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Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe No Start problems



  • arriearrie Posts: 312

    The truth often is that a third party part actually is better than a part from the OEM. I ALWAYS opt for third party part if it is available. A simple reason is that if their part does not work they will be out of business so they must make sure, for most of them, that they work as well or better as OEM part.

    Car dealer shops can screw up countless times with poor quality parts and people keep coming back, until they are out of business when these people finally realize they need to buy something else, i.e. imports.

    You did not say anything about the fuel pressure regulator. Was it tested? When you check fuel pressure it can be too low for two reasons. Your pump does not give enough flow/pressure or the pressure regulator is bad. As you very recently changed your pump already why not replace the regulator just to rule it out as a possible problem? I does not cost much. I have not changed it but I would expect the part to cost less than $30.

    Who diagnosed that you have a fuel pump problem? Dealer shop? If so, make sure they do NOT also replace the fuel pressure regulator to make you a happy customer since it seems dealer shops are the worst ones to rip people off and do unnecessary repairs. Worst case would be that they only replace fuel pressure regulator and don't even touch the pump as they could be aware of the "real" problem and know they can get nearly $1000 from you for a $50 fix.

    I know I sound pessimistic but this car fixing cheating crap is everywhere and you just need to look for yourself.

    A fuel pump going out in two years is very rare occasion and just for that reason I would replace that fuel pressure regulator before going after that big job. You can do it yourself.

  • My 1999 suburban is doing the same thing. Did you ever find out if it was the crank sensor, or something else??? I need help!!!
  • I have checked and tightened battery cables, fuse boxes, and made sure I had plenty of gas. The delay is sometimes seconds or could take minutes before the damn thing starts. I just need to know if it is the starter, ignition, without sinking too much money into it.
  • My 1996 Tahoe has been sitting for about a year (I have to fix the 4WD tranny). I recently decided to start it up. It tries to turn, but it won't crank. It sounds to me like the fuel is not getting to the engine. I checked fuses for the injection system and put in some fuel (6 gallons), but still it won't crank. I thought it may be because it is parked on an incline, but now it has 6 gallons of new gas in it with a bit of Marvel Oil.

    My wife suggested the fuel pump not working properly and found this forum. Also, I should mention my fuel gauge needle all the way to the right at 3 o'clock ("full" is at 2 o'clock). Your remarks about the fuel pressure regulator sounds like it may be my issue. I've never heard of a fuel pump going out because a car sits (I could be wrong).

    In the past, I started my old 1966 Mustang that sat in my sisters garage for 13 years!! I have an old Jaguar that I seem to be able to start after it sits for months at a time. Please help! Any advise is welcome. :sick:
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Pull a couple of the spark plugs after a hard cranking / no start exercise, and see what they look like.

    Wet with fuel? Carboned up? Fouled out?
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    "It tries to turn, but it won't crank"

    If it won't crank it means that the starter motor cannot crank the engine. As you say it tries to it most likely means your battery is almost all empty. You had it sit for a year, right?

    Before doing anything else, based on your post you need to recharge the battery or perhaps even replace it. You obviously have another vehicle so give it a jump start.

    It could be that there is nothing wrong other than not enough juice in your battery.

    After you jump it or recharge battery and get good crank and if it still won't start post back and we can think of something else being the problem.

    Depending on the vehicle they pull various amounts of amperage from the battery even when they just sit. In a year it does not take much and the battery goes empty. Unless, of course, you disconnect battery cable while it is sitting.

    It also is that when battery is low enough that it still barely cranks the engine it might not have enough voltage for a good spark to fire up the engine.

    I would try to jump it as I wrote above and think other options after that if needed.

