2002 Park Avenue... weird no start

Alan 55

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Sustaining Member
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Florida
Buick Ownership
2001 Buick Park Avenue, previously owned 1997 Park Avenue
I am going to throw this out there. I have worked on mostly Honda, Acura, Toyota cars, and have found similar problems on many of the Hondas. I am no trained mechanic, but I usually can trace a problem and do research to fix it without replacing a lot of parts. Fuel pump relays can be an intermittent problem. I would check out the relay and see if tests okay. I usually keep an extra one in my glove box just in case. I have been stranded a few times. They can get corroded or the solder points can get old and crack so that temperature changes can affect whether this is making a good electrical contact. See what you think:

1. Engine stalls

One of the first symptoms of an issue with the fuel pump relay is an engine that suddenly stalls. If the fuel pump relay has an issue while the vehicle is operating it will cut off power to the fuel pump, which will cause the engine to stall. A faulty relay may allow the vehicle to be restarted a short while later, while a completely failed relay will not.

2. Engine does not start
Another symptom of a faulty fuel pump relay is an engine that does not start. If the fuel pump relay fails the fuel pump will be left without power. The engine may still crank when the key is turned, however it will not be able to start due to lack of fuel. This symptom can also be caused by a wide variety of other issues, so having the vehicle properly diagnosed is highly recommended.

3. No noise from the fuel pump

Another symptom that may hint at an issue with the fuel pump relay is no noise from the fuel pump when the key is switched on. Most fuel pumps will produce a low volume hum or whine which can be heard from the inside the vehicle if listened for closely, or from the outside of the vehicle, near the fuel tank. If the fuel pump relay fails, it will cut off power to the fuel pump which will render it inoperable, and therefore silent, when the ignition is on.

Welcome to the group. Thanks for your insight regarding fuel pump relays and other related info. I agree with the three points that you have given and I also travel with a spare fuel pump relay. Hope that you will continue to provide your thoughts as you feel inclined to do so.
 

Mad_Coachman

Active Member
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Baldwin, New York
Buick Ownership
2002 LeSabre Limited
Hi all,

I've been trying to diagnose a weird intermittent no-start condition on my 2002 Park Avenue (base model) for some time now. This is complicated by the fact that it's my wife's car and it hs never once failed for me. It doesn't help that the car has also been going through about a fuel pump every 6-18 months for several years now, which makes troubleshooting this issue even more difficult, because half the time the reason it won't start is that the fuel pump has failed.

However a couple of days ago it decided to fail while she was close enough for me to drive over and troubleshoot it while it was still refusing to start. I tried the following, in order:

First I tried just starting it. The car refused to start, but cranked fine, and it did sound like some of the cylinders were firing. Thinking the engine might have flooded, I used "clear flood" mode (pedal all the way to the ground while cranking). This caused it to crank smoothly, without any attempt at catching. When I released the pedal while cranking, it struggled to start and almost caught a few times (getting up to about 1000RPM). Further feathering of the gas pedal while cranking almost got it running, but it never got much about 1250RPM, and it always stalled out immediately when I quit giving it extra gas.

Second I checked to see if there was fuel pressure. I didn't have a gauge on me, but I did poke the schrader valve with the key and fuel shot out under high pressure. So that eliminated the fuel pump.

Third, I tried a few more times, this time with my scan tool attached. The engine showed a cranking RPM of about 250RPM, which if I remember correctly eliminates either the cam sensor or the crank sensor (can't remember which). but couldn't get it to start, so we gave up and called a tow truck. The truck took about 10-15 minutes to arrive and it took about 30 minutes to tow the car home.

Fourth, as soon as the tow truck driver left, I went over and tried to start the vehicle again, and it started up immediately and idled smoothly. Revving the engine sounds normal, but, I haven't driven the vehicle anywhere since then as we can't afford to both get stuck somewhere. This seems to eliminate any internal engine problems.

So I'm at a loss as to how to further troubleshoot this, since it refuses to do it more than once every couple of months and NEVER at home where I have my tools. I'm fairly certain it's not the fuel pump or any sort of internal engine damage. It doesn't feel like a bad plug to me either; for one thing these engines will run (albeit poorly) on 5 cylinders, for another I don't see how it could have fixed itself after 45 minutes.

I'm leaning towards one or more ignition coils as the issue, but could it be the ignition module itself, the crank or cam sensor, or something else I haven't thought of? Anyone have any suggestions on what to do next? (Aside from convince the car to be more considerate and consistent in its failure, which I have tried but have gotten nowhere on.)

Edit: Forgot to mention, at no point did the PCM store or display any trouble codes.

