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1997 Suburban engine trouble, polling for ideas for swap.
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Post 1997 Suburban engine trouble, polling for ideas for swap. 
Been lurking for a while, reading HOG and Lextech's responses on the 0441 PCM swam. So here's my delima.

I drove my supercharged Suburban to work today. It started just fine at 530A this morning. I drove it to work and parked it. when I come out at 4P the truck wont start.

I click on the key and hear both fuel pumps run until pressurized, crank it over and not even one fire. Cranked it a couple more times then just caught a ride home with another guy.

Went back there tonight around 830P. Took some berryman's carb and choke cleaner to use as a starting fluid in case the lines were froze, some jumper cables, some prestone gas line anti-freeze, and a gallon of gas in case I needed to keep it running long enough by feeding through the intake mani to heat up the injector(s) so they may thaw out and start working.

Started with the berrymans, sprayed a little in the throttle body and nothing, not even a pop. Gave up on that and poured the anti-freeze into the gas tank to hopefully disperse some of the water in the tank/lines. ran the pumps a couple times to hopefully get some of the alcohol into the lines to start dispersing the frozen water. Cranked it numerous times in little spurts and still could not get a fire.

Removed the coil wire and checked for spark using a pair of pliers I had on hand. Sure enough, got spark, lots of spark. It was sparking for almost three inches!

Plugged in the coil wire again, sprayed more berryman's into the intake, then crank and still no fire. Now I'm stumped.

While I was cranking I noticed my vacuum/boost gauge was not registering any vacuum? Shouldn't it register some vacuum during cranking? I did notice my oil pressure jump to 60+ psi, so that's good. But the vacuum thing got me stumped. So now I am questioning my oil viscosity. Currently, because of the mileage on the truck (202k) and the supercharger I am running Valvoline Racing 50 weight. I am wondering if that will have any effect on the compression or the rings not seating or anything that may prevent the engine from starting normally? Ideas??

The other thing is the spark plugs. It has ACDelco plugs in the cylinders. They are a step colder and only gapped at like .035 because of the boost. (at least thats what I was told to gap them at and thats what I installed). So I also wonder if the plugs are too cold for this extreme negative weather we are having.

Tomorrow I have to drive the wifes car to work and see if I can get the burban running during lunchtime. It would be nice to get her to kick over just a little so I know she's still alive and start circulating that fuel antifreeze through the system to hopefully prevent any further occurrences during this tank of gas.

Bummer the tank is full, less then 100 miles on the tank and its normally good for about 450 miles. I filled up with Safeway fuel, not sure if that would have anything to do with it or not.

some troubleshooting includes,
Checked the spark down to the end of the wire, then to the #1 spark plug. All good.

Replaced all 8 plugs because the others were wet. Still no go.

Juiced the intake with Starting fluid. Still no go.

This last thursday I finally got a car trailer and a truck to get the burban home so I can piddle with it more. The more I think about it the more I am leaning twards the timing set jumping a tooth. However, if I start getting into this thing and just finding out that the L31 is too worn out, I would like to venture into getting into an LS based engine. I currently have a 98 T/A with the LS1 in it and I enjoy the performace of the LS based engines in the newer trucks.

My question is, How hard would a L31 to LSx swap be? I have been reading up on the 0441 PCM swap, which sounds easy when provided the excel spreadsheet on the pinouts, so now I am wondering about putting either a Fbody LSx engine or 01-02 LS-based engine to replace the L31 currently in the truck. Keeping in mind that currently and even before the supercharger went on this L31, I was making a whopping 12MPG. bleh. Considering my Uncle has a 99 Burban and makes 18-21 Mpg, this L31 making 12 makes me sick. Thus why I am contemplating just doing an engine swap to something more efficent that will possibly make more power too as our main purpose for keeping this burban around is just to haul a boat or tow any number of other failing vehicles currently on the market today.

Comments, suggestions, pointing and laughing all accepted.

Thanks.

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Welcome to the site! Their are plenty of guys on here that can help you with any and just about all questions you might have. I'm sure they will chime in soon, everyone loves to help and loves a good challenge.

The no spark to me sounds like your timing set could be off, especially with over 200K on the motor i would check your timing gears and chain, plus you might want to check your distributor gear, obviously it is turning your oil pump, but your not seeing any vacuum right? hmmmm....im not even positive you should see vacuum though, that is a head scratcher.

As far as swaps you would be fine dropping in an LSx motor especially if you do the 0411 swap. Several guys on here now have done this swap plus others, a few other guys have even swapped for an 07 ls motor and a 6l60e transmission(PSWired i think, could be wrong on that one)

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The NO vacuum makes me think the exhaust is plugged. Loosen the exhaust from the manifolds---You don't have to remove it---just make it very loose. See if it will start and run.