  • My wife needed a tow truck today when her 1999 suburban 4wd stalled in traffic. It would simply not start. The gas tank indicated full. When we got it home I checked for spark, good spark. I replaced the fuel filter since I had one laying around, still would not start, but the old filter had a lot of dirt in it. I checked the forums here, and noticed that many suburban and tahoes have faulty gas gauge problems. So I checked the trip meter, which was 562miles. I divided by 13mpg, and it came to around 43gallons. I asked my wife when she filled up last, it was several days ago. I checked our bank records, sure as shootin' it was 4 days ago. She had driven several hundred miles in a Suburban, which "died" on the highway reading absolutely "full". I just put 2 gallons in her, and after a strategic pause, she fired up nicely, purring like a kitten again. I'm not going to mess with the fuel gauge (in the tank), we'll use the trip meter, which is more accurate anyway. When the fuel pump dies on some day years from now, I'll find out what happened to the gauge.
  • I replaced the battery. I put 6 gallons of gas in. The truck is parked on an incline. Have not changed any filters or anything else. The person at the auto parts store said I should syphon all the gas out totally and put in new gas because the old gas in the tank may have turned to "varnish" as they put it.

    Any other suggestions?
  • arriearrie Posts: 312

    now it cranks but won't start.

    Trouble shooting basics:

    1. Check that you have spark. Easiest way to do this is to take one spark plug boot off and insert an extra spark plug on it (can also do it for all spark plug wires separately). Then placing it against engine ground have someone crank the engine and observe if you have a good blue spark. You should hold the boot with isolated pliers or tape it on a wood stick to hold. If you have a good spark you have a good chance for a little electric shock if you hold boot by hand.

    If you have spark then problem is with fuel delivery system unless your spark timing is all messed up. In that case the engine should show some kind of signs of trying to start though.

    2. If spark is ok you need to check for fuel delivery in the engine rail. Go buy a fuel pressure gauge that screws in the service port of your fuel rail. When cranking the engine you should read 40-60 psi.

    Fuel gauge should also have a bleeder line. Mine has a small diameter plastic tube that lets fuel pressure out from fuel system when a button is pressed. Very handy to use before working on the fuel system.

    You can use the bleeder line to get a sample of your fuel entering the engine. If fuel really has gone bad perhaps you can sample it and see if it even burns.

    Remember, as long as the spark works at the correct time and correct quality fuel is delivered in the engine it will run.

    Check those for starters.

  • We have put a new starter and checked batteries and vehicle will not start. Any ideas?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Your symptom description leaves a lot to be desired. It may be obvious to you since you are there watching and hearing it....someone on the other end of a pc terminal can only read your symptoms.

    For instance....

    Is the starter engaging, and turning the engine, but the engine doesn't start running?

    or, when you turn the key you hear click, click, and the starter doesn't engage and the lights dim?

    Any other symptoms that you can describe?
  • I have 73k miles on my '03. Has original plugs/wires. I have changed the air/fuel filters. Intermittently cranks for a while when starting, hot or cold. Idles rough when AC on. Sometimes when it cranks for a few seconds without starting, I will turn the key off for a second or two and then on again..starts right away.. The engine runs fine at speed.....any suggestions?? thanks
  • We ahve a 2004 suburban 1500 4x4. Recently it has developed a very intermittent starting problem ( aboiut once pre 2-3 weeks). The vehicle simply will not crank or make any nosie when the key is turned. These is no clicking. The lights come on as expected. If we try to start it 10-20 minutes later sometimes it starts right up. never had it die once it starts.
    We're replaced the battery, had it to the dealer 3 times, and even to a specialized auto elecrtic shop but no one has any ideas nor do they find any codes on the computer.
    Any ideas as we now have a vegicle that is unreliable and yet can't afford to buy a new one and to sell this lemon.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Intermittent problems are the hardest for a repair shop to fine, because of course it never fails while they can see and diagnose the problem.

    What I would do, is to connect a fused test wire from the starter solenoid...to back inside the car. Get yourself a volt meter, so you can measure the voltage on that wire when you have the failing no-start condition.

    If you have 13+ voltage on that test wire solenoid when you turn the key, and the starter doesn't turn then you have proved you have a starter/solenoid problem and replace that unit. If you don't have 13+ voltage, then you are not getting the necessary voltage from the 'control' circuitry. You need the electrical schematics from your car to prove, but suspect key switch or possibly the security system doesn't like your key anymore. Try a different key.

