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Old 04-20-2009, 07:30 AM   #1
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It is raining and the truck wont start!

I have a 1998 Chevy 1500 4 x 4 with 130000 miles on it. I am at home in the driveway, and currently unemployed (no big hurry to have it running). This is the third time for this. The first time I went through the electrical system and found nothing! After changing the cap and rotor (which looked like new) the truck ran fine. Four hours in the garage with the heater blowing at it while I checked the ignition control module at the auto parts store ( it checked fine) then removed the coil took it to auto parts store ( it checked fine) so I bought a cap and rotor and installed them. The truck fired right up. A month later it rained over night after a three hour trip home from Indy. Then nothing!!! No spark, had air, had fuel, No reason to suspect no compression,= must be no spark. I left it sit in the sun the rest of the day and in the morning it started right up!
Now I have the trailer hooked to it in the driveway (I live in a subdivision where the trailer cant live!) was going to take the trailer back to the barn last night and after raining all day now the truck wont start again!! If you have a suggestion where to turn next let me know. I will pouring through the chiltons manual again to see if I can get it figured out. Thanks in advance Mike
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:46 AM   #2
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try a blast of WD 40 in the cap and on the rotor. I had a Ford that did that from time to time when it got damp and WD 40 would cure the problem until the next time.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:02 AM   #3
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Check your coil wire, & coil again. Moisture is shorting something out. Adios, John
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:31 AM   #4
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Question

Do you have spark at the cap terminals and coil and nothing at the plugs?

Try the "tap" test on the Computer. Crank over while tapping. Computer should be above the glove box right side. May be an intermittent open in the PCM. Check the connector terminals for the green grunge.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:33 AM   #5
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Thanks will do !! As soon as the rain lets up a bit. Now a new note. The truck wont fire while the starter in engaged but it will fire one or two cylinders after I stop turning the key. But it wont stay running. I think the temperature has risen 8-9 degrees since last time I tried. Mike
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:46 AM   #6
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Thanks will do !! As soon as the rain lets up a bit. Now a new note. The truck wont fire while the starter in engaged but it will fire one or two cylinders after I stop turning the key. But it wont stay running. I think the temperature has risen 8-9 degrees since last time I tried. Mike
Ignition Switch is a good place to start. ( no pun intended)
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:12 AM   #7
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Get a tube of dielectric grease.

Apply a liberal application of said grease to both ends of all the spark plug wires.

Remove the cap, dry out the interior, add a bead of RTV to the bottom lip, and put the cap back on.

You also might want to check all the relays under the hood. Corrosion of the copper connections is not uncommon and could be causing a spotty connection. My old truck did this to me often.

Whenever I pull anything electrical apart on my truck, I use a liberal application of the dielectric grease to prevent future corrosion.

Hope this helps,

Woody
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:11 PM   #8
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Mike, Next time take the distributer cap off and blow everything out with a hair dryer, Is there a rubber seal around the bottom of the Cap? Should there be? Examine cap under a strong light looking for a hair line crack. I had a Plymoth and an MG with this problem, did not know the Chevy had same problem. dale
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Old 04-21-2009, 09:19 AM   #9
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Mike,

My comment in post 6 may be a little vague. The actual switch I was referring to is NOT the key switch. There is a switch located on the the lower portion of the steering column, right side, just above the firewall, when it goes bad will give the symptoms you described in post 5, can be very intermittant. It supplies power to the ignition in the start/run position. It has a gear inside that has gone out of "time", and could now be powered only in the run mode. Turn the key on and with a test light see if you have power at the coil, try the start mode and re-test. If not a new switch must be installed and positioned correctly to supply power in both start and run positions. If you have a remote starter button you could try starting by connecting directly to the starter.

Hope this helps..

Bob
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Old 04-21-2009, 10:33 AM   #10
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Another thing to check is to try and start the engine at night, while it's still damp out. Watch all the sprak plug wires, expecially from the coil to the distributor for arcing, which you may not see during the day. I've found bad plug wires that way many a time on older cars and trucks. Just be careful of course!

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Old 04-21-2009, 11:11 AM   #11
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New info.

Well it cleared up yesterday afternoon and warmed up a little. And the truck started so I was able to get the Airstream back over to the farm house where it lives two miles from here. I purchased a code reader from the auto parts store and now have new info. The first code is the MAF ( I would think this would make the truck run just too rich or too lean?) I did not think that it would be "run or not" when it is cold and damp. The second code is Break in the circuit camshaft/crankshaft position sensor. This could be the problem now I know what sensors to check I will go out with the test light and multi meter and try to follow the Chilotn manual to test them. Thanks for all the Ideas I still have not ruled out the Ignition switch ( there seems to be a lot of moisture on the floorboard in that area). Like I said I am unemployed and this is now our third vehicle so getting it fixed is only keeping us from our camping schedule. I hope to have it fixed by the first of may!! Thanks again and keep your thoughts coming. This site is great!!!! Mike
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:05 PM   #12
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If you unplugged those sensors and turned the key on, it could have stored those codes.
The crank position sensor should be on the front of the engine, behind the crankshaft pulley/harmonic balancer. The crank sensor could be what is giving you the problems. Check the wires going into the plug, and the plug itself, for that sensor. The mass air flow sensor being bad will allow the truck to start, but it will run very poorly.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:29 PM   #13
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I would disagree with having a bad MAF will still allow the engine to start. I had a 98 Ford van, and when the MAF failed, the engine would not start. Ran fine the previous day. Of course, all auto makes have different quirks. Just telling you this so you don't rule it out.

