Marc's Public Blog - Cars

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Below is a recounting of various car events I've attended along the years, from car club meets, autocrosses, track events, and enthusiast drives.

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2004/02/23 Car trouble ended up ok / another mustang GT kill :)
π 2004-02-23 23:03 by Merlin in Cars

Current Music: DJ Nyman - Trance Mix (seeing a pattern yet? :)
Current Mood: Much much relieved

So, my car died today, but not just mine: the friend I was meeting for lunch never made it to the restaurant because of car trouble, and the coworker I first Emailed to see if she could get me home after boot camp never made it to work because her car broke down too this morning.
What are the odds?
(this is after a coolant leak which happened to me just two weeks ago, but I was thankfully able to diagnose and fix by myself, and I can't complain, my car has been very reliable considering that it's boosted and how I drive it ;-) )

Anyway, I was very worried because of an explosion like sound I had heard soon before the 5th time the car died on the way back from the restaurant (after looking like it was never going to start and get off the parking lot)

I abandoned the car and had a coworker pick me up and drive me back to work. I then Emailed the list from my car club (lots of gearheads, like me with computers, except with cars :) ) and I got a few possible diagnosis, including a lose crank wheel messing with the crank position sensor reading, and the different kinds of fuel delivery problems which could explain the engine not running.

My friend Matt from the list came to pick me up after work, and luckily, it was a meeting day, so I had my laptop with the Tec-II software for my custom replacement ECU (engine computer).
It only took 2mn after plugging my laptop in the serial port to realize that the ECU wasn't seeing the engine RPMs during cranking, which meant it had no idea the engine was even turning, so it didn't deliver any gasoline or spark (which makes it somewhat harder for an engine to run)
In a nutshell, my Tec-II has a very sofisticated sensor that counts the rotations in a gear and is able to tell exactly which position each cylinder is in order to provide a perfectly timed ignition along with the right amount of fuel under the boost of my aftermarket turbo

It's kind of interesting that the car didn't just die and that I was able to restart it several times as it was failing, but at the same time, it explains why I had the explosion sound that came from my engine soon before the last time it died: the sensor was failing, so the Tec-II was confused about the engine position and provided ignition at a very bad time.
Luckily it only lasted one second before the engine died, so hopefully there will be no permanent damage from that.

Just because Matt is not only a great guy, but also has everything, it turned out he had a Tec-III himself, and pulled the sensor from his car and put it in mine (luckily, his Tec-III isn't running his car yet, so he was able to do without until I buy him a new one from electromotive)
After the replacement, it magically worked much better, so we put a few zip ties, and I drove with him back to his place, as a shakedown test.

On the way there, it just happened that I pulled next to him at a light, just to play with him a bit, and didn't notice the mustang GT who was in the 3rd lane on my right.
I barely reved my engine to mess with Matt a bit, and when the light turned green, I did a decent but not complete peel out start (there was no point burning rubber, poor Matt is still boost-less for now, although you can't always tell when he goes around a corner ;)
That's only then that I saw the mustang on the other side that was trying to race me. Unfortunately for him, with my 7200 revs to redline and boost, he didn't make it and I stayed in front of him up to 3rd gear (I then stopped since we were getting very close to El Camino ;)
He must have been pissed to be eaten by my small car :-)

I've now learned something new about my car, and I'm very relieved that my engine is ok (at least it seemed to drive fine under boost during my tests).
Total cost:
  • a new boost sensor: $30-$40
  • not having to tow the car: (free since I have AAA)
  • not having some puzzled mechanic trying to understand how my car works since it's not stock in any way: saved hundreds of dollars and days without my car
  • A lap dance for Matt: $20? (not sure what the going rate is :) )
  • A car club with great and clued buddies: priceless

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