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Oldsmobile Alero Starting-Stalling Problems



  • More and more I just can't believe how many of us have gotten screwd by GM .
    i sent a letter to 'click and clack ' a radio program where they talk live about peoples car problems and well I sent them this forum site with all our problems so heres hoping it will air soon and they will call me so I can voice this live on nationalo radio ....maybe a few more peeps with this GM :lemon: should e-mail them too ......just go to 'bing' and type in click and clack ............
    Happy Holidays all of you Alero owners here's hoping Santa brings us all new car LOL like the commericial .yah right !
  • I must repeat, "I note so many of us were verysatisfied with our aleros (several of us planned to keep the car until it wore out)".
    But instead, GM refused to investigate this problem so as to find a solution to the non starting issues.
    What good is a car that you can't rely on to start.
    Think about that fact.
    The car just won't start for unfound reasons and it won't start at unpredictable and unpatterned occasions.
    Who wants to own and keep a car with that kind of problem
    The only pay back is to not purchase GM products.
    Why would you trust a company with no service performance from their brain trust.
    Don't buy GM products again
  • Thanks, Daniel,

    I'm really getting frustrated at this car. So far, I'm 4 days into this and $350 tool rental from Autozone. The flooded gas has now evacuated - vehicle still not starting. Now I'm leaning towards these 4 things:
    1) The MAP sensor: (although, not sure because I read up that this cannot stop the car from starting.
    2) Gas: (Also not sure because, I dumped fuel in to the throttle body, didn't start - but maybe dumped too much and flooded the car )
    3) Faulty fuel filter (My fuel pump kicks in fine and I can hear it each and every time - but although it kicks in, could the filter be blocking all gas from passing through - because I'm now not seeing fuel on spark plugs tips after tons of no-start cranking, or smelling fueI?)
    4) Faulty fuel gauge (Not sure: here's the symptom: when turn the key on to start the car, the low-fuel warning light comes on for 1 second then disappear and the gauge goes up to over a quarter tank. Also, the tow guy added some fuel in the car and it did not start. Not sure how much he added.

    So my overall question is. From reading the above and my previous post, does anyone out there think my issue is fuel or a bad Map sensor? The car acts as if it wants to start...
    Or has it come down to the dreaded timing issue, ouch.. hope not!? As the car was dying on the freeway it gave symptoms of an out-of-gas vehicle.

    One final note: The hose connecting the Map sensor to the throttle body was literally cut off - could that have caused the car to quit running and ultimately now stopping it from starting?
  • OK, the darn thing just won't do right. I've bought and replaced the MAP sensor to no avail. Added fuel in the tank - womp - no start. Added a little bit of fuel again in the throttle - if it was fuel, this shoulda done it - again no start.

    I'm resorting to thinking that my timing went off - which is NOT something I plan to tackle - or my ECU is fried. Either way, this is where I give up. Tomorrow I'll put the old spark plugs back as a last trial before I garbage the car (sometimes new gapping can cause no-start).

    It saddens me because it's a pretty car.

    Note: If anyone is going to provide any suggestion, please read my two previous posts. Because it'd be funny for you to come on and say something like: "Check your battery cables."

    OK, thanks guys!
  • Jaedee1,

    Don't give up yet. Let me take apart my ALERO and check something out over the weekend. If I can find what I am looking for, then I want you to try it and see if your car will start. Look for another response from me by Sunday evening.

  • A savvy mechanic off Craigslist finally gave me the verdict over the phone: The engine has a bottom-end crack air leak - letting compression escape - that's why when the compression is registered in the tester the needle gradually slides back down - and that's why the car tries and acts as though it wants to start - but will never start. Pretty tricky: compression reads well yet, doesn't hold; so the pressure is quickly released.
    THIS IS BAD NEWS, BUT IN A WAY, GOOD NEWS, because I now know that I'm not that lousy when it comes to the fundamentals of getting a vehicle to start and, will now quit spending money.

