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Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe No Start problems



  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Have that fuel filter changed first. You can have this done at any small shop. You can also change it yourself but you need to get a special tool for disconnecting the filter from fuel line. Same type tool as is used for AC connections. That tool does not cost much either.

    Another thing to check before fuel pump work is the fuel pressure. If pressure is low it can be an indication of failing pump but it can also be an indication of failing fuel pressure regulator.

    Fuel pressure regulator can loose spring force that controls fuel pressure causing low pressure condition and poor fuel spray in the intake port. Pressure regulator is quite inexpensive to change compared to fuel pump.

    Depending on the car dealer it seems they want to do the most expensive job first, which you pay regardless if it fixes the problem and then they start changing the other parts that can be the problem.

    Have you changed spark plugs yet? They can be the problem too. I know they say you can go 100 000 miles with the factory installed plugs but I would, and have changed mine, already before 50 000 miles. Factory installed spark plugs seldom are the best you can get either as is the case with plug wires.

    Start with the fuel filter, which if I remember right is located on driver side in about middle of the car on inside of the frame beam. Lucky you have a fuel filter as some other cars have fuel filter only at fuel pump itself. You could check the fuel pressure before changing the filter to see if it makes any difference.

    If filter change does not help check / change fuel pressure regulator.

    Fuel filter and pressure regulator change I think cost $200 or less. Fuel pump job I have seen from other posts cost $800 - $1000.

    One thing that perhaps tells about filter problem is easy test to do. When the engine is cold and you would need to turn the key twice before it starts do this:

    Turn the key only to make all instrument panel lights to come on, i.e. turn the key to ON but DO NOT TURN IT TO START. You should hear the fuel pump to operate for a couple of seconds. Now turn the key OFF and then turn it like you normally would start the engine and see if the engine really starts. This could indicate that indeed the fuel filter is restricting the fuel flow to the engine and you kind of need a "pre-charge" from the fuel pump before you are able to start the engine.

  • reloc8reloc8 Posts: 2
    I'm hoping someone can help me. I have an 02 Tahoe that occasionally will not start. No lights, no sounds, nothing-just dead. It will not jump and the battery cables are tight and clean/no corrosion. The battery is new. I've had it tested and the battery, starter and charging systems show normal/good. What could be causing this?

    The test showed that the system is draining 6.44 amps when totally shut off. This sounds high to me. What could be causing it?

    I also get that whirring sound when driving and sometimes when I shut off the vehicle. Could that be indicative of the problem?

    Please advise. Any direction or help would be greatly appreciated. I drive my children around in this truck and don't like being stranded at will. Plus wrecker fees are adding up!
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Over 6 amps pull from battery when everything is off is HUGE! It will probably drain your battery to no-start condition in a day. It is quite obvious that there is something "stuck" on or grounded / grounding.

    6.44 amps is quite high though.

    You could do following: Connect amp meter between battery negative and the ground cable. That is where you should see that 6.44 ams draining when everything is OFF and start testing every fuse and relay, i.e. take fuses and relays off one by one (replacing each if not problem) until you find the one that stops battery drainage. This way you can find the circuitry that is causing it.

    It can also be that your alternator has started leaking in the ground (diode problem) and as the amperage is quite high this might be where I would start, i.e. disconnect all alternator wires to see if that is doing it.

    Starter motor could be the source for problem too so disconnect the thick starter motor power cable from the battery to see if it helps.

  • reloc8reloc8 Posts: 2
    Thanks Arrie, although I'm no expert, I thought 6.44A sounded high. I will try what you suggested and hopefully will come up w/a solution. I appreicate your thoughtful comments.
  • nate24nate24 Posts: 1
    My '03 Suburban won't start at random times. It does seem tied to the weather (didn't happen at all in the winter), and is usually after it's been driven - but not always. When I turn the key all the electrical components turn on as if it's in auxilliary, but the engine simply won't turn over. There is obviously enough power to turn on lights, radio, dvd player, but no start. Sometimes you can wait 20 seconds and try it 20 times and then it will start. Other times, 20 minutes and two tries will do the trick. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to when it will finally start. All cables (including battery) appear to be tight. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
  • kdmillerkdmiller Posts: 14
    Replace crank sensor or new battery. K Miller
  • I wanted to thank members on this board for helping me solve my problem with my '99 Suburban. The postings on this board help me diagnose the problem and saved me $100's of dollars replacing parts that were not impacting the performance of the car.

