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Buick Century dies when idling

Posted by don_ (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 11, 06 at 18:38

I have a 97 Century that intermittently dies at every stop and will not continue running at start up unless I have my foot on the gas pedal. I had it in to my mechanic about a week ago and he replaced the fuel filter saying it was partially clogged. He also said there were no codes in the computer but I'm not sure how up to date he is with that. I would appreciate any help you can give before I take it back to him or maybe (gasp) the dealer. Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Lets examine the details here.

"I have a 97 Century that intermittently dies at every stop and will not continue running at start up unless I have my foot on the gas pedal."

First thought, the PCM (computer) cannot open the idle air control valve to control the idle speed, and the minimum air rate itself is too slow to allow the engine to continue to run. This is what checking the basics is all about, any decent driveability tech should handle this with ease.

"I had it in to my mechanic about a week ago and he replaced the fuel filter saying it was partially clogged. He also said there were no codes in the computer but I'm not sure how up to date he is with that."

Big red flag here. Just who is "your mechanic"? First a fuel filter will not cause a stalls at stop complaint. That is just silly for anyone to make that assumption. A partially clogged fuel filter would have the engine starting to starve for fuel when the demand for the fuel is high. The higher the demand, the more the engine would starve. Todays computerized fuel injection systems would attempt to compensate for a clogged filter by increasing the injection pulse width. This correction can be seen in the long term, and short term fuel trim percentages. If it get's so bad that the computer cannot compensate then the check engine lamp would come on, and lean exhaust codes would be stored. When the car is at idle, it requires far less fuel per second than it does when it's under a load. Therefore a clogged fuel filter will NEVER give you a problem at idle, until long after it was giving you serious trouble on the highway.

"I would appreciate any help you can give before I take it back to him or maybe (gasp) the dealer. Thanks."

Why would you first have to gasp about taking this to the dealer? Besides the fact that you would think that is necessary to do that if the first guy couldn't handle this problem, and it's obvious IMO he cannot. Real techs, talented techs are all over the place. The way to find the ones that are not up to speed is by picking up the phone and asking them how much this will cost first. Every time I run into this attitude that the cheaper someone can try and repair a car the better they must be I have to shake my head. Take two techs with similar ability to repair cars. Send one to more schools and furnish more and better tools and equipment, and in a few years you end up with a tech that is better at fixing cars. But he won't be cheaper! There is nothing wrong with the pricing that most dealers charge these days. Quite frankly though, if there is something wrong, it's that because of market pressure they might not actually charge enough either in order to truly have all of the money they should have to improve their people's abilities.

You need a REAL tech to work on this, real techs are not cheap. Find a good one, and then stick with him/her and the shop they work at for everything your car needs. That way they get a return on the investment they are making, and put the clowns that think a fuel filter will fix an idling problem out of business.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

LOL! I think you about got it covered there and then some john g.

One other thing, paying somebody to throw parts at it and not fix the problem isn't cheep either in my book.

Someone who knows what they're doing usually zeros in on these problems in no time. That leaves you with the diagnostic fee like a flat $60 or whatever it may be now, plus the part and time to install, if addtional time is required.

If you have to pay someone to fix your car, that's the only way to go. Stay away from parts changers. jmo


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Two things - the fuel filter is a service item, and must be changed periodically (50, even 100K miles!).
Keeping records can prevent un-necessary changes.
I write the change date/mileage on the filter..
The car's system( the sensors, the CEL) are primarily for curbing emissions..
The engine can be running poorly, but if still running cleanly, no CEL will be triggered.

Don, you will have to find a knowledgeable technician , and this man may just be at the dealer.
I suspect that the idle air control needs to be cleaned, lubed, if possible.
Some of the IACs can be serviced...


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

The days of letting Rufus and his partner Fred work on your car down at the Shade tree shop.Have ended for engine diognostics.They were good in there day and still are for things like suspension parts like struts and exaust systems,waterpumps,altenators,Then basic service and preventive maintanace things like oil changes,fuel filters,tires.But when its not running right or the service engine light comes on.There not the place to take it.Sure there cheaper they do not have the equipment to find these problems.If he did have it and the training he would be higher also.But more then likley would be working at the dealer location if he had the training.As for the equipment needed I dought he could get it if he won the lottery.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

johndeere said" The days of letting Rufus and his partner Fred work on your car down at the Shade tree shop.Have ended for engine diognostics.They were good in there day and still are for things like suspension parts like struts and exaust systems,waterpumps,altenators"

Taking anything to this kind of a shop rewards them for NOT going to schools and investing in the tools required to service todays cars. Taking the easy work to THEM, punishes guys (shops) like me (mine) for making the commitment to continually re-invest to be ready to serve the publics motoring needs.

"Sure there cheaper they do not have the equipment to find these problems"

In fact they quite often are NOT cheaper. They shot gun parts that have not been proven to be bad, and don't solve the trouble. Then the car gets moved to a shop that can do the work, and they are rewarded for being able to do so with comments like "I already spent $X00 on this, I don't want to spend any more" Plus let's assume some of the work was actually needed. The shop that made the committment to be able to do the whole job actually gets a smaller return on their investment, and ultimately that turns around and equals a school that they don't get to attend, or a tool they have to delay buying. Those two factors cannot be tolerated, so the shops response is to raise their prices for the work that they still get to do. The end result is the consumer clearly spends more in the long run by taking anything to the "discount stores".