    Thanks for all of you guys' help!
  • Hey! I was having this same problem a couple of months ago. Now I go to start car this last hour and it won't start. While key is in "On" position, lights still come on but won't start. Just hear "click,click,click" sound. Starter? And have been smelling gas from time to time.
  • If my problem is a starter problem is it really worth it to get it fixed? Is it costly? Purchased car in New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina. Trying to hold on to it as long as possible. New Home owners and can't really afford another auto at moment. And my birthday is Dec.24th!!! Help!!!
  • Mrsleblanc1,

    OK, you hear clicking when trying to start. There are 3 possibilities that will cause that. 1. Weak battery, It will allow the lights come on as normal but it does not have enough capacity to handle the current draw required for the starter motor.
    2. Corroded battery terminals, The corrosion will cause it to have a loose electrical connection. 3. Bad Starter motor, I don't have an exact price of what it will cost for the removal and replacement of the starter motor. You also mentioned that you smell Gas from time to time. I had the same problem with mine, I found out that the Fuel Regulator was leaking around one of it's O rings. If I recall correctly, the cost of the regulator was like $75.00. That is just for the part from the auto parts store. I do all my repairs myself so I can not say what these repairs will cost from a reputable repair shop. You asked "is it worth fixing" Here is my personal thoughts. Is it paid off? if so, then it would be cheaper than buying another car.
    Here is a ball park figure, Say for instance, this is only hypothetical it cost ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS for the repairs and it starts everytime for 2 years. Would it be worth paying $500.00 a year for maintenance? I think it would be better than paying a few hundred dollars every month. Also do you like the car. I really enjoy driving my ALERO. If you like the car then keep it and fix it. That is just my humble opinion. Good Luck with it

  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    I think you have been given some bad advice. The type of test your talking about is called a leakdown test and that isn't the way you do it. Also, there no way to know for sure if it is bad the reason why just by the fact that the compression doesn't hold. It can also be caused by a bad or burnt valve or high ring clearance. The fact that you get compression ( you say it reads "well" then gradually goes away) means that from a mechanical standpoint the cylinders should be good enough to provide compression for the engine to at least start, even if doesn't run well.
  • OK here is the cost of the starter motor. I had to replace mine earlier in the week. It was $169.99. That does not include the core charge which is $35.00. I don't know what the labor would cost because I did it myself. usually most repair shops will charge between $65 and $85 dollars an hour for labor. It took me about an hour to install. I also found out when my car won't start, I can force it. Here is what I do.
    In my previous posts, I have mentioned that the ignition switch is multi-layer and the switch contacts that keep the signal voltage hot to the ignition module is opening and the starter motor just runs but the engine does not start. Here is what I do to by-pass the ignition switch issue. There are 2 terminals on the starter motor. One is a large terminal that a large guage wire from the battery connects to. The second terminal is much smaller and there is a small guage wire that connects to it. With the key in the "ON" position, take an Aligator clip lead, Radio Shack has the clip leads, put one end on the smaller terminal of the starter motor and take the other end of the clip lead and touch the positive terminal of the battery.
    The starter motor will engage and if there is no other unforseen problems, the engine will start.

    I hope this helps someone some day
  • Here goes the broken Record, I have an 02 Olds Alero V6 Engine power everything, I've encountered and overcome the Driver side wheel bearing issue... the High Fan Only Cycle is looking at me from the ugly corner of the garage, and I am currently fighting with the Ignition Lock Cylinder. :mad:
    I purchased the Ignition switch, but it turns out that it was not the problem (because there was no change in how the car operated, security light still flashed)... after hours of questioning my basic mechanical know how of cause and effect, I was finally able to remove the lock cylinder, returned the switch and started toying with the pass lock reset... I was up til 3AM last night. I noticed that the security light stopped flashing from the onset, not like before (up to 10 minutes) I am thinking about testing out the direct starter bypass... how much of a gauge should i use, and is there an appropriate size (volt amp) for toggle switch (for the starter, and pass lock wires, or just the pass lock after the car turns on) or will just anything work... or am I creating a can of worms that will open up on me later down the road. Sorry I am frazzled and no amount of coffee will make the migraine go away. Any suggestions... Thanks.
  • Dark Knight,

