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Thread: Last try on this issue

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    Default Last try on this issue

    OK, I have posted on this issue a few times and thought I would start one last thread.

    I have my 76 in the shop and trying to give the mechanic some suggestions based on your input. I hated to take it to him but I needed a little better look than I was capable of giving the car.

    Just about every other time I drive the car,which has not been very often (10 times in a year), it stops on me. I initially thought it was a gas delivery problem; however, after installing a pressure gauge, I believe it is more likely loosing spark. A couple days ago I went for a 30 mile drive and after about 28 miles the car shut down. The pressure gauge was reading 33-34 psi. It would not restart. Waited about 10-15 minutes and the car started right up and I drove the last 2 miles no issues.

    Where should I look first. A few suggestions to look at would be nice. Is there any chance that the TPS could be the issue? Is it at all temperature sensitive.

    Help.

    Thanks for the one last look.

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    Nova Scotia,Canada,Earth Blue's Avatar
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    It is probably the ignition module overheating. You can replace it or get a distributor from a 280zx (that has a better ignition module on the side of the distributor)

    It could also be a condenser (capacitor) shorting due to heat.
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    Thanks Blue.

    Forward to mechanic and will see. I assume my mechanic will know how to check but is there a good way to tell if either of these are bad?

    Again, thanks.

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    Use a can of dusting air. When the car has trouble running/starting, hold the can upside down and spray the Transistor Ignition Unit. That will cool it down quickly.

    Also, you can replace the TIU with a GM HEI unit. I think Chas, aka Eurodat, has a thread where he was mounting the HEI inside the TIU.
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    Sometimes the tachometer will give a clue. If you're in gear, engine turning, and power disappears but the tachometer still shows the engine turning that would mean you still have spark. If the tachometer drops to zero immediately but you're still coasting in gear with a dead motor, no spark, maybe the module, or the coil, or power to either/both. If the tachometer starts jumping around or reads abnormally high or low, it might be the module. Not a 100% clue about the module, but might tell something.

    Forgot one thing, that I just recently figured out on my car. One of the PO's of my car had jumped the two pickup coil wires together at the junction box. I never really figured out why until the other day when I was testing old parts to see if they were any good. One of the two pickup coils from that distributor, long since swapped for a better one, was bad. The jumper wire allowed the ignition module to see both pickup coils and use the one that provided a good signal.

    Short story - maybe one of your pickup coils is bad. If so, the engine would only run when cold.
    Last edited by Zed Head; 09-17-2014 at 07:39 PM.
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

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    So when it does die on you do you immediately check for spark? It would take a second with a screw driver or something to jump the spark plug wire.
    Sures sounds like ignition
    Steve
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    You could be having a similar problem to what I was having. Mine didn't stop when it warmed up, but I wouldn't call it drivable either. It barley made it home in 1st & 2nd gear.
    The problem I had passed all the FSM test "I could do" when it was cold. It wasn't predictable, sometimes after 5 minutes of driving and other times after 30minutes. If I pulled over on the side of the road it would idle and rev ok, but once it was under load it would start playing up again.

    It might sound strange, but you do have some luck on your side. If its stopping all together something has temporarly failed and that should be easier to find.

    Here is the thread explaining my efforts with the HEI module. It wouldn't be hard to install a tempory unit next to the coil to isolate the TIU.
    http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/e...1977-280z.html

    Good luck hunting it down.
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    SteveJ/EiroDat, checking into the TIU and HEI situation. Also, I really had not noticed it being consistent; however, not enough data. I initially did not think it was temperature related but the last several times I took short drives, 15 miles or so no issues and the first time I drove about 30 miles the issue happened again. Mechanic drove several short drives and one 30+ mile drive with no issues yet.

    Zed Head, the odd thing is that the RPM's did not immediately drop. Need to really check again when it dies.

    MadKaw, I have not immediately checked for spark. The mechanic is waiting for it to fail on him and will do so when it does. Like always he has driven some and the car is acting ok. It will fail on him soon I am sure.

    I have spent all my time chasing a fuel delivery issue and the mechanic is convinced it is spark.

    I think I have some good areas to start attacking and just waiting for car to fail on mechanic to determine what he sees.

    Thanks.

