Question about Chevrolet Silverado 1500

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I have a 1991 Chevy 1500, It will start and then imediatley shut off. It as if it is starving for fuel.I can hear the fuel pump turn on when I turn the key on. When I pump the gas it will run briefly and when I spray starter fluid into the carb and it will run. I have replaced the fuel filter, TPS, EGR valve and rebuilt fuel regulator. I have checked for codes using a paperclip, no codes are displayed. Any help is welcome.

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  • 4 more comments 
  • bill_linsky Oct 12, 2010

    I removed the distributor cap and found alot of corrosion. I am going to have the Ignition module tested at an auto parts store and replace the cap and rotor.

  • bill_linsky Oct 12, 2010

    Ignition module tested bad, replaced with new one, also replaced rotor and cap. Problem still exist. Going to test the pick-up coil

  • bill_linsky Oct 13, 2010

    I won't be able to get to this until after work. I do have a DVOM and will check out the pick-up coil. I have removed and installed distributors before but if there is something other than the timing that I need to be aware of please let me know.

  • bill_linsky Oct 14, 2010

    The pick-up coil was bad, replaced the entire distributor and also replaced the coil. Now altogether I have a new cap, rotor, distributor, coil, TPS, fuel regulator and fuel filter. I checked and have good spark but now the fuel pump is not coming on at all. I checked the fuse and it is good. The truck does not start at all unless I spray starting fluid into the TBI. Could the pump have gone bad now too? What am I missing? The pump had been working up until now.

  • bill_linsky Oct 14, 2010

    I was just checking the fuses and pulled out the 30amp circuit breaker for the ignition(under the dash). I also pulled out the 30amp next to it that says power. My thought was to see if switching them would make a difference (maybe the ign breaker was bad) but when I installed the one for power, it just clicks as if it is reseting nonstop. With both circuit breakers insatalled and the truck would not even turn the starter. No matter which 30 amp I use in the power it will just click. When I remove the power circuit breaker and leave the ign breaker in the truck turns over but the pump does not run. I have looked for obviuos shorts but none were found. I disconnected the distributor and coil connectors from the battery and the circuit breaker still continues to reset. Purchased new breaker and problem is still there.
    I spoke with the parts store clerk and he asked if there was an alarm system. I believe that ther is but I have never used it. I know that it has a remote key for unlocking the door but I do not use that either. He suggested that there may be a problem with the alarm system. Any suggestions on where to go from here. It is as if something shorted after I installed the new distributor. Sure is a long drawn out process for what I thought may have been a fuel problem.

  • bill_linsky Oct 26, 2010

    Sorry for the long delay in responding. I found a an electrical problem with an aftremarket alarm system that was causing a short. Once the short was corrected I was able to turn the engine over. Ultimately I did end up changing the pump. It had been working and had power but must have been on its last breath when this all began. The truck is now running better than it was. The ignition system was definitely a factor in all of this. Thank you for you assistance.



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Assuming that the fuel pump is not faulty and the engine oil pressure sending unit is not faulty...

The ignition module located inside of the distributor is what generates the signal that the ECM (Engine Control Module) uses to time and fire the fuel injectors, as well as the signal to run the fuel pump and the dwell signal timing to fire the ignition coil. A faulty ignition module can cause any one of these systems to malfunction.

There is the possibility that the ignition coil is faulty and first check to see if full battery voltage is getting to the "Pos" (+) positive side of the ignition coil when the key is in the "Run" position, and also that full battery voltage is getting through the "Pos" (+) or positive side of the ignition coil and over to the distributor ignition module, dis-connect the wire connector from the ignition module and if battery voltage is not present at the connector to the ignition module with the key in the "Run" position but it is present at the "Pos" side of the ignition coil, then the ignition coil is faulty. If battery voltage is present then check the ohms between the high tension terminal (where the coil wire goes on the ignition coil) and the "Pos" terminal on the ignition coil by first dis-connecting the wires from the ignition coil and then test with the "Neg" lead from the ohm meter in the high tension terminal on the ignition coil, and the "Pos" lead from the ohm meter to the the "Pos" terminal on the ignition coil, and the ohm reading should be between 6,000 and 30,000 ohms and if not replace the ignition coil. A faulty ignition coil can also damage the ignition module.

