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Chevy Van Help!!!
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Cathy in Oregon    Posted 11-24-2003 at 16:40:21       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hey gang... it has been a while!
I am having trouble with my 87 chevy van. When I put on the key the fuel pump does not prime, there is spark and it turns over, but it won't start. The headlights don't work, but everything else does. I have also checked all of the fuses! I even replaced the fuel pump fuse just to be sure. I cannot figure out where the headlight fuse is though... I am wishing I had a chilton!! The guages all come on when I put on the key. I did get her started today and when I put on the headlights [to test since it seems to be part of the problem ?!?!!?] it killed the engine!! Once I turn on the key and try to start it THEN the fuel pump comes on... but I do not believe any fuel is getting to the carb.

Any ideas? I could really use the advise... I don't have the money to put him in the shop. Up until this point I have been driving this van for 2 1/2 years with out a single problem.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
Cathy in Oregon

I have spark...    Posted 11-24-2003 at 21:36:20       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I do have spark.. and my wipers, turn signals, break lights,
and heater all work......
Hmmmmm... Does that rule out the battery?

Sid    Posted 11-25-2003 at 05:18:10       [Reply]  [No Email]
Not nessecarily some things can still work with a weak battery. The fact you mentioed it was running and when you turned the head light on killed it is what makes me suspect the battery and or charging system. The Alternator should be putting out enough power to keep it running. I am not insisting it is the battery just sugesting if it and the charging system are not working right You can replace a lot of stuff and it will not help.

toolman    Posted 11-25-2003 at 09:35:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
may even be something as simple as loose battery cables, i learned long ago ,look for the simplest first,if your wrong ,just cost sometime and you know all that stuff is good then, if it is something simple saves lots of time and money.

Cathy in Oregon    Posted 11-24-2003 at 21:28:48       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks guys! I will keep you posted. I am starting with
checking the battery and altinator tomorrow and if that
does not do it then I am going to see about finding one of
those gadgets to read the computer and see what happens
from there.

Thanks again! I am taking everything under advisement!!

toolman    Posted 11-24-2003 at 21:44:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
you can apparently stick a paper clip in the computer holes and get the code ,im not sure how they do it but if you do, post the code on here and i can tell you what it is ,i have the gm code reader and code book or a libary would have a code book as well and the book you mentioned too probably,good luck.

Loren, in Oregon    Posted 11-25-2003 at 17:50:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
Don't do that until you're certain which holes to insert it in. Wrong ones and she'll have more problems.

toolman    Posted 11-25-2003 at 17:56:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
i don,t i have a code reader .

Loren    Posted 11-25-2003 at 19:08:20       [Reply]  [No Email]
Oh, that wasn't meant for you really. I didn't want her to try poking at it without a caution flag flying.

toolman    Posted 11-25-2003 at 22:00:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
i knew that loren , i wasn,t sure about that either that why i didn,t say too much , my bil came down to use my tools and used a paper clip seems he read in a book from the libary which holes to use, brought the code up and checked the book ,i just bought the code reader seemed easier than running to the libary lol,have a good one.

Sid    Posted 11-24-2003 at 19:52:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
You said that you got her started today and when you turned on the headlights it killed the engine. since I do not know about relays and all that stuff may I suggest that if you have not already checked the battery do so. You said two and one half years with no problem not knowing what kind of battery you have it about time for a twenty four month battery to start giving problems or you might be having problems with the alternator not charging and the battery is not fully charged and will not have enough power to run the engine with the headlights on. I have had problems like this before and that is what the problems was.

toolman    Posted 11-24-2003 at 20:59:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
thats what i was thinking too sid battery or alternator always start with the simplest stuff first.

Bob    Posted 11-24-2003 at 19:48:25       [Reply]  [Send Email]
It is very likely you have a bad ground connection between the engine block and the body of the van. The (-) post of the battery is connected to the engine block. There should be one or more flexible braided ground straps between the engine and the body. I'll bet they are broken, corroded, or missing.

Look for the black ground wires from your headlites, which will be attached to the sheet metal frame on either side of the radiator. From one of these screws, run a new ground wire to the (-) post on the battery. I'll bet this will solve your fuel pump AND headlite problem. If this gets you running, locate the original grounds between the engine and body, and clean/repair them. You can leave your temporary groung in place as a backup to the repaired originals. Please post back and let us know if this suggestion fixes your van!

Cathy in Oregon    Posted 11-24-2003 at 21:10:29       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Yep.. maybe that is it! I peeped under the hood tonight to
see what I could see in the dark and found that the battery
is from the year 2000!

I am going to start with the battery tomorow. Thanks for
you input! I have read your post on the ford page.. thanks
for posting the link

Bob    Posted 11-25-2003 at 14:37:01       [Reply]  [No Email]
Just to clarify... I only posted the link to the FORD page. That was not my post.