    Unfortunately since it is intermittent, you will have to do some of the diagnostics yourself or you'll have this problem for a while until this intermittent problem becomes more permanent and the shop can see the failing condition after you have it towed to the shop.
  • Well two guys came out from the district office to our house. My wife is persistent and polite or maybe it was related to the bailout. Anyway they got it going and took it to the shop and said that now they were sure it was the starter and that previously it was so intermittent that they didn't want to replace it. So you were right on with it becoming more permanent. Thanks for you help.
  • JessedmJessedm Posts: 2
    Well, here's the answer to my own question. I took my Suburban in for the smog cert. It passed without any problem. I asked the mechanic about my idle and starting problems. He knew right away. He cleaned the injectors and the flap inside the throttle body (the throttle body was the real issue). That fixed the problem. The engine starts and idles perfectly.
  • heffron4heffron4 Posts: 1
    99 2 WD w/45K mi.
    Several mo. ago we had a problem with it not starting at all, it would act like it was going to start but just didn't keep running. It had been very humid out. Several hours later, we tried to start it & presto, it started. Did the same thing the next day-wouldn't start and then several hours later it did. Took it to a dealership. They keep it for a week and it started like a champ-of course! Suggested it might be the fuel pump, but nothing for sure since they couldn't get it to repeat. Told us about hitting the underneath and keeping more than 1/4 tank of gas in it. Brought it home, no problems since until today-after a weekend of rain, ice & snow (again lots of moisture in the air...) Tried to start it several times, with no success and then several hours later-it started again. Any known problems with moisture and what to do about it? Any other thoughts?
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Can you get it started if you keep throttle a little bit open with your foot?

    If you can then have the idle air valve checked.

  • I have a 2000 suburban it will start first thing in the morning or night and run perfect. Once I shut it off and let it sit for more than 10 minutes then I have to crank it over for 30 seconds and once it starts it idles real low until I give it some gas. It then runs great not skipping a beat until I shut it off. I can restart it with no problems for the first 5 minutes with no problems, hit the key and it starts.

    Thanks Ed
  • arriearrie Posts: 312

    As I talk about the idle air valve in my previous post that might be you problem too.

    Easy test to perform: When you first run the car after the first easy start and then shut it down for more than 10 minutes open the throttle just slightly when you try to start. If it helps you have probable idle air valve problem.

    Now, I don't know if your car has the electronically controlled throttle. If it does it does not have an idle air valve but still throttle opening is controlled for idle speed. If slightly opening the throttle at start helps and it is an electrically controlled throttle it probably means the throttle is sticky at close to closed position and idle air control does not work. In this case simple cleaning of the throttle could be a fix but it could also mean that the throttle control step motor has gone bad.

    You also can have a heat sensitive mechanical binding issue with the electronically controlled throttle. This would explain why it starts easily cold and just 5 minutes after shut off but you have trouble if it sits more than 10 minutes after driving.

    When you shut the engine off the engine heat will increase throttle temperature faster than the throttle body. This means throttle can become too wide inside the body if tolerances are too tight or some other way binding. When car sits only 5 minutes throttle has not heated enough yet to bind but after 10 minutes it would be and already aged and weakened controlled can not move it easily any more. When car sits long enough the throttle and the throttle body reach same temperature and throttle moves easily again.

    Now, above is just a theory but could be true too.

  • tdarrtdarr Posts: 5
    I am still having a intermittent dead ignition when key is turned to start engine. I have full dash operation, volts do not drop when problem happens. I have changed battery and ignition switch, but problem still happens. This problem has been sense new and dealer has had it several times but could not find problem.I have tried setting alarm and disarming , wiggling key, moving tilt up and down, but can not locate problem area. Truck will start when it feels like it. No set time from when it happens to when it starts like new. Head lights and interior lights dont even dim. I have over 100k now and it seems to be happening more often.I have seen plenty of complaints for same problem but no repairs that stop problem. Can anyone help that has fixed problem? Thank you tdarr
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Next time it happens where you have help at hand do this simple test.