Jeff

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IDK.... not even a pop has me thinking that spark you got is not getting to the plugs.

were you able to see if the spark was jumping the gap?

even if the timing was off, you should still get a pop - something. i was also thinking maybe the lifters were not pumping up, but then your talking they would all have to go bad at once - not likely. even if the CAT was plugged beyond belief, you would still get a pop.

it is possible the timing jumped from chain stretch, i would have to start there - easy way is line up your timing marks and pull the cap to see where the rotor is pointing with #1 @TDC. if its pointing to like #4 - then you know exactly what it is. but if its right on, then you can rule that out....provided your cam didnt break - but if the rotor is turning i dont think so.

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Just a thought, is your vacuum gauge mechanical or electrical? If electrical, depends on what you hooked power to as not all things are powered during cranking.

I've been bit on that before.

Another thought, you said your plugs were wet and I know you sprayed a lot of stuff in there, but what is your fuel pressure? If you still have the vortec spider poppet thingy, it is sensitive to low pressure. My fuel pump crapped out when I went to the post office one day. Drove there fine, shut it off, did my visit, no start when I came back out in 5 minutes time. Grrr.

Good luck.

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Thanks for the responses guys.

The no vacuum thing is mechanical and I think I found. I found a broken T in the line, fixed it, now I get a little vacuum.

I tested the spark down to the #1 plug in the boot. The new plugs are gapped at .060 as recommended. Seen it jump the gap when cranking.

I have two fuel pumps because of the supercharger. One in the tank and one under the driver's side frame rail. Can clearly hear the one on the frame rail so I disconnected the relay to test for the one in the tank. Checked the one in the tank by listening for it while the 2nd one was disconnected and it too is pumping. Even disconnected the return line from the aftermarket fuel pressure regulator for the S/C and it puked gas over the back of the engine when the pumps came on.

What concerns me is when I put straight gas or starting fluid down the throttle body, it should kick but doesn't. This is the reason I think it skipped a tooth or three on the timing set.

I will get to it sometime this week. If the odo is any reflection of the engine, then the engine has 202k on it and probably a really stretched chain. Surprised

I'm probably luck it was even running in the first place.

On a good note, when I am cranking it the oil pressure jumps to 40 psi! Thanks for the help guys.

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I have another question. How do you all feel about that spider poppet thingy? When I was installing the supercharger the general concensus was they suck becuase they are not very tunable for Forced induction and whatnot. Now that I am reading about the PCM 0441 swaps, does this computer make the spider poppet more negotiable when tuning or should I keep my eyes set on a LS-based engine with one injector per intake runner as a possible swap if this engine is cashed?

What do the experts say? Confused

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Hows the cranking speed? Is it really slow to turn over?

Last winter I had a no start, I was getting fuel, lotsa spark, and was getting air. Teh cranking speed was a little slow. So I boosted from another car. I held teh car at 2000rpm to get the alternator working, then tried to start the truck, nothing. Tried fuel, starter fluid, had wet plugs, I really didnt know what was up.

As a last ditch effort I went and grabbed a new Delco batter, installed it, and wouldnt ya know, the damn truck started on the 1st bump of the starter.

I am just wondering that since you are running 2 fuel pumps that you may not have enough juice to fire. When you are cranking, make sure that your daytime running lights are OFF, stereo OFF, heater blower OFF, etc etc. I just couldnt beleive that even with a few different vehicles trying to jump start my truck, it wasnt enough power to start my truck, but a new battery did the trick.

If you think you are flooding, if you hold the throttle to the floor while cranking, the PCM WILL NOT fire the injectors, this is for the purpose of clearing a flooded engine. So hold the throttle open, crank for a bit, the let off the throttle to start refueling the engine.

Also be sure to check the under hood fuse box, there is a pesky little fuse called ECM B or ENG B that has casued me issues in the past.

I do know that a bad crankshaft position sensor will cause a COMPLETE no start condition. I'm not sure if you will still get spark at all or not when the CKP sensor fails.


So far as the CSFI(central sequential fuel injection) spider. Westers Garage sells a flow matched spider that flows enough for 440 hp at the crank naturally aspirated. Lyndon(owner of westers) states that the poppets will not LOCK UP at high fuel pressures like conventional fuel injectors will(GM MPFI California Multec conversion spider included).

Towards the bottom of the page.
http://westersgarage.eidnet.org/injectors.htm

The best solution would be to do a MArine Intake, Ramjet, or any other intake manifold swap that will allow the use of larger sized conventional injectors.

