to the wrong wires as well. the cap will have moisture droplets and then the arcing. with continued arcing then you get carbon tracks. then with the water gone you still have this arcing jumping problem.

so did you remove the lower opti venting hose and check for water ?

any water then that is it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Got the opti off. First thing I noticed is that the small vent tube was not connected. When I pulled off the bigger one off couple drips of liquid came out.

Shook the opti and yes, it rattles. Something small in broken inside.

Should I buy a whole new one? I have to find the reverse torx I need somewhere to take it apart if I can just replace the cap and rotor so I don't know if the opti part is ok or not.

There is also a good amount of oil leaking from the front. Ive noticed a few drops in the drive way. Think I should go a head and replace the two seals while I'm there.
 

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Got the opti off. First thing I noticed is that the small vent tube was not connected. When I pulled off the bigger one off couple drips of liquid came out.

Shook the opti and yes, it rattles. Something small in broken inside.

Should I buy a whole new one? I have to find the reverse torx I need somewhere to take it apart if I can just replace the cap and rotor so I don't know if the opti part is ok or not.

There is also a good amount of oil leaking from the front. Ive noticed a few drops in the drive way. Think I should go a head and replace the two seals while I'm there.
You might get away with just a new cap/rotor, oil seals, and either replace vent/vacuum harness or make sure the current one is working properly.

If your lucky, it might have only tossed a rotor screw and didn't do much damage inside before shutting down.
 

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All you need to do is go to autozone they have the tool to take the cap off if the rotor isent broken just take the opti apart and clean it and put it back together and then put the opti back on the car and start the car and see how it run you dont have to put the water pump in or anything the car can run for a few mins without all the stuff conected
 
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