Hello everyone, let me start by saying that I am very impressed with the amount of support and feedback you can get in this forum. I have been the owner of all kinds of cars ranging from domestic to foreign and I dare to say this is one of the most active forums I've seen.
My name is Gorky, born and raised in South America, moved to Long Island, New York 12 years ago. Growing up, the Chevrolet Vitara was one of the most popular cars around. They were (and still are) everywhere, however, the first time I saw a convertible one was here in the US. I was always a big fan of these cars and the Datsun 1200 pickup, so a year ago I made up my mind and bought a 1996 Geo Tracker, 5 speed, no A/C, 4WD with 136k miles on it. The Tracker had been previously lowered (through shorter springs), wired for a sound plant with aftermarket speakers, front sway bar (on top of strut towers) and cold air intake. Other than that the car seemed stock.
After driving it for a couple weeks and going through the regular tune up items (oil change, spark plugs, spark plug wires, cap, rotor, brake pads/shoes, timing belt and components, 94 ft/lbs on crank bolt, etc) I found out a couple added wires, switches and fuses which I assume were installed to power the no longer existing aftermarket sound system. The engine bay has 3 oem plugs which are disconnected and until this day I cannot find where they plug into. The so called cold air intake was directed to the bottom of the front bumper, once I followed it down there I noticed that there was no air filter at the end of it!!! only a piece of metal mesh. I proceeded to cut down the pipe up to engine bay height and added a cone filter to the end of it. After this I drove the car another 15k miles and then the problems began (no cel up to this point/also checked for stored codes and nothing came back)
The first issue was an oil leak coming from the oil pump gasket on a spot close to the water pump (metal gasket) I don't know if I did it right or wrong but in order to change this I ended up dropping the front differential and oil pan. 3k miles of driving after this repair, the new rockauto metal gasket I put on started leaking again but this time on a spot located straight under the timing belt tensioner spring) I noticed there were different length bolts holding the oil pump in place, maybe I put the wrong length on the wrong bolt hole? I torqued them all to the right specifications. I haven't attempted to fix this again yet.
Not too long after that, I started getting idle variations at stop lights, the idle would nearly get to 0 (from 850 rpm) and then catch up again by itself. I know for sure it was when the car was cold but I do not recall if it continued doing the same once it warmed up (this happened 5 months ago) Up to this point no cel yet. Then I put my 01 Civic on the road after finishing a head gasket job on it and the Tracker sat in the backyard for a couple months. One day I went to start it up and the right away the idle went to nearly 1000 rpm and kept going up and down 200 rpm's. When I gave it gas it would also show signs of this hesitation at higher rpm's (3000 to 3500) the car would not stall. I read forum posts and tried the following: egr valve and mod cleaning and testing, o2 sensor (front) replacement, welded small crack on the 4th tube on exhaust manifold, IAC cleaning and testing, replaced ECT, new 195F thermostat and gasket (rockauto), purge all air out of coolant system, cleaned the MAF and broke it in the process - bought new one and scanner shows it working, vacuum lines pinch tests, verified timing marks on crank and cam pulleys, key is not shredded, I have not touched the distributor and it shows no signs of sliding over either way, pulled each spark plug wire off (one at a time) and it showed a difference in power on top of the hesitation. During this I stepped on the gas hard and the tail pipe made a backfire noise (loud pop) followed by a puff of black smoke.
As you guys can see I have spent a fair amount of money and time on this issue. I took the car out for a spin last night and filled out the gas tank (after the Sandy shortage of gas madness up here) and the car stalled at every stop sign/traffic light unless I stepped hard on the gas (not easy when working the brake and clutch at the same time) I understand that there are more tests to be done like fuel pressure (M14 to 1/8 adapter on its way), blocking of EGR valve, etc but I was hoping someone saw this post, recognized this symptoms and could point me in a more straight path towards fixing my car, it's getting colder and I don't have a garage and honestly I'm almost out of budget and patience for this car. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this long post and suggest any solutions.
Best regards and Happy Thanksgiving
(still no ecl as of now)
Hi Gorky, and welcome to the forum. First confirm that your CEL is on with the key on, and the off once the car starts. Also exactly what your idle is at cold start, what the idle does as the car warms up, etc. Other than that, before doing anything else, I would recommend a compression test to make sure that the timing is correct on the car - if timing is off, all other diagnosis is meaningless. Also advise if your car is 16v or 8v......