    I have not really had to work with the passlock system yet (notice I said YET).
    I do know that when the security light flashes, it does lock out the ignition mudule. How to Bypass? I really don't know the answer yet. But I know I will someday. As far as the guage of wire to be used for the starter bypass, I use a 18 AWG with aligator clips on each end. If you are looking to install a permanent starter bypass switch, I highly recommend a momentary push button instead of a toggle switch.
    As far as the current rating, make sure it can handle at least 5 Amps. Have you tested the Crank Shaft position sensor? Also make sure that the Camshaft sensor is working. I know you will not like this, but go back to the ignition switch plug assembly and verify that you did not inadvertantly loosen or broke a wire off of one of the terminals.

    I hope this helps

  • Daniel,
    The wires were in good repair... I've once made the mistake applying too much pressure on the screwdriver prying one off before... I'll look tonight for the camshaft & Cranks Shaft Position Senor and check them out...
    I couldn't get the starter motor to turn while still mounted on the engine... Yes I followed the "Haynes" Instruction Manual: raised the car on jack stands, chocked the back tires, and engaged the parking brake. I removed the starter motor, BTW it took me a good 15 minutes to find the 2nd bolt to the transmission splash guard, Small engine compartment + Husky Guy = aches & pains all over arms and back muscles. I took it to the local Auto Parts Store, he got it to engage... of course he started trying to sell me a new one for $169, Lifetime Warranty, or $136 One Year warranty, "but oh, how about that we just plum ran out." I finally convinced him I was not interested and left with my starter. Not that I'm throwing in the towel but I will re-install the old Ignition switch, take it to the mechanic who got it running the first time ($55 smackers the first time), and then "Macgyver Rig" (bypass) the yellow pass lock wire with a toggle switch. Wish me Luck...

    When it rains it pours... Maybe it's the cold spell (see were in the 70's here in Deep South Texas, pull out the parkas!!!) But the alternator (I'm sure) is slacking in charging the battery... 1st clue is the Gauge in the dash will, after a while of running and the screeching stops, go past 14. So I make sure to get a good charge before I turn it off and for good measure I've got a fully charged portable charger and booster cables.
  • Dark Knight,

    Before you install the Ignition switch, You might want to get some good contact cleaner and spray it in the switch contacts and get them cleaned before you reinstall it into the car. Just a word of advice. That starter should have engaged while it was still mounted to the engine. I wish it was in the 70's here. Heck, I would be happy if the temp was in the 40's here in Little Rock Arkansas.

    Good Luck My Friend

  • Yes, you are right! It was the wrong advice... the problem was with the tester. I used another compression tester and it held the compression at 153 153 153 135 on the cylinders. However, my no-start problem is still persisting. I have applied every trick in the books to solve this with no success. The final stage of the car now, is that it seems to not be burning the fuel, as there is fuel deposit on the spark plugs tips after trying to start it. It does sorta starts for half a second and idles rough, but that is if I turn to ignition several times before actually starting -- and flooring the pedal while starting.

    Now, someone pointed out that it could be a spark problem... Well, I dismissed that before because I did a test and saw spark; but I didn't no there was such a thing as weak spark -- mine is weak and yellow-ish, instead of bright blue and sometimes you don't even see any. But just this afternoon I grabbed the complete compartment (DIS ignition) that includes the icu, the coil, and the boots from another vehicle at a junk yard, and I'm getting the same, what is to me, weak spark. Could it be that the part from the yard is also no good?

