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Old 06/19/2017, 01:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Spontaneous "engine not going over 1500 rpm" issue

YEAR: 2002



MILES: About 185,000

PROBLEM: Close to a month ago I had this issue, it went away, and then reappeared today. When I turn my car on and go to drive it, it will not want to go over 1500-2000 rpm. I can shift the gears and it will drive fine in any gear under this limit.

1st time: This happened and I immediately drove my car to the closest shop. I had it idling for a little bit and by the time the shop owner came out to test drive this, the problem was gone. I assumed that it was due to bad gas or some consequence of the voltage regulator going bad in my car (which I replaced the alternator shortly afterwards due to other issues that WERE from the voltage regulator).

Today: I started the car and it seemed to sound a bit strange when I started it, it idled fine but I noticed that the idle was a little high (a bit above 1,000 which mine always sits at about 8-900). ***I think I was able to rev it in neutral without issue.*** I started driving it and had the issue with it not wanting to go over the 1500 mark. I turned off the car and turned it back on and it seemed to start to idle a bit poorly. Turned it off and back on and the idle seemed fine (but at about the 1000 rpm mark again and I believe this time when I went to rev it it wouldn't go above 1500). Opened my hood and heard the "clicking noise" -which I believe is the noise from the lifters? I heard this noise right after I replaced my alternator but it died down once I topped my car off with oil and let it idle for a little bit.

I live in Brooklyn so I had to move my car and drove it to a new spot. I parked, shut it off for about 30 minutes and diligently started googling around to find the source of the problem. I then turned my car back on and it was back to normal idle and it appeared that the problem had gone away again. I was able to rev it in neutral without issue.

MODIFICATIONS & MAINTENANCE: I try to keep a log of anything I've gotten fixed/had fixed myself (most of the work I do myself).

Serpentine Belt - 05/12
Stage 1 Clutch/aluminum flywheel - 08/12
Inner Tie Rods (front) - 07/13
Front Valve Cover Gasket and Spark Plug Tube Seals - 11/13
(Gates/AC Delco) Timing Belt, Water Pump, Hydraulic Tensioner, Pulleys - 03/29/2014
Spark Plugs (new are NGK iridium), Spark Plug Wires, Upper and Lower Intake Manifold Gaskets, Rear Valve Cover Gasket and Spark Plug Tube Seals, Fuel Injector Insulators for Cylinders 4 and 6 - 08/27/2014
All four tires (Michelin Premiere A/S), front struts (Quik-Struts), passenger side C/V shaft - 01/02/15
Driver's side Ball Joint/Control Arm (Raybestos) - 01/07/15
Opt7 LED headlight bulbs - 2015
Driver's side C/V shaft (empire) -03/16
Powerstop Z23 brake/rotor kit (front and back) - 04/17
Silverlight tailight bulbs (all 3)
Denso Alternator (reman’d) - 05/21/17

WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO TRY AND FIX THE PROBLEM: I try to spend a fair amount of time searching various forums for similar sounding issues. Due to the fact that this problem seems very "on and off", it makes me assume that it's either an electrical issue or possibly an inconsistent flow issue through my exhaust. I had read something about some cutoff that causes the vehicle to go "limp", not sure if this is what's happening.

I've read in other areas that something like this might possibly be a compression issue. I've had vacuum issues before (the reason I replaced the fuel injector insulators) and this doesn't seem like that sort of issue since it's a very abrupt rpm limit -or it doesn't seem cyclical like the MAF is drawing too much air, then too little air...(had this problem also when I was trying to use a cold air intake for a short period of time that had a filter that was too small...I put my original air intake back on a few years ago).

I'm wondering if this might be connected to my catalytic converter wearing out. I got a P0421 code about a week ago...I also had this code appear before I took it to the shop. However, I was able to reset the code, drive the car for a few hundred miles, pass NYS inspection, and drive it for about another month before the P0421 code came back on.

Lastly when my car was inspected, I believe that they mentioned that I had a warning or pending for one of my engine sensors and said that I may need to replace my distributor in the future (so I'm not sure if this could be it?)


A/C Compressor Clutch seems to be burned out -doesn't engage when system turned on (but you can see it moving towards the part being rotated by the belt).

Worn engine mounts that need to be replaced -at least the upper passenger side and the front middle one.

Need to occasionally "hit" my dashboard to turn my dash light back on

Some sort of slow oil leak on the side of the engine by the timing belt (been there for years)

I believe I also have a slow coolant leak somewhere in my engine.

P0421 code mentioned earlier

I'm not exactly sure what I can test or look at to try to fix this problem and wouldn't be posting if I had any idea of where I could look next.

Hopefully there wasn't a thread out there that had this solution but mine seems much more "on and off" than any other threads with a similar problem.
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Old 06/22/2017, 06:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2017
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aerophysicist : who are you?

For those of you who might be following my problem:

Drove the car for a little while today and it ran perfectly fine. I hooked my code reader back up to it and now have the following:

P0421 Warm Up Catalyst Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)
P0335 Crankshaft Position Sensor A Circuit Malfunction
P0340 Camshaft Position Sensor Circuit Malfunction

Did some digging into 335 and 340 and found from a few cars that this could be a distributor issue (since the cam sensor is in the distributor) and that some people had both codes appear and go away when changing their distributor.

I let my car sit for a few hours and then used my Hanes manual to try to troubleshoot this issue. I disconnected the connector from the distributor and checked the battery power and ground...12.2V, the ground to engine resistance...1.7 ohms, then disconnected my spark plug wires to check my signal voltage.

The Hanes manual says that my signal voltage should fluctuate between 0.3V and 4V, when I turned the car on (hadn't even "cranked" it yet) the signal voltage was 5V, did a VERY quick turn on and off with my engine and this 5V fluctuated up to 5.006V. Aka I think I found my problem -the crankshaft sensor.

So now I need to decide if I'm up for the challenge of trying to replace my crankshaft sensor on the side of the road.
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