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Original low mile 2002 T/A now fails to start

This is a discussion on Original low mile 2002 T/A now fails to start within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; Hi everyone. I don't know what to do so I will lay out what happened in order in hopes that ...

  1. #1
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    Blk/gld,Blu,Blk
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    Original low mile 2002 T/A now fails to start

    Hi everyone. I don't know what to do so I will lay out what happened in order in hopes that someone will have an idea.
    2002 Trans Am Firehawk. 3,600 miles. All original.
    Been stored in garage un-driven or started about 2 years.
    Went to drive it today.
    Turned key. Gas gauge just a little above E. Check gauges light on due to low fuel.
    It started right up like normal.
    Running a little rough at first then starting to smooth out some.
    I sat in the seat a few minutes sorting through insurance cards, registration.
    Then it died instantly like I turned off the key. No sputtering, choking etc.

    I tried to start it back. It cranks but that is it.
    Each time I turn the key on I hear the fuel pump sound like normal but it will not start.
    I put 2.7 gallons of fresh 91 octane gas in it. (It's only ever had 91 in it since new)
    I turn the key on and the gas gauge now shoots up to F.
    It cranks fine but will not start.

    So it sit in the seat a couple minutes thinking with the key on and I notice the fuel gauge gently go from F down to almost 1/2 and then back up again.

    It does this a few times.
    I turn the key off and back on and it goes back to F (pegging past F actually).
    When I crank it the gauge drops to E while the engine is cranking then returns to F when I stop cranking.
    So when it sits with key turned on, the gas shows F and the service engine light and check gauges lights are on.

    Any ideas?
    Obviously the gauge is not correct now as it is not full of gas.
    I should have put fresh gas in it before starting it the first time....

  2. #2
    Member sjgreen6's Avatar
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    One thing to check that is pretty easy is to replace your ignition relay in the fuse box under the hood near the left front corner. When these go bad they will allow your car to crank but not start just as you are experiencing. If that is not the issue, then you need to check the fuel pressure at the rail. You can probably get a loaner gauge at your local auto parts store if you don't have one. These cars are very sensitive to fuel pressure and the original pump may have quit even though you have low mileage. You should also check to see if your computer has stored any fault codes. You may not be able to see the service engine light warning as you are not actually getting a start. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Blk/gld,Blu,Blk
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    Thank you very much for taking the time to help.
    I changed the ignition relay with a new one and unfortunately it made no change.
    I hear the fuel pump start like normal each time I turn the key. If it's gone bad would it still do that?
    A friend said he will come help test with a fuel pressure gauge.

    The fuel gauge is showing either F or 1/2 now. It varies. That is strange...

    I hope it's not the fuel pump as it's a pain to change those in these cars and dread having a shop get hold of this original low mile car.
    Heck, it still has the factory inspection stickers on the windshield and factory air in the tires. Still smells new...

    This timing stinks as I was getting ready to try to sell the thing

  4. #4
    Member sjgreen6's Avatar
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    Sorry I was really hoping it was the easy solution. Definitely check the fuel pressure as our cars are very sensitive to it. The gauge jumping up and down could be a bad ground somewhere. If you have to do the fuel pump, it isn't as bad as it seems at first. I did a Racetronix unit using the trap door method in a few hours with nothing more sophisticated than ramps and jack stands.
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    Blk/gld,Blu,Blk
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    Thank you sjgreen6.
    Me too. Plan now is to check fuel pressure with gauge and maybe change fuel filter.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjgreen6 View Post
    The gauge jumping up and down could be a bad ground somewhere.
    Crank w/o starting would be another symptom of that. Emissions components harness stuff. I know there are a couple of grounds up front on a '98, although unless a mouse chewed your wires up somewhere or something I don't know why they would be loose; or why it woulda started at all.

    Pulling the control module codes is an easier check than any of it, but it may or may not put you on to your problem, even if one or more items show up there.

  7. #7
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Fuel sending unit might be the real culprit. A bad ground wire on it will cause the issues your seem to be having.

    When Mine was an issue I could run, idle and even drive fine, but if I hit a hard bump or turn it would cut out.

    I have a Fuel Pressure gauge on my pod and I could see it randomly cut out. It was very frustration, I evn changed out the Racetronix wire harness and relay because I thought something had happen to them.

    I finally gave up and decided to eat the bullet and get a new sending unit and it totally fixed my issue. Even after looking over the unit very thoroughly I still couldn't find where the ground was weak or not making full contact.