Bex, thanks for the quick response. CEL light is on before the car is started, once it's started it goes away, obdII scanner shows no pending codes. Forgot to mention in my original post that I did a compression test and all 4 cylinders show 150, car is a 16v. Idle when cold is 1000 to 1150 rpm's (fluctuating up and down) but unsure if the air screw is properly calibrated since I've been moving it during all this troubleshooting, hard to tell idle when warm because it gets so low to an almost stalling point.
When your car starts, it should rev to about 1500 rpm or so, which is determined by the mechanical idle air valve that is open, allowing in extra air. As the car warms up, the idle should slowly drop to 800 rpm warm, dictated, among other things, by the idle speed control. You can roughly see if the ISC is working by putting the headlights and fan blower on high, and seeing what the idle does. It should stay relatively the same, as the ISC is supposed to compensate for load. That being said, your compression for the 16v is a bit low. Did you do the compression test with your gas pedal to the floor when you were cranking? Have you ever tuned up the engine, gapping the plugs to .028"? What do the plug tips look like?
Plug tips are very dark. Compression test was not done with gas pedal to the floor (probably why reading is low?) I can retest in an hour or so, I can also post pics from the spark plugs. I haven't gap the plugs, I will check gap this afternoon.
My 97 pulls 185 min. dead cold. (a new head) later and hot it does 195. 100k mile oil rings, new crank and new head.
off my compression page. cold was 72F
wot is good, lots of air, allows it to compress correctly,
ever set lash> ? but no way all 4 are equally wrong soooo..
I cannot find where they plug into.
i have a found empty connectors page,, its just non opted options.
photos work best. or look it up in the online fsm, is on my page like 100 times.
includes full harness and connector id, need more help ask.schematics to run engine
you never checked ignition timing? why not, imagine a crazy PO. set it wrong.? right?
the maf fits the air cleaner box no box no IAT, no iat bad.
no maf worse. you really need a camera, ask a kid. for one. ( i guess the hack was MAF to fender mods... ok)
bad idle is (last to fix) bad egr. first.
or 44 other things listed on my yes, bad idle page.
your egr sticks, join the club all 100k egr do that some can be fixed (cleaned)
clean it make sure it closes each time with a loud thump
then defeat the vacuum line to it. and pull and puit in a golf tee. vacuum side , ah intake side)
now EFR MAIN can NOT open.
now drive, fixed. if not post.
with EGR closed, we can do all the OBD2 checks. (keep in mind driving the ECU commands the EGR closed, just as you arrive at a stop sign, see? this is a classic EGR fail) and you can at anytime reach in and force it closed
if its not stuck hard..... so if stalls in drive way that is 1st.
oops 150 now is 190, skip that, many here cant even make 80psi, compression done wrong and motor bad. funny to watch that play out.. but that is not you, yours will it 180 easy
id look at these running first is my get out of bed story ,(base lined)
OBD2 (note my readings, its identical to your car.)
1) Started car, same symptoms, hesitant idle. No ecl
2) Pulled out spark plugs, gapped them, only one was really out of spec. Restarted car, same symptoms. Spark plug in picture is the one on the right, the other one is just for comparison.
3) Took egr out, tested it, passages working the way they're supposed to, no air through passages unless vacuum applied. Verified hoses between egr, vsv, plenum and modulator; all checked out ok. Reinstalled egr (gasket seems good), started car same symptoms.
4) Took it out for a ride plugged to obdII to compare not so warm vs. driving temperature (pics attached)
5) Finally a dtc set, P0505 Took out IAC, checked power to harness side of plug, voltage present. Tried the 12v direct to IAC to verify piston working but I couldn't get it to click, when I put wire to second prone small spark happened on prone but no clicking or piston moving. I hope I did it right and did not mess up that $250 valve. At this point I left it out of the car and put carb cleaner through the passages and leaving it overnight.
Took a few pictures with my phone hopefully they are clear enough.
Ok, just done with 45 bags of fallen leafs. Tested compression, all cylinders are reallt close to 180. IAC piston barely moving but got it to move, put it back to soak some more. First post shows car is 5 speed. I will add description to signature, good idea. Car is 2 door convertible.
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