I've been thinking this over all day, and still think my advise as to checking the ground system was sound. Also, THOROUGHLY clean the battery cable ends. They can be dipped in HOT water, with a good dose of baking soda disolved in the water. Look for a red wire the comes from your (+) battery terminal along with the heavy wire to your starter, and if you find the red wire, follow it to an insulated terminal on your firewall, and (if you have this wire), check any connections you find there.

Rarely, a battery may develop an internal fault, and act goofy, like this.

I am sure your problem is in the area of the battery cables, or chassis grounds. The cable ends on the GM's can be a problem when used with aftermarket batteries. Sometimes, the molded plastic insulation on the cable ends interferes with the cable fully making contact with the side battery terminal.

The headlight problem gives it away, in that it is NOT a computer, or electronics problem, and checking the computer with a scan tool WILL NOT help you track down the problem, when this symptom of no headlites is present. People always blame the ECM (computer), but often it is just an old-fashioned electrical problem, and the computer will not have codes stored for that. On some vehicles newer than your van, there are likely trouble codes for voltage problems.

Ron,Ar    Posted 11-24-2003 at 18:44:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
Most of these vans use both a fuel pump relay and a headlight relay, located on the edge of the cowel. (sp?) This really sounds like a low voltage problem with the headlights killing the engine. When you turned the lights on with the engine running did the lights actually come on? Did you have to jump the van off to get it started?

Cathy in Oregon    Posted 11-25-2003 at 10:52:08       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hey Ron
Do you know where these relay switchess maybe located?
And if so, how do I reset them?

Cathy in Oregon    Posted 11-24-2003 at 21:06:31       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hi Ron.. Thanks for your reply!

Saturday night I went out to get something out of the van
and I noticed that I could not get the lights to come on
[dome, headlights etc] and I just dismissed it ...

Then it would not start Sunday AM
Monday morning I started to see what was wrong.. still
would not start... Then for a "freak" peroid of time it
started, with no problem... no priming, no jumping. Then I
would turn on the headlights and the van would die. The
headlights have not worked at all, nor the dome light that is
controled by the light switch.
The turn signals, break lights, hazards, wipers, heater, etc
all work!

Loren, in Oregon    Posted 11-24-2003 at 18:34:37       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I really doubt there is any connection beyween the lights and the fuel pump. Haven't ever heard of one anyway. If the van has a computer system there is a connector under the left side of the dash that can be used to extract data fron the ecm and in this case, the fuel pump lead. When the fuel pump should have power this terminal will also have power. If the proper terminal has power then I'd have to guess that the pump has gone south for the winter. Actually I'd guess this first. They're very intermittent when the fail sometimes. Also, if the pump runs you'll be able to hear it through the tank with a stethasope(sp?) in a quite enviroment.
p.s. Go with a Mitchell instead.
p.s. #2) Your last name doesn't start with Co...., does it? Loren

Cathy in Oregon    Posted 11-24-2003 at 21:25:09       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hi Loren
The pump usually comes on when I turn the key to "on".
With these troubles it has not done so. It will come on after
I attempt to get the engine to start. It will turn over, but
there does not seem to be any fuel to supply the engine.

If the headlights are connected or not?! Well.. as reliable as
the van has been, I would suspect that they are.

Thanks for telling me where the computer is located. it
seems to be just below the fuse box.

I will check this next.. after ruling out the battery :-)

No.. my last name does not start with Co, but Br. Does
yours begin with Ha? Well... if it did then you would probly
know who I am LOL LOL My van is infamous LOL

Loren, in Oregon    Posted 11-25-2003 at 17:38:56       [Reply]  [Send Email]
If it cranks over and continues to do so the battery is not a problem.
The computer is actually behind the glove box, the ecm connect terminal is under the dash, screwed to the dash, you can touch it while sitting in the drivers seat. Not fastened to the firewall under the fuse box. Its a connector that is about 5/8ths by 2 inch black jobber and has 12 terminals if I remember right.
The pump should run for 3 seconds EVERY time you turn the key to the "RUN" position, and again when going from "run" to "start". This is a test for the system.
As far as the headlights being connected, I meant connected to the problem with the fuel pump. There should be no correlation between the two systems.
If the van is throttle body or port fuel injected the it can act just like a fuel problem and be an ignition problem instead. If the ecm is not getting a signal from the distributor module saying the engine is indeed cranking over when you try it, it won't allow the fuel pump to run on some vehicles also.

Mike D.    Posted 11-24-2003 at 17:30:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
ECU module? Alternator output right?

Willy-N    Posted 11-24-2003 at 17:13:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
Not sure but some vehicals have a saftey for the electric fuel pump so if you wreck it shuts off the power to the fuel pump. I know my Bronco had it. A large bump could set it off and kill the fuel pump. There was a reset button under the dash to reset it. You might want to check to see if you might have one of those. Mark H.

Red Dave    Posted 11-24-2003 at 16:58:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
I think the headlights are on a self-resetting circut breaker. I don't know what to tell you about the fuel pump.

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