Edit 2: My wife says apparently this was the second warm restart. She drove to the gas station, shut it off, put in a few gallons, and it restarted fine. She then drove to the grocery store, shut it off, and when she came out that's when the car refused to start.
What brand of fuel pumps are you using?
 

84ZZ4

Full Member
216
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18
Morrisville, NC
Buick Ownership
'83 Regal T-Type, '01 Park Avenue Ultra, '02 Park Avenue Base
It's a Delphi fuel pump this time and last time, though some of the previous pumps were AC Delco (I've never used anything else). The pump is running when the car is in the no-start condition (pressure at the rail, and I can hear it run for several seconds every time the key is turned from off to on. I believe that eliminates the relay and the fuel pump as an issue (or at least, the cause of the no start). Plus I've always smelled raw fuel whenever it's been in the no-start condition long enough. Next time it does it I'll pull a plug and see if it's wet.

The car is at the shop right now getting the crank sensor replaced, as that's the only repair I can't do on my own (no matter what I do, the frame rail is in the way of every pulley puller I own). I'll take it out again and see if the problem is still there after I get it back. I did verify that the security light works properly when the car starts normally, so I'll double-check that the next time it fails.

Can anyone verify if these cars fall back to speed density (MAP-based calculations) or some other fail-safe mode if the MAF is disconnected?
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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Buick Ownership
1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
It's a Delphi fuel pump this time and last time, though some of the previous pumps were AC Delco (I've never used anything else). The pump is running when the car is in the no-start condition (pressure at the rail, and I can hear it run for several seconds every time the key is turned from off to on. I believe that eliminates the relay and the fuel pump as an issue (or at least, the cause of the no start). Plus I've always smelled raw fuel whenever it's been in the no-start condition long enough. Next time it does it I'll pull a plug and see if it's wet.

The car is at the shop right now getting the crank sensor replaced, as that's the only repair I can't do on my own (no matter what I do, the frame rail is in the way of every pulley puller I own). I'll take it out again and see if the problem is still there after I get it back. I did verify that the security light works properly when the car starts normally, so I'll double-check that the next time it fails.

Can anyone verify if these cars fall back to speed density (MAP-based calculations) or some other fail-safe mode if the MAF is disconnected?
You have to pry the engine down to get the puller on. I had to every time. You can unhook the engine mount to pry it down
______________________________
 

BuickGirlFromMars

Well-known member
1,373
330
83
Buick Ownership
1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
It's a Delphi fuel pump this time and last time, though some of the previous pumps were AC Delco (I've never used anything else). The pump is running when the car is in the no-start condition (pressure at the rail, and I can hear it run for several seconds every time the key is turned from off to on. I believe that eliminates the relay and the fuel pump as an issue (or at least, the cause of the no start). Plus I've always smelled raw fuel whenever it's been in the no-start condition long enough. Next time it does it I'll pull a plug and see if it's wet.

The car is at the shop right now getting the crank sensor replaced, as that's the only repair I can't do on my own (no matter what I do, the frame rail is in the way of every pulley puller I own). I'll take it out again and see if the problem is still there after I get it back. I did verify that the security light works properly when the car starts normally, so I'll double-check that the next time it fails.

Can anyone verify if these cars fall back to speed density (MAP-based calculations) or some other fail-safe mode if the MAF is disconnected?
Yes the car can run without MAF connected just don’t expect it to be very accurate or smooth
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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330
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1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
never had to do that with a Lesabre, Bonneville or Olds 88 ;)
Could be a park avenue/riviera quirk. The frame rail is likely slightly different or the engine is held at a lower place than park avenue. When I say pry I’m talking the clearance of less than a quarter inch of prying. Hell if the craddle is loose in the front two bolts it probably would clear. It’s not much at all, especially if you rotate the crankshaft to where it’s optimal bolt location. If you even ground the lip of the frame rail down it would clear. Not recommended, but it would be structurally unaffecting snd work. But yeah.
 

84ZZ4

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Morrisville, NC
Buick Ownership
'83 Regal T-Type, '01 Park Avenue Ultra, '02 Park Avenue Base
It's definitely something specific to the Park Ave; I had a friend with a Grand Prix and one with a Regal and neither had issues getting a pulley puller on there. Also production tolerances; I had the entire right side (front of the engine) mounting bracket removed so that I could change the oil pan gasket and still couldn't get a puller on it.

Anyway it's back home with a new crank sensor, so we'll see if that makes any difference. I'll drive it around a bunch and see if I can reproduce the problem, but it's going to be a while before I trust it enough to drive it anywhere that I can't get my wife to come pick me up easily.
______________________________
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
How
It's definitely something specific to the Park Ave; I had a friend with a Grand Prix and one with a Regal and neither had issues getting a pulley puller on there. Also production tolerances; I had the entire right side (front of the engine) mounting bracket removed so that I could change the oil pan gasket and still couldn't get a puller on it.

