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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm having a bit of a problem with my '03 9-3ss Linear Auto (32k miles, been through all scheduled services (and then some)). If the car sits for awhile (>12-18hrs), when I try and start it for the first time, it idles really rough with the RPMs bouncing all over the 900-1200 range and the engine really sounding like it is having some fuel issues. It has flat out stalled a twice. After a few seconds, and it starts it works absolutely great for the rest of the day. Any clues, i've tried searching the forums but I can't find anything (probably because I don't know the technical term for this problem). I can take it to the dealer but it is a bit out of the way and I just got back from the 30k service where they told me the transmission slipping from 2nd->3rd occassionally was all in my head (and my wifes, and my co-worker). Thank you all for any help you can provide.

Shaun
Puyallup, WA
 

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It sounds like you may have a flooding condition. I'll offer two possible scenarios.

1) You have a leaking injector. The fuel system is always pressurized. When the car sits overnight one of the cylinders is flooded. Two things to check. One, when you open the car door in the morning, do you always here a whirring sound? If so, that's the fuel pump re-pressurizing. It will do this as soon as you "wake-up" the vehicle by opening the door. Second, check your oil for a distinct odor of gasoline. Just pull the dipstick, rub your fingers on the oil and sniff. If a significant amount of gas is present, it's not hard to detect. If a cylinder floods severely, the walls get gas-washed and lose their oil seal. Some of the gas gets into the oil.

2) Your habits are causing habitual flooding. You come home after work and park in the driveway. The car sits and cools for a few hours. Before going to bed, you pull the car into the garage. The car only runs for 45 seconds or so. During the time the mixture (by design) is very rich, and the cylinder walls are cold. Part of the reason the mixture is rich is because it is a given that during a cold start fuel will condense on the cylinder walls and be unavailable for combustion. This liquid fuel sits in the cylinders all night, and causes difficulty with the morning start. If you run the car a bit longer, the cylinders heat up and the condensed fuel gets burned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thank you for the quick reply, tomorrow morning i'll check out number 1, i haven't noticed the sound, but i'll go look for it and try and the dip stick thing. I'll let you know what i find out. I doubt it would be option 2 though, when I drive it, i have about a 40 minute comute home. Then I pull into the driveway, let it run for about 20 seconds b/c I was always told to do that with turbos and then turn it off for the night. Thanks again, i'll let you know.

shaun
 

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Try a different brand of gas. I recently tried Conoco 91 and had been using BP 92 and had the same problems. Went back to 92 and it runs great.

As for the 2/3 shift, it is not in your head. Most of us auto tranny owners have this problem. The software fix doesn't help either. Supposedly changing out a valve body does the trick, but I haven't taken it in yet. Also, it doesn't seem to happen when it's cold out.
 

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ctrlz said:
It sounds like you may have a flooding condition. I'll offer two possible scenarios.

1) You have a leaking injector. The fuel system is always pressurized. When the car sits overnight one of the cylinders is flooded. Two things to check. One, when you open the car door in the morning, do you always here a whirring sound? If so, that's the fuel pump re-pressurizing. It will do this as soon as you "wake-up" the vehicle by opening the door. Second, check your oil for a distinct odor of gasoline. Just pull the dipstick, rub your fingers on the oil and sniff. If a significant amount of gas is present, it's not hard to detect. If a cylinder floods severely, the walls get gas-washed and lose their oil seal. Some of the gas gets into the oil.

2) Your habits are causing habitual flooding. You come home after work and park in the driveway. The car sits and cools for a few hours. Before going to bed, you pull the car into the garage. The car only runs for 45 seconds or so. During the time the mixture (by design) is very rich, and the cylinder walls are cold. Part of the reason the mixture is rich is because it is a given that during a cold start fuel will condense on the cylinder walls and be unavailable for combustion. This liquid fuel sits in the cylinders all night, and causes difficulty with the morning start. If you run the car a bit longer, the cylinders heat up and the condensed fuel gets burned.
What if you have the significant gas smell? I had the same starting problem and brought it in for servicing. The dealership said it was probably bad gas. I still have the problem and did as you suggested and did smell quite a bit of gas in the oil. What should I do?
 

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Roddemp said:
What if you have the significant gas smell? I had the same starting problem and brought it in for servicing. The dealership said it was probably bad gas. I still have the problem and did as you suggested and did smell quite a bit of gas in the oil. What should I do?
If you have a leaking injector, the problem does not self-correct. You will notice four things:

1) The difficulty with cold starts persists
2) There may be a smell of gas when starting the car
3) The oil level will slowly rise (as gas leaks in)
3) The oil will thin out and have a progressively stronger gas odor.