I am partial to the GEN 1E Vortec 350, but I do understand the allure of the GEN 3/4 engines. Grabbing an LQ4/9 6.0 truck engine, throwing some L92 heads on it, cam and L76 intake manifold, with headers, cam and tuning, 550 hp NA is possible. Use a 411 PCM to control it and away you go.
You can even use you original transmission with the GEN 3 LS1 based engine, this thread has the info for using a GEN 3/4 engine in front of an older trans.
http://www.pacificp.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7252

Good luck man, keep us informed, and welcome to the forums.

peace
Hog

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I'm in castle Rock, not to far from you.
I had an '86 Buick Riviera with the 3.8L and 125K on the clock. It did the same thing as yours; what I found was that the chain stretched and skipped a couple teeth. Replaced just the chain and water pump and drove it another 50K before I got rid of it.

I have a '02 Z28 and love the LS motor, have considered the swap in my '98 GMT400, but already have the marine intake and the 0411; I just need to get time to put them on... My procrastination is that my motor has 176K on it and I would rather do these modifications on a HT383E from GMPP, drop it in and be done with it. PSWired has done numerous swaps in these. I think his Tahoe has had more unique motor swaps than tires!!!

If you did an LSx swap you have a wider array of superchargers available, with the GenIII PCM (0411) tuning is easier, and there are tons of performance parts for these motors available.

TJ

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Hog,

wow, had to go reboot after reading your post. Thats alot of info for sure!

new battery. Was installed the sunday before this problem started. While I was troubleshootin in the parking lot at work I had jumper cables hooked up to another car. Seemed to keep the battery in decent condition. Now that I have it at home I have it plugged into an onboard trickle charger cause after all, this is not normally a truck I drive everyday so my batteries would always go dead. They were Optima Red Tops, now I have one optima and one from WalMart cause I was in po-dunk smallville when the charge lead came off my alternator and drained my optimas. I noted it had 720 CCAs. I figured that would be enough, but then again, I don't know. So I put in the walmart junk and rewired my charge lead to the 140A alternator the sunday before the issue came up. The monday morning it started fine and took me to work, then monday afternoon is when it decided not to run anymore.

When I do try to start it, I got the heater off, DRL's off, stereo off, everything off so I can hear if something is making any noise or doing anything at all.

When I was troubleshooting in the parking lot at work, I did hold the throttle wide open to possibly clear out any extra fuel. But I did that early on, before the starting fluid or gas into the throttle body.

I will check those pesky fuses under the hood labeled ECM B and ENG B. I knew they were under there, started to go look, then got sidetracked on another goosechase. I am hoping for a warm day to mess with it in my driveway. I really don't want to pull the front of the engine off, but then again, I REALLY don't want to pull the engine out and put another one exactly like the gutless wonder I have now back into it. Thus is why I want to learn more about my options if this engine has just lost all its umph.

Where is the CKP sensor located? Is there any way to test? Will the PCM throw a code? cause I am not getting any codes. I do have a reader, but thats all it is, just a reader. bleh. I would love to check all these things as long as I know where to look and how to test them. My knowledge of PCM/ECUs is from the 80's when all they had was MAP, Knock, O2 sensors, and everybody was throttle body injected. Mafs, speed density, Crank angle sensors and CKPs were not invented yet. lol..

Definately agree on the LQ4 engine. I think that if I put a 6L into that body or even the new 4.5L Duramax Turbo Diesel , either one of those engines would probably be the last engine I would ever have to put into the truck. It would last forever after that!!

98Black. The LSx engine was just the 2nd engine to pop into my head. Last year when I was looking into some more power, and into the LT1 series, I figured I could drop an LT1 engine in there and be good to go. After all, the LT1s are torque monsters and I had alot of upgrade parts left over from my 95 Impala SS. I figured I could drop a 500Hp LT1 and be set, then I came across the powerdyne supercharger to put on it. The powerdyne gained me about 80HP and lots of torque, so it bandaided the burban for awhile. Long enough to pull the boat to the resevoir and haul a couple cars around this summer. But after it got cold, I dug it out of my back yard, started driving it, and now it seems like I am chasing problems. Maybe shes trying to tell me that if I don't drive her much, she will just keep breaking. I hope not. I hope this is an easy fix cause my wife and family love the burban, and I like it for the safety of possibly getting hit in the winter time from another driver. Family of 6 just can't get any safer then a burban IMO.

After reading through these threads about the L31's, LQ4s, etc. and it was just recently brought to my attention that I could drop a 5.3L or 6L LS-based engine into the truck that peaked my interest. I would love to go git a 01-02 LS-based engine out of a Silverado or newer truck to put in there. I love the design and like Hog said, there are tons of Options for those engines, they are really governed down and hold so much potential!! I guess we will see what the future holds.