Anyway it's back home with a new crank sensor, so we'll see if that makes any difference. I'll drive it around a bunch and see if I can reproduce the problem, but it's going to be a while before I trust it enough to drive it anywhere that I can't get my wife to come pick me up easily.
How much room was needed to fit? I only needed a tiny bit of clearance to get the bolt HEAD to clear the unibody tothread in to the balancer. Once started it could be put in the rest of the way or just enough with a wrench until a socket could fit over.
The main 24mm bolt should never have any room issues(I don’t think you meant that).
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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330
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Buick Ownership
1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
It's definitely something specific to the Park Ave; I had a friend with a Grand Prix and one with a Regal and neither had issues getting a pulley puller on there. Also production tolerances; I had the entire right side (front of the engine) mounting bracket removed so that I could change the oil pan gasket and still couldn't get a puller on it.

Anyway it's back home with a new crank sensor, so we'll see if that makes any difference. I'll drive it around a bunch and see if I can reproduce the problem, but it's going to be a while before I trust it enough to drive it anywhere that I can't get my wife to come pick me up easily.
Did you performed a crank variance relearn or the shop that replaced it? Potentially critical depending on certain variables and wear things.
 

84ZZ4

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Morrisville, NC
Buick Ownership
'83 Regal T-Type, '01 Park Avenue Ultra, '02 Park Avenue Base
How much room was needed to fit? I only needed a tiny bit of clearance to get the bolt HEAD to clear the unibody tothread in to the balancer. Once started it could be put in the rest of the way or just enough with a wrench until a socket could fit over.
The main 24mm bolt should never have any room issues(I don’t think you meant that).
On my '01 Ultra, I could get at the main bolt, that wasn't the problem. The problem is that the entire balancer needs to clear the frame rail in order to get the puller on, because the space between the pulley and the frame rail is too narrow for my pullers to fit. Never tried it on my '02 base model, I just assumed I wouldn't be able to get at it either.
Did you performed a crank variance relearn or the shop that replaced it? Potentially critical depending on certain variables and wear things.
I don't actually know how to do that and I'm not sure I have the equipment to do so. The shop manual isn't helpful (as always, it assumes you have access to a TECH II or something like it). That was another point in favor of having the shop do it. I'm assuming they did do one, or have some way around having to do one, as the car is running fine.
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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Buick Ownership
1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
On my '01 Ultra, I could get at the main bolt, that wasn't the problem. The problem is that the entire balancer needs to clear the frame rail in order to get the puller on, because the space between the pulley and the frame rail is too narrow for my pullers to fit. Never tried it on my '02 base model, I just assumed I wouldn't be able to get at it either.

I don't actually know how to do that and I'm not sure I have the equipment to do so. The shop manual isn't helpful (as always, it assumes you have access to a TECH II or something like it). That was another point in favor of having the shop do it. I'm assuming they did do one, or have some way around having to do one, as the car is running fine.
It’s hopefully something they did but the crank relearn is in the shop manual too lol

if your old interrupter rings didn’t shift you should be good.

and that your new one matched it perfectly

and I know what you mean about the clearance it would likely have required to pry down too no matter year,
______________________________
 

84ZZ4

Full Member
216
4
18
Morrisville, NC
Buick Ownership
'83 Regal T-Type, '01 Park Avenue Ultra, '02 Park Avenue Base
"SERVICE telltale" -- is that the SES light? If not, what is it?
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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330
83
Buick Ownership
1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
"SERVICE telltale" -- is that the SES light? If not, what is it?
Service telltale is a reference to a tool, I think a tech 1 or a mobile station that doesn’t have a graphic Display like a tech 2. In a tech 2 the equivalent nomenclature is allow engine to get 160 degrees iirc. It’s for keeping a cold engine from being held at near 4K rpm for a long time which wouldn’t be a good idea cold
 

BuickGirlFromMars

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Buick Ownership
1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (Supercharged)
So when the CPS is replaced onecstarts the car and expects thecSES to flash then one steps on the pedal ti the rpms?way up until the light goes off?
No. Read the reply I gave directly after the last guy who asked
 

84ZZ4

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4
18
Morrisville, NC
Buick Ownership
'83 Regal T-Type, '01 Park Avenue Ultra, '02 Park Avenue Base
Okay, thanks to the local gas shortage, we've HAD to drive the '02 these last couple of days, and so far so good. We've had 4 stops where the car should have failed to start back up if the problem was still there and each time it was fine, started like normal.

If this continues, I'll owe a beer to whoever was the first person to suggest the crank sensor.
 
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