The oil will not tolerate too much gas. Note the level on the dipstick as best you can, then check it a few days later. It shouldn't rise. You may also note the thinness of the oil by rubbing it between your fingers. You might catch a strong whiff of gasoline while rubbing the oil. If the smell is unmistakeable and the oil seems thin I would point this out to your mechanic.

If you are uncertain, try getting an oil change and ask the mechanic to check for gas. The oil and oil filter will reek of gasoline, especially if the oil is warm.

A mechanic can also pressure test the fuel system to check for a leakdown.

The bit about "bad gas" sounds like a mechanic who doesn't know what he's talking about. Gasoline is generally the same quality everywhere. The trucks fill up at regional refineries. The branding is basically a small amount of additives. The gas gets filtered several times including at the gas pump nozzle. The fuel filter in your car is basically filtering dirt that forms in your gas tank due to corrosion, etc. All 93's can run on 87 octane even if 92 or 90 is the recommended grade. The performance will suffer slightly if you "under octane," but the engine will adapt to the lower grade, and cold starting problems should not occur.

Don't bother with a fuel injector cleaning product you dump in the gas tank. Fuel injectors need to operate precisely for best vehicle performance and fuel economy. They can have both electrical and mechanical problems which cause leaks.
 

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Just to put this out there ... all fuel injectors leak a certain amount. I know this for fact because I work at a large manufacturing facility for a global supplier of fuel components. One of the biggest engineering challenges they have been facing for years now is designing a zero-leak injector.

Anyway, all I'm saying is, for those of you who don't know, the concept that ctrlz is talking about is ~not~ far fetched or unheard of. That much leaking would be considered a "faulty" condition, but it is certainly possible and worth checking.
 

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93Linear said:
for those of you who don't know, the concept that ctrlz is talking about is ~not~ far fetched or unheard of.
93Linear, thanks for the moral support!

Now if only I could get my wife to believe a word I say:lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I have completed the checks and have determined the problem is a bit more localized than I first mentioned. I associated with the ignition of the car because in the mornings I am always in a hurry (got to love the army) and turn it on and throw it in reverse. It turns out that the problem does not show itself when you turn it on, but the moment you put it in gear (whether it be drive or reverse). The second you put it in gear from park, then it starts the nonsense.

Any clues?

Thank you all for all the help, nice to know i'm not the only one with the 2-3 problem.

Shaun
 

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shaun82 said:
Any clues?
This could be related to a number of things. If this only happens during cold starts, I would guess that something is amiss with the engine control module (ECM) or a sensor. But you are not getting a check engine light (CEL), so maybe the ECM is getting faulty data. First guess is that the ECM thinks the car is already warm, and the mixture is too lean for cold idle. You said it all works fine for warm starts, right?

Since you've double-checked your situation, are you sure the stall is related to moving the shift lever into gear and not pressing/releasing the brake? The reason I ask is because the brake system has vacuum assist. A small vacuum leak could cause stalling during cold starts, and go unnoticed for warm starts. Even a small vacuum leak will lean out the air/fuel mixture. A big leak will probably cause the CEL to light, and the car will idle roughly even when warm.

There are many other possibilities. For example, putting the car into gear may result in the transmission control module (TCM) sending a wake-up signal to the ECM, which boosts the idle speed a bit to compensate for the load of the engaged transmission. I can only speculate that something along these lines occurs. With so many computer modules communicating you really need to know the ins and outs of the car.
 

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shaun82 said:
Well, I have completed the checks and have determined the problem is a bit more localized than I first mentioned. I associated with the ignition of the car because in the mornings I am always in a hurry (got to love the army) and turn it on and throw it in reverse. It turns out that the problem does not show itself when you turn it on, but the moment you put it in gear (whether it be drive or reverse). The second you put it in gear from park, then it starts the nonsense.

Any clues?

Thank you all for all the help, nice to know i'm not the only one with the 2-3 problem.

Shaun
As for the irradic RPMs, varying power, and stalling (all until the engine is warm, at which time it runs like a gem), take it to your dealer and have them check the spark plugs & the car's computer for mis-fires. I had those same symptoms around 6000 miles, and that's what my service guys reported. They did find misfires in the computer history, but not enough to trip the "service engine" indicator. And they said that the spark plugs were fouled. I refuse to believe it's gas related -- I've been pretty religeous keeping to major brands (even though I know that gas is a commodity and that many off-brand places are selling name-brand gas as evidence by the Marathon truck that fills up the underground tanks at the local United Dairy Farmers) and feeding mid-grade.

Good luck -- I know the frustration well.
 

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Have you checked the battery with a voltmeter? Sometime if a cell starts going bad odd behaviors like that will crop up
 
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