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1988 Olds Delta 88 Royale won't start.

03-04-2008, 06:21 PM
3800 engine.

Here are the symptoms: Randomly, the car just won't start. It turns over just fine until the battery starts to get low, then I have to jump it.

Then after trying for about a half hour, sometimes I can get it started, and it runs fine. Other times I try for over an hour and can't get it started at all. The starter turns over, but there's no sign at all that the engine is trying to start.

Other times, I can go out and the car will fire up on the first turn of the key.

It runs fine once it is started, and I can drive it. There are just times when it will not start no matter what I do, and it seems to be getting worse.

About 2 months ago the water pump went out and was replaced. It was working fine up until a few weeks ago when this starting problem began.

Like I said, once I get it going, it seems to be ok. It's just getting it started that seems to be a problem.

Any ideas?

03-04-2008, 09:11 PM
Classic bad fuel pump symptoms.

The next time it does not start, try whacking the bottom of the fuel tank (your pump is inside the tank) with a rubber mallet while someone else is cranking the engine. Sometimes this will jar the pump motor so it will start running.

Alternately, do a fuel rail pressure test the next time it will not start. You should have about 35 psi of fuel pressure. If its very low or zero, your pump is bad.
Pumps are not repairable. It would need replacement. If you do so, replace the fuel filter too.

03-04-2008, 09:27 PM

I neglected to mention... a few months ago I had to have the spark plug wires replaced, because they were wet and rusted. The car was hesitating really bad, dying at intersections, etc...

It's not exhibiting that behavior any more... just the starting problem.

Could it be anything to do with the plugs?

I'm not really a mechanic, so I'm just trying to nail this down before I take it in to be worked on.

I really do appreciate your help.

04-09-2008, 07:30 PM
UPDATE: Well I finally got this car into the shop. Just got it back today. It turned out to be the crank sensor and cam sensor.

Anyway, now I am having a new and MAJOR problem. I almost didn't get the car home from the shop. I stopped at a gas station to get a soda, and left the car running.

I came back out, and it was running fine... for about another minute... It then started to spit and sputter, and died.

So I restarted it, and it kept wanting to die... I literally had to floor the gas pedal to keep it running.

It must have died 20 times like that on the way home, but I did manage to get it home. It would die every time I turned a corner, and I'd have to put it in park, start it, floor the gas pedal, and then immediately take it out of park and into drive... or it wouldn't go.

I had to do this 20 times to get it home. Needless to say, the repair shop is going to be hearing from me very soon.

In the meantime, does anyone have an idea of what could be wrong now? Did they goof up something when they put the new cam & crank sensors in? Could it be that something just needs to be adjusted now that those new parts are in?

Please help... I am on my last string of patience with this thing.

04-09-2008, 07:49 PM
Still sounds like the fuel pump.

04-14-2008, 04:14 PM
Update 2:

Well, fuel filter and fuel pump have been replaced... and it is still doing the same thing. Runs fine for a bit, and then starts sputtering and choking, then dies.

As usual, when it runs, it runs fine, like nothing is wrong. Then these problems kick in. These new problems didn't start until after the cam & crank sensors were replaced.

What could the problem possibly be?

04-14-2008, 07:02 PM
Back to the same issues as you said, did anyone check the fuel pressure when it died, was there spark, these things need to be checked out not just parts replaced, Magic Rat already suggested these diagnostics.

04-15-2008, 06:48 AM
Yes, according to the mechanic working on the car, it wasn't getting spark, and they traced the problem with the car's computer codes to the cam and crank sensors, so those were replaced.

He checked the fuel pressure, determined it was too low, and replaced the fuel pump and filter.

Now the car's computer doesn't give any codes, yet the problem still remains.

Any ideas?

04-15-2008, 02:54 PM
Without on site testing of the various involved components and a full scan, does it have consistent spark, injector pulse, these issues must be done over the fender, naturally this forum can only throw out ideas someone, has to do this basic diagnostics to find the problem.

04-15-2008, 09:05 PM
Was the fuel pressure tested after the pump was replaced? They could have replaced a good pump when the problem was the ground bus. We've seen it before.

04-16-2008, 07:06 AM
Was the fuel pressure tested after the pump was replaced? They could have replaced a good pump when the problem was the ground bus. We've seen it before.

According to the mechanic, the fuel pressure tested low before the pump was replaced, and normal afterwards.

I'm just looking for some insight on what the problem could be. I'm no mechanic. What is a "ground bus" and how much does it usually cost to repair/replace?


04-20-2008, 12:25 PM
Check for a vacuum leak. Could be that there's a hose somewhere that's sealed until the car warms up, then it flexes and unseals. I had the same problem with my PCV valve.

04-20-2008, 01:13 PM
2 issues here the ground buss under the l/s of the floor sill was not present in the 88 model, # 2 a vacuum leak of any kind would not cause the stated symptoms. You need to get this back to the shop and tell then here fix it and I don't expect to see any more money spent for items that did not correct the problem.

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