'91 200 20V Intermittent Start Problem

Dan Cordon cord4530 at uidaho.edu
Sun Mar 27 05:26:50 EST 2005

Michael Palatas car does:

> Now - Sometimes: Turn ignition key, cranks fine, "starts" after 2 cycles,
> release key, then dies immediately.  Turn key again, cranks fine, starts
> after about 2 cycles.
> Now - Rest of Time: Turn ignition key, cranks fine, won't start even after
> about 12 cycles.  Release key, turn it again, cranks fine, starts after
> about 2 cycles.   

My car does something *very* similar. When cold (having set more than an 
hour) it usually starts up within a few revolutions. When shut off and 
re-started within 5-10 minutes, it also starts perfectly. But there's a 
window in there where it doesn't start well. As you say...I can leave 
the starter cranking for a long time (not long enough to burn up the 
starter, but probably up to 5 seconds) and it won't start at all. With 
my car, it takes three tries.

Crank it for 1 second.
If it starts - great. If it doesn't, turn the key off and crank for 
another second. Turn the key off and crank again and it fires right up.

Occasionally it will fire on the second attempt, but usually blubbers 
and dies very quickly. Then it fires up fine on the 3rd attempt.

I have a new distributor in it (had same problem with old one though), 
and stock ECU. Probably not a problem with that part.

I still have to test this, but I believe it's probably either a fuel 
problem, or a pickup problem. For fuel, I could have a leaky injector, 
or the one-way valve in the tank could be going bad. I have a fuel 
pressure tester at work..I just need to hook it up and monitor it for a 

I also think it could be the crank pickup...but this should spit out an 
error code IIRC.

Possibly related (but maybe not) my car also has a different symptom. 
While driving, occasionally it feels like the engine dies for a split 
second. It never does it at idle, but it can happen at high load, or 
cruising. It's almost as if the key is turned off for a single engine 
revolution. Again, no error code has ever come up.

I suppose I should just buy a new pickup sensor and install it. They 
couldn't be much easier to get to :o) Any other recommendations?

Dan Cordon
Mechanical Engineer - Engine Research Facility
University of Idaho

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