    Have someone turn the key for you holding it at start position and give the starter motor a small bump with a hammer or something. If it is starter solenoid related, which is build in the starter motor itself, a bump could get it cranking. This would mean that your starter motor has a sticky starter solenoid.

    Another thing to do is to move the gear shifter to neutral for starting. The park switch could be little odd adjustment not allowing start when the shifter is in park position. Moving shifter to neutral could allow it to start as it should be able to start on neutral too. If this helps then you need the park switch adjusted on the gear shifter.

  • milt0nemilt0ne Posts: 2
    I'm having the same problem with my 97 suburban, When the humidity is high on a warm day it won't start. replaced the fule filter and distributor cap. Rotor and plugs and wires were replaced last summer. I find that I can put a blow dryer pointing at the distributor iot will start after it's had time to dry out. no moisture is found in the distributor. That's why I replace the distributor cap a few weeks ago.
    Any help would be appreciated. This problem 1st appeared in Dec. of '08.
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Sounds like you might have a problem with ignition coil. It can be shorting to the ground just like distributor can. Often a hairline crack forms to the plastic-like isolator material and coil leaks to ground especially when wet. Perhaps swapping the coil out will fix your problems.

  • tdarrtdarr Posts: 5
    To arrie. I tried holding the key in start position and moving the gear shift in park and neutral but it did not start. I turned the key to run position and left on for about 30 sec. then turned key off for about 30 sec., then tried to start and truck started. I am waiting for the problem to happen again and try to see if it will start. tdarr
  • I have a 1996 Chevy Suburban 4WD (no turbo engine), and I have been replacing batteries time and time again.....I have taken the alternator to Auto Zone for testing, and it passed. I think that my truck is still a good truck, and I want to try and fix it (it is my fishing/work truck !), but I do not want to toss a wad of money into a (possible) electrical problem-which is WAAAAY beyond my mechanical expertise.

    I had a Chilton manual for my truck, but I have misplaced it (UGH !)............

    Could someone share some of their mechanical prowess ?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Well either the alternator isn't charging it, or there is something draining it down.

    Normally you would drive the vehicle to an autoparts store, and they would check the alternator under load with the engine driving the alternator. I had a 97' and went thru 2 alternators over 10 year period, so I'm personally suspect of the alternator. What you may want to do, is drive your vehicle over to some different parts center, and get a 2nd opinion on the status of your alternator (while it is in the vehicle).

    If the alternator checks out okay, then you need to put a test light on the current draw off the battery, and start unplugging fuses to find out when the current draw stops. Something could be sitting there with a constant couple amp drain and draining the battery down. Start w/engine off, key off, and try to figure out if there is any current draw, and if so, which fused circuit it's on.

    You could have a relay with fused points, providing voltage all the time to something that shouldn't have power when you turn the key off.
  • colinjcolinj Posts: 1
    Hi Mick:

    I know this is over a year old, But I am having the same problem with My Tahoe, Won't start unless it's sitting in the hot sun. I took it to 3 mechanics including the dealership and they all said come and get it, we can't fix it.

    I was wondering if you ever solved the problem?

  • I NEVER found a "reason" for the discrepancy, but, I put the starter back in,..and it has been running well ever since.

    Anyway, now, I have to replaces the rotors/brakes on the front end - it is metal-on-metal now

    I hope you find a fix for your situation, and maybe, you will pass the findings on

