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Discussion Starter #1
1992 grand caravan 3.3L, A604 transaxle.

It started missing/stuttering/trying to die again, while driving. I thought it was fixed, but yesterday it happened again, but this time it happened with minimal acceleration around 30 to 40MPH. It used to happen only under hard acceleration and a shift point.

I have replaced the coil pack, crank sensor, cam sensor, and temperature sensor. When i installed the crank and cam sensors i only used light pressure with one finger to hold them in place. StandOnCliff has said in other posts you must use more pressure, so Monday i will try to remove them, put another spacer on them, and then reinstall them. Removing them will also give me the opportunity to see if they are collecting any metal fragments.

If after refitting these sensors i still have a problem, the only other thing i can think of is cracked flexplate. I have spent several hours searching for posts on cracked flexplate’s and many people have had my symptoms. Many of them have also added that the crack is around the bolt circle and can not be seen without removing the transmission. If anyone has some advice for diagnosing a cracked flexplate or a secret inspection method please let me know.
 

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I did not get at the sensors today because of the cold 34 Deg F, and a few other reasons. But i went to use the van and it’s hard starting returned when cold. I cranked it a while and just to rule out the ASD relay i put a new one and it did not help, however after about 5 tries it did start, and for the next 3 starts when warm it had no problem.

Would this symptom point more to a crank sensor or a cracked flexplate?
 

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I managed to pull the crank sensor out and carefully reseat it. It is definitely not out to far, if anything it may have to little clearance. My guess is it has .01 to .02“ gap. I drove it around for 30 min or so after the engine got up to temperature to see if metal expansion would damage the sensor. I did not have a problem so i hope the clearance is ok.

The van starts and runs well, except for the shift point problem when at full power and high rpm it shifts and the engine stutters. I also wonder if the transmission needs the solenoid pack rebuild. If it was summer i would just rebuild the solenoid pack as it probably needs it anyway. But i do not want to fool with it in the winter.

Temperature seems to affect starting so i will sneak out after midnight tonight and see how it starts, it is supposed to get down to 25 Deg F.

The crank sensor is hard to get at but the CAM sensor is worse. I may test the van for a while to see if its better or not, before i fool with the CAM sensor.

The crank sensor was a real beach to get at. Here is a picture of what i have to do to get at it.
 

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1:45am, 26Deg F out, and van started no problem. But due to the intermittent nature of this van, no conclusion can be reached.

I thought about the CAM sensor again and how i installed it. After i chipped the old one out i cleaned out the area with a vacuum cleaner and then inserted a shop grade paper towel in the CAM sensor hole and turned it around with a long bladed screwdriver, I could not see down the sensor hole but i wanted to make sure there was no debris sitting on the cam gear to obstruct the new sensor. I then anti-seized the hole to lube it a little and hopefully stop it from sticking again and inserted the new sensor. I held the sensor down with a long bladed screwdriver and tightened up the sensor hold down screw with my other hand. My conclusion is that unless i missed some debris on the cam gear the CAM sensor is installed properly.

Later today it will be the best day out for the rest of the week, 40 Deg. F and clear. I think this is the best day to inspect the flexplate for cracks. If i can somehow check all the way to the bolt circle this will give either piece of mind, or confirm that this is probably my intermittent problem.
 

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Noise
The classic and most obvious symptom of a cracked flexplate involves the sound it makes while the engine is running. Descriptions of the sound include clanking, chirping and a light knocking. The reason for the sound involves the flexplate's location and its function. Those factors ensure that when the engine starts and the driver puts it in drive, the cracked flexplate's movement will create a noise.


Power Loss
At high speeds, the flexplate -- like most engine parts -- endures a considerable amount of strain and stress. When it develops a crack, it cannot function as intended and one consequence involves a loss of power at high speeds.


Poor Fuel Mileage
Like loss of power, this symptom could be caused by many factors other than a cracked flexplate. However, a cracked flexplate has been reported to reduce gas mileage, due to the inefficiency it creates in the engine when it cannot perform as intended.

From another forum.

Started out having a problem with power loss at higher speeds. Had a hard time holding on to 55mph. Anything above that was a pipe dream. At the slightest uphill grade had to down shift to pull the hill. (BTW she is an automatic)Well with all of the downshifting and high RPMs she was overheating.

Fuel milage was terrible. The best I could get was 12mpg.

And finally the exhaust. It finally let go at the colector and I had to replace the entire system. Exhaust manifold, Oxygen sensor, Cat, and Muffler. Once all of this was done the power loss was much worse. To say that it didn't have any power would be an understatement. Put it on the rack and the new exhaust was glowing.

Well after aproximately another 10hrs. of diagnosis we droped the tranny. Why cause we wanted to see the flex plate. Sure enough the flex plate was broke, Not cracked, BROKE. Center punched clean out. Had wedged itself so that it wasn't flopping around or making any noise. This caused the timing to be off and also affected the timing advancement when needed.

