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2001 Chevy Cavalier won't start

I have a 2001 Chevy Cavalier with a 2.2L engine and 112k miles. I am fairly adept at working on my own vehicles (I do all maintenance) but this one has me stumped. The history below is since I bought the car, it may or may not be related to my current problem but just in case, please bear with me:
I bought the car in 2006 from a used dealer (and friend) in New Mexico in with about 55k miles on it. I live in Texas and was driving it home when the engine shut down while on the freeway. The gas gauge was just above empty so I thought perhaps it was out of gas and the gauge was a little off. I put 5 gallons in it but it still wouldn't start. I called my friend who sold it to me and he asked me to listen for the fuel pump to prime, and I could hear it when I turned the ignition to Run. So he told me that although they had replaced the fuel filter prior to the sale, I might try that. I replaced the fuel filter and the car started, then I drove it home to DFW TX and it worked trouble free for about 4-5 months.
Then I was leaving for work one morning and it would not start. Again I could hear the fuel pump and the fuel tank was at about a 1/4, so I added 5 gallons, again to no avail. I replaced the fuel filter also, and it still wouldn't start. I left it sit then for a couple days, then I went out and tried to start it (without doing anything else) and it started and again ran fine for a few months, although shortly after this the check engine light illuminated and stayed lit. Then it began to not start when the fuel was low, sometimes at a 1/4 tank, then later at 1/2 tank (but would start after adding fuel). So this past January 2009 I had the fuel pump replaced. The mechanic checked the code from the check engine light and it said there was an emissions problem. He checked for leaks and found none. He cleared the light and it stayed off for a couple weeks then returned. I bought a new gas cap, but that did not stop the light from illuminating. Then it ran fine until about 2 weeks ago.
Two weeks ago I had it parked all day then went to drive it home. It started fine and I drove it about a 1/2 mile to a stoplight. As I pulled away from the light the engine killed. I coasted to the side of the road and tried to restart but it would not. Since I was quite used to listening for the fuel pump when I turned on the ignition, I listened but could not hear it prime. So I checked the fuse but it was OK so I went to autozone and got a new fuel pump relay and a fuel filter. After I installed these it still would not start (and the pump was not priming). I went back underneath the vehicle and noticed that the wires for the evap vent solenoid were severed at the connection to the vehicle. I stripped these wires and wedged them into the connector and then tried to start. The pump primed and the car started, but when those wires fell out, the engine died again. So I went to the Chevy dealer and got a new wiring harness and replaced the broken one then the car ran fine for about 2 days. The check engine light also went out.
I was leaving work when as I went through the parking lot the engine killed. I tried to restart but it would not. I went under the car and reseated the wiring harness I just bought then it started and I drove home. The next morning it would not start again (and the pump was not priming) so I reseated the wires, but this time it didn't help. I went to autozone and bought a new evep vent solenoid and installed it. When I turned the ignition to start the engine started but then killed after about 5 seconds. I was exasperated, but I thought perhaps the computer needed a reset, so I disconnected the battery cables and left it for about 3 hours. After I reconnected the cables, the pump primed and the engine started (and the check engine light did not illuminate). It ran fine for another 2 days, then as I went to leave the house one evening after being home from work for about 20 minutes, it started to fire when I cranked it but then killed. I noticed then that on subsequent tries that the pump again was not priming, and the check engine light would stay on after all other light would darken, save the battery light (which would darken while trying to start). I read many online posts, and found that perhaps the ignition switch was the culprit. So yesterday I replaced the switch, but it did nothing. The pump is still not priming and (obviously) the engine is not starting. I am at a loss as to what to do next. I have read about the Theft system on this car, but the Theft light on the dash goes out after the normal bulb check when the ignition is turned to Run so I do not think that it has an issue there. I am having my Haynes manual sent out to me (from my house in NM) but while I wait for it I would appreciate any and all advice any here could give. Thanks for taking the time to read all this! I thank you sincerely.

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  • Chevrolet Master
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MY turn! OK, Fuel system, supply and demand. Once upon a time, someone thought of a way to have a vehicle imitate a humanNow a car exchanges tons of information and the result is the same. the whole mass gets confused about the objective and that is to get moving.
A quick run down on efficiency. There are numerous sensors in a motor vehivcle but we will just touch may the five or six that count. Furst we have thefuel pimp. Supply only on demand. If the fuel syatem maintains a residual pressure in the fuel system it will no have reason to prime. The vapor recovery system and gas cap only recycles fumes that condense and gives the left overs to the engine.Hence hard starting because it screws up the air fuel ratio by bypassing thesystem fuel controls. Which are: The coolant temp and the intake air temp sensors. These two team up to function as the choke/cold start like in the good old cars,They enrich the fuel on startup.Once he engine and air temps are optimal, they allow the fuel mixture to be controlled bt the Mass air flow sensor. This sensoris mounted inside a rigid section of the intake ducting. Once it takes over, it starts reading the density, volume and velocty of yhe intake airand through the ranges meters the proper amount iof fuel in relation to the air being induced. The throttle positioning vavle simply lets the fuel get to the injectors according to how much ias requred to get the desired results.smoothly.. The air filter condition is critical because it impedes air flow and if in poor shape filtration wise, it allows dirt to accumulate on the MAF sensor sensing componants.In the event the MAF cannot read properly it affects the fuel supply directly by ling to the computer. A dirty sensor reads low air volume and velocity and cuts back on the fuel, leanning it out and the vehicle stalls, runs rough, hard starts, and surges. AND, we have arrived back at Dennis.and his dilemna. Vehicle unreliable.. As you can see, the other sensors are in the shadows right now. In the shadow of the MAF sensor. The MAF SENSOR CAN BE CLEANED using only CRC electrical spray cleaner. Thoroughly wasjing(rinsing) the sensor avoiding touching, rubbing, or brushing. The spray cleaner dries rapidly and compressed air must not be used.. Once cleaned, everyone should be "on the road again" I hope this info helps you dennis.. Good Luck-Ned

Posted on Sep 24, 2009

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  • Master
  • 299 Answers

It may be the main ecu relay see if the car starts when you hit it

Posted on Sep 24, 2009

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