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Old 12-18-2013, 08:38 PM   #1
xTH1RT3ENx
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1988 Cutlass Ciera 3.8 hesitating, stalling, transmission clunking

Hello everyone,
This is my first post so I hope I do everything correctly.

My 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera International 3.8L has been having major issues lately. The car stalls, has a rough idle, and hesitates when I try to accelerate. I replaced the fuel filter too. I have a feeling that it's not a gasoline problem though. The CEL light has been on for awhile. I grounded the plugs through a tutorial online and was able to get code 34 which is MAF sensor. All the symptoms of a faulty MAF sensor our what I'm dealing with. So I cleaned the MAF sensor with MAFS spray and that worked the first time a drove it right after I put it back on. It was literally perfect. After that, however, it still stalls, has a rough idle, and hesitates when I put my foot on the accelerator.

One other thing that I haven't seen as a symptom of a MAFS (Though I'm not entirely sure) is when I'm accelerating, the RPM's get really high, and I have to let off the gas to have it shift.

Earlier in the year, the harmonic balancer had a cracked rubber seal and was making a loud rattle sound. So I replaced that successfully and haven't had a problem with it since.

Today after I tried cleaning the MAF sensor again (which didn't work, still idled rough), I turned on the car to check the tranny fluid level, and it is just over the line. As the car was idling, however, I noticed a hissing noise. I then saw a hose that was cracked and leaving an open vacuum. The hose was connecting to this component that was mounting to the right of the distributor. So I replaced that hose, and another hose that was also connected to it. Figured that would make a major difference. Which it did... but in the wrong direction. Now, the car stalls within seconds of starting. It's amazing that fixing a vacuum leak would make it worse.

Does anyone have some suggestions? What's that component that made the car run worse? Thanks!
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Old 12-22-2013, 09:20 AM   #2
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Re: 1988 Cutlass Ciera 3.8 hesitating, stalling, transmission clunking

disconnect the MAF and see if it runs better.

I think the maf is causing some problems.
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Old 12-22-2013, 11:11 AM   #3
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Re: 1988 Cutlass Ciera 3.8 hesitating, stalling, transmission clunking

88 has no default for the maf, like obd11 pcm's, so the disconnect won't help. sounds like it needs a new one, assuming the fuel pressure is ok.
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:09 PM   #4
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Re: 1988 Cutlass Ciera 3.8 hesitating, stalling, transmission clunking

I apologize for the extremely late reply. During the past few months, it was at a mechanic who found a lot of open vacuum leaks. He said that he patched them all up, but the car was still jerking in first gear with light acceleration. He eventually told me that he couldn't find the problem with the car. He checked all the sensors twice including the MAF sensor, which came out fine, yet the computer system still tells me that that's the problem, code 34. He also checked fuel pressure and that was also where it needs to be. Could it be faulty electrical?
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:29 PM   #5
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Re: 1988 Cutlass Ciera 3.8 hesitating, stalling, transmission clunking

Still sounds like a bad maf or the connector to it. Both common issues on that engine.
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