    I'm ruling out timing because my compression seems pretty good on a cold engine not start for a month now. I'm ruling out fuel, because fuel is being deposited on the plugs, and the car acts like it wants to start (and technically does very shortly). I have new spark plugs in there and gapped appropriately - so it couldn't be them.... Man, I'm tired of this car, it's been a month now. Could it possibly the the f*cking passlock bs, causing this? I ruled that out way earlier in my quest since I did the 20 min. wait procedure and still no go - but my ignition is sorta broken and the key hardly turn... Is the darn computer thinking that the car is being broken into each and every time I turn the darn key. Pardon my French... but you can see my frustration!

    Should I resort to buying a pair of coils for $129?
  • Jaedee1,

    If you are getting a weak spark then the coils are good. So there is no reason to go buy coils. Have you replaced the ignition module that connects to the coils? I have found out in years past that when a part is purchased at a salvage yard, it is a 50/50 shot if the part you are buying is really good. Have you replaced the fuel regulator? Maybe it is not regulating and it is sending too much fuel to the cylinders. Also check to see if you are getting a signal from the crank shaft position sensor. you can do this by using a volt meter and a couple of paperclips. It should be putting out approximately 1 to 2 volts A/C while the engine is being cranked. Also, have you tried by-passing the ignition switch "START" contacts with a jumper wire from the positive battery post to the small stud on the starter? Understand that you don't leave the jumper wire in place. once the engine starts, then remove the jumper.

    I hope this helps
  • janeo22janeo22 Posts: 18
    Yes it could! I had to put my key in, position to the first "click" and wait the entire night one time. Twice it sat in the dealers lot waiting out the same thing, as they could not find anything else wrong. The thing that is happening with my 2003 Alero, is that once this happens, and it reset's itself successfully, (the car starts) it doesn't happen again for a couple of months. I've been llucky though, as my ignition went out too, when the car was still under warranty. I've also had two new keys made and "set" by the dealer, so all is fine for now. The dealer where I bought the car, has been able to fix every quirky thing that has happened the 5 years I've had it. It's almost paid for and then it's outta my possession! I''m getting another Acura, never, ever had problems with the 3 I owned previous to this car. I live through MN winters so it's important I have a dependable car. I'll be praying for a successful outcome for you with this.
  • Thanks Daniel, for coming back to the rescue on this. Obviously, some mechanic gave me the wrong advice which caused me to brake off our previous thread... But once again, you are telling me some good stuff that I didn't think of. So weak spark doesn't necessarily mean bad coils?? OK, I think I know what the fuel regulator is, and I can look into changing that. Though, I don't know how to go about checking the crankshaft position sensor - I have no clue where that sensor would be. No, I haven't done the ignition bypass... I'll have to look online and see where my starter is on my car - Is that step intended to bypass an issue with the ignition switch itself?

    Since you mention the fuel regulator, my biggest turmoil now is deciding whether my problem is too much fuel or too little spark. Pay attention to the following and see if you can somehow discern the problem and shade some light on this for me:

    1) The fuel pumps kicks in
    2) If I keep the fuel pump relay in the car while continuously trying to start it, it'll just crank, and make no sign of trying to start. Spark plugs will be damped with fuel when removed.
    3) If I remove the fuel relay after the above sequence and try to start the car, it will begin to act as if it's starting... If I floor the pedal then, it will indeed start for a brief second and sound rough, then die... It'll kinda rough-short-start again a couple more times, then it'll go back to not trying to start at all -- (obviously at that point the left over fuel had dried since the relay is not in.)
    4) If I put the relay back in and turn to ignition 3 times before I start, it'll will sorta start when I turn the key all the way in on the fourth time... But then with the relay back in, the car eventually floods again.

