HELLLLLP! Sudden odd symptom

Scalmanini Steve sscalmanini at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 20 02:31:38 EDT 2003

I got stranded an hour from home yesterday
evening and had to be towed the 65 miles
back (luckily the wife had AAA 100-mile
coverage; I just carry the 5-mile).

Ran fine the hour or so drive from home
in mid afternoon.  Sat 2 hours parked
(low 80's; no rain/fog/etc.)  Tried to
start it to return home and it would only
run for a second or two and sputter and
die.  Immediate retries continually
restarted the engine but it died even
sooner. If I let it sit for a minute
or so and restarted, it'd idle for 1-2
seconds and then sputter and die.  If
I waited again and restarted and reved
it, it would sometimes run in the 3000-
4000 rpm range if I kept my foot on the
pedal but as soon as I backed off on the
accellerator just a little it'd die
similarly, always sputtering before
dying, sometimes catching itself below
normal idle, raising up a few hundred
rpms once or twice, then dying; never
backfired.  Sometimes the dying was
accompanied by some black smoke from
the tail pipe.

Seemed like a fuel supply problem to me.
There was ~ 1/8 tank of gas.  Fuel cap
removal didn't change anything although
I didn't hear the usual whoosh when
unsealing it.  I replaced the fuel pump
last Fall and it has run fine (and quietly)
since, although I worried at the time that
the dealer-supplied plastic bushing/spacer
(Bosch?) didn't hold the dealer replacement
pump (VDO?) very sucurely down in place, so
I worried that the pump might work its way
up in its housing from the vibration of
normal usage.

Before towing we added a few gallons of gas
to where the gage read just below 1/4 tank
and it started and ran but I was too unsure
to risk a second AAA call so had it towed
anyway.  After delivery it started fine but
now idles very roughly.  It's never idled
with anything but with a purr for the eight
years I've had it.

The O2 sensor has needed changing for several
months but I'm not aware that it would cause
such symptoms.  Distributor (w/ plastic gear),
injectors, wires, etc. are original (i.e. with
180K miles).

Any ideas what the cause might be?


Ukiah, CA

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