(The ignition module and the pick-up coil/stator located inside of the distributor is what generates the signal that the ECM (Engine Control Module) uses to time and fire the fuel injectors, as well as the signal to run the fuel pump and the dwell signal timing to fire the ignition coil, and a faulty ignition module can cause any one of these systems to malfunction)

That does sound like a malfunction with the ignition module inside of the distributor, and you can remove the ignition module and have it tested for free at most auto part stores. If the ignition module does test out alright then the problem could still be in the pick-up coil/stator, (it can be tested using an ohm meter by dis-connecting the wire connector from the pick-up coil/stator and the ohm reading between the two wires from the pick-up coil/stator should be between 500 and 1500 ohm's, and both of the wires from the pick-up coil/stator should show an open loop or an infinite reading between each wire and ground) and if the pick-up coil/stator is found to be faulty then replace the entire distributor, or the distributor will have to be dis-assembled to install a new pick-up coil/stator.

If you do purchase a new ignition module be sure that it does come with a silicone grease or a die-electric compound because it is a heat sink and the ignition module will burn up without it.

To install the new ignition module first clean out the mounting surface inside of the distributor. Then completely coat the metal contact surface under the ignition module with a thick coat the silicone grease or die-electric compound and do not leave any of the metal contact surface of the ignition module un-coated with the silicone grease or die-electric compound, and be very careful not to over-tighten the ignition module or it will be damaged.
The same principal applies to HEI (High Energy Ignition) ignition systems with the ignition coil mounted in the top of the distributor cap.

I have a 1991 Chevy - 310d236.jpg


Posted on Oct 12, 2010

  • 5 more comments 
  • Zaraki Oct 12, 2010

    Let me know if you require a firing order diagram, or any further assistance.

  • Zaraki Oct 13, 2010

    If the pick-up coil is sending intermittent signals to the ignition module then the ignition module will fail to properly run the engine, and if secondary voltage did flow over the ignition module and pick-up coil and not out to the spark plugs, then the ignition module and pick-up coil would most likely be damaged. (secondary voltage could flow over the ignition module because of a faulty ground between the ignition module and the ignition coil, a faulty ignition rotor, a faulty button on the inside top of the distributor cap, carbon tracking on the inside of the distributor cap, and excessive corrosion around the ignition module could short it out) Let me know if you require the procedure to properly remove and replace the distributor before the distributor is removed. Also, there is a ECM or PCM fuse that runs the vehicle (Engine Control Module) or computer that should be checked, and there could be a damaged wire between the ECM and the ignition module.

  • Zaraki Oct 13, 2010

    If you have a DVOM (Digital Volt Ohm Meter) or a volt meter that can read a mili-volt or mV AC output, then dis-connect the wire connector for the pick-up coil from the ignition module and test between the two wires from the pick-up coil using the test leads from the volt meter. Set the volt meter to AC mV current, and then connect or hold the two test leads from the volt meter to the two wires from the pick-up coil at the dis-connected wire connector for the pick-up coil and have someone crank over the engine for about fifteen seconds and the AC mili-volt output should match the ohm reading from the pick-up coil, for example if the pick-up coil tested at 900 ohm's, then the AC output should measure 900 mV, and if the ohm's are within range but the voltage is low then either the pick-up coil magnet is weak, or there is too much air gap between the reluctor and the stator, and the entire distributor should be replaced.

  • Zaraki Oct 13, 2010

    If you do replace the distributor follow these directions before you remove the distributor to for an easy installation.

    Distributor Removal; Be very certain that the engine does not crank over or that the crankshaft does not get turned at all while the distributor is out of the engine

    1. Place a mark out on the vehicle or engine that is in-line with where the ignition rotor is pointing and the more accurate that you are at placing that mark the easier the installation process will be. This will be reference mark #1.

    2. Remove the distributor hold down bolt and the distributor hold down if it is not attached to the base of the distributor.

    3. Note the position that the ignition module is at, and then carefully lift straight up on the distributor about three inches until the ignition rotor stops turning, and then place another mark out on the vehicle or engine that is in-line with where the ignition rotor is now pointing, and this will be reference mark # 2. (An assistant would be very useful to help place that second reference mark)

    4. Lift the distributor straight up and out of the engine.

    Distributor Installation;

    Position the distributor over its recess on the engine with the ignition module in the same position that the original distributor and ignition module was, and then slowly lower the distributor down into the engine.

    2. Lower the new distributor down into the engine until about the last three inches (before the distributor drive gear contacts the camshaft drive gear) and then align the ignition rotor to the second reference mark that you placed out on the vehicle or engine.

    3. Once the ignition rotor is aligned with the second reference mark then continue to lower the distributor down and the ignition rotor should turn to align with the first reference mark and the distributor should set all the way down on the engine.

