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I drive a 1989 Dodge Aries Coupe with a 2.5 liter motor at 110,000 miles. It has a 3 speed automatic tranny and is TBI fuel injection. It is not a turbo. I have owned this car since August 2003 and until this year ran perfectly. I maintained it meticously as best a non-mechanic could. I am now looking at retiring the car as a weekend car and getting a Toyota simply because I can't get it fixed. I really don't want to give it up. I am also president of the Chrysler K Car Club. Here is the issue:

1. I think it is running too rich as the gas mileage dropped from 28 to 20mpg and it spews some black soot at every startup if the car has been sitting more than a couple hours. It also lugs and shakes a lot if it is below 60F. It sounds like a 70s muscle car with a different motor during this time. It gives off almost no black soot unless the temperature is below 60F. I usually get the most black soot if I rev the gas petal at start-up. Mabye some black soot is normal. However, I just had an EGR valve cleaned out for free as it clogged up with carbon. After this, car still runs rough intermittently warm and bad when cold.

2. I had computer codes pop up that have cleared since I had the battery disconnected. They were 31, 37, and 25. I ignored these for a couple months as the car was getting good gas mileage at 25-28 mpg. These codes had to do with selenoid circuits and the AIS. Someone at Allpar said my wiring harness may be bad from age and heat and thus render the O2 sensor and AIS inoperative. Dirt also could be clogging the AIS.

3. I spent over $1000 to get this stupid car to run right this year before a second mechanic found out the fuel pump had failed. In the end, I had all sensors and hoses inspected and replaced. There seems to be a lack of any mechanics willing to work on these cars rather than throw parts at them. The second guy I took the car too reluctantly agreed to work on it, but his patience may be wearing thin as he says these cars are "crap" and quirky.

4. Finally, I am getting the symptoms I had six months ago that seem like a slipping transmission. However, I am told it is most likely not the case. I get intermittent erratic idling that is sort of lugging when warm and a constant lugging when cold. Worse, at certain times, more so on lumpy freeway grades, I feel slippage or "like someone just put their foot on the brake for me" and then the engine seems to resume its smooth cruising. This only happens when I have my foot resting on the gas petal. I sometimes get a little violent shimmy or shake when I push the petal to accelerate. This is all intermittent but getting more noticeable. I have no problem with acceleration from a resting position, shifting the automatic transmission, or likewise. I don't know if it is engine mounts, suspension, running too rich, the AIS, or what not. If its the tranny, this car might be a dead car for a while. There is a metallic springy noise I get from underneath sometimes when I make a turn or just sit in the car like sitting on a springy couch. I was told it might be my rack and pinion.

Well, I am no mechanic and have spent time on forums trying to self-diagnose the problem. I am planning to take an auto repair course. I need a mechanic that is willing to work on these cars, won't rip me off, and maybe would not mind showing me how to replace stuff. Any advice you have to offer would be appreciated.

By the way, this car is 99 percent rustfree, Southern California car. It has been repainted and I invested probably way too much money in this car. $6000 in the last four years to be exact. $2000 of it was ripoffs. I always changed the fluids and never let stuff get out of hand. Now, I have my hands kind of tied behind my back because I am not a mechanic and the car is behaving real quirky. I can't bear to junk it, but I know I may and will end up hating it if I allow this money pit to bankrupt me. That is why I need to learn to fix my car, at least for the experience, and get some reliable and patient teacher. Please help.
 

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The symptoms you speak of sound like typical CTS(coolant temp sensor) or oxygen sensor symptoms. Could be one or both at the same time. Many times the flash codes won't show a problem because the voltages aren't off far enough to set a code. A scan tool could actually read the outputs.
Too bad you can't find a good mechanic around there with some experience. Too many mechanics nowadays want to plug something in and have the computer tell them what to fix, not many real troubleshooters left.
I can't elaborate on your squeeking, could be a number of things.
Your transmission woes could actually be from the way the car is running and not a transmission problem.
 

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are you absolutely sure the O2 was replaced? Coolant temp sensor too? Possibly timing? Possibly a bad computer.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, I don't know if the coolant sensor was replaced. Also, I think the 02 Sensor was a Bosch type that was replaced in March. I have heard those are a bad brand. Finally, the computer is from the year 2002. The mechanic had said the computer looked like it had been installed incorrectly and was allowing some corrosion on the terminals. Yet, I did not want to blame an expensive computer as these computers are suppossed to last a long time. I am hopeful the tranny is okay as I am experiencing the same surging symptoms when my fuel pump failed and the car was running rich in March. Could a rich condition lead to tranny symptoms? Finally, today my boss just suggested to me an electrician that helped the rich issue with his 90 Mustang. Mabye I'll try that guy. Finally, I did have the engine steamcleaned 8 months ago due to a bad oil leak. That was probably a bad idea. Oh yeah, and I don't want to start a flame, but my parents think I should buy a Toyota and retire the K car. So I have been pulled in both directions. I am emotionally attached to my vehicle (bad thing) as I founded the Chrysler K Car Club. My parents say I drive a rich mans car and need something more reliable. Despite the $1250 I spent on the car this year, I haven't given up on the car yet. I will NOT get ripped off again. Thanks
 

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well a coolant temp sensor are not very expensive, its worth a shot.
 