    Take Care
  • I just replaced the Crankshaft Position Sensor on my 1999 Suburban, 4wd, 1500, gas, not diesel. It was kicking back and grinding yesterday when I replaced the starter, but once it started, it purred beautifully. Shimming did not help. Now that I've replaced the Crankshaft Position Sensor, the car sounds great while it is trying to start... sounds wonderful compared to yesterday... like a brand new car. But it won't start. It's must be from replacing the sensor. The fuel pump is working great, new distributor and all. Does something in the computer need to be reset at the dealer or at a shop?
  • My fuel pump module on the 1999 Suburban finally died last week. I replaced it with an aftermarket Bosch unit, which at $250 was less than half what the dealer OEM pump cost. I replaced the fuel filter at the same time. Now our gas gauge is working again, a side effect of replacing a bad pump. Compared to the 1993 Chevy Astro we used to own, the quality of the fuel system components has gotten cheaper and more prone to fail.
  • leelouieleelouie Posts: 1
    I mean we have changed everything that deals with the ignition that we can think of. The suburban still won't start if it gets warmed up and we shut it off. What are we forgetting? Anyone have a clue? :sick: :sick:
  • rslawskyrslawsky Posts: 3
    I have a 97 Chevy Suburban that has developed an intermittent starting issue. The past few days when I go to leave work, I'll put the key in, turn it and nothing, although the dash lights and the radio will come on. After a few minutes of turning the key off and on, it will turn over and start right up. It has been starting fine in the morning, but I'm sure at some point I won't be able to get it started. Any ideas short of replacing the starter?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Hang a fused test lead off of the +wire going to the starter solenoid. Put a voltmeter on that wire, so that you can watch what the voltage is when you are trying to start. If you have voltage there when you turn the key to the start position, then the problem is either solenoid or starter. If you don't have voltage, then your problem is between your ignition switch itself and that wire.
  • rslawskyrslawsky Posts: 3
    I'm beginning to suspect this may be related to the key. I switched to my spare set of keys and haven't had a problem since. Just a guess, though.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Very possible.
  • Hey, so I've had my 99 Tahoe for about two years now. I have replaced the battery and the cables, and new spark plugs. About four months ago my SES light started coming on intermittently and about every other start it'd either shut off or turn on. Now it stays lit up all the time. I never had it looked at. Well, a few days ago, I went out to go to work and it won't start. It cranked over just fine but wouldn't start up, as soon as I took the key out of the start position. I'm not exactly sure whats going on. I let it sit for a couple days and just took it out and it fired right up and i drove it a couple miles. When I got home, I turned it off and started it about four times because I no longer trust it as the reliable car I thought it was. Any thoughts? I thought it might be the fuel pump. Gosh I hope not. Anyways, thanks.
  • bohloe1bohloe1 Posts: 1
    I've been having problems when starting my 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe (147000 miles). This doesn't happen all of the time, but when it does upon turning the ignition there is a loud POOF that comes from the engine, with rough idling, and then turns off (then white smoke). I would wait a couple of seconds and turn the ignition again and it turn over fine. It happens with cold/hot starts, and morning or night. I've taken it to the shop to get a diagnostic test, but nothing was found wrong. The only thing I could think of is that some gasoline is sitting somewhere in the throttle body. Then again I'm no mechanic. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks, Dennis
  • Left my 03 suburban parked in driveway for 14 days. Came back and it will crank but not start. Never failed me before. What can I check for? What are some issues I need to look at?
  • Hi tdarr
    I have the same problem on a 2004 Tahoe LT I have installed two new batteries, two new starters, and a new negative ground lead. The car will start if I shake the negative ground lead. Everyone I have contacted with this problem has unloaded the car but I only have 54000 miles on it and it has a great ride and is roomy. GM dealers don't seem to have a clue. Thanks.

  • I have a 2000 tahoe when I go to start it it will crank over and wont start then I crank it over again and it might start , it never starts on the first crank 75% it will start on second crank 25% it starts on the third crank. what do I need to do to fix it I dont want it to get any worse?
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    Sounds like it could be a fuel pressure issue. To test for this do the following next time you go start it after it has been sitting for a while. I'm thinking it will start right up if you start it immediately after you shut it off.

    When you start it next time when it normally would not start on the first try turn the key to ON position for 3-5 seconds and then to OFF position. Turn key to ON position again for 3 - 5 seconds and then OFF. Now turn key all the way to START position and see if it starts.

    Above procedure charges the fuel rail. When you first turn the key ON the fuel pump will start running but it stops after 2 - 3 seconds if engine does not start. Doing above key to ON position a couple of times will run the pump and should assure you have enough fuel pressure when you actually then start it on the third time.

    If your car really starts on the third time after two "charging" cycles with the key then your problem indeed seems to be fuel pressure issue.

