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91 Carat Auto - No acceleration and temperature light
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SallyinSavannah
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:40 pm    Post subject: 91 Carat Auto - No acceleration and temperature light Reply with quote

Hello All!
I am hoping that some of you may be able to help me diagnose this.
I have a 91 Carat Automatic. Returned from a 500 + mile round trip a couple of weeks ago. She ran fine on the highway until about 20 miles from home (on the way back). She began to lose power (I was running about 60 mph) so I pulled of the next exit (close by) and shut her down. Inspected the engine and undercarriage and everything seemed fine. Cranked her back up and drove home with no problems.
I started her up this past Saturday and took off for the store. About 2 miles into my trip the temperature light started blinking and the engine would not accelerate.
I plan to spend time this weekend and next getting her back in shape for an upcoming road trip (1,300 miles) next month.
Is this a fuel Pump or Filter combined with something else? Any help is appreciated. Thank you.
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kourt
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was the temperature gauge also reading high when the light was flashing?

This looks like two separate problems to me, or one really bad problem.

Any unusual emissions? How are the levels in your coolant tanks? Any recent work done on the van?

When you say it was losing power, can you describe that with more detail? Was the engine missing, or was the throttle simply not responsive, but still revving?

kourt
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SallyinSavannah
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kourt wrote:
Was the temperature gauge also reading high when the light was flashing?

This looks like two separate problems to me, or one really bad problem.

Any unusual emissions? How are the levels in your coolant tanks? Any recent work done on the van?

When you say it was losing power, can you describe that with more detail? Was the engine missing, or was the throttle simply not responsive, but still revving?

kourt


Thank you for your help.
The temperature gauge was in the normal operating temp area. No overheating issues at all. Though, I did notice the expansion tank and reservoir were low. I topped off the fluids and burped the system last night. Flashing light has not come back on. I did change out hoses and coolant (no phosphate) this summer. I do this every couple of years.

Other than a tune up last December (by VW Mechanic), Oil Changes (2,000 miles), and other routine services are all that has been done.
Losing power . . . Engine was firing just fine. No smoke or other signs of engine issues. When I stopped she idled perfectly. She would accelerate and shift fine up to 40 mph then the lack of power would start.
Note* I do use Marine Grade Fuel (91 Octane - no ethanol) every other tank and run 93 octane otherwise.

I plan to overhaul the fuel system this winter because . . . well we all know why. Just wondering if I need to do so sooner or if there is another issue.
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kourt
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For diagnostic purposes, I am curious if you are able to drive the van by manually shifting the automatic shifter from 1 to 2 to D and back down. That may tell us something.

Check your ATF level, and quality of your ATF. It needs to be brownish in color, with some transparency. If there is any milkiness in there, I would suspect a transmission cooler/heat exchanger failure (assuming you have the original style transmission cooler). This would explain 1) coolant loss and 2) poor driving performance but continued good engine idle.

This is a long shot, but it's also the "worst case scenario" that needs to be ruled out. If you are intermixing coolant and ATF, stop driving the van.

kourt
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Get out your multimeter and a pressure gauge and do the diagnostic tests in the manual. Also remove, inspect, and clean all your ground connections. Reassemble using dielectric grease to prevent further corrosion.
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fraggle00
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Verify your transmission isn't full of coolant due to a failed cooler.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Verify that the trans isn't slipping at any given time--
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SallyinSavannah
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again guys. I appreciate the troubleshooting help.
So here is where I am . . . I checked the trans fluid while the engine was cold and had not ran in the past 24 hours. The fluid was a nice transparent brown color. I did notice something that caught my curiosity though. The dip stick has two notches to indicate the fill level. The fluid was well above the "full" indicator. Also, it seemed to be thinner than what I would suspect it should be (though I am not an expert). I started it up and ran it down the road for a couple of miles. It shifted fine and ran well. After I parked it, i looked at the dip stick and it read the same as before. I looked under the transaxle to see an oil like substance coating the bottom of the transaxle. I have never noticed anything dripping before and did not see any oil spots on the driveway last night or this morning.
How can I check the trans cooler? Is it possible that there is another issue causing the lack of power? The transmission is shifting fine and not missing gears. I tried both manually shifting and letting it go through the progressions.
I am stumped. Thanks for your help.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It doesn't sound to me like your transmission is your problem. That being said, the tranny fluid needs to be checked when it is hot and with the engine running and the tranny in neutral. When in doubt just change the fluid, if yours is like most it is long overdue for a change.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stumpy,

Start the engine, walk around back, open the hatch, remove the engine cover, then check the trans fluid with the engine running.
Then see where it's riding on the stick.
Oh;
The trans fluid is supposed to be bright red, not burnt brown or tan.
Sounds like it's time for a fluid & trans filter change besides looking for what's leaking onto the transaxle assembly.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
...with the engine running and the tranny in neutral.


FWIW, my Bentley says the trans should be in Park when checking the ATF.
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kourt
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What was the temperature of the engine, and the ambient air temperature when you checked the ATF?

Depending on the year of your Vanagon, the transmission dipstick will have several markings. The later vans had three markings for three conditions:

Condition 1: cold engine, cold transmission, engine off, around 68 degrees ambient air temperature, level surface--the ATF should register just on the very bottom of the ATF dipstick--like the last three millimeters. There is a slight crosshatching at the very tip of late model dipsticks to indicate ATF level at 68 degrees F (or lower, but not higher than 68F).

