Tech Area

It Won't Start

Question: I now have my brakes fixed and I have run into yet another problem. The car will not start anymore. It has been very hot here in Virginia these past few days, so I assumed this could have been a vapor lock problem. I did all the usual tricks, (cold cloth on the fuel line, vent the tank, etc.) nothing worked. The first time it did this I just let it sit and waited until morning and it started no problem. This time, nothing. Tried the same things and even let it sit again overnight and it will not start, not even fire. I'm hoping it's not the fuel pump. If it is, the car goes down the road to the Junk yard to be crushed!!!!!

I won't even part it out I'm so disgusted. I should have bought an 85-88 instead of the 84.... My question is this. if it is the fuel pump...can I leave it in the tank and use an external racing pump mounted in the trunk or engine compartment? That would be an easy fix. But I have no room or place to drop the fuel tank, let alone drain the gas out. What are your suggestions?

Answer: The long answer to a short "it won't start question".

Since it is virtually impossible for an in-tank electric pump to "vapor lock", you first need to determine if you have fuel pressure.

The 4 cyl Fiero's do not have a fitting to attach a gauge, and the special tool that does is quite expensive.

But a quick "home" check can be done as follows: cycle the key several times (on for 2 secs....off for 10, then on again, and repeat) to build up pressure. Then, immediately crack the fuel line where it enters the fuel filter (on drs side of all yrs). A "halo" mist should come out. If not, then the fuel pump is not building pressure.

If you get a mist (not a drip), wipe/blow off any fuel that got on the ignition parts (or wait for at least an hour). Then with the air cleaner assembly off, observe if the injector is pulsing fuel when the engine is cranked. If not, the most likely cause is a bad fusible link that powers that portion of the ECM.

If fuel is being pulsed into the TBI, then you need to find out if you have spark and/or timing.

You can remove the oil filler cap, have the engine cranked, and see if the rockers are moving. If not, the cam gear has stripped some teeth and must be replaced.

You can remove the coil wire from the coil tower, have the engine cranked, and watch for a spark to run down the coil to ground. If no spark, most likely is a bad ignition module, but could be a bad coil or pickup coil.

You will need to do some testing before deciding whether or not to discard the car. Remember, it has already run for 19 years, and with good maintenance and some normally worn parts replacement, might very well run for another (fun) 19 years.

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