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Author Topic: Help me, Hatrack car gurus
Jon Boy
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I don't remember if I've mentioned this problem before, so forgive me if I have. One of my cars has been having problems starting. Basically, it seems to have trouble starting when it's hot. I bought the car in October a few years ago and didn't notice the problem until the next summer.

It has no problems when it's a cold start, even if it's a very hot day. But if it's a warm day and I've driven the car at all, turn it off, and then try to start it again, I get nothing but a thunk from the starter. Sometimes I've had to wait only five minutes for it to start. Sometimes it's been an hour or two.

A couple of months ago it finally started having problems with cold starts, so I figured the starter was finally toast. I replaced it and assumed the problem was solved, but it just hapened to me again last night. I drove home from work, then drove somewhere else a few minutes later, then couldn't start it for a few minutes when I went to head home.

Any ideas as to what it could be? I searched online a little, and the only thing I could find about not starting when it's hot is a relay problem with some Hondas.

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Strider
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i've been patiently waiting for something to go wrong with my car so I can call the Car Talk guys. Stupid car won't act up.

Sorry, I have no ideas about your car.

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Lavalamp
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This sounds like it could possibly be an oxygen sensor.

If your car is relatively new, you can take it someplace to check the computer readout codes.

If it is an O2 sensor, there should be a corresponding error code.

It'd be a good idea to check for error codes anyway.

If it's an older car, you can't get a diagnostic code, of course.

(NOTE: This is purely a guess on my part. I had that type of problem on an older car and they replaced the sensor and it worked fine. But that's probably just one of several possibilities.


Good luck!

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orlox
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Not really enough info. I assume from the description that the starter is NOT turning over.

Slap a voltmeter on the battery and see what it says. Check that battery connections are tight and clean. Can you hear a click from the starter relay when the key is activated?

The next step would be to attach a jumper directly from the battery to the relay. If the starter now operates the problem is in the ignition switch, neutral start switch or starting circuit wiring.

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Jon Boy
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I guess I forgot to supply some important info: it's a '93 Buick Regal with a 3.8 V6. You are correct that the starter does not turn over (when it's hot, of course). I turn the key and get a click, but nothing else.
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orlox
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Well, check that battery, jump the relay and we will go from there.
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vonk
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I want to change the oil in my truck on my own. I've always felt that it's a waste of money to pay someone to do something that I can do myself. The obvious problem is that I have never done it before. I'm sure I can find directions somewhere via google, but I was wondering if it's even something I should attempt on my own? Can a generally intelligent, good-with-his-hands guy change the oil in his truck alone, with only a set of instructions to guide him?
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TheHumanTarget
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My guess, it's the cellanoid in your starter. The heat causes it to expand and doesn't allow it to turn and generate the spark for your car to start. What make/model is it?

Edited: You beat me to the answer. Anyways, we had a similiar problem with a 93 Oldsmobile, so I'm leaning heavily in this direction now.

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Stephan
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Check the battery connections to see if they look corroded. If they are, pour a carbonated beverage over the corrosion to get it going.
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TheHumanTarget
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One more question, does it have dual overhead cams on it?
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vonk
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I certainly hope Jon Boy's already got his car starting again, as that query is nearly two months old. This seemed the most appropriate thread to put my question in.
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TheHumanTarget
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Hehehe...good catch Vonk. Where was I two months ago?
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brojack17
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You CAN change the oil pretty easily. You just remove the plug, let the oil drain, remove the old filter (usually the toughest part of this whole thing), put on a new filter and put in the prescribed amount of oil. Almost any of the chain auto parts stores will dispose of the oil for you.

My thing is this, you can usually get oil changes around $20. The oil and filter will cost you about $10. If you don't have an oil drain pan and tools, you are already out the $10 savings. It takes me about 2 hours to do everything (go to store, change oil, clean-up, dump oil, take shower). Most of the time, that time is worth more than $10. If I am doing other work, I may throw in an oil change.

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vonk
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That doesn't sound too hard, but you're right that it probably isn't worth 10 bucks to do it myself. But still, I'd like to know how and if I could become skilled enough and have supplies handy, it would be a time/money saver. I think I may give it a try this weekend.
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El JT de Spang
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The thing is, once you get the supplies (which are really nothing more than a drainpan for the old oil [which must be disposed of properly; you can't just dump it out in the yard], a rachet or wrench that's the right size for the oil plug, and, if you want, an oil filter wrench [which is not really a wrench in the traditional sense]), it's typically a lot cheaper to change your own oil. You can buy a case of whichever brand and weight oil you prefer, a couple of spare filters, and you're all set.

