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Wobble Wobble, No Start

Wobble Wobble, No Start

In DSM years, it’s been a long time since there was much to talk about.  Several refuels, little touch ups, some fuel trim adjustments; nothing really worthy of noting.  An overdue situation finally came to us.  We start on the open road on a lovely morning headed to work, at a moderate speed.  It has been a good week for all involved, actually. I was about halfway through my trip and started to pass someone going a bit slower,the amazing thing about an early morning drive is the lack of “need” to go fast.  I downshift and slowly throttle up to casually pass this person and be on my way. Beware, so far this has two parts.

About half way through the process of overtaking the slower car, I start to feel like I hit enough turbulence to bring down an airbus. I had to put my teeth together in fear of breaking them from the chatter.  My first response is to get off the gas and re-assess.  As I start to slow down, the wobble dies down exponentially. I make a second attempt to speed up, to which I get the same results.  Now, to add some detail to this, I’m on a 70 mph highway, only going 65 mph.  The closer I get to 70 mph, and beyond, the worse the shaking becomes.  All of the shaking is gone at about 55 mph.  I dismiss this as a tire out of balance and, slowly, go about my route to work without incident.

I felt that I could drive it to work without too much worry.  Though it felt like wheels were going to fall off of the car, the lugs were still tight and the steering didn’t feel bad.  At day 4 since the problem started, I had been carefully making my way to and from work without it getting better or worse.  Once I get in the parking garage, I park, lock up, and head to my desk.  I let my peers know that I’ll be heading down the street during my lunch so that I can get my tires balanced.  It’s a relatively cheap process, perhaps the shaking is due to a weight falling off of one of the wheels.  It would make sense as to why its worse at some speeds but not others.

Noon comes and I head out to get this resolved.  I get in the car, put the key in, hit the clutch, turn the key, the motor spins, starts up ….. and dies.  What …. the … hell.  I start it again and produce the same results.  It turns over and fires up with a sound of “oh god… I just can’t do it” and sputters out with a light back/miss fire.  I hold the key in the start position and get it to “run” with the assistance of the starter.  While I can tell it’s running, I can hear that it doesn’t sound right and has 0% power to move on its own.  I thought I had a suspension or drive train issue, why am I having engine problems now?

I get back to my desk, with a side of anger, and start reaching out to pals for help.  Luckily, one of my better friends has a trailer and says he can come get it in the evening.  Funny thing about that is, parking garages aren’t designed for trailers.  At about 6 or 7pm, he made it up there for the rescue.  It was very interesting how things worked out, but we got the trailer situated in a way that could get us out.  Pushing the 2G was battle that took 3 people, it was so heavy, likely due to the front diff being welded.  We pushed it to the front of the trailer and looked at how tough this was going to be to have to push it up the ramps.  Since the motor wasn’t leaking anything and nothing was falling out of it, I decided to use the starter assisted method to drive it up the ramps.   It took that plus a push to get it, but there she was, on the trailer and ready to head home.  Will is amazing for helping me out on this, it was over an hour and a half for the trip, one way.

Once we got home and unloaded, I immediately started troubleshooting.  The first thing I ran was a compression test.  It’s one of the easier tests and since my data cable was destroyed by a passenger, the PC was out of the question.  The compression test produced 180-180-180-180 results.  Though I was relieved to see that I was still good on compression, I worried what could possibly destroy my finances next.  I had pinged a few people on FB, some agreed it sounded like a timing belt issue.  I could go with that, as I have seen no-power issues for years now, all due to timing belt problems.  The shaking could had been so rough that some how it jumped even a tooth and caused these results.  I liked it, but I always get third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and some times even more opinions on these things.  A “no run, no power” issue is VERY vague to troubleshoot.

CAM00001 CAM00003

I ping a friend of mine that I had gotten parts from a few months ago,his instant response was cam angle or crank angle sensor.   I was disturbed by his instant response to little detail, and to a specific part to boot.  Its 10PM, I’m not diagnosing this car tonight, or even getting involved in anything complex.   How ever, I do have 2 spare 1G cam angle sensors hanging out.  Because I have a 1G CAS, my wiring is a little different.  I have a special harness that plugs into other things, but one single white wire has to be spliced into the original 2G CAS plug. I refer to this wire as “the white wire” because it’s alone and not loomed, not terminated at a connector or anything.  It just sort of hangs out and gets spliced in.   While prepping to swap the CAS, I notice that the wire is …. not connected.  That’s right, not connected, to anything.   It should be connected to the stock harness, but it’s not.  My response, is the “sniff of pain”.  I take a spare piece of wire from my work table and use it to temporarily bridge the connection.  Is this a show stopping wire?  I get my spark plugs and wires installed and turn the key over.   The success is instant and it was clear to me that I was stranded because of a broken 16 gauge wire.  It appears that the shaking caused the poor splice to come undone at some point and it just fell apart after I parked.


The next day, I took the time to correct the problem in away that is more suitable , one that maybe wouldn’t just fall apart, though my expectations are low.  Due to the length of the harness and location, it’ll be a while before it’s correctly installed.  I have found a supplier with a connector for just my white wire, so I can repair the splice and use a standard connector to secure the connection completely.  So now, I’m back on the road, even so … the adventures continues …..

About Ashley Young

I'm a North Carolina transplanted girl reaching my 30's. A few years ago, I procured my first DSM that would eventually mature many of my skills. This website is dedicated to the stories, adventures, and lessons that the car has brought to me over the years.
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