1986 Spider cranks, but won't start - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

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Old 07-01-2012, 07:54 AM
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Question 1986 Spider cranks, but won't start

My 1986 Spider worked great on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday morning, it cranked, but wouldn't start.
I checked the fuel line (having replaced a fuel filter last year) and it's getting gas. there was voltage to the ignition coil, so I'm presuming the module is OK. The distributor and rotor are working, as is the fuel pump.
I was not getting spark, so I thought it was the ignition coil, but after replacing tha,t still no spark. The battery is fully charged, but I suppose it's possible it's not getting enough to voltage to turn the engine over.
Are there any other things I should be looking at?
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:11 AM
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there will be lots of advice forthcoming on a no spark spider, but first make sure you car is not fitted with an immobiliser.

If you are certain it hasn't, then the first thing I would check is the cranking voltage.
The voltage on a good battery should be about 12.5 volts.....
Then with voltmeter still connected, ask someone to crank the starter (make sure it is in neutral, of course)......now you should be reading about 10.5 volts.......
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:12 AM
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There are a number of things to check. Functioning flywheel sensors & system voltage are a couple that come to mind. Don't assume voltage is OK because it sounds like it is cranking OK - connect a voltmeter to the battery (do not trust a dash gauge if it has one) and see what it reads during cranking. If voltage drops below ~ 10.5V the computers won't wake up and send the make spark/squirt fuel signals.

After many no-start tries it is usually a good idea to check the spark plugs for fouling.

Info about the Spider L-jet system is in the link in my signature.
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~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina

L-jetronic Spider diagnosis (1982-1989)
L-jetronic V-6 diagnosis
OK injectors - fuel injector cleaning
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:35 AM
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No immobiliser.

Battery voltage read 12.4 at rest and 11.3 under cranking, so I think that probably eliminates the battery.
I'll review the L-Jetronic file you pointed out.
Thanks!
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:50 AM
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Tell us how you decided "it's getting gas".

Normally, the fuel pumps run only under two conditions - 1) key in the 'start' position or B) when the engine is running. The drive relay controls fuel pump power. There is a bypass circuit during cranking (key @ 'start') then a tachymetric signal from the coil triggers the drive relay to keep the pumps powered on with th eengine running. If there is no spark the lack of tachymetric signal should switch off power to the fuel pumps. (There would be some residual pressure in the fuel lines if the pumps were operating during cranking.)

If indeed there is no spark that must be fixed first. The computer uses the flywheel sensors to determine crank position (timing) and speed (rpm). Lacking either input it will not trigger the coil = no spark.
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don't read this
~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina

L-jetronic Spider diagnosis (1982-1989)
L-jetronic V-6 diagnosis
OK injectors - fuel injector cleaning

Last edited by ghnl; 07-01-2012 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:51 AM
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Good answer Eric: My conclusion from the past two months is: Start with the obvious ie fuel relays, fuse, fuel pumps, fuel filter, spark plugs firing and then systematically the sensors. See my "New Post -Old History, I'm currently on the VVT or ECU. Most no runs are either fuel, fuse and relays under parcel shelf behind seats, first place to start.
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:03 AM
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might seem stupid, and you said dizzy and rotor are working but is your HT lead plugged firmly into the distributor and the coil?
....(Edit) and that the springy HT carbon contact inside the dizzy cap is still there?
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Last edited by spiderserie4; 07-01-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:10 AM
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Had this problem on my 1986 Spider- but was getting too much gas and the spark plugs were wet. I verified the two pumps were working by using two leads from the battery to apply 12 volts. Next step was to unplug the Cold Start Valve and remove, dry and replace the plugs. Started right up with the CSV disconnected. Then learned that I had a bad injector, and cracked valve. Located a injector on this BB, sent to Cruzin Performance for cleaning, etc. Located a cylinder head here since the original head was cracked. Took the new/used head to the machine shop, I learned they drilled one of the exhaust manifold stud holes too deep into the water jacket after taking the car for a Italian tune up and admiring how well it ran as the water ran onto the shop floor. Returned head to the shop, waited another week for them to repair. One year later, no leak, car runs fine. I also can remove the head in about 1.5 hours. It all started because the car wouldn't start in the parking lot at work on the hottest day of June last year.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghnl View Post
Tell us how you decided "it's getting gas".

I disconnected the fuel line where it enters the 'rail' at the engine. There was a high pressure spray of gasoline.
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:09 AM
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I also vote for the flywheel sensors. Simple to check... I think I used a BMW version that was cheaper from ebay.
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhrice62 View Post
I disconnected the fuel line where it enters the 'rail' at the engine. There was a high pressure spray of gasoline.
That is inconclusive. The fuel rail could/should remain pressurized without the engine running - especially if was run or cranked (attempted to start)recently.
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- - Eric
don't read this
~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina

L-jetronic Spider diagnosis (1982-1989)
L-jetronic V-6 diagnosis
OK injectors - fuel injector cleaning
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:22 AM
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I did disconnnect the cap and check that the center 'springy thing' is still there. It is. The contacts are clean as is the rotor.
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:34 AM
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I checked the flywheel sensors. The black one read 1065. the grey one was all over the place, reading as high as 1900+ and the meter never stop changing readings. Could this be what's keeping it fron running?
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhrice62 View Post
Could this be what's keeping it fron running?
Seems likely. Check it again making sure you have maintained good contact with the correct terminals. Also try turning the engine a bit (just roll it forwards in 4th gear a few feet) to make sure the flywheel magnet didn't happen to have stopped right in front of that sensor.

If it is definately showing wacky readings then indeed it can prevent the engine from starting/running. The computer uses those sensors to know if/when to discharge the coil for spark (the distributor then sends the coil output to the right cylinder).
__________________
- - Eric
don't read this
~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina

L-jetronic Spider diagnosis (1982-1989)
L-jetronic V-6 diagnosis
OK injectors - fuel injector cleaning
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:17 AM
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Thanks for the advice. I'll do that. Why 4th gear (he asks stupidly) will that move the flywheel the most?
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