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ok, this may be stupid, but try running a jumper wire to the output on the alternator - IIRC if the alt does not see voltage it will not run.

i remember on mine when i unhooked the batt cable while it was running the motor died - i was like WTF? cant remember how to bypass that, but i did on mine when i put in my 180 or 190 cant remember which.....


BTW, when i started this job i left my truck for a few months - when i got back, blew trans, then oil pump went out.

they know when they have been sitting

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Post Well, this might be it!! 
Found the issue.

On Christmas day I finally got some time, and a decent day, to piddle with the suburban.

I set the engine to #1 TDC and pulled the distributor cap. Under the cap I discovered that the rotor was pointing twards the #8 lead! Just as I suspected, timing had jumped on the chain.

So I proceeded to pull off the front of the engine. dropping the water pump, harmonic balancer, and finally pulling the timing cover and what did I discover? The timing marks were lined up perfectly just as the day they were put in!

Now I start looking at the distributor. Pulled it out of the hole and looky what I found!




So now I figure I will need either a new distributor gear to put on or a new distributor. Since I already pulled all the timing stuff, I figure I will drop in a new set and gaskets, plus whatever I need for the new distributor. Then off to the stealership to have them time it for me. Unless someone can tell me how to time my OBDII plagued L31. I am guessing that damage is after 202k miles........thoughts?

Thanks for all the help guys. Hopefully on the 26th, tomorrow, I can get the parts I need to put her back together for the next 100k or so! Evil or Very Mad

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That is a very common failure after a bunch of miles on these motors unfortunately.
here is a link when mine did the same thing... and James b's pics are on there also
http://www.pacificp.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52106&highlight=#52106
The cheapest way out is to just buy a new gear kit for about $40 at the dealer. You can buy the new plastic timing cover and the timing chain from a local auto parts store. I can't remember if you can put the new timing cover on or not without lowering the oil pan.... but you will see soon enough. Hopefully the gear on the camshaft isn't worn similar to the distributor gear was or you will be back to this spot again later on down the road.... just some food for thought to check while the cam will be accessible minus the pushrods, lifter removal. ect. You CAN set the distributor without taking it to a dealer by droping it in at TDC #1 and slightly moving it until the SES light doesn't come on anymore upon start up.... But a crank re-learn and getting the Distributor set by the dealer would be a good idea since you are changing a few items and it is a forced induction engine.
Good luck!
Robby

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Geez thats a bad gear for sure. ACtually one of the worst ones I have seen.

Just to ease your worries soemwhat. I had my dist gear replaced at 80,000kms and 1/2 of the gears were thin while the other 1/2 were fine. The engine/cam now has over 400,000 kms on it. The roller cams are induction hardened and the cam gear "SHOULD" be fine, take a peak at it though to be sure.

Was your truck missing at all at highways speeds while cruising? Thats what my truck did.

Glad you found your issue.

peace
Hog

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holy knife edge, bataman!!

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Burban seems to work great now! Once I got the truck running again, set the plugs to .040, redid some of the vacuum/boost lines, now I am reading the 6psi I expected! Rather then the 3psi I was getting before. Cost about $104 in parts. I put in plugs, wires, cap, rotor, dist drive gear and oil change. Truck runs great, filled with new oil (15w-40 this time), new DEXCOOL antifreeze, and since I already replaced the plugs, I replaced the cap, rotor, and wires to match!

I am figuring 202k miles on the engine caused this. I was even able to set the timing by ear! I called Adam at Revolutions tuning and he sent me to some place called Car Car 2000. I spoke with Josh and Jay who were working that day. They put the scanner on the truck to check the timing and Jay showed me that it was 2* advanced. Since the specs are 0* TDC +/- 4*, they didn't recommend changing it at all and didn't even charge me to check it out! Thanks Car Care 2000 of off Fillmore and El Paso in CoSprings and thanks to Adam from Revolutions for sending me there! When I got the truck running and took it into a shop to set the timing, one guy mentioned this is a common problem. He said he changes distributors, bout two per week for this fleet company. Super nice guys there at Car Care 2000 in CoSprings.

I changed the oil even though the engine should be used to metal shavings after some dipshit in Jiffy Lube put 5W-30 in it after they accidentally dropped my Mobil1 instead of flushing the tranny like they were directed to. It was after the next oil change that I realized their mistake and corrected it, but how many years did they shave off my engine by doing that?? who knows?

I finished putting things back together. Maybe drive it for a couple months, could be a couple years. Who knows.

Thanks for all those who helped and suggestions of how to track this issue down.

And she looks and runs awesome!







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Glad she's working well for ya now.

Nice Burb.

peace
Hog

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X2, I know how you feel, these guys on this site can really shave off the frustration time of DIY w/ no help.

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glad shes back up for ya.

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