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    I had a situation like this working on a coworkers car. After doing everything -----including pulling the gas tank, I gave up. Someone else had found that this girls car had mice in there chewing her wires. Car would run and then quit for no apparent reason. I guess it was a wire giving out after being loaded for a while driving- maybe a ground, not sure.
    My guess is module or wire issue.
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    I had been experiencing the exact same scenario, I changed the TIU, Coil, Plugs, Wires, Cap. Tested everything and still could not figure it out. Suspecting a Vapor Lock issue on the rail, I decided to go to the newer aluminum fuel rail setup and reduce/eliminate vapor lock as a variable. While doing all of this and installing new injectors, I discovered that my #1 injector had failed - but that would not have killed the engine just made it lope. While changing the fuel filter, I noticed that it had come apart internally (see other thread) and so what I believe I was facing was a combination of intermittent fuel blockage which caused a vapor lock. This may not be your issue, but it is damn similar, especially if you have checked for spark and looked over everything else. So you might want to replace the fuel filter (buy a good one) and see if that doesn't change things. Please post what you find out....
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    If it is fuel delivery would I be getting 35 psi at my fuel gauge? I get a little confused with pressure vs flow.

    This is the reason I was leaning more towards spark than fuel.

    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhermes View Post
    If it is fuel delivery would I be getting 35 psi at my fuel gauge? I get a little confused with pressure vs flow.

    This is the reason I was leaning more towards spark than fuel.

    Thanks.
    If there were a blockage, I am thinking that you would have ~35 psi on one side of the blockage and lower pressure on the other - especially when there is demand from the fuel system. What you could do is place a pressure gauge inline under the hood to keep tabs on the pressure. At the same time, keep a timing light in the car. When there is a engine stall, you can immediately check the fuel pressure reading and crank to check for a spark. You should be able get some results that could take you in a more definative direction for troubleshooting.
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    Mechanic has been driving the car for about 4 days now and it has not acted up. Still waiting so he can check both fuel pressure/flow and spark.

    I told him today to just drive it all day until it breaks down.

    I will update when it fails and what he finds.

    Again thanks for all the advice.

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    Subscribed, I'm in the same boat. Car will drive perfect, die on me, wait 10-15 mins, then I can drive home. I'm going to look into the ZX distributor.
    1978 280Z (Current Project) (Bought from original owner)
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    Ok, sorry so long to post again. According to mechanic wires to temp sensor we're loose. He drove car about 45 mile one way trip twice with no issues. Normally car would have a problem with this length of drive. Need a little more driving to be sure. Any thoughts if this makes sense? Heating up during driving?

    I will keep everyone posted


    Thanks

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    Why wouldn't it?
    Steve
    71 240z,bw-5sp 2.4-40 over,balanced,e-88,big valves,ported&polished, stage2,header, triple Mikuni's 40's
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    I have seen this before as well as a loose wire in the low voltage harness from the coil area to the distributor that stopped the spark.

    The wind from the road and from the fan will shake these wires strung across from the fender to the engine. As well wet spray from the road will hit them (and the electrical connectors).
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    I guess what I was wondering is if the car heating up while running, shutting down, waiting 15 minutes, and then restarting could be caused by a loose temp sensor. What happens when the temp sensor is not connected or a loose connection. Current flow issue or arcing.

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    From Blue's Tech Tips, "It should be easy to see that the resistance decreases as the engine warms up. It is also worth noting that the FSM says the amount of fuel injected decreases as the engine warms up." http://atlanticz.ca/zclub/techtips/t...pot/index.html

    If they were loosely getting contact, air from the fan as Blue said, it would do what your's has been doing. Clean them, put dialectic grease on them and crimp them together tight. Take your phone along for an hour drive around the neighborhood.
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    Got it

    Thanks.

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    I'm new to Datsuns, but I've seen something similar on Hondas. Usually it's a main relay. Especially if all the timing components are good/new/within spec. Please don't lash me for thinking out loud. Hope it helps, if not at least one less thing to worry about.
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    Got the z back on Friday. Drove about 50 miles with no issues. Car drove great. Other than my windshield wiper flying off during a rain storm. I drove about 50 miles over the weekend and again no issues. The car seems to be good but still need a little more drive time.

    I will post again soon.

    My students at school are starting to install a new amp, sub, and speakers. Living dangerously but I think they can do it.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions and I will check back soon.

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    One thing. I now have dash lights so driving in the dark. The head lights seem a little weak. Any thoughts. Maybe an upgrade.

    I have upgraded the alternator not sure if this helps.

    Thanks.

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    Go to Z Car Parts.com -- Motorsport Auto -- Home and search for the headlight relay kit. Dave Irwin designed & built them, and I have yet to read a real complaint about them.
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    $350. Is there not a better bulb I can just use. Sorry. Probably showing my ignorance. Is the bulb easy to replace. I can probably figure tis out on my own.

    Thanks.