    The issue was that the truck was difficult to start first thing in the morning. Once it was started for the day, I had no problem getting it started. In the morning, the starter would crank but the engine would not fire. I had replaced the fuel pump 5 years ago. For a while, I could get it to start by:

    1) cranking the engine for three seconds;
    2) turning the key to the off position;
    3) turning the key to the on position ( not cranking ) for 10 seconds;
    4) turning the key off
    5) turning the key to the start ( crank ) position.

    Once the car had been started in the morning, it had no problem starting for the entire day.

    My mechanic thought that the problem was probably the fuel pump, but when he tested the fuel pressure, the results were within manufacturers specs ( 60 psi -- I think). He was uncomfortable recommending changing the fuel pump because it had been changed previously, it was recording the proper pressure, and it cost $800. Some of the other items might have been the distributor, the Fuel Injectors, the spark plug wires and other items. We both agreed that a new fuel pump for $800 with no certainty that it would remedy the problem, would be a risky venture.

    I noticed that when I parked the truck on an incline with the engine higher than the gas tank, the truck would not start at all the next morning. I towed the car such that the engine was lower than the fuel tank. The truck started with no problem.

    My mechanic recreated the hill scenario by parking the truck on an inclining rack over night and running the fuel pressure tests in the morning. The test results showed a much lower fuel pressure of 35 psi, way below the manufacturer's spec.

    Armed with this new information, we both agreed that my mechanic should go ahead and replace the fuel pump.

    Now the truck starts every time.
  • pmokpmok Posts: 1
    Nate24 - What was the solution? My 04 Tahoe is doing the exact same thing! It has been happening once every 2-3 weeks. I only had to wait 10 seconds and try again and it would start up. Today it did it again and I had to wait 15 minutes. Battery is only 6 months old. Lights and radio come on but the engine won't even turn over. Was it the crank sensor?
  • I have a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban that is sputtering and falling on its face when I press the gas pedal. After reading this forum, I am thinking it might be the fuel pump. So I called the local Chevrolet service dept and they said it would cost over $535 for the pump and $370 in labor. WOW!! Well that is not in my budget. I think I will start small first and check the fuel filter, thanks to a message I found earlier on this forum, and I did find it under the driver's side. I also am checking the fuses and relays. Any other suggestions anyone might have, I would greatly appreciate.

    I have had this Suburban for over four years and have never ever had any problems. It has been a great vehicle.

    Oh, I took the fuses for the fuel pump to have them checked and they said I would have to know what the OHMS were so they could be checked. Does anyone know what they might be?

  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Does anyone know what they might be?

    I don't know what they are but I don't think you need to know any more than whether they are blown or not. The pump will not function at all if the fuses are blown.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    ohms is a measure of inches is a measure of distance.

    When a fuse blows, it goes to infinite resistance since the small wire inside the fuse burns up, and there is no connection remaining between the two ends. If the fuse is still good, it has 'low' resistance. Just look to see whether the fuse indicates 'infinite' resistance...if so, it's blown.

    If in doubt, just replace it since they are cheap. Alternatively, you can swap the fuse with another fuse of equal rated amperage (swap a 10 Amp fuse, with another 10 Amp not swap a 10 Amp fuse, with a 15 Amp fuse). The amperage rating is the amount of amps that the fuse will handle before it burns up.
  • my_three_sons - this sounds like my problem. here is what I have posted on just
    1999 Tahoe V8 2WD - problem with starting when cockpit is humid. cranks, fires, acts like it wants to start, but dies. Only happens when cockpit is humid.

    Optional Information:
    1999 Chevrolet Tahoe 350

    Already Tried:
    replacing rotor, cap, wires, plugs, unplugging in and pluggin in ECM connectors. All underhood stuff. Does not seem to have any bearing on what is going on under the hood, only if the interior is humid. In the morning is the most likely time that this happens, but also on a rainy day. It sometimes fires the first try, but if it does not and fires and dies, no level of repeat attempts works until it sits for a while. Battery is fresh, so that is not the issue. Have looked for this issue on message boards, and see a lot of folks describing this problem, but no causes identified. I'd like an answer quickly, but not willing to pay $$ to get a canned stupid response, and since this is the first time I've tried this service, I'll see what I get and then pay if the answer looks plausible.


    is this the same problem you encountered?? Is a new fuel pump the reccommendation based on symptoms? How hard is changing the fuel pump??


