'02 Olds Alero won't start...

This is probably a shot in the dark, since it’s tough to diagnose a car without seeing it. But I’m hoping that there’s something common on this year/make/model of a car that someone has already experienced.

Anyway, my fiance has a '02 Olds Alero. Last week, it wouldn’t start. I pulled the aircleaner box cover and shot some gas in the intake. It fired right up. I looked at the aircleaner and found that it was badly in need of replacement.

So, I replaced the aircleaner and the car ran fine for the rest of the day. She got up this morning to go to work and it wouldn’t start again. So, I had to drive back home, give her my Jeep, and drive my motorcycle to work.

Any ideas on why it won’t start? The only clue I have is that the fuel pump seems to run too long when I turn the key on. Normally I hear a short “bzzzzt” which is the fuel pump pressurizing the lines. Now, when I turn the key on, it seems like the pump runs too long.

So, I’m stuck at work and trying to figure out what to even check when I get home. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Fuel filter?

Good thought. I’ll check into it.

While it probably can’t hurt to check the fuel filter, I doubt that the problem lies there. Think about it, if the filter is so clogged that the car won’t start, how does it get enough fuel to run once the engine was primed?
Some things to check
Look for an air leak in the intake system, holes in the plastic hoses and trunks. It might be very helpful to remove the intake trunk, to look at the underside. Any hole even a tiny one can cause problems starting.
Bad temp sensor telling the engine it is warmer than it is causing a no start
low fuel pressure caused by a bad fuel pump, but I would expect this to be accompanied by some type of performance issue, and none was listed in the OP
Good luck

Carefully inspect the fuse box (left side of dash) for any sign of corrosion. If there is corrosion, get the water leak found and fixed and replace the fuse box.

Whether or not you see corrosion, pull the fuse for the remote trunk release and see if it then starts.

OK, I’ll bite.
Can I buy a vowel here Vanna?

From an online network of auto repair pros I belong to, among responses to a question with a similar symptom, were these:

“The first simple thing I check on these cars is the driver
side fuse box. I have seen a few “N” bodys with green
fuzzys from water leaks that cause all kinds of strange
electrical problems. Good luck”

“Try pulling the fuse to the trunk release in the left inst.
fuse panel. I have had these cars get a short in the fuse
box that this fuse applies batt voltage to one of the
serial bus lines and that causes no communication which
will cause a start/stall situation.”

There are many other possibilities - passkey system fault, defective key, worn ignition switch, weak fuel pump, faulty module (any of several), etc. - but this one can be dealt with without test equipment and specialized information.

Green fuzzies in the fuse box could for sure cause issues. This might explain the FP running for a longer than normal time also.
I don’t see how 12V to a serial bus would knock out the ability to start until the car was primed. But hey I don’t work on GMs. :smiley:


How’s the signal to noise ratio there days?

This may be a dumb question, What’s an intake trunk? I’m guessing it’s the box that holds the air filter, but I’ve never heard it called that. There is a small hole on the bottom of the aircleaner box (on the dirty side of the filter), but it looks like it is supposed to be there - likely to drain any water that might get into the box.

The temp sensor seems to be a likely canidate. The car will start every time when it is warmed up. If it is cold, it won’t start without a shot of prime. If the sensor is always telling the car that it is warm, it will start fine when it is, but not at all if it’s not.

Where would I find the temp sensor? I’m guessing it should be by the thermostat. Is there a way to test it? Or should I just get a new one and see if it works?
No corrosion or signs of water leaks in the fuse panel. Thanks for the suggestion though. If it were a short, I’m guessing it would always not start. Not just start when it’s warmed up.

Not a dumb question at all. I forget sometimes, who my audience is here, and I can lapse into jargon. My bad. :smack:
The intake trunk is the plastic (usually) pipe that leads from the air cleaner to the engine throttle. Many times they are large, round and look something like an elephant’s trunk (especially is you have been breathing carb cleaner fumes for a few too many years).
It will probably be black in color, it may be oval or round, it may have other (smaller) hoses attached to it. That is what you need to inspect for holes. If there is anything touching the intake [del]trunk[/del] hose, it will probably rub a hole in it. The holes may not be obvious, and require you to flex the trunk this way and that to see if there are any holes.

It’s usually called an intake air duct. One end attaches to the throttle body, the other typically to the air cleaner* or the mass airflow sensor.

Clarification of terms: The air cleaner is the housing that holds the air filter. The air filter is what you replaced.

I haven’t noticed any significant excitement over the last several months. And I’ve learned that the more I resist temptation to chip in to such things, the happier I am.

Is there a service engine light? I ask because I’ve seen so many issues on forums with questions like this, and the 20th post in only do we find out there’s a CEL. :dubious:

Also, 2.2 4cyl, or 3.4 6cyl?

Ahh! trunk like an elephant - not trunk like a suitcase. That makes sense. There doesn’t seem to be any holes, but I’ll give it a close look.

It’s the 3.4L 6. It only took 15 posts, but it does have a “service engine soon” light on. We took it to a shop and they told us that they couldn’t determine what was causing the light. I guess I forgot about that. I’ll jump the terminals on the plug and see if it gives an error code. I’ll be back.

Problem solved. It seems this chap named John was having the same problems I was.

When I read that, I was almost sure it was the problem since my fiance complained that the A/C quit working the day before these problems showed up. I’m kinda worried about why the fuse blew. If this one blows too, I’ll have to look into it.

Well, the fuse blew again. There’s obviously something else wrong. Unless someone has a good suggestion, I’ll be taking it to the shop this weekend.

Maybe a short somewhere in the A/C system, or as mentioned above, corrosion in the fuse box. If the fuse box is easily accessible for you, disconnect the negative battery cable and see if you can unscrew or detach it somehow and look for corrosion in and around it. Short of that, maybe a bad A/C clutch coil, A/C relay, or shorted wires in the A/C system.