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    Light output is directly proportional to voltage. Using really neat H4 bulbs with the old wiring is p!$$!ng your money away.
    Blackdragon Auto has a vastly inferior generic relay kit. With the kit Dave designed, you can find replacement components off-the-shelf. If a relay goes bad in the Blackdragon kit, you will buy another kit. If you don't understand how to do wiring, the Blackdragon kit is more difficult to install. IMHO, you get what you pay for.
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    You could try new bulbs. Filaments wear and light output drops over time of usage. I saw a noticeable difference when I installed new stock headlights.
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

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    One correction to my earlier post. MSA only has the 240Z relay harness. You need to contact Zs-ondabrain directly to commission one for your car. It's also well less than $350.
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    If you're game for rolling your own, about $10 in parts will do the job. I have a schematic on post 35 of this thread:

    http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/e...-breakers.html

    There are some other electrical mods in that thread that will pep up your current. My lights are still bright and white, so I've been very pleased with the work I detailed in that thread.

    But if you're not comfortable digging into your wiring harness, cutting wires, crimping, soldering, etc., then Dave apparently makes a very nice harness.
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    Ok. Drove about 500 miles, several short to medium drives, no issues. Last week I drove about 12 miles to get gas. Put in about 4 gallons. Drove across the street and ate McDonalds, 10 minutes. Started up car and started poorly. I smelled pretty strong gas smell. Came back about 8 hours later and car started fine. Drove home and two houses from there the car stalled and I coasted into my driveway.

    I just can't seem to get this car over the hump.

    I guess back to mechanic. I just don't have the expertise to solve.

    Almost acts like flooding or vapor lock. Not sure if the type of gas could cause this problem.

    Just wanted to give an update.

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    The first gassy problem sounds like the typical hot injector hot start problem.

    The stall right before you got home could be several things - ignition module, ECU, fuel supply. Did you try to start it right after it stalled? Did it smell like gas, did it restart, if it did did it run well or poorly? Did the tachometer act oddly right be fore it stalled? When you tried to restart, what did the tachometer do? Your mechanic will be stuck with no clues when you take it back to him. You might be to the point of trying replacement parts, like ECU or ignition module, or just leaving a fuel pressure gauge where you can see it when you try to restart.

    You need to generate more information, and the best information is right when the problem happens. Hopefully you tried to restart it when you landed in the driveway, otherwise the opportunity was lost. Or, if you're lucky, the engine won't restart and the part, whatever it is, stayed broken.


    You should put a camera in the car with streaming video so we can ride along...
    Last edited by Zed Head; 10-26-2014 at 12:19 PM.
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

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    One quick piece of info. The pressure gauge read 36 psi after it stalled the last time. While at McDonalds it would not restart. Tach seemed ok. I like the video idea. Also in t he driveway it would not restart. Started fine a few hours later.

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    Have you tried the tapping/beating on the ECU trick yet? I've seen it described as working for several people. I also had the transistors in an ECU go bad and they are usually heat sensitive. The final step in the FSM trouble-shooting is usually "replace ECU". Maybe you can find a used one to try.
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    No on the tapping. I will try that soon. I am not beyond buying parts to get this fixed at this point. I hate to use up parts unless needed but I am hating more not driving.

    Thanks.

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    I agree with Zed. The hard restart at McDonalds sounds like classic hot restart stuff and likely has nothing to do with the issue that's randomly killing the engine. Zed's advice about your having to come up with the data is spot-on.

    If I were you, I'd carry a can of starter fluid and a cheap spark tester (both available at your local auto parts store). Drive your car around local neighborhoods (where it's safe to pull over and work on your car, and where it's not too far to walk home) until the engine suddenly dies again. Pull to the side, and go to work:

    1. Pull off one of the vacuum hoses on your intake manifold, and spray some starter fluid inside. Slip the hose back on, and try starting your engine. Does it run for a few seconds? If yes, then you have a fuel issue -- either clogged screens or a fault in the EFI. (You've ruled out only the fuel pump.) If no, then you have an ignition issue.

    2. Connect the ignition tester to the output of the coil, where you can view it as you crank the engine. Do you have spark? If not, then your problem is obviously ignition -- probably bad ignition module or coil.

    3. After you've done 1 and 2, connect everything back up and try starting your engine again. It's good to determine that you still have the problem and that it didn't resolve itself while you were fiddling under the hood.

    These instances when your engine dies are golden opportunities to diagnose the problem, or at least to narrow the issue to one system or another. Work fast and methodically.

    I recommend the spark tester only because it's quick and easy to use without someone else's help. However, you can also pull the center wire off the distributor (the one from the coil) and perch the bare end about a pencil lead's width from a bolt on the body. If the engine dies, and you find yourself without any tools, do at least that to see if you have spark. If you have no spark, then that's your answer. (Either that, or it's too bright outside for you to see the spark -- or the spark is very weak.) If you do have spark, then it's something to do with fuel.