If anyone has trouble justifying that statement simply count the number of mouths to feed from a fixed amount of work. That's why Wal Mart, and everyone else jumping on the quick lube band wagon actually cost you more. Then you have to consider that a tech like me isn't passing on the skills that I have aquired to the next generation of techs. The quick lubes suck the easy work out of our shops, and eliminate the entry level techs position here. Worse than that, they turn what used to be a working apprenticeship into a dead end minumum wage job. But hey, your saving $5.00 today right?


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

I appreciate your comments with a few exceptions. You all seem to think I have chosen the cheap way out. I am just another person with an automobile that I must depend on daily. You tell me how to find that REAL tech that can fix my car. I never once in my post said anything about cost or charges. You all assumed that I was going the cheap route. My "gasp" about the dealer was only because they have always kept my car 3 or 4 days and have not always fixed it. They certainly aren't the "REAL techs". Tell me how to recognize the REAL tech and I will never have to post again on this forum. I will gladly pay whatever it takes to repair my car if it is repaired.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Don, it is a normal, natural thing for a man to use the cheap route - as he percieves it...No one wants to waste money, particularly today....
Finding a good man to work on you car will not be easy, it may be as difficult as finding a good doctor or dentist..
The automotive repair business is in dire need of reform - John G has many good points...

At the quick and cheap? places, it is a case of the blind leading the blind..

ASE certification is a good thing to look for and have...


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

earthworm, before I retired I repaired all the equipment in the Sears Auto centers between Orange, CA. and Las Vegas, Nev. Doesn't mean I know anything about cars because I don't. I was just a damned good equipment repairman. Now, almost every person in those auto centers wore the ASE patch on their shoulder. Probably 20% deserved them. I really don't have much respect for that patch.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Don,

If the shop scanner cannot retrieve any codes then you need to have a portable scanner connected while the event is occurring.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

My guess (and it is a guess)is that the IAC (Idle Air Contol) is worn out. I had a few GM cars from the 90s era and have taken apart failed IACs from these. The princple parts are a tiny stepping motor, and a screw gear with nut. The screw and nut are made of plastic and the material around the idle position does strip out. If you have 100,000 miles or more on your car, suspect the IAC. But as John_G point out, your problem can be caused by other things as well.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Thanks to all. As I said in my original post it is an intermittent problem. It has now been running for 5 days with no problem. jemdandy the car does have 118,000 miles so your guess is probably right.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

There is a known drivability problem with that car, and others of that year in the G.M. line. I've done 13 in my
day. It's in the E Prom. Only the dealer can fix it as they will not release the info to an independent garage.
some cars have the problem, some don't. Sounds like yours
does. Some E.C.M.s have to be changed some just need a new flash. You say this is intermittent, sounds just like your
problem. That is exactly what they do.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Hi Kalining. You wrote "Only the dealer can fix it as they will not release the info to an independent garage."

That is not true. I have all of the software, and can do GM reflashes exactly as the dealer can. It isn't cheap for me to do that, in fact between the initial price of the Tech II, the CanDi Module, My laptop, and TIS 2000 software, plus yearly updates I have almost 10K invested. I reflash a GM car about once a week right now. E-prom updates we were always able to get, that was a simple way to change programming.

BTW I can also do Chrysler corporation vehicles. Ford will be next to be added to my list of cars that I can do. Then Toyota, and on down the line as much as I can afford it.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Hi John. Nice to hear from you. Keeping busy ? What i should have said is if the car is still under warranty there was no way in hell we would release that info. Things change i guess. Anyway the bottom line seems that the average garage can't afford the up dates or doesn't
want to spend the money. I glance through this forum from time to time. Not often. I have better things to do. That
didn't sound right but i'm sure you will figure it out.
I can't believe half of these people are still alive after what they try to do with a 4000 lb. chunk of iron. Most of it sounds like what " you " hear and i do from time to time. " I need this fixed but i don't want to spend any money and i don't need any new parts ". Where have i heard that before ? No offence to the D.Y.I.'s. If you don't try
you don't learn. Money is tight. Do what you have to.
Have a good weekend to all. Be carefull out there.


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Hi Kalining

Many techs in our industry (if you can call it that) both dealer and independent don't know anything about the agreement made between the O.E's and the aftermarket about ensuring the avilability of service information, software, and tools and equipment. The link I provided is the cornerstone founded by this agreement. The agreement that formed NASTF also had certain high level technicians, and the ASA pull out of support for legislation that would have put service information availability under the control of the FTC. See HR2048, known as "Vehicle Owner Right To Repair"

For additional information see www.iatn.net That's the site for professional automotive technicians where you will find some of the most up to date, technical information available to techs, written by techs.

Here is a link that might be useful: National Automotive Service Information Task Force


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling link

Try this Motor Age article for additional information

Here is a link that might be useful: Motor Age


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RE: Buick Century dies when idling

Howdy everyone! I didnt intend to revive this thread. Just for a reason though. It happened that i have the same problem with my 93 buick century and hoping to get answers in order to resolve this issue. Here are a few details:

*6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 161000 miles

*It dies when it warms up have to let it cool down before restart.

Is it the idle/air censor? Please HELP! Thanks a lot

Already visited thread: Buick Century repair


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