It takes about an hour the first time, and about 15 minutes once you get used to it.

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brojack17
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One more tip. Dip the tip of your finger in the used oil and lightly coat the gasket of the new filter. That is supposed to help it seal better.
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vonk
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Is the process the same for every vehicle, or do I need to find instructions for my specific make and model?
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El JT de Spang
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Yes, and yes.

Some cars have oil filters in strange places (although they're almost always accessible from the top of the engine compartment), so it'd be helpful if you know where yours is.

What make and model vehicle is it?

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brojack17
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No, it is pretty much the same. What kind of truck do you have? I usually slightly jack up the front since the drain plug is in the back. You may also want to get an
oil wrench.

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brojack17
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Handy Video

Edit: Only 23 steps in all.

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brojack17
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Just remember... selling the oil by the case does not mean it takes a full case to fill up your vehicle. [No No]

One of my buddies from high school did that. Not only did he put in a whole case but he did it through the dipstick. He said it took six hours to fill it up. [ROFL] [Laugh]

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Primal Curve
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quote:
Originally posted by TheHumanTarget:
cellanoid

Just FYI, the word is "solenoid."

As to changing your oil, it couldn't be simpler-- especially if you pick up the Haynes manual for your car (available at Autozone). It has a section at the front for "Routine Maintenance" and will show you where the drain plug, dipstick, oil filter and fill point are. I highly recommend you buy the manual and then read through this section several times until you are familiar with the process for your specific car.

Tools you should own:
  • Haynes Manual
  • Set of socket wrenches for removing and reattaching the drain plug. When working on cars, using an adjustable wrench or pliers should be a LAST RESORT. Use the right tool for the job.
  • Cup wrench sized for your oil filter. This is used with the ratchet to REMOVE the filter ONLY.
  • Drain Pan
  • Something to put the used oil in (you can buy specialized containers, but milk jugs will do if you're really cheap)
  • Bag of rags to clean up
  • Funnel for adding oil

The steps are pretty straightforward:
  • Buy Oil (see Haynes Manual for capacity) -- there's a long discussion that could ensue about synthetics vs. regular motor oil. I'll let you make your own decision.
  • Buy Oil Filter (should be a book at the store or some kind of little computer that will help you find the right filter. Make sure you know what kind of engine your car has, as a lot of makes will have different engines)
  • Drive the car home and let it cool down
  • Remove the filler cap
  • Place drain pain below drain plug and remove the drain plug.
  • Allow oil to drip into the pan till it slows to a drip. Replace drain plug and tighten.
  • Place drain pan below oil filter. This may be the harder part, as the drain plug is on the bottom of the engine, but the oil filter could be anywhere.
  • Using the cup wrench, remove the oil filter. You may bust a knuckle doing this, as it can be on pretty tight, but you should be alright. All you really need to do is loosen it, then it will come off smoothly with just your hand. If the cup wrench doesn't fit, you may have to use a strap wrench, which can be a pain in the butt. If things are really tough, just ram a big screwdriver through the filter and use that to torque it off. You're going to dispose of it anyway.
  • Let all of the oil drip out of the Oil filter plug.
  • Wash your hands (the orange mechanics hand soaps are really best for this kind of grease)
  • Smear a film of NEW oil on the NEW Oil Filter's rubber gasket. If you don't do this, the filter WILL leak.
  • Screw the filter in place and HAND TIGHTEN. Do NOT use the wrench, or mechanical damage may occur as the filter and engine expand from heat.
  • Using the Funnel, add the amount of oil that you removed. You may need more, but this is a good starting point. If you're unsure how much you drained, using old, empty bottles of oil is useful for measuring, or your drain pan may have some sort of measurement. If this doesn't work, take an empty milk jug and add a quart of water to it. Draw a line at the top of the water, then add another quart and mark that. Do that all the way up the side until you have a handy-dandy oil measurer device thingie.