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Old 05-01-2009, 10:24 AM   #14
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Robert Cross... Bob

Would the Ignition stitch "timing" be affected by the cold/rain? I have a code reader and have replaced the Crank position and cam position and Mass air sensors.

The truck ran for a couple of days ( no rain) and would not start again yesterday (rain all night).
I will test the power to the coil as described in # 9 as soon as I can spend some time in the garage (our two year old doesn't allow much uninterrupted wrench time)

The P 0340 code from what I find is a "fault in circuit cam sensor" is still showing. How do I test this circuit?

The MAF code and the crank position code have gone away. But the truck still doesn't like the rain.

Please let me know what you think? Thanks Mike
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:30 AM   #15
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Ok so the sun is out when I ran out to check the coil power the truck started right up!! Man this is frustrating!!!

I think a trip to the mechanic may be in order, But will they be able to find the problem if it is not raining? I would guess not and they would charge me for the time anyway. Being unemployed SUCKS!! Sorry just unloading. MIKE
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memgrove2000 View Post
Robert Cross... Bob


The P 0340 code from what I find is a "fault in circuit cam sensor" is still showing. How do I test this circuit?
Do you get this code constantly or just when it rains (won't start)?
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:31 AM   #17
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The code is there all the time now.

The chilotns manual says some thing about it may not keep it from running but it will meter the fuel differently (at a point when it stopped working) I think this means it will run rich or lean till I get it fixed.

I am wondering now if I need to look else where. But I am running out of ideas.
mike
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:51 AM   #18
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In High School I had spot on a lake I could pull right up on the water and shine headlights out over the water - most excellent place to take a date for some quiet time & watch the bugs, fish and fog...

The water vapor that close to the lake was guaranteed to make the 4 cylinder 1973 Pinto engine fail to start, and conveniently ensured the car would not move for a few hours... though for me the fix was to pop the hood and wiggle the primary ground cable where oxidation and oil film made it go open circuit when in 100% humidity. Sure made me look like a hero with a few dates.

Check your ground straps & ground points, a braided copper or other conductor clamped where they may bridge gasketed components or items placed on standoffs, or even bolted items suffering from corrosion ...
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:56 PM   #19
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Talking Thank you ...i think i got it!!!!!!!!

Thank you to all who helped me here!!!!!

After moving my sister on Saturday out of a third floor walk-up, to a second floor walk-up (not in the same building) My wife and I got home from Chicago Sunday around two. After we ran across town to pick up the girls from Grandmas I was able to work on the truck.

the weather was gorgeous here today so of course the truck ran fine. After some suggestions I got the garden hose out ands popped the hood!!!

Starting on the left front working around to the right front then to the rear. A little water here and a little water there. Trying to only get one thing wet at a time (hard to do while the engine is running) I made it around to the rear of the engine with the hose and BAM!! DEAD!!!

Well now we have narrowed it down to an area that has about 30 wires and several sensors. But at least now we have it located to an area!!

So I got out the air hose and started blowing out connecters and wire harnesses and checking if it would start every time I got one dry. Till it started again. But when it did start again I had gotten a lot of things dry to that point. (what the heck was it?)

The hose was getting too much wet at once so I went out to the shed and found a squirt gun!!! Good aim... good stream... fan wind doesn't blow it everywhere... GENIUS!!!

After a little trial and error and squirt then air hose her and there... NO THAT CANT BE!!! I Ill try it again NO WAY!!!

THE COIL WIRE WAS BAD!!!

I looked at it... removed it ...then removed the plastic shield... And there was the slightest little discoloration on a tiny little bent spot where it ran under a bracket for the air tube.

So science I could not buy just a coil wire and had to buy a whole set of plug wires (the other ones were 5 years old and at their life expectancy) Why not buy plugs too ( also 5 years) As if I have to take off the plug wires any way I might as well it is only money right!!!!

THE TRUCK RUNS GREAT!!! I can run the hose full bore under the hood whereever I point it IT RUNS!!!!!


THANK YOU ALL FOR THE HELP!!!!!
MIKE
So now I guess I will start with that pitman arm and control arm!!
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:24 PM   #20
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feels good doesn't it? :-)
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