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Here is a good place to look up codes. MiniMopar Resources Are the codes you listed old codes or are they current codes? Do you know how to pull codes with the key? If so what is in there now? If not there is a page on the above link that walks you through it.
Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Tim. These are codes I looked up myself by turning the key. I had these codes for months until the battery was disconnected and reconnected last week. They have not reappeared yet. They were 25,31, and 37.
 

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so right now it has no codes and runs bad?
Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tim, I just learned that the code 31 for purge selenoid circuit is related to the EGR. I did not know that. The EGR was just cleaned because it had a carbon clog. I was told that a bad purge selenoid did little or nothing and was just related to emissions. Could that be causing the car to run rich? Also, it also mentioned the code could be due to bad wiring. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Code 37, same thing, a selenoid. It says Part Throttle Unlock selenoid circuit is bad or bad wiring. It looks like it is accessible, isn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Tim, thank you sooo much for that fault code list. It describes the codes in simple, layman's terms. Now I have something to run by that auto electrician. The Code 25, which stands for AIS, and I have had erratic idling, says either a frozen or bad AIS, bad wiring, or vacuum leak. I now have a glimmer of hope I can get this car fixed.
 

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The purge solenoid should have 2 vacuum hoses 1 from the intake and 1 to the carcoal canister. The computer will open it and it will pull gas vapors into the engine to burn. The vapors collect in the canister from the fuel tank. If the solenoid is stuck open it probibly would cause at least an idle issue. With it smoking black it is getting too much fuel. The O2 is just a fuel trimmer and should not cause smoke just poor mileage if lazy. Things that could cause black smoke are map sensor issues, leaking injector (since it is TBI). There might be other things out of range but not far enough to set codes. A scan tool to look at data would help alot.
Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Tim, what is a scan tool? Does it actually pick up codes that the computer does not? Also, the TBI was checked and does not appear to be leaking. I might want to get it checked again. By the way, does TBI mean throttle body injection or turbo. I know my car is not a turbo.
 

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Hi, Guy - nice to see you here.

TBI stands for Throttle Body Injection. Think of it as an electronic carburetor. You have one fuel injector (the turbo engines get 4).

A scan tool plugs into the diagnostic link. Basically, on these cars, it does the same thing the key dance does, but it'll pinpoint the cause a tad better - for example instead of just saying "bad oxygen sensor" it'll show you the readouts the sensor gives.
 

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Hey 86 Reliant. Good to see yah. By the way, my own car today led me closer to diagnosing the problem. Even though the car still started up rough today in cold weather, it didn't not idle nearly as bad. It did spew some black soot. The morning temp and wet dewlike conditions were exactly the same today and yesterday. Also, the car mysteriously ran better by running smoother. The slipping trannylike symptoms at 65mph on the freeway completely disappeared. Most of the erratic idling went away. The gas mileage may have picked up. This tells me my problem is most likely electrical. My computer was put in crooked 5 years ago which may have allowed corrosion as my computer has been misbaving with codes and disrupting my fuel-air ratio mixture. Now, this is just a guess that I have mentioned. Also, this car has spent most of its life outside for 19 years on the street. I have a plan to start simple and not to throw parts at the car.
 

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a scanner will not just pull codes but it will give live data. For instance I have had some problems with a jeep at work it wasn't setting codes but by hooking up the scanner first thing in the morning and turning on the key without starting it. It showed the coolant temp sensor was reading wrong. With a cold engine the sensors that read temp should read the same temp as it is outside. This one was about 50 degrees off so it was clear it wasn't right. It turned out there was some corrosion at the plug. Some of the older OTC scanners can be had for a good price on ebay. Do some searches here to learn about them if interested. I am a mechanic and use a snap on scanner I bought years ago. If that was my car I would start at the basics since it isn't setting codes. Check things like cam timing, ignition timing, cap rotor, wires and plugs. With the way it is running even if the plugs are not old you may end up having to replace them again. There are many threads here to learn about how to check the things I listed. You can fix this it will just take a lot of reading to learn the basics then executing the checks. If unclear on something just post many here have learned to do this stuff and there are many knowledgeable people here.
Tim
 

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BTW, Part throttle unlock is for the transmission. It is for the lock-up converter. I unpluged mine when it started to buck and shake at acceleration. After unplugging the bucking stopped. Worth a shot.

The TBI's are more of a money pit then i ever imagined.(I put $2500 in a 87' aries wagon i bought for $200:eek:)It now sits in a JY.:(

Best move i made was moving up to a TI.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That doesn't sound good. What does TI stand for. By the way, last night, the computer threw codes again. They were the same ones as thrown months ago, except both appeared at the same time. This happened when the check engine light came on. They were 31 and 37. Also, today the car started doing the bogging and trannylike symptoms again. Then, it kind of wore off somewhat. I am going to the eletrical place next week.
 
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