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sudden power loss, then engine died when I stopped
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:58 pm    Post subject: sudden power loss, then engine died when I stopped Reply with quote

Hey all. I have been seriously struggling with my vanagon. Every time I fix something, the van runs GREAT for a day. Then the next day, or maybe next hour, the original symptom returns, and usually worse. I don't understand it, it's very discouraging.

Okay enough of my complaining. The latest problem is actually probably a new one (woo). I was cruising along the road around 45, not putting that much load on the engine, when suddenly I just felt that I had less power. Very sudden. I tried to put it out of mind, but when I cruised up to a stop light, then tried to take off, I found out my engine was off. After getting honked at and trying to start it for about 3 minutes, it finally caught with me feathering the gas and holding 2000 rpm, and I puttered slowly around the corner to a residential street, where it died again.

It doesn't start, now, but it tries. What could have happened so suddenly? Clues: it made a loud knocking sound when it did limp around the corner, mostly at the lower RMPs though I think. When I try to start it now, it makes a low low low rumbling sound. It's never made an engine sound that deep before. I have checked all my connections and everything looks connected!

thanks for any help!
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BavarianWrench
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to say, knocking sounds are rarely electrical issues. Check your fluids both, oil and water. Then get a sense if the engine is binding when the knocking noise happens? You'll want to know if you're making compression too.
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BavarianWrench wrote:
Check your fluids both, oil and water. Then get a sense if the engine is binding when the knocking noise happens? You'll want to know if you're making compression too.


I can't duplicate the knocking anymore because it won't start. There had been a knock in my engine though for the past few months though, I ran some seafoam through before my last oil change and it quieted it down, so I think it may be lifter knock. I'm pretty sure this sounded a lot louder than that, though.

I checked fuel pressure and it seems to be fine, but I have not checked compression. I will do that, now!

Fluids are fine.
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay I just did compression tests on the cold engine (won't idle):

#1: 120
#2: 80
#3: 135
#4: 110

Could cylinder number two be the problem? Is this something that would keep it from even starting?
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Vinzanto
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably won't solve your issue but for the last week I have had similar problems. Running fine for the most part but would suddenly really bog down with noticeable loss of power and when arriving at a stop light the rpms dropped low eventually killing the engine, unless I feathered the gas. Also according to my fuel gauge I was burning gas much quicker than normal. After inspecting the engine bay for loose vacuum hoses or other obvious issues I found nothing immediately obvious. I continued to drive the van for about a week as I was working long hours and had no time to address the issue. So today during my lunch brake I decided to make some slight adjustments to my timing to see if I could remedy my problem. And after some slight timing adjustments I am happy to report the van is running normally again. And sure enough after driving 20 miles home from work I topped off my gas tank to calculate my mpg and during my week issues my mileage dropped to 9.7 mpg Shocked, whereas I typically get 15-16 (separate issue).
Long story short it may be beneficial to tinker with your timing a bit but make some marks in case you would like to restore it to its previous setting.
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BavarianWrench
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something else is up. Your engine has an issue with one hole at 80, but it should still start. Do you have access to a leakdown checker. It measures the % of leak down when the cyl is at top dead center by measuring the amount of compressed air moving past the meter into the cylinder. You then can Identify where that air is going. Intake, exhaust, crankcase or directly into the coolant? It is best to sort out your engine control issues prior to tackling engine mechanical issues. It is a drag to install a fresh engine and have it not run right because of fuel or ignition issues. Those issues can often be the culprit to the engine issues. Spray some(very little) starter fluid in the intake manifold. If it lights up for a second you probably have a fuel issue. If nothing happens, put your tongue on the coil wire and have somebody crank the engine. If they don't see you fly back like you have been hit by a taser, it is an ignition problem. That is joke, be careful with secondary ignition. Those are the fat wires carrying spark. I forget what a van pops off, less then 20k volts? It's still enough to make you jump or stop a pacemaker. Look carefully for spark if the starter fluid doesn't light off. It should run with those compression numbers.
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morymob
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unplug oxy sensor chek wire, it's a coax type, make NO loose strands of shield r touching the center (signal) wire, meter it between shield & center,NEVER be shorted. Sensor isn't used until eng temp reaches a certain temp but can cause a flooded eng while running & loss of pwr as u described. Check for spark to plugs, make sure dizzy is turning rotor. U may need to pull plugs to see if they r wet, crank a few turns to blow excess gas out & try to restart. Fuel pump cycle when key turned on? Just some things to test out 1st.
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kourt
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What part of town? I can stop by for some groupthink. Two heads are better than one.

kourt
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boy, that's a great offer. If you can get Kourt looking at your van, I predict good things will happen!
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kourt
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Let's hope I live up to this compliment.