    So, this is the nightmare I'm having to deal with, and I can't call it. What do you get from this? I'm awaiting your advice before I buy any parts. Thanks!
  • Boy I'll be darn if the issue has been with the ignition the whole time - I've put in two weeks of troubleshooting so far. The thing is, I discarded the possibility of that being the issue since I read up what people on this forum have done - and went and waited my 20 minutes - and got no result. But now I'm hearing, there are different positions the key needs to be on, there are different amounts of time for it to reset, that there's this, that, and what-have-you... I'm confused! Also, I removed the battery several times to get it recharged, so I figured any computer records preventing anything from initiating properly would be erased... I don't know, I've done so much to this car unsuccessfully that I have to reconsider it being an ignition-computer communication issue. Thanks for your insights!

    PS. Acura's are great, I love the 91-95 Legends!
  • Hey, how is this endeavor against GM coming? Did the talk about this forum air yet? I wanna join in, cause I one _issed-off customer!
  • Jaedee,

    OK, lets start with the coils, As you are aware, the coils are just that. A coil of wire wrapped around a ferrite core. The coils will either work or not work. If you are getting any spark at all weak or strong, the coils are fine. I have a 2000Alero with the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine. If yours is the same as mine, the starter motor is actually simple to get to. When I replaced my starter motor, I did not have to climb inder the car to change it. It was nice. When you are standing in front of the car, the starter motor is right under the Air intake for the throttle body. After reading over your meassge, My first thought is the Fuel Regulator. Here is my explanation on why I feel it is the Regulator. If you have the relay in, the spark plugs come out drenched in fuel and the engine won't start. It is because the fuel pump is pressurizing the fuel line up to about 75 PSI. The Regulator has to regulate that pressure at approximately, 40 PSI. The fuel injectors can not handle anything over 45 PSI. They start to leak fuel into the firing chamber at the wrong time and it soaks the spark plugs. With the relay removed, the fuel pump is not keeping the fuel line pressurized and the left over pressure will indeed cause the engine to start briefly. However with the lack of pump pressure the engine will run rough and it will die because it is starving for fuel. As far as the Ignition switch by-pass, (as I call it)
    yes it by-passes the ignition switch "START" contacts. I have to go to work now, But I will post another message here shortly and tell you where to look and what to do to test the Crank Shaft position sensor. I hope this helps.

  • I'm also having some serious issues with my 2000 Alero...The security crap was happening and before I saw this website i dumped $700 into getting a new ignition switch and starter, but now the car stalls all the time (happened yesterday going 75mph on the thruway) and now it still starts, but the the panel with the gauges and stuff won't light up anymore...I have no idea and have seen no posts about this problem :(
  • Kfische6,

    When you say it won't light up, are you meaning that the dash lights don't come on? Or are you saying that none of the guages including speedometer and tachometer (RPM) and the digital display for the odometer does not work. Please be alittle bit more specific. Then I MAY be able to help figure out it's problems.

  • Yes, Daniel, this helped a lot; and indeed, we do have the same engine on our cars, so I think the configurations are the same -- this should help!
    OK, great, so I'll do the ignition by-pass first; if no-go, I'll proceed with changing the fuel regulator. I plan on doing that tomorrow. I'll post the results and await your advice on the crankshaft sensor test. Thank you so very much again!
  • 1998lincoln1998lincoln Posts: 108
    You can tell if the water pump is bad when it leaks water from the bottom of the pump, and it will over heat the engine !
  • 1998lincoln1998lincoln Posts: 108
    sounds like your "Mass Air Flow" sensor is bad, go to Autozone they can test it !
  • widocwidoc Posts: 1
    edited March 2010
    I bought a 2004 Oldsmobile Alero in April of 2007. I was having the same problem many of you are not starting, security light on. Although it seems everyone has just slightly different symptoms, so I'll try to describe mine the best I can.
    A few months after I bought the car I had my first experience. We couldn't get it started, left it sit over night, still no luck the next day. We had it towed to the deal we bought it from. I believe they got it started right away, but then they couldn't recreate, the problem. They sent us on our way. The problem happened again a little while later and the dealership told us to try the put the key in the ignition in the "on" position and wait for the alarm system to reset. That worked. We were also told to try disconnecting the negative battery terminal, I tried but that didn't work. On here I've read if you do that, to leave it disconnected for 5 or 10 seconds, which I never did so I'm not sure if that works.
    Over the next three years the problem came and went in spurts. I couldn't pin point a reason or specific condition that would bring up the problem...until recently. All last summer I don't remember having any issues with it not starting. Then this winter it got bad. One thing I noticed that would bring on the problem would be if you didn't turn the key long enough while trying to start the car. It wouldn't start, then when you tried again it would just turn over but not start. So...sit and wait. When it would start sometimes the security light would stay on while I was driving and other times it would go off, not sure what caused that.
    Eventually the problem would occur even if I gave the key a good crank. It still wouldn't start. This last weekend the problem happened to me 5 times in 2 days. I had enough, I needed to figure out what was going on and how to fix it. I started searching these forums. I didn't want to pay $300 or whatever it would have cost to fix it at a dealership. On one of these forums I found a link to this website...