    Another tip from the secret tome of garage mechanics: Pour this oil this way:
    code:
        ________       ___________
    / | |_ |
    _/ NO | | \ YES |
    |___________| U P \________|

    This will keep the oil from running out really fast. The containers are actually designed this way on purpose.
  • Once you get the oil added, put the cap back on and check all of your work for any obvious leaks. Tighten anything that looks suspicious.
  • Take the car around the block to get the engine warmed up and the oil flowing. When you get back, let it idle and check again for leaks. Retighten anything that looks suspicious, but don't overdo it.
  • Stop the engine and check the dipstick. If it looks low, add a little and recheck (unless your car adds the oil through the dipstick hole, in which case any cold reading right after adding oil is useless. Consult the Haynes manual).

That should be it. Good luck.

[ May 16, 2007, 06:13 PM: Message edited by: Primal Curve ]

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vonk
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Hey, that's great! It looks like basic instructions are the same in all the sites I checked. WikiHow did mention removing a gasket, which I didn't see mentioned anywhere else. Is this paramount?

I have a '95 Chevy Silverado 1500.

I don't have a socket wrench set and those are pretty expensive. I know you said crescent wrenches shouldn't be used, but is that only to avoid wearing down the bolt, or ease of removal?

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Primal Curve
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Both.
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Primal Curve
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Honestly, if you're not going to buy a set of socket wrenches to work on your car, just don't do it. Working on cars requires a certain financial commitment up front that can be frustrating, but well-worth it in the long-run. At the very least, figure out the size of the drain plug and buy a 6-point combination box and open-ended wrench that size so that you can do at least this task.
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brojack17
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I agree with PC. A crescent may work, but is ill-advised.
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brojack17
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That should be the same as my '96 Chevy Suburban. It takes a 15mm wrench for the oil plug.

Stinkin' metric system.

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Nick
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*hates standard bolts*

Metic system is the way of the future. At least imports use ONLY metric rather than both like domestics.

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Primal Curve
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Yeah, I'm also a metric fan. I just wish I could work on my car and not have to guess. Of course, at this point, I have a Nissan and a Subaru, as my Cavalier recently went the way of the Buffalo.
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vonk
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I know I need to buy a socket wrench set, and I intend to, but I don't have the budget right now. I think I'll just have the oil changed this time, and work on putting together a toolbox for the next time. Thanks for all the advice guys.
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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by vonk:
I certainly hope Jon Boy's already got his car starting again, as that query is nearly two months old. This seemed the most appropriate thread to put my question in.

It still starts fine when it's cold or moderately warm. When the engine is really hot, it'll click the first time I turn the key, but the second time it starts just fine. It's a new starter and solenoid, and it's working better than the one I replaced, so I'm not going to worry about replacing it again just yet. I think I'm going to put a heat shield on the solenoid and see if that helps.
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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by brojack17:
You CAN change the oil pretty easily. You just remove the plug, let the oil drain, remove the old filter (usually the toughest part of this whole thing), put on a new filter and put in the prescribed amount of oil. Almost any of the chain auto parts stores will dispose of the oil for you.

Just remember to put the plug back in BEFORE you start putting in new oil. [Wink]
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Primal Curve
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Jon, have you checked the starter relay?
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Jon Boy
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No, I don't think I have. How do you check a relay?
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Primal Curve
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You can bridge the contacts to see if you can replicate the problem, or you can just put in a new relay and see if the problem goes away.
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Jon Boy
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Is a relay something that could act flakey when the engine is hot but act fine when it's cold?
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Primal Curve
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Yes, relays are known to become problematic when heated. Old Volvos have problems with the fuel pump relay overheating itself and failing regularly.

From google definition search:
relay: electrical device such that current flowing through it in one circuit can switch on and off a current in a second circuit

Here's an interesting discussion about a starter relay problem on a motorcycle. I include it only because of its detail. With a little more looking (and not having lots of automotive forums blocked at work), I could come up with more stuff.

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BaoQingTian
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Dude, that's so crazy. That's the board that I go to for my motorcycle talk (since I own a GS500). About a year ago I used to post on there all the time. Small world.
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brojack17
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick:
*hates standard bolts*

Metic system is the way of the future. At least imports use ONLY metric rather than both like domestics.

I grew up on standard. That's how I learned fractions. Yeah, it is easier to grab the next mm bigger rather than try to figure out what the next 1/32 is, but I like what I like.
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Alucard...
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No crescent wrenches! NEVER use a crescent wrench on a bolt that you could have used a ratchet set or a closed ended wrench on! :-)
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