    Narrow the fault down to one system or the other, and then we can work on planning other tests for the next incident after that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhermes View Post
    One thing. I now have dash lights so driving in the dark. The head lights seem a little weak. Any thoughts. Maybe an upgrade.

    I have upgraded the alternator not sure if this helps.

    Thanks.
    Thes cars use a LOT of bullet style connectors that get corroded over time. Go buy yourself some good electrical contact cleaner like DeOxit and start pulling apart and cleaning connections.

    The headlight connectors are in a bad location ( in front of radiator support ) and get exposed to a lot of road grime and moisture. On my 280z I saw a dramatic increase in headlight brightness when I took the headlight connections apart and used an Electrical contact cleaner. Same with my windshield wiper connection. A few minutes with a Good Electrical contact cleaner and the wiper speed increased significantly.

    After that I started pulling apart every single connection in the engine bay and sparying them with contact cleaner. Including bullet connectors for the fuel injection, all of the snsors including the water temperature sensor. It is amazing how much better the car runs and how accurate the instruments are.

    It is important to buy a GOOD industrial contact cleaner made specifically for the job. WD-40, while it will work, is not a good as chemicals made specifically for the job. I use a German product ( which I can't remember the name of at 5:07 AM ) that worked amazing. Dull oxidized terminals turned bright and shiny after only a 5 minute application. You just spray the stuff on, wait 5 minutes and then re assemble connection. I'll look up the name later today.

    Edit: Here it is. Weicon Electro Contact Cleaner.

    WEICON Electro Contact Cleaner (Spray)
    Last edited by Chickenman; 10-30-2014 at 05:21 AM.

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    Some good suggestion have already been made above. You're going to have to do your best Sherlock Holmes impression and hunt this down systematically.

    Regarding your intermittent running problem. I suspect a poor electrical connection could be your issue. This often happens on Vintage cars and occurs randonly when the car hits some bumps or pot holes in the road.

    One way of checking for this is to run the car over a rough railway crossing a few times. Make DARNED sure that you have enough speed to clear the crossing if the engine conks out!!!

    Start checking ALL of your grounds and pull apart all of the connections in the engine bay and clean them with DeOxit or a similar purpose made electrical cleaner ( Weicon is amazing ). Look for frayed and loose connections. Pay particular attention to the ignition circuit. Don't forget the relays hidden under the passenger side relay cover. I'd carry a test light and a Volt Ohm Meter with you at all times to check for voltages and continuity when the thing eventually conks out.

    Might be a good idea to replace the ignition switch with a new one just to be on the safe side. These get a lot of use and are often over looked.
    Last edited by Chickenman; 10-30-2014 at 05:28 AM.

  38. #38
    Registered User Chickenman's Avatar
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    I noticed your car is a 1976, same as mine. Do you have the Federal distributor with the two sets of coil pickups or the California model with only 1.

    Sometimes the pickup coil will go bad and will work intermittently. If you have a 2 pickups in the Dizzy and you lose ignition spark you can do a quick switch of the coil pickups to test. The " advanced " pickup ( Secondary ) is only used when the engine is cold. The " retarded " pickup ( Primary ) is used when the engine is warmed up. There is a 3 way connector just above the Ignition coil.

    If you suspect that the Primary pickup coil has failed, you can switch the leads around at the 3 way connector and run the car on the Secondary pickup.

    Really the best thing you could do with a 1976 is to replace the distributor with a later model ( 79 - 81 280ZX ) that uses the E12-80 module.

    BTW, Rock Auto has a great deal on re-manufactured 1979 280ZX Distributors. A-1 Cardone ( a good brand ) for only $90.79 + $15 core charge. Great deal!! Rock Auto Part #31619:

    Product Detail
    Last edited by Chickenman; 10-30-2014 at 06:05 AM.

  39. #39
    Registered User siteunseen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chickenman View Post

    Really the best thing you could do with a 1976 is to replace the distributor with a later model ( 79 - 81 280ZX ) that uses the E12-80 module.

    BTW, Rock Auto has a great deal on re-manufactured 1979 280ZX Distributors. A-1 Cardone ( a good brand ) for only $90.79 + $15 core charge. Great deal!! Rock Auto Part #31619:

    Product Detail
    I bought that same distributor and a Crane PS20 Fireball coil from amazon. The distributor was a little more than $100 but no core charge and free shipping. The coil was around $40. Great set up on my 240Z, highly recommended.
    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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