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Seven Won't Start

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  • Seven Won't Start

    Hey all. I've had a seven now for a few years and it's been very reliable... actually to a fault. I'll try to give as much detail as possible of her last start and stop to see if it clicks of something I should try:

    I have a 1993 Caterham De Dion, Vauxhall engine. Nice car, but a bit on the older side for this site I'm sure. It didn't get a lot of driving this winter at all due to all the rain, and from November to mid-Feb it just sat. Worse thing possible for the car, I know, but life was a bit hectic and it was ignored. Come mid-Feb I tried to start her up and she did with a few coughs fine. I idled a bit and let her warm up as I readied to take her out for the first time in months... While doing so I did a quick safety check and I flipped on the lights to make sure they were working and... with a sputter... a cough... and a back fire she died. Trying to restart her just showed the battery was shot. Figuring it was time for a change anyway I ordered a new battery online. A week or so later the battery arrived and I finally had a chance to get it in the car. Lights, starter, everything sounded and looked great, but I couldn't get her to turn over. I checked all fuses but everything looked fine, I also figured new spark plugs would be in order so I went online again and got those in and installed today. I'm still unable to start the car, however. She chugs and strains like she wants to start, but never turns over.

    I have to be completely honest here. I really don't know where to go from here with regards of things to look into or replace. I'm learning, but... Apart from changing the battery, the spark plugs, fuses, and lights... I'm sort of at a loss. Does anyone have any suggestions for things I can try? I really miss my car, and the great weather we've been having lately is making me even more upset that she's sitting down in the garage dead to the world. I'm currently in the Pasadena area... If someone knows a good mechanic to call that may be able to take a look at her, I'd also be greatly appreciative.

    Thanks!

    Nick

  • #2
    Jeez, sneaking into our back yard and not letting us know.

    Oh well, my suggestions:

    - Can you still turn the engine by pushing in 5th? Just to make sure it is not seized up.

    - Does the starter at least click or even try to turn the engine?

    - Would it so so without compression, i.e. plugs removed and WOT?

    That may give a hint what to check next.

    Gert (also in Pasadena)

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    • #3
      We have some members not too far away that are quite good with the cars.

      I'll let him volunteer to come if he can - he already did by the time I posted.

      I am uncertain how you define turn over, do you mean the starter won't turn the engine over at all or it won't fire and start while being cranked by the starter?

      Generally a car needs three three things to start.

      Fuel
      Spark
      Compression.


      All at the right time of course. As it was running when you shut it off I'll assume you haven't changed the timing.

      Is the car fuel injected?

      Are you getting fuel pressure?

      What kind of engine managment system do you have?

      Call me for more ideas. Eight Zero Five 402-one two two five.

      Doug
      Last edited by Doug Liedblad; March 20, 2010, 04:30 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by slomove View Post
        Jeez, sneaking into our back yard and not letting us know.

        Oh well, my suggestions:

        - Can you still turn the engine by pushing in 5th? Just to make sure it is not seized up.

        - Does the starter at least click or even try to turn the engine?

        - Would it so so without compression, i.e. plugs removed and WOT?

        That may give a hint what to check next.

        Gert (also in Pasadena)
        Thanks for the quick response... I'm kind of a newb, so expect me to say, "huh?" and... "I think so..." a lot.

        - A friend and I tried to push start it last week before I changed the spark plugs. It almost started a couple times, but we couldn't get it running.

        - The starter is clicking and definitely trying to start the engine

        - I know my friend unplugged one of the plugs wires and asked me to start it, but I honestly am not sure what that told him... He seemed to think it was fine, though.

        As you can tell, I am trying to learn, but I'm a bit under-par when it comes to knowledge on this stuff. The car is definitely trying to start, though. I get a strong chug from the starter, the engine is straining to start, but doesn't.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Doug Liedblad View Post
          We have some members not too far away that are quite good with the cars.

          I'll let him volunteer to come if he can - he already did by the time I posted.

          I am uncertain how you define turn over, do you mean the starter won't turn the engine over at all or it won't fire and start while being cranked by the starter?

          Generally a car needs three three things to start.

          Fuel
          Spark
          Compression.


          All at the right time of course. As it was running when you shut it off I'll assume you haven't changed the timing.

          Is the car fuel injected?

          Are you getting fuel pressure?

          What kind of engine managment system do you have?

