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Surging Lumina....SOLVED!...NOPE UNSOLVED!


urbex
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Ok...so today I was heading home from work, the cruise was set at 60mph, and for some reason every couple of seconds the car would almost surge, kind of like I was tapping the gas pedal. Let me also say that it had down poured earlier in the day, so the roads were wet.<br><br>

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Now for some background info. This started happening to me about a year ago or so. I'd notice anywhere typically from 50+ mph it would do this occasional, but mostly when wet. I had a few times on dry occasions it would do that, but most of the time it was when the roads were wet or after a car wash. Sometimes it would do it while accelerating, other times at constant speeds. Someone suggested I replace the speed sensor behind the right wheel, so I did that...nothing. I did notice the PCM was partially uncovered, so I snapped the lid back down and it hadn't done it since...but it was also started to get to be winter, so there wasn't as much water on the roads. Also, no check engine lights, and I plugged my scanner in and it doesn't find anything wrong.<br><br>

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Beings that water seems to have an effect, I would almost think it's something electrical. I did find at one time a TSB (#05-06-04-058) that says to replace the TPS sensor...and I've seen another TSB saying to replace the MAF sensor. The TSB about the TPS sensor says specifically that no lights will be set..so that looks plausible, but I'm still thinking it seems electrical...? And I have no tach, so I can't tell if the RPMs are jumping when it's doing it or not.<br><br>

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Does anyone have any ideas? Or has had this happen to them? I recently cleaned the throttle body, EGR area tubes thingy, and the MAF. Everything in the induction system looks good....and I was hoping not to buy things that I don't need (being a broke college kid) unless I have to....<br><br>

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Thanks guys!<br><br>

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(Oh, the obvious...3.1 engine, 4T60E transmission)

Edited by urbex
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Funny thing is, I took a good look under the hood and under the car, and I couldn't even find anything that appeared to be getting wet. (I checked shortly after getting home so if it was wet, chances are it'd still have been wet).

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Well I was also originally thinking the TCC, but again, it really does it only when it's wet? That's where it puzzles me...

 

 

Sparkplug wires.

 

 

That's my best guess, know it sounds weird, but my Cutlass used to always do that in the rain (moisture) as well. When was the last tuneup?

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IIRC, these cars had surging issues over 50 and there was a TSB for a TCC issue. It would not throw a light but would cause a surge. Out of my 3 vehicles, the only one that's done it is my 96. And in 50k I've usually only felt it when it's cold out, and maybe 4 or 5 times at the most in 5 years of owning it. Not a big enough issue to investigate further for me.

 

If it's a more noticeable problem, I'd check (as Breakdown said) spark plug wires. Could also be something to do with coils or the ICM. My future sis-in-law's Taurus did this and it needed wires and a distributor cap. So since these are distributorless I'd try what we listed above.

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Well I had a tune-up done when I bought the car, which was in 2006 and about 30k miles ago. The spark plug wires are original (I don't think they changed them, since they have the #'s on them for each cylinder). I guess wires would make sense. My truck used to have issues years ago with stalling in the rain and it was wires....

 

Cold weather doesn't seem to be an issue. It was over 70 yesterday while doing it, and it hasn't done it all winter. Another thing, today the roads were just as wet, and never did it once on the way to school...:think:

 

But I think the wires would be a good place to start. I mean, if they are original they have over 150k on them, so that can't have too much life left in them.

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I have a 1998 Lumina LS and I have had the same problem you mentioned for probably the last 2 or so years. When it first started happening it would only seem to do it in overdrive at around 60-70 mph with light throttle to maintain speed up slight grades. Over the past 2 years it seems to have just become worse with surging even in 3rd gear at 30 mph when trying to accelerate slowly (not even up a grade). It will not surge in 1st or 2nd gear only 3rd or overdrive at what now seems at any speed as long as its under any kind of light throttle.