    Fuel pressure issue can be caused by two things, the fuel pump going bad or fuel pressure regulator going bad. Third one could be clogged fuel filter but that should cause some other problems that just starting issues.

    Get your fuel pressure checked especially for the moment you are turning the key for the first time. You should see fuel pressure at normal running pressure above 45 psi. Pressure requirement in your car might be different but I think it should be something from 45 psi to 60 psi.

  • My 1996 Tahoe was having terrible problems starting and running correctly. The initial diagnosis was the crankshaft position switch was malfunctioning. After almost $2000 dollars of replacing the sensor, engine tune-up, fuel filter and fuel pump I was still having the same problems, but not all the time. I had a local mechanic due the work and he said take it to Chevy and have them diagnose the problem, which they determined was still the crankshaft position switch was malfunctioning. Since my mechanic had done the original work I took the Tahoe back to him with the Chevy diagnosis problem. He crawled under the truck with it running and saw the sensor moving around while it was running. He took the sensor out and discovered that one of the mounting bolts screws into a brass fitting inside the plastic timing chain cover. The brass fitting was loose and just needed a screw driver inserted into it to spread it to increase the tension on the plastic cover. My mechanic put it back together and it resolved all my problems, meaning most of the $2000 dollars I had spent trying to fix a problem that ended up being caused by maybe a 25 cent brass fitting in a plastic cover. Live and Learn. By the way my 1996 Tahoe has almost 154000 miles on it with the original engine and transmission.
  • 1994 chevy suburban 1500. will crank, but willnot start. fuel press checks good. no fuel flow from the injectors.Already replaced injectors, inline fuel filter, . Will attempt to start when stat fluid added.
  • Have a 2004 Tahoe that has failed to start without any pattern for several months now . Usually at the mall or when out with the kids. All works when I try to start, but will not. All the lights function and the radio and tv work. No sound at all when trying to start. Have had towed to dealer 5 times. My luck, always started when got there. Finally, this week when I went to get car, did not start at the dealer. They now say it is the ignition switch, but need to check to make sure this is the problem. Has anyone had these same issues and had them resolved with success? Thank you.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Very plausible.

    Could be any number of factors, battery, corrosion/loose terminal connections, bad starter or solenoid, key switch (particularly if you have a big ring of keys/weight hanging), security chip programming, etc.

    Nice to find a hard failure, where they can meter to find exactly where the problem is. Else, you have to throw parts at intermittent problems, and that can get expensive fast.
  • I've been trying to find this problem for months now...
    My truck gets progressively more difficult to start, the longer it sets. On mornings when the truck was driven the previous evening, it will start no problem, but will run rough (really rough - will die at idle) for 15 minutes or so then smooth out and run fine once it has warmed up. IF I let the truck set for a full 24 hours or more, it won't start. In the past, during hard start episodes, I could get it to start if I cranked and cranked and cranked (cooling the starter and cables with water on occasion). When it would start, it would act flooded (lots of smoke and sputtering) - then again it would smooth out eventually and run fine. After the initial hard start, subsequent starts during the day would be uneventful. During one of the hard-start episodes, I confirmed spark with a timing light and tried to use starting fluid with no luck. Pulled plugs and they were a mess, so I replaced them.

    The motor is a rebuild with about 30,000 miles on it. The fuel pump is a couple of years old. It has new plugs, wires, cap, rotor, coil, ICM, and I have the upper intake off now to replace the fuel pressure regulator (thinking the fuel would leak by during the time between starts).

    Am I looking in the right place???
  • Is there supposed to be a vacuum hose connected to the port on the side of the pressure regulator on a 1999 Chevy Tahoe with a 5.7? The old one doesn't have one, but the part looks like it's supposed to be connected to something...
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    When you pulled the plugs and said they were a mess.....what did they look like? That's probably your biggest clue.
  • They were wet (it was flooded), and covered in black soot. Replacing them was no help. Since my previous post, I have replaced the fuel pressure regulator and the crank sensor. It's now running rougher for a longer period of time (once it does start), but still it will eventually run fine after maybe 20 minutes of roughness... HELP!!! I'm really struggling with this one!
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