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Death a mid stride... :(

1382 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  ghnl
While I was driving around town last night my car ( 1987 Spider Graduate ) suddenly started loosing power and died in the middle of an intersection, thankfully I got it pulled over to a parking lot before I got rear ended. My question for you guys is, what do you think went wrong, why did the engine loose power?
I can tell you when i tried to re-start the car the engine would turn, but would not start, so I thought I might have been out of gas... I put 2 galons in her and the same story, she turns but won't start. When I sprayed starting fluid in her, she did start untill the fluid burnt off, so this tells me I have a problem with fuel flow right?
I changed the fuel filter about a month ago, and have not yet checked my fuel pump fuse, but when turning the igniton on, I thought i heard the fuel pump turn on.
Do you guys think my fuel line could somehow be clogged, or did my fuel tank pump die on me...or am I completely off track? Any help would be much appreciated guys. Thanks, Kyle
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Check your distributor. Pop it open and see if the rotor is Ok along with the little button under the cap. Also the coil wire could have given up. Even the coil could have died.
Usually a fuel filter will restart after a cool down (dirt settles) This should be true about the pump also. If you hear the short bzzzt with key turn to on then you are getting fuel pump signal. Did any electronics fail at the time?
Check the flywheel sensors. (see the link to the L-jet page in my signature block).
If it runs w/ starting fluid, I'd check the fuel pump fuse, rollover switch ( if present ), then re-check the fuel filter. Also the AFM flapper check ( see the L-Jet page previously posted.. )
If fuse is good, try putting 12v on fuel pump - does it run, does it pump?
( Does it float? - oops! Sorry, I digress, Letterman joke..)

Oops, I missed the bit about it firing up on starting fluid. In that case I'd agree that you should investigate the fuel system. The pump fuse (located next to the FI computer - behind the passenger seat) would be the first thing to check. And check the fuses in the fuse box while you're at it (but I believe a faulty fuse there would prevent ignition).

For completeness sake confirm if you have spark or not. I use a spare spark plug and connect it to any spark plug wire (ground the threaded part). You should see a nice blue spark while cranking the engine.

I don't think the '87 models have the inertia (fuel shut-off) switch. But anything is possible. The inertia switch is (was) a black box about the size of a pack of cigarettes located just inboard of the windscreen washer reservoir. It has button on top to 'reset' it. I've heard of some having problems with these items. To by-pass it (if you've got one) just remove the two wires and connect then together.

Check for false air - loose or broken hoses in the intake air ducts. And check the connectors at the AFM (Air Flow Meter on top of the air filter housing) and the TPS (Throttle Position Switch).
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This happened to me and after troubleshooting all over the engine I found the rubber boot for the air hose at the Plenum had worked loose at the bottom which bypassed the AFM....simple to check, simple to fix.....any issues, that's where I start now...:D

thanks guys, I looked around the engine compartment and checked to see if any hoses had come loose, and I didn't see anything...that being said im going to check again, just to be sure. I looked at the fuel pump fuse and it looked old and dirty, but didn't look like it had blown. That being sid im going to order some new ones any ways. Tonight im going to look fo the inertia switch, and hopefully pull the fuel filter to see if it somehow got cloged or something. Thanks for all the help so far guys...I'll keep you posted as I find out what happened.
I looked at the fuel pump fuse and it looked old and dirty, but didn't look like it had blown.
Doesn't matter. I've had some that looked OK but just didn't work! Replace it (and do the same for the fuses in the fuse box. Some of them could be 20 years old - you got your money's worth out of them!

im going to look for the inertia switch...
I'm pretty sure your '87 won't have one. The 'stop the fuel pumps if the engine isn't running' function is taken over by the drive relay's control. Thus the inertia switch was considered redundant and eliminated in '83 or '84.

...and hopefully pull the fuel filter to see if it somehow got cloged or something.
One other thought. The in-tank pump has a short hose that connects it to the fuel line (inside the tank). If that hose is faulty (split hose or loose clamps) the in-tank pump can be working fine but not actually supplying fuel to the main pump. I've read about cars that'd run OK with the tank above 1/2 full but then have problems when the fuel level drops.
A bad in tank pump wouldn't cause the car to die in mid-stride. Your car can run without having an in-tank pump, although it would be harder to start.

My guess is a bad main pump. Check for power at each pump.
BTW, My 1984 still has an interia switch.
Check your connection(s) from the gas pedal to the motor--my '90 had the happy presence to disconnect the accelerator cable until I "modified" it a bit. Look at the bellcrank right near the intake at the front of the motor first..Just a thought.

ok...well, as I was crawling under my car today getting ready to check on the filter and I found that the pump was leaking is it safe to say that the pump is broken? The car had never leaked fluids before, and the pump leaking gas is a new development, post the car breaking down.
Well, for sure the fuel pump isn't supposed to leak gas. Are you sure it is the pump itself leaking? Could it be the fuel hose is split or a clamp is loose making it appear that the pump is leaking?
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