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Saturday, December 08, 2007 

Car trouble.

I had a spot of car trouble last weekend. The following is a recap of what happened and probably cannot be read that well as I am trying to recall what happened.

It all started (or didnt!) on Saturday where I spotted that my front tyre was pressed up against the kerb, so I started the car, reversed it about one foot and turned off the engine. All in all it took about 5 seconds to do. This was the only time the car was used all day.

So, Sunday came and we had a mad day of Christmas shopping planned. I jumped in the car, popped the key in the ignition, turned it and a 'vuvuvuvuvuvuvuvuv' sound comes from the engine :-(

Oh dear. I was gutted. A combination of emotions hit me all at once ranging from mild panic to anger followed by fear of repair costs and then sadness.

Knowing next to nothing about engines I started to think methodically about what the problem could be...

I knew there was plenty of fuel in the tank as I filled it all the way to the top on Friday.

The battery is good as it was only put in last winter.

I looked up the exhaust to see if anyone had been playing silly buggers - nothing.

I checked the dash board for engine management lights - nothing.

Just to be sure it was not the immobiliser I tried my spare key anyway to no avail.

Turning the key two clicks and listening near to the fuel tank I could hear the quiet buzzing of the petrol pump so that was fine.

I even tried putting the car in first gear and reverse and rocking it back and forth - don't ask why it seemed the right thing to try at the time.

I popped the bonnet and checked for any obvious leads that had come disconnected or any hoses that were leaking or split - I could'nt see any problem at all.

All the oil and water and fluid levels were also good.

I checked the airfilter casing and pipe for splits but it too was fine.

Had the timing belt snapped? To check this, Louise sat in the car, I removed the oil cap and watched the cam as Louise turned the key. Everything jumped up and down so that was also fine.

It was a very damp morning and realising that the sound was as if the engine was 'turning' but not 'firing' I made a guess that the HT leads and/or spark plugs needed to be dried off with moisture dispersing spray (WD40 or in my case TESCO's own brand for a fraction of the price :-) )

This is where the fun began. Have you looked at a modern engine lately? The last time I messed with an engine was about 11 years ago when I had a mk 2 Vauxhall Astra! The engine of my Vectra is totally different. There are no high tension leads, I could not even see the damn spark plugs nor a distributor! To top it, before I could even start to dig deeper, I had to locate a bloody size 25? star screw driver that I did not own!

A quick walk to my local Aldis and £5.99 later I had one, though it did not really help. I removed the engine cover to reveal what I know now is called the 'Coil pack'. Under this coil pack is where the spark plugs are. The coil pack is a solid unit and is held in place with 4 or 5 weird sized star bolt things that my uncle had a set of.

My uncle popped down to see if he could help and I'm very glad he did.

I sat in the drivers seat and turned the key to show him what was happening. Unoticed by me the engine actually tried to fire up once, so we switched places. My uncle jumped in the drivers seat, turned the key for a while and then suddenly, to my relief and total amazement it started!!!! A big puff of smoke escaped the exhaust and the engine was running.

In all this time there was no smell of fuel indicating to me that the damn thing was flooded.


Thats all it was. From the day before when I reversed it a bit. From what I understand, this is what happens: when you first start a car, loads of fuel gets pushed into the engine. If you shut the engine off too quickly after starting it, then not all the fuel has been ignited and it just sits in some chamber. This is where flooding occurs.

To fix the problem, my uncle pushed the accelerator all the way to the floor (which I thought would actually flood the engine more!), turned the key while slowly lifting the accelerator.

There. Problem solved. A HUGE, MASSIVE thank you to my uncle!

I hope this account will help someone in the future. Here are some keywords / keyphrases:

Vauxhall Vecta 1.8 16v
Will not start
Engine turning but not firing up

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