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Dies Immediately After Startup- no access to code reader

1375 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  MilliV
Hey gang-
Bug has been parked over the holiday till a week ago. Went shopping and he was running fine. I turned him off to unload some stuff but when I tried to turn him back on the engine was faltering- drove a couple hundred feet to where I park.

The next day, I noticed the puddle lights were dim and no door chime. Battery was dead on next day. Got new battery and hooked it up today in the 2 minutes it wasn't dumping rain. Now the car starts and revs fine but dies immediately when I let off the gas. No idle, just stumbling death within 3-5 seconds.

99 2.0 automatic, no immobilizer. Long history of TB and MAF codes- CEL is on (has been on despite the best efforts of mechanics and dealers for at least 6 months out of the year for last 16 years so I usually ignore it). Car is not moving and no access to a scanner. He has around 330-350k miles now. New coil, plugs & wires, TB, fuel filter, and water pump/tensioner/belt in last year or two. Will hose the MAF with cleaner in a bit I guess
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If you turn the car to "on" with out it running, do you hear the throttle adjust itself after 15 seconds or so? It would sound like a motor running. Not sure it it applies to yours or not. Loss of battery voltage can play havoc with the computer. It's already stored your "driving preferences" and the engine in memory. Drop that memory? And it may be struggle to adapt.

I'll check in a bit- just cleaned the TB (a bit of a black ring in lower half..not too bad) and the MAF. Waiting on MAF to dry now before I put it back on. I also put in a can of Seafoam (eh..it was on sale).
Yep- I can hear it adjusting. The above stuff did nothing- still won't idle, just dies. I revved the engine a while a while but got gassy-smelling white smoke after 10 seconds.
How did you do the seafoam treatment?

Oil...in the gas...or down a vacuum tube?

in the gas- sorry. Tank was over 3/4 full so I used the full pint (it said min. 8 gallons and up). I was expecting black smoke if anything
Yep- I can hear it adjusting. The above stuff did nothing- still won't idle, just dies. I revved the engine a while a while but got gassy-smelling white smoke after 10 seconds.

I'm not liking that. White smoke in large amounts can sometimes point towards a blown head gasket. (had that on my Bronco II 2.9. Yeah I know apples and oranges for engine design--but I wound up rebuilding the top half of the engine.)

Hang around and see if anyone else has inputs. (and I hope they do....) I would urge perhaps the use of a "block tester" kit used at the expansion tank to see if combustion gases are getting into the system.


Part of this forum is also learning about issues with the cars so we can help if others should the same issue. While I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed? I do try to understand and lend a hand. White smoke in large amounts coming out of the exhaust can be related to coolant in the combustion chamber. I say "Can" be related, because these engines might have something else going on that I'm not knowing.

I would ask that any information regarding this issue, testing, and resolution--be made public. So that everyone can help figure out the problem(s), or understand what is going on so we can lend a hand.

Plus if someone does happen to have this issue in future? The "paper trail" is very helpful when it comes to the search function.

Just keep the rest of us onlookers in the loop.


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No problem- just got distracted by other stuff. I had the same thought as soon as I saw white smoke but am hoping there is something else. That said, at over 300,000, it wouldn't really surprise me. I don't mind rebuilding (sorry car, you're stuck with me) but want to know any other possibilities
i've got a scanner. give me a call this week, and we can set up a time to get together...i'm up in Williamsburg/Toano a lot these days. :)
Warren - unfortunately, the car is in Winston-Salem right now :(
Warren - unfortunately, the car is in Winston-Salem right now :(
There is a shop over there called Everything Euro. They can probably at least scan the car for you.
I have to hit the road to a conference in Quebec this week. Bug is on its way by truck to the shop of an old Nascar mechanic who lives a few miles away. He works on everything new and old, has a scanner, and used to specialize in VWs in the 60s. Will let you know what I find out.
Ok- back from Quebec and the car is back on the road. Diagnosis was a couple cracks in the vacuum lines leading to a backfire (never heard one) that blew a chip into the throttle body and cracked it. Throttle body was only 4 months old but I definitely believe the vacuum cracks. I heard a leak for a while but then it disappeared. When I tried soapy water I couldn't find anything and forgot about it. Probably didn't hear it get worse between heavier use of the heater/radio lately
Very glad to know the car is repaired.

Odd problems actually... However we'll add it to our list of "Goofy" things these cars can, and sometimes do.

It helps us help others :D

This maybe part of the issue I was discussing in another thread. How can I go about checking for vacuum leaks?

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