    4. Replace the distributor hold down and tighten just enough to allow the distributor to turn with a little effort, and place the distributor so that the ignition module is in the same position that was noted from the original distributor position, and this will be very close to the original timing and the engine should easily start, and after the engine has warmed up then it can be properly timed, and the procedure to time the ignition should be printed out on the emission label under the hood, and if you can not find the procedure then let me know and I can assist you with that also.

    Remember to put engine oil on the distributor drive gear before installing the distributor, clean and remove any old gasket material from the distributor mounting surface on the intake manifold and be careful not to drop any down into the engine, and also do not forget that the new distributor gasket is in place on the distributor before installing the distributor.

  • Zaraki Oct 14, 2010

    Yes, it is very possible that the fuel pump was working intermittently until it went out, and that is common for an electric fuel pump, and there should be a schrader type of valve located on the fuel rail that has a cap similar to a tire valve stem cap and it is used to connect a fuel gauge to monitor the fuel pressure, however like a tire valve you can de-press the schrader valve and fuel should squirt out under pressure, (be careful of any fuel spray) and the fuel should not dribble out or have no fuel pressure from the schrader valve. Dis-connect the wire connector for the fuel pump and use a test light to check if there is good voltage to the fuel pump while the engine is cranking over, and if there is voltage at the wire connector for the fuel pump but there is no fuel pressure then replace the fuel pump -or- you can dis-connect a fuel line at the fuel filter an then crank over the engine and there should be a large volume of fuel pumped out from the open fuel line that is from the fuel tank side of the fuel filter. (use a large drain pan to catch the fuel) The fuel pump is not very difficult to replace (it usually takes me about 1 to 1-1/2 hours to complete that type of a fuel pump replacement) and I can provide any needed assistance that you require to remove the fuel tank and replace the fuel pump. Also, the fuel sending unit might have malfunctioned and although the fuel gauge says that there is fuel, the fuel tank might actually be empty and a lot of people have had their vehicle towed to a repair shop to find out that they are out of fuel, and I have seen it happen quite a few times.

  • Zaraki Oct 14, 2010

    The best way to determine a fuel pump problem is to dis-connect the wire connector from the fuel pump located on the top of the fuel tank and then locate the positive wire for the fuel pump, and test for battery voltage at the positive wire to the fuel pump while the engine is cranking over or running on carburetor cleaner, and the carburetor spray must say extremely flammable on the can for it to work. (The engine can be started and actually kept running on spurts or pulses from the carburetor spray into the throttle body) If there is good voltage at the wire connector for the fuel pump then the vehicle wiring and the electrical components up front are operating properly and the fuel pump would be faulty. However, if there is not good battery voltage at the wire connector for the fuel pump then the problem will either be a defective or faulty electrical component up front or the vehicle wiring is damaged, and it will take some more diagnostics to find the problem, and I can assist you to locate the problem. Also, when the wire connector for the fuel pump is dis-connected be certain to check the ground wire that is bolted to the frame and clean the ground wire eyelet connector and the vehicle frame with sandpaper if necessary to obtain a good ground source for the fuel pump, and inspect the wire connector for the fuel pump for any signs of over-heating or melted plastic. I have seen multi-electrical or cascading electrical failures in vehicles before, but they are usually caused from jump-starting a vehicle or by a faulty alternator, and also years of neglect and improper care and maintenance will often lead to multi system failures. Most vehicles made after 1980 are only designed to last for 5 years, and most auto manufacturers have worked that out to a science, and as a result the average life-span of most auto parts today is only about 5 years, and then that part will usually fail unless it is an un-usually high quality part. Let me know if you require any further assistance.

  • Zaraki Oct 15, 2010

    The power fuse should be for the "power points" similar to a cigarette lighter used to plug in electrical devices to the vehicle electrical system, however a power point is not a cigarette lighter and should never be used as one, and I have seen objects such as a watch battery that dropped down into a power point that can cause similar conditions with the "power" fuse. If there is an alarm system that is from the manufacturer then there would be a light on the dash telling you that the security system was on, and if the vehicle has an after-market alarm then the problem could be there if that alarm has an ignition kill and it has malfunctioned, and there is the possibility that the distributor is defective, and I have seen that happen quite often, and the new distributor could be faulty right out of the box it came in. Diagnosing any problem over the internet is systematic and not a very easy or fast process especially with your kind of problem that could be from the ignition switch itself all the way back to the fuel pump, or somewhere in-between and we can only provide a diagnosis based on the information that you give us, and that is also why the first thing that I did say was "Assuming that the fuel pump is not faulty". Is there battery voltage at the fuel pump when the engine is cranking over as I described above?



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