Reply here or PM me--I'm pretty flexible in my schedule.

kourt
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That would be great!! PMing.
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kourt
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, we didn't get it running, but I left him with a "known good" fuel pump (for A/B testing) and I towed him to a better parking spot with my Westy... so I can say I left the situation a letter better than I found it.

Jake, let me know how it turns out... and hang on to that girl.

kourt
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kourt wrote:
Well, we didn't get it running, but I left him with a "known good" fuel pump (for A/B testing) and I towed him to a better parking spot with my Westy... so I can say I left the situation a letter better than I found it.

Jake, let me know how it turns out... and hang on to that girl.

kourt


Will do Kourt, thanks for the assistance! Unfortunately the fuel pump made no difference, and I even put a few gallons of gas in it to idiot-check, still nothing. Gonna hunt around with a multimeter later today and see if I can get my hands on an AFM. Maybe disconnect the cat too, see if that does anything.

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Bostig powwwerrr
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay guys I've been hard at work but am still stumped. Here are some things that I have done:

- mess with timing while cranking to see if it will catch
- confirm spark at every spark plug boot
- inspect distributor
- replace ignition coil
- replace fuel pump
- confirm adequate fuel pressure
- spray starter fluid in intake manifold
- confirm all my injectors are spraying and cleaned them up a little

Still nothing. Do we think that it must be an air problem, then? How do I rule out my AFM? The carbon track has continuity throughout. I would love to take my cat off to see if it's a back-pressure issue but the bolts are rusted to hell.
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NoNameNeeded
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jkmcrg wrote:
Okay guys I've been hard at work but am still stumped. Here are some things that I have done:

- mess with timing while cranking to see if it will catch
- confirm spark at every spark plug boot
- inspect distributor
- replace ignition coil
- replace fuel pump
- confirm adequate fuel pressure
- spray starter fluid in intake manifold
- confirm all my injectors are spraying and cleaned them up a little

Still nothing. Do we think that it must be an air problem, then? How do I rule out my AFM? The carbon track has continuity throughout. I would love to take my cat off to see if it's a back-pressure issue but the bolts are rusted to hell.


What do your spark plugs look like? Is there any carbon/corrosion built up on the cap and rotor?
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jkmcrg
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NoNameNeeded wrote:

What do your spark plugs look like? Is there any carbon/corrosion built up on the cap and rotor?


Spark plugs have carbon build up, but are only 3 months old. I have been running rich because i had been running with the O2 sensor unplugged to fix an intermittent problem with bogging down while accelerating from stop. There was some carbon build up on the rotor but it just looked marked, nothing bad. Would either of these just suddenly hit though? I feel like these are gradual things.
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Jamos
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you checked out the Hall Sensor wires and/or connector on the side of the distributor?
If one of those wires was cracked or broken, or the connector wasn't making solid contact, that could explain most of your issues.

It's worth a check at least!
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NoNameNeeded
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jkmcrg wrote:
NoNameNeeded wrote:

What do your spark plugs look like? Is there any carbon/corrosion built up on the cap and rotor?


Spark plugs have carbon build up, but are only 3 months old. I have been running rich because i had been running with the O2 sensor unplugged to fix an intermittent problem with bogging down while accelerating from stop. There was some carbon build up on the rotor but it just looked marked, nothing bad. Would either of these just suddenly hit though? I feel like these are gradual things.


When my cap and rotor needed replacing my engine started acting up suddenly. How Is the spark at the plugs? I know you said you have spark at the wire but have you checked if the plugs are firing with a strong spark? You have a half dead cylinder and I would think weak spark might make it difficult to start.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Change the carbon tracked cap--& rotor--
I'll bet it's arching in the cap and not allowing to fire when it needs to--like you have a couple of dead holes.
It should run with the 80 lbs of compression.

I'd start there.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jamos wrote:
Have you checked out the Hall Sensor wires and/or connector on the side of the distributor?
If one of those wires was cracked or broken, or the connector wasn't making solid contact, that could explain most of your issues.


I checked those wires when I met with Jake. They look terrible--the insulation is broken in areas and I could see copper.

The cap and rotor looked fair--not perfect, but not terrible.

There are some residual issues of an engine swap going on here. Over in the northwest corner of the engine bay there was a standard Vanagon ignition module bolted to the sheet metal. That's where it belongs, but nothing was plugged into it, and I couldn't find its wiring harness anywhere. Strange.

kourt
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