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Car question, help needed!

The last post in this topic was posted 2891 days ago. 

 

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Ugh. The 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan has had an oil leak for a while now. It had gotten progressively worse. The transmission started leaking around the front pump as well. So last weekend I decided it was time to tackle this. The valve cover gaskets had already been replaced, so I figured the oil leak was coming from either the front shaft seal or the timing chain cover gasket. Replaced the transmission pump seal and finally got the transmission re-installed into the vehicle. Removed the timing chain and gears (after much cussing and despair, as that crank gear is pressed on like a $%^$@). New gears and chain installed. Didn't spin the crank during removal, arrows on new timing gears lined up, verified with a straight-edge. Colored links on chains aligned perfectly with dots at 3 o'clock on the cam and crank gears as well. Buttoned everything back up. No start, sputter, cough, blah WTF? Didn't replace camshaft sensor, so I pulled it, and bought the new one (with the paper spacer). Reinstalled, tightened down. Double checked all other electrical connectors, I think the main connector by the transmission fill tube wasn't clicked completely in, so I reconnected that as well. Finally, the van started. This was at lunch yesterday. It smelled like it was running a little lean and had a CEL on. No biggie, I thought, since it had not started before and I replaced the sensor. I let it warm up for a good 15 minutes to operating temperature so I could completely refill the cooling system. Shut it off (I was on lunch, and had to go back to work) and disconnected the neg. battery cable (thinking it might clear the OBDII code). When I got home around 6, I went out and attached the battery cable, turned the key, and no start AGAIN. Sputter, clank, scrape, backfire, finally start, idle around 1100 RPM for a second or two, then sputter, and stall. Changed crankshaft position sensor, thinking maybe a new one was in order, no change. I thought maybe the battery was getting weak, as it didn't seem to hold much of a charge after all the cranking, but charged it overnight again and still no start this morning. The car alternates between either no start or start and run like crap then stall. One interesting thing, when it's sputtering and stalling, the cruise control indicator light on the dash comes on and goes off randomly.

 

I'm REALLY hoping my timing isn't off. And I'm wondering if it can be, since I had it running for a good 15 minutes without even a hiccup. It was quiet and smooth, crisp throttle response. Like I said, CEL light was on, and it smelled a little lean, but ran like new.

 

I need suggestions. LOL. Because tearing it down isn't appealing at this time, and neither is crawling through every inch of wire and electrical connector under the hood. To me, it sounds like a sensor or wiring/grounding issue.

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Scan the codes. Likely there's a clue there.

 

Did you put it in gear for an actual test drive yet? If the timing is off it will drive very poorly, though it may idle and rev up OK in neutral.

 

Seemingly unrelated lights blinking-- suggests a bad ground. Check the ground wires on the engine especially the little ones for the computer.

Edited by mk_378

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Have not taken it for a test drive yet. I hadn't actually put the right front tire and brake caliper back on yet. I was waiting for confirmation that it at least started/ran. It's only started/run that one time. Since then, IF it will even start, it idles VERY rough and stalls.

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Cruise control circuits usually originate from the transmission, you might have missed a connector, or might still have a leak that is compromising one of your connections. Since you said you had the tranny out, I would definitely start there - just double checking everything and making sure everything is mated, sealed, and connections are tight.

 

I don't think your timing is off. If you didn't crank the engine when everything was off, then you should be just fine. I removed the rockers and overhead cams on my car and as long as everything goes back in the same way and there was no turning of the engine, the car wouldn't know the difference.

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