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truck wont start and keeps dying

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by 83shorty, Apr 11, 2003.

  1. 83shorty

    83shorty Junior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 2

    My 83 silverado died on me about two weeks ago and would not restart. Today it finally got warm enough to work on it . Went out and tried to start it and it started right up. So I took the car up and got some fresh 93 octane, stp, and a new fuel filter. Installed the filter and back to no starting again. I checked for spark and did not have any. Got a new cap, rotor, coil, module, and that capacitator thing. Put it all on and it started on the first crank. I let it run for about 10 minutes and then drove it down the drive playing with the throttle trying to get it to quit. Still ran good so I started down the road and made it about 1/2 mile then got one backfire and then it died. It took a couple of minutes to get it started then it sounded like it was running on three cylinders and it would die before I could get it in gear. After about half an hour of trying I finally got it going and limped it home. By the time I was back at the driveway it was running fine again. I shut it off and tried it again and it was back to being dead again. It is not the orginal distributor and the brain box is not hooked up. It has a HEI vacumn advance. Thanks for any help that I can get. I am really stumped, but believe it is electrical. Thanks again for the help
  2. Tommy10plows

    Tommy10plows Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    no mas chevy engine

    First I would Check your EGR valve. A sticking EGR valve would cause symptoms like you describe. When it is stuck open it will allow engine vacuum to drop, causing a lean condition. The EGR opens based on ported engine vacuum. next time this happens, tap on it slightly and see if it closes and the idle returns. If it does, take it out and clean the rod.

    Next I would check your timing. See where the timing is when it runs well, then check it when running bad. If it moves it is possible to have a bad timing chain that slacks off and loads up, or you could have a bad distributor gear or distributor bearings that allow the timing to move.

    finally, I would check the Carb to be sure it is not loading up from a stuck float. I doubt that this is your problem, but you need to eliminate the other two first.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2003
  3. Plow Dak

    Plow Dak Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 48

    MMMMM Definately electrical
    EGR, timing chain,carb, wont cause a intermittant spark. A HEI Dist like you describe is the same as in Car my son built. It's a self contained unit. One wire. Unless you have a 12 volt feed problem to the dist. it's inside. The problem is you just about changed everything
    except for the housing. I assume the module you refer to was the pick up module. Three posabilities exist.
    1) A bad wire or connector.
    2) Grounded or shorted component
    3) Air gap problem for the reluctor and pickup.
    Remember it wouldn't start untill you put the parts in the dist.
    You moved a lot of stuff around. Hint hint !!!!!
    WE had one at the track do the same thing. ended up putting a new dist in it. never found the exact cause of the problem.
    Couldn't afford the chance.
    Just double check your 12 volt input. run a direct wire to the batt. to run the truck and see if it acts up.
    Work Safe
  4. Tommy10plows

    Tommy10plows Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    no start chevy

    Oops, you are right, I re-read the post and I missed the line about "no spark". You are right, check the 12 volt side of the distributor, that is the source of the no spark. what threw me off was how it ran after it re-started.

    Let us know what the outcome is when you get it fixed.
  5. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    83 shorty. I suspect the pickup coil. Do this with it running,manually move the vacuum advance .You can do this by hooking the vacuum line to manifold vacuum,and then unhooking it. I bet the pickup wires are broken where they come out of the pickup coil. From years of advancing the timing the wired fatigue where they exit the pickup coil,when it breaks contact,you lose your trigger for the module. You can pull the rotor off,and get a good look at the wires,and usually the broken one will fall right off if you lightly tug on them.If this is the problem ,you need a new pickup.In order to replace this,you need to remove the distributor,and remove the drive gear off the bottom.then the shaft will slide out(with a little help from carb/choke cleaner).You need to mark everything before removing the distributor.put engine at TDC,the rotor should be pointing toward the #1 cylinder,make sure it is still pointing to it when you reinstall it.The vac advance cannister should come out of the dist at the 9 o'clock position,and be right on top of the dist hold down bolt. I noticed lately that rebuilt distributors are becoming increasingly popular,this may have been the way to go,before you bought the module.If the pickup wires are OK,check the 12V power source to the distributor,the wire may be breaking or have a bad connection somewhere. if you lose 12V to the distributor,it will not run at all. next time it dies,leave the key on,grab a test light,and see if the 12V wire has power.Repair/replace harness,or ignition switch as necessary.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2003
  6. johngus

    johngus Senior Member
    Messages: 117

    I think you can get a new aftermarket HEI for around $150 at a local speed shop here.I think Summit racing also has them.I think it's a company called proform but I could be wrong.I agree with John DiMartino on the pickup being bad.I've seen the same thing many times with the wires corroding and breaking off.It's really a simple cheap fix,I think a pickup goes for about $25 compared to a rebuilt that you don't know what was really replaced or not.
  7. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    John is probably correct on the pickup coil.One thing to check if your going to replace it is the dist shaft bushings.If there is any noticable play in the dist shaft,don't even bother tearing it open to do the pickup coil.Get a rebuilt or good used unit.

    A few other things to check,would be to test for good solid power at the HEI BATT connection on the cap.Check it with a voltmeter when it won't run.Should have at least 10 volts for it to fire correctly.

    Also check the wiring to the junction block on the firewall,and the fusible links at the starter.These wires can break or corrode,and you lose voltage to the HEI.