 

My Lumina is equipped with a tachometer and I can actually watch the engine rpms increase as the engine "surges". The weather sometimes seems to have an effect on it. I have come to believe (just from my own insight), that when the air is thinner (lower Barometric pressure) the surging is worse. It will happen at more frequent intervals (2-3 seconds) and at higher intensities (250-300 rpm). When the air is denser (higher Barometric pressure) the surging is milder. It will happen at less frequent intervals (4-5 seconds) and at lower intensities (100-150 rpm). Now my logic behind this may be completely flawed, but I believe how the surging is effected can be attributed to some kind of air pressure difference. Also, as the grade of a hill increases, so does the intensity of the surging, as long as, the speed of the car is trying to be maintained up a grade. As well as having a tachometer, my Lumina is equipped with two Flowmaster Original 40 series mufflers, so the sound of the engine surging is even more apparent and that much more annoying.

 

The only code the pcm has ever thrown was due to carbon build-up in the intake manifold which blocked the recirculation of exhaust gas from the EGR valve. Fixing that problem had no effect on the situation and seems to be unconnected to the problem entirely. Since I have owned the car many things like the spark plugs, wires, fuel filter....etc that were mentioned above have been replaced but to no avail. I have cleaned the MAF once, but I have not cleaned the throttle body. Also, the TPS has been replaced (which was shorting out), but even that seems to not be connected to the problem. On top of all this, the transmission had to be completely overhauled right after 100000 miles when 2nd gear decided to go. Now the car is currently around 140000 miles. I have heard of vacuum lines having leaks the TCC not locking to cause the surging, but I have very limited knowledge on where the vacuum lines are and how a TCC operates for that matter. I have also heard of a bad fuel pump or catalytic converter can cause the surging. Both on my car are original equipment and I have noticed the car starts rougher when the gas in the tank is low.

 

I have searched for and read many threads in a wide range of forums to find some absolute answer, but none have ever shown up. Most of the threads are resolved with something like "I just cleaned off 'fill in blank' and now the problem is gone", or the problem hasn't been resolved at all. Also, the problem I'm experiencing seems to come in many different forms, but with "surging" of the engine being the interconnecting issue. This problem has been the most annoying thing I have ever experienced with a vehicle. I have never heard of this happening to any one else's car that I know personally and even my mechanic has no idea what it is. Just knowing every time I get into my vehicle that its not running at its full potential is really frustrating.

 

Sorry to high-jack your thread, but I thought you might like to know that your not the only one experiencing this problem.

 

If any of the knowledgeable members of this forum have any insight to this problem please reply.

Edited by Fellowmann20
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Wow, I'm actually really glad as well to hear that someone else is having issues...(well, not really that you are, just that I'm not alone at least!) The problems with yours sound EXACTLY the same as mine! I had wondered myself if air pressure could have an effect, since usually when it's raining out air pressure is low...but I wasn't sure. The one thing I didn't clean (if you even can) is the MAP.... But I've cleaned my throttle body, and all, still no better. (Well, I'm sure it's better, but not for this issue).

 

But yes, thank you for at least mentioning that there is someone else out there with this issue, so I'm not alone. Mine doesn't happen frequently, but I'm just afraid it might start to get worse, and I'd rather have some knowledge on what to fix/replace if it does, or even try to fix it before it does get worse!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I finally got around to doing more on this issue. Between me being lazy, and the fact that it doesn't happen all the time made it take a while.

 

I did pick up a new throttle position sensor and I'll put that in...see if it does it again. Just is hard to tell since it might not do it for a month anyways, it's hard to tell if it's fixed. I figured I'd go with a new TPS since there is a TSB on the car for this specific issue, and that is the culprit...I figure I'll go with that and see what it does. Only cost $40 for a new one...so not too bad.

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Well, I finally got around to doing more on this issue. Between me being lazy, and the fact that it doesn't happen all the time made it take a while.

 

I did pick up a new throttle position sensor and I'll put that in...see if it does it again. Just is hard to tell since it might not do it for a month anyways, it's hard to tell if it's fixed. I figured I'd go with a new TPS since there is a TSB on the car for this specific issue, and that is the culprit...I figure I'll go with that and see what it does. Only cost $40 for a new one...so not too bad.