  • Your problem does sounds like you are a candidate for a new fuel pump. If the fuel pump hasn't been replaced in the past 4-5 years, there is a strong probability that you need a new one.

    I have had my Suburban since 1999 and have replaced the fuel pump once in 2004 and once in 2008. It is a known weakness in the Suburban/Tahoe vehicles.

    I had the replacements done by qualified mechanics both times as it is a tricky procedure. The part costs about $500 and the labor is about $300. The fuel pump is located inside the gas tank at the back of the truck. You need to drop the fuel tank ( best if it has very little gas in it ), replace the fuel pump, then re-install the tank. As I am not a professional mechanic, I was uncomfortable attempting this procedure on my own. I did not want to risk incorrectly installing a $500 part, then having to pay for the procedure all over again.

    One way to see if the current pump is operating properly is to have your mechanic measure the fuel pressure that coming out of the existing fuel pump. The manufacturers' specification is around 60 PSI. If is is below that by a significant amount, then the fuel pump is not operating properly.

    Good luck with your truck.
  • Hi to all. My first post to this site, from what I've seen there is a lot of help here. So, with that said here is my problem and the things I've done so far. The problem started showing about two months ago, taking longer and longer to start, checked battery and found it to be week, put in new battery, did not fix problem. Next to happen was to replace the plugs, was due anyway, problem still not fixed, got to the point that a quick squirt of starting fluid was needed to get it to start. two days ago temp got down to 19 degrees F, and would not start at all, replaced distributor roter, and cap, both showed signs of wear. Still problem is not fixed. Checked for spark at plugs and it is presant, checked for fuel at purge point in line, fuel is presant but not sure of pressure. Finaly today, hooked up jumpers from other car and a quick shot of start fluid and it started. After it starts the first time it's not a problem again until it cools down. What should I check next?!!!
  • Sounds like you might have a fuel pump problem. If the truck is 5 or more years old, you might be up for a replacement. Check to fuel pressure coming out of the pump when it is cold. If the pressure is low ( less than 45-60 PSI ) it is probably worth replacing the fuel pump. The pump is ~$500 and ~$300 in labor for a total of $800 or so.
    Hope that helps.
  • I'm hoping that thats not it, just replaced the fuel pump last year. I agree, I need to test the fuel pressure, rather than going at it a little at a time, I am going to take it to have an analasys ran and see what all pops on the radar. I hate to say it but it probably is the fuel pump. :cry:
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Based on what you say your problem is with fuel delivery to the engine, i.e. when you give it a small amount of starter fluid it starts up. This all tells that everything else is ok, just a problem with fuel getting in the cylinders in a correct form.

    A wrong form easily can be that too low fuel pressure does not atomize the fuel spray and the engine won't start. Then, after you start it up with the starter fluid and it runs and engine is warm it will start normal way, until it sits and cools down.

    An important thing with the fuel pump that needs to work correctly for correct fuel pressure is the fuel pressure regulator. Did you change that out? If not, that would be my next thing to do. It actually would have been one of the first things that I would have checked before changing everything else you have changed including that fuel pump.

    Checking codes probably will not tell you anything since there is no sensor for fuel pressure. Have codes checked at a car part store, where they do it for free for you. Dealer or other shops charge about the same as a OBD II scanner cost, i.e. if you are considering taking your car to a dealer or other shop buy the scanner instead. It is easy to use and a very good tool to have. OBD II scanner works for all U.S. sold cars since 1997 I believe.

  • Well, I've taken it to the shop, and yes it's the fuel pump, the one I had replaced not quite a year and a half ago. It does seem like most of the posts here eventualy come down to the fuel pump, this must be the achiles heel of the suburban. This is really the only major issue I've ever had with it. Does it make a difference if I replace with OEM or aftermarket? Anybody experienced?
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Do you promise to post back if the new fuel pump, that you will be replacing in less than two years since your last one, fixes the problem if I give you my opinion to your question?

  • cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. I promise. Sorry, but I haven't been back in a while. But please, give me your opinion.
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