I have a 90 Ciera with a 3.3L (the one with the coil packs up front) with
94K miles on it. I picked it up late winter to use for a work beater after
the weather broke so as to not have to use the 4X4 too much. Right after I
got it, the harmonic balancer went kerploohey right next to a garage that
works mainly on old cars and when the parts store didn't have one he got a
used one from the recycler and replaced it, the belt and the coil sensor. I
questioned him on the fact that it seemed to idle a little rough after that
and he said it was typical of that motor and not to worry. Only having the
car a day or so I could not say that it did not and just lived with it's odd
slight 'pomp pomp' as it ran fine outside of that and gave good milage
(apprx 24mpg overall and as much as 28 hwy). I changed the plugs, ran some
STP Super Concentrate Injector Cleaner through the tank with no change but
have been otherwise happy with the way it runs these following 4K miles and
with the way it makes a great commuter car expecially in the construction
zones where *I idle it a lot*
in the jam on the way home.
Today I used the thing through a fair amount of in-town driving and noticed
a few times that it did not start on the first crank but fine the second
(uncharacteristic). I then went into a store and when I came out I hit the
key and the motor started first try but stalled immediately. I hit it again
and it fired and stalled again right away. After a few repeats I tried
holding the pedal a little ways down and it started but would not stay
running but after a few tries I gunned it a few times and it seemed to run
OK. A few minutes later I went to pull from stop sign onto a busy road and
the bugger stalled. Popped into neutral and restarted while saying the three
word prayer and it ran like it's old self again.
I'm assuming that the prayer may have helped for that instant, but the
language contained likely didn't win any long term fixes from the Big Guy.
Is this a trademark symptom of some sort of regular issue for this car, i.e.
does it scream some normal problem? I do most work on my cars but not as
much now that only one has a carb... I'm not clueless about cars but not big
on Injection motors either.
Is the guy at the garage right about the slightly rough idle being normal on
these? I watched as he changed the Crank Sensor and he said the he just
rotates it buy hand listening carefully that no fins touch the sensor and
that is all there is too it.
I picked up a $20 GM code gizmo appropriate to this year car one day at the
parts store, but didn't use it yet as I don't know how. Is this something I
can just plug in and have it tell what is wrong or do I need a knowledge
higher than a shadetree mechanic (who used to swap motors and parts and such
all the time but not so much the last decade or so)?
I can't afford to just start throwing money at an unknown issue, so I'd
appreciate any suggestions that might point me to a quick resolution.