          Call me for more ideas. Eight Zero Five 402-one two two five.

          Doug
          Thanks Doug, I definitely will hit you up for some ideas over the weekend. I really appreciate the help!

          Comment


          • #6
            Check all the wiring from the battery, both pos and neg and all the connections.

            It should have a big cable from the battery negative terminal to the block and/ or chassis. If it goes from the battery to the block then another to chassis that should be fine or vice versa. Be sure all the connections are tight.

            Does it have a battery cutoff switch? Should be a big red handle someplace. On my car if this is switched off the solenoid will still click but the starter will not turn.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Doug Liedblad View Post
              Check all the wiring from the battery, both pos and neg and all the connections.

              It should have a big cable from the battery negative terminal to the block and/ or chassis. If it goes from the battery to the block then another to chassis that should be fine or vice versa. Be sure all the connections are tight.

              Does it have a battery cutoff switch? Should be a big red handle someplace. On my car if this is switched off the solenoid will still click but the starter will not turn.
              There is a battery and an ignition kill switch, but they're definitely toggled into the right position before I am attempting starting. My car has no power at all when the battery kill is on, so I know that is functioning. The ignition kill I've toggled both ways in the hope I'd just gone senile and forgot which way it was to be set for starting... No good either way. I have full lights, both on the dash and lamps. I will check wiring, though, as it is possible something is loose somewhere.

              Comment


              • #8
                Did you try bypassing the battery cutoff switch.

                I seem to recall reading about them failing.

                It should be an easy thing to try.

                Doug

                Comment


                • #9
                  Have you done a search here:

                  http://www.blatchat.com/

                  Seach in the tech section back to the beginning on 'Vauxhall Starter'

                  Plenty of others with similar issues but I haven't had time to read them all for a cure.

                  Doug

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It wasn't the starter but no spark.

                    Cause not yet determined but I suspect:

                    Crank position sensor.
                    DTA ECU (E48)
                    Coil pack.
                    Some other intermitant wiring demon.

                    In trying to find the cause we removed an ignition cutoff switch that might have been faulty. A nice backfire seemed to indicate we were on the right track and my spark tester said it was getting spark. By the time all was back togther again, no spark. More testing of the wiring involved and we could not get it to produce a spark.

                    The car has Webers not FI and it is getting fuel.

                    The wiring harness has power and ground to the correct pins. Coil pack too.

                    As we didn't have the proper hookup to the DTA we weren't able to see if it's the ECU, cranks sensor, or ???

                    Hopefully when he can connect a laptop it should tell all.

                    We also found that the throttle cable had slipped in the mounting and it was only getting about 5 degrees of throttle opening.

                    Doug
                    Last edited by Doug Liedblad; March 21, 2010, 10:14 PM. Reason: Some glitch with the editor

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Doug,I'm unclear on one point:

                      Is the car fuel injected, or is it running Webers?

                      Oh, and I almost forgot, is it getting fuel?
                      Last edited by athens7; March 21, 2010, 07:35 PM. Reason: Brain warped by health care reform debate
                      Brad
                      2013 Boss 302 Mustang
                      2005 SV Roadsport (gone but not forgotten)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by athens7 View Post
                        Doug,I'm unclear on one point:

                        Is the car fuel injected, or is it running Webers?

                        Oh, and I almost forgot, is it getting fuel?
                        Brad, great questions. Hopefully Doug will chime in soon and provide some clarity here. :D

                        -John
                        Westfield SEiW
                        2.0L Duratec
                        Throttle Steer

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Doug,

                          It sounds like it could be a bad ground - especially with it being intermittent.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            or a bad crimp somewhere in the harness.
                            Tom "ELV15" Jones
                            http://PIErats.com

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                            • #15
                              There was some problem with the editor. When I saved some changes it did not show up on my computer. So I did it again and again. It was clearly sending it to the website but it didn't show up at my end. Honest, I don't repeat myself I don't repeat myself I don't repeat myself.

                              Hopefully corrected now.

                              The harness could have a bad crimp but it looks well made and we can look at that after we can connect a laptop to the ECU.

                              Nick is a computer wiz and may be able to get his newer laptop to work. It needs a serial port and the USB to serial adaptor he had didn't work. If not I have an older one that should work.

                              Doug
                              Last edited by Doug Liedblad; March 21, 2010, 10:17 PM.

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