Condition 2: warm engine, warm transmission (driven around 5 to 10 miles), engine on, trans in park or neutral, level surface--the ATF should register at the lower of the two dots on the ATF dipstick.

Condition 3: hot engine, hot transmission (driven hard and fast), engine on, trans in park or neutral, level surface--the ATF should register at the lower of the two dots, but possibly higher, and no higher than the upper dot on the ATF dipstick.

Measure the ATF under all three conditions and tell us what's going on.

If you measured the ATF in a cold engine and it registers at or above the lower dot, you are somehow overfilled on the transmission. This could be:

1: coolant from the transmission cooler intermixing with ATF (but it would really look opaque, like a strawberry milkshake)

2: gear oil from the differential intermixing with the ATF, due to trans/diff seal failure (gear oil is usually clear and has a distinct, sulfurous smell)

3: genuine ATF overfilling due to maintenance error (extremely common)

Another sign of overfilling ATF is fluid, usually ATF, coming from the vents on top of the transmission. See if fluid is leaking from the vents, or from the weep hole at the joint between the transmission and differential. The weep hole is directly underneath the transaxle, at the union between the two component parts. You'll find a hole there that may have fluid seeping from it.

If this were my transmission, I would open the transmission pan, drain it, reseal the pan, and fill it carefully to the 68 degree F crosshatching mark on the dipstick. Then drive it 5 miles, park it on a level surface, leave it running, and check again, filling with ATF to register on the lower dot on the dipstick (or planning to drain a little if overfilled beyond the lower dot).

This transmission has many safeguards against overfilling conditions (vents and weep holes) and the proper filling and fluid level checking procedure is misunderstood by a great many people.

kourt
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SallyinSavannah
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update:
Last weekend I swapped out the stock transmission cooler for a GO WESTY transmission cooler. (I really like the new cooler - very well made).
The old cooler is still in good condition.
I am not convinced that the transmission is the problem.
Any other thoughts?

Again, it idles and shifts fine. It just does not accelerate properly above 40 mph.

Thanks guys.
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indytriple
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I had your problem with my 91 auto Carat (now belongs to another poster on this thread!) it was a fuel injector slowly going bad. The symptoms started just like yours and got progressively worse until the offending injector was replaced. It could be a bunch of things, though. Systematic troubleshooting via the Bentley instructions would be the best idea.
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fraggle00
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

indytriple wrote:
When I had your problem with my 91 auto Carat (now belongs to another poster on this thread!) it was a fuel injector slowly going bad. The symptoms started just like yours and got progressively worse until the offending injector was replaced. It could be a bunch of things, though. Systematic troubleshooting via the Bentley instructions would be the best idea.


Still here and drove the carat almost 10,000 miles last year. One of my most favorite vehicles I've ever bought.

Why would the temp light be flashing here? I would expect a bad injector to run rich, though I suppose it could get stuck close and run lean as well, leading to overheating.
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SallyinSavannah
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello All! And happy new year. I figured it would be helpful for me to provide an update on my '91 Carat (Sally).

So the acceleration problem turned out to be a fairly minor problem. Once I replaced the fuel filter the van ran fine.

Then to address the flashing coolant light I did a thorough inspection of the cooling system before our trip to the Florida keys. I flushed the system and pressure checked it. All was good. I visually inspected the hoses and connections. All was good. I then inspected the expansion tank cap and tanks. All was good.

With the blinking light off (and mystery yet solved) I drove around locally to see if it would repeat the blinking. No problems. I let her run in the driveway for 45 minutes. Everything worked as it should. No leaks, no problems.

So we packed her up and left on a Sunday into sunny Florida. She was loaded down and running great. About three hours into our trip the light started blinking again. I pulled over and checked the system. Coolant level was a hair low, but no signs of leaks. About 70 miles later the light began blinking again and the temperature gauge started climbing. I pulled over and shut her down on the highway. Steam was rising from the driver's side vent. Unable to work on her there, I let her cool for a while and rove her to the next exit about a mile up the road. Parked at a truck stop, I was able to unload the trunk and check the engine.

Unable to find a broken hose or source of the leak I made the errant assumption that it must be a water jacket. With the wife, kids and dog all waiting to begin the vacation I had to make the choice to continue the trip or head home. I did both.

I called my dad (who lives about an hour away from where I was parked) and had him pick up the wife, kids, and luggage (what he could fit of it).
Then I called a tow truck and had them tow Sally and I back to the house in Savannah. I picked up my wife's Subaru Outback and headed back to Central Florida the same night.

We headed down to the keys and checked in to the campground, with limited resources. We had a blast but really missed Sally.

When I got home yesterday I immediate;y went through the cooling system again. And I found the problem!

My van is equipped with the factory A/C. Below the Compressor is a heater hose. This is what failed.

Needless to say that I have ordered all new hoses and have blocked off time to replace all of them.

All in all, I am glad neither problem was major. Hope this helps someone in the future. What really bugs me is that I was parked 100 yards from a auto parts store. If I was able to diagnose this while parked, I could have fixed it then. Live and learn!
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you had a good plan B and were able to continue the vacation. Good job eventually finding the cause too. Very Happy
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