    The website actually references a Grand Am, but he mentions several times that it is the same on an Alero. I followed his instructions and was able to fix my far. I did this on Saturday and since then haven't had any problems, only 4 days, but I'll take it since the two previous days I had the issue arise on 5 occasions.

    It is definitely worth it to. I bought a 5 pack of resistors at Radio Shack for $1.00, so $.20 a peice. $.20!!!, well worth it for the frustration it was causing. The process sounds complicated, but if you take you time and go step by step it was rather quite simple. I hope this helps someone. So far I'm very pleased with the results.
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    What you have done by following that procedure is bypassed the Hall effect (magnetic) sensor on the ignition switch, which is the problem in well over 90% of the time with passlock. The only downside is the car can now be started easier without the key. I don't think there's a long line of car thieves out there waiting to steal your Alero or Grand Am though.
    Your symptoms are classic for Passlock problems, the secuity light was coming on while driving to warn you that the Passlock was failing, and the randomness in the no start/having to wait for reset is common.
  • ja33ja33 Posts: 23
    I guess it is time to repeat my simple solution to the Alero or Grand Am owners' passlok problem as described in my post # 187, dated July 8, 2009. At that time I posted it after 8 months of success. And now after 16 months I have not had a single starting problem. I posted it on the Grand Am site Those owners who admitted having tried it, were successful. Other experienced Grand AM owners tried to explain it. Believe me, this solution is not rocket science, OR maybe I'm just lucky. And I QUOTE .............

    At 36,000 miles my 2001 Olds Alero started having passlock starting problems. At first it was every other month and then after 2 years it happened with every other turn of the key. Since I am not the least bit mechanically inclined, I tried any and all procedures suggested on the internet except cutting wires, or installing a new switch. Eight months ago I decided to clean the grooves on my ignition key with a squirt of 3 in 1 oil. THE CAR STARTED RIGHT UP. I did it again for the next 3 days to gain little confidence in the procedure. THE ALERO CONTINUES TO START EVERY TIME
    Now once a month I oil the key, push it in and out of the switch slowly a couple times. When starting the car, do not jam the key in quickly and turn. Take your time. It seems to be a very sensitive switch, and needs a little TLC to prevent dirt build up. Try it. A little 3 in 1 oil squirt might save you a $500 repair bill. I told my GM dealer mechanic about this solution. He said "Yeah, it might work" UNQUOTE

    If this procedure works for you, or any other Alero owner I would appreciate hearing your results-good or bad. Don't use any fancy ignition key lubrication from an auto parts store. Just a little dab of plain,old 3 in 1 oil (Grandma's old sewing machine lubricant).................Ja

    PS I am tempted to send 3 in Oil Company this unsolicited testimony, since it really did save my wife from trading in the Alero. We must start the car at least 8 times a day
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