    Now if your fuel pressure is not at 56ish psi at the rails you might want to check the inline filter. If the car has been sitting for a while they do clog up, same with the fuel pump sock.
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  8. #8
    Member sjgreen6's Avatar
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    Have you replaced your fuel filter and tested your pressure at the rail? If they are good then your best bet at this point in my opinion is to pull the pump out and see if you have problems there. Our ethanol fuels can create a lot of rust on parts that sit in fuel that has separated over time. With your low mileage this is likely the case at some points.

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    Thanks again everyone. No fuel at the rails. Changed the fuel filter and no fuel to there. Can hear the pump prime with the key on. Fuel gauge still not correct. Plan to blow air back up from the filter connect point to the tank to see if clog that direction. If after that still no fuel at filter then pump is clogged/broken etc and have to pull the tank......
    If after blowing we get fuel to the filter but not to the rail then possible clog between the filter and engine.
    ?

  10. #10
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    If you go in do yourself a favor and do the trap door. Dropping a heavy ass tank with fuel in it sucks. IMHO the trap door should have been in placed from the factory. Just be careful making the cuts and you'll be fine.


    I'm fixing to have to do this on my daughters FB soon. Did it on my 98 and have zero regrets.
    pajeff02 likes this.

  11. #11
    Member 79Firebird_99TA's Avatar
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    How did you make out, OP? Fuel pump sock clogged and / or internals of the pump are shot. Electrical is good. I recommend the trap door method as well, as long as you're careful and do it right.
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  13. #13
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    Thanks everyone. I haven't forgotten to update. Extremely busy. I work 4 jobs. Haven't touched the car since last update posted here.
    Since I plan to sell the car once driving again, the trap door method would have to devalue the car more, right?
    Last edited by Bandit400; 01-14-2020 at 08:16 PM.
    ggoat!!! likes this.

  14. #14
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Original low mile 2002 T/A now fails to start

    Only to the guys that pay to replace the pump. For those that have you have made life easier for them.


  15. #15
    Super Moderator pajeff02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandit400 View Post
    Hi everyone. I don't know what to do so I will lay out what happened in order in hopes that someone will have an idea.
    2002 Trans Am Firehawk. 3,600 miles. All original.
    Been stored in garage un-driven or started about 2 years.
    Went to drive it today.
    Turned key. Gas gauge just a little above E. Check gauges light on due to low fuel.
    It started right up like normal.
    Running a little rough at first then starting to smooth out some.
    I sat in the seat a few minutes sorting through insurance cards, registration.
    Then it died instantly like I turned off the key. No sputtering, choking etc.

    I tried to start it back. It cranks but that is it.
    Each time I turn the key on I hear the fuel pump sound like normal but it will not start.
    I put 2.7 gallons of fresh 91 octane gas in it. (It's only ever had 91 in it since new)
    I turn the key on and the gas gauge now shoots up to F.
    It cranks fine but will not start.

    So it sit in the seat a couple minutes thinking with the key on and I notice the fuel gauge gently go from F down to almost 1/2 and then back up again.

    It does this a few times.
    I turn the key off and back on and it goes back to F (pegging past F actually).
    When I crank it the gauge drops to E while the engine is cranking then returns to F when I stop cranking.
    So when it sits with key turned on, the gas shows F and the service engine light and check gauges lights are on.

    Any ideas?
    Obviously the gauge is not correct now as it is not full of gas.
    I should have put fresh gas in it before starting it the first time....
    If that is not the issue, then you need to check the fuel pressure at the rail. You can probably get a loaner gauge at your local auto parts store if you don't have one. These cars are very sensitive to fuel pressure and the original pump may have quit even though you have low mileage. auto clicker

  17. #17
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    There is no fuel at the rail. Neither is there fuel getting to the filter. Though the pump primes and sounds like normal it is not getting the fuel to the filter

  18. #18
    Super Moderator pajeff02's Avatar
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    Time to prep that 'Bird for surgery!

  19. #19
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    Blk/gld,Blu,Blk
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    Dropped the tank and inspected the fuel pump assembly and sure enough the little yellow tube on the pump had broken so it was trying to pump but couldn't. Changed the entire assy with a new AC Delco pump, strainer, fuel filter, drained and cleaned tank and it works great now.
    Big thank you for everyone on here for your help. Much appreciated.
    Driving the car afterward made me remember how fun they are. Wow, it's like a brand new car still. Still smells new inside. Too bad I've been too busy and caused the fuel pump tube to go bad sitting like a moron. Well if it lasts as long as the original no one will have to deal with it for a long time.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator pajeff02's Avatar
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    Congrats on the successful repair. Our 'Birds are to the point that stuff like this is bound to happen -- rubber, plastic and nylon simply does not last forever.

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