I know you guys said that dampness or air pressure may have an effect,but lets say that it doesn't and it just seems that way. you also said it is load related which could be an ignition breakdown but also could be the transmission slipping under load, or even a low fluid situation. i've noticed many times in my career for slipping trans thought to be ignition problem and vice versa.just a thought but if you keep looking in the same place and not finding anything try checking somewhere else.

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Well, I had originally thought transmission, but since there is a TSB out for it, with the exact same symptoms, I'm giving this a shot first, and hoping that it fixes it.:thumbsup: One of the symptoms it says is TCC lockup, and originally I had thought maybe the TCC was going bad...so I'm hoping this is it.

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I just went through this with my LQ1, and it was a throttle position sensor. The car did all sorts of strange things...

 

Sad thing, the sensor was less than 3 months old (BWD). Advance Auto Parts gave me a new one under warranty.

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Sad thing, the sensor was less than 3 months old (BWD). Advance Auto Parts gave me a new one under warranty.

 

That's why I decided to get an AC Delco from the dealer. It was only $10 more than what they sell for at Auto Zone, so what the heck.

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I meant tps.

hook up scan tool, select data look for tps oserve voltage, go wot(with koeo)note voltage. release throttle now do this again slowly preferrably while graphing and look for smoothnes of change in voltage. consult specs. if in spec with smooth operation its ok. if out of spec or not smooth its bad. hope this helps

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Well, the TPS wasn't the issue (although it did solve my idle issue which I've had since I bought the car, so it wasn't a waste). Now it doesn't seem to only do it when it's raining, I can get it do do it pretty much whenever. I noticed it coming home from Ohio yesterday. Pretty much if I'm just driving anywhere from 40-55mph and I'm already cruising, then press the gas it'll sputter and surge. I've seen another TSB on these cars, and the MAF sensor was to blame. Also, I thought perhaps the MAP sensor might make some similar symptoms? Figured I could snag one from the junkyard next time and just put that on, see if it still does it. That way I don't spend $30 in case it's not the problem.

 

ALSO! Let me correct myself. It doesn't necessarily seem like a "surge" anymore. It seems more like hesitation. Like when I press the gas from a cruise at that speed range, it takes a second for it to start speeding up, then it'll start it's surge action. I also figure maybe I'll try the spark plugs. I had them replaced when I bought the car in '06, and about a year later 1 went bad...so maybe they weren't that great that the shop put in? Who knows. (Yes, I was young, didn't know how to replace the rear plugs so we had them do it when the A/C compressor was being fixed...)

Edited by urbex
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Another brainstorm... I'm going to check the coil packs. Originally it only did this when it was wet outside, but now it's doing it again. Well, it's also been humid out! And, it never did this once during the winter...when the air is dry! So, going to check those.....however the hell you do that.

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pull one plug at a time (or grab a spare), and see if when you turn it over it sparks when on the wire. Or, there are a few other ways to do it. If you need an ICM/Coilpacks, I grabbed a good one right before finding out my injectors were bad in the sedan, so I'd sell them cheap, or just have you buy me lunch or something.

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Sorry if anyone answered this in another post - I'm on lunch so trying to be quick.

 

I had this same issue in my 95 GP 3.1 SFI. Various bits were replaced - namely the Throttle Position Sensor and Brake Switch. In the end it turned out to be a bad ignition coil. The mechanics told me they had to pull and swap the packs one at a time to find it.

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Ok, I'll check that out! If that looks bad I'll see about getting those from you. I'm always down for food!:lol: But cash works too if you want. We'll see how mine look at least.

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Wait? So I'm supposed to unplug them when it's running? That sparks like crazy from the coils! (I only did 1 since I didn't know if I was hurting anything...) And when I unhooked it from the plug, it was tingling my arm...so I only did one, again. This sounds like I was doing this very very stupidly...

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