Replaced the flexplate and now have all the power I need. My fuel milage has increased to 16mpg. and I couldn't be happier.

So if you are experiencing loss of power, overheating, poor fuel milage, down shifting at the slightest uphill grade. Check your flexplate!


Unfortunately removing the starter and inspecting the flexplate through where the starter goes, with a flashlight, as hand turning the crank, or using a screwdriver to turn the flexplate and inspect for signs of cracks is about all that can be done without removing the transmission. You could probably also remove the bolts that hold the torque converter to the flexplate and wiggle on the flexplate after you push the converter backwards. If you hear metal tinging together as you wiggle it, it may be cracked. A small inspection mirror might be able to see the center of the flexplate once the torque converter is pushed back, but not guaranteed. It would need to fit within one of the holes the crank sensor uses and peer with your eye in another hole. Or you may be able to fit it between the flexplate and torque converter and peer through a hole. A flashlight to light up the area is needed.

I'm not finding any information of a flexplate causing a no start condition.
I would get this fixed before considering other problems. The no start condition could be the reason of the stuttering/hesitation. Until you get the starting problem fixed, I wouldn't attempt replacing anything in the transmission, or pulling the tranny to inspect the flexplate.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the informative post. I jacked the van up today and looked over the starter and after seeing how difficult it was to remove and how limited my view would be even if it was out, i decided not to take it out.


“Noise
The classic and most obvious symptom of a cracked flexplate involves the sound it makes while the engine is running. Descriptions of the sound include clanking, chirping and a light knocking. The reason for the sound involves the flexplate's location and its function. Those factors ensure that when the engine starts and the driver puts it in drive, the cracked flexplate's movement will create a noise.”

I have never heard any noise.


“Power Loss
At high speeds, the flexplate -- like most engine parts -- endures a considerable amount of strain and stress. When it develops a crack, it cannot function as intended and one consequence involves a loss of power at high speeds.”

I would say i have no power problem. Cruising on the freeway is effortless.


“Poor Fuel Mileage
Like loss of power, this symptom could be caused by many factors other than a cracked flexplate. However, a cracked flexplate has been reported to reduce gas mileage, due to the inefficiency it creates in the engine when it cannot perform as intended.”

I only take 5 to 10 minute trips so after some warmup and a short drive my millage is always poor.

“From another forum.

Started out having a problem with power loss at higher speeds. Had a hard time holding on to 55mph. Anything above that was a pipe dream. At the slightest uphill grade had to down shift to pull the hill. (BTW she is an automatic)Well with all of the downshifting and high RPMs she was overheating.

Fuel milage was terrible. The best I could get was 12mpg.

And finally the exhaust. It finally let go at the colector and I had to replace the entire system. Exhaust manifold, Oxygen sensor, Cat, and Muffler. Once all of this was done the power loss was much worse. To say that it didn't have any power would be an understatement. Put it on the rack and the new exhaust was glowing.

Well after aproximately another 10hrs. of diagnosis we droped the tranny. Why cause we wanted to see the flex plate. Sure enough the flex plate was broke, Not cracked, BROKE. “
I do not have any of these problems.


“Unfortunately removing the starter and inspecting the flexplate through where the starter goes, with a flashlight, as hand turning the crank, or using a screwdriver to turn the flexplate and inspect for signs of cracks is about all that can be done without removing the transmission. You could probably also remove the bolts that hold the torque converter to the flexplate and wiggle on the flexplate after you push the converter backwards. If you hear metal tinging together as you wiggle it, it may be cracked. A small inspection mirror might be able to see the center of the flexplate once the torque converter is pushed back, but not guaranteed. It would need to fit within one of the holes the crank sensor uses and peer with your eye in another hole. Or you may be able to fit it between the flexplate and torque converter and peer through a hole. A flashlight to light up the area is needed.”

I could sum this up by saying, an incredible amount of work for a small possibility of success.

“I'm not finding any information of a flexplate causing a no start condition.
I would get this fixed before considering other problems. The no start condition could be the reason of the stuttering/hesitation. Until you get the starting problem fixed, I wouldn't attempt replacing anything in the transmission, or pulling the tranny to inspect the flexplate.”

Thats kind of what i was wondering about today also, how could a flexplate cause no starting. However it could explain the stuttering at high rpm and load. If the flexplate was slipping when shifting, the crank and cam sensors would be out of sync, and the computer would be very confused, and not know when to fire the spark plugs.

My next trick is time and cold. It seems if the van sits for 2 days and it is cold out it is more likely to not start. So i will try to let it sit for 2 days before i start it again. So far it has had no problems since i readjusted the crank sensor, starting or driving, except for hard acceleration high rpm and a shift point. It could very well be there are 2 separate problems going on here.
 

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Your have none of the symptoms of a cracked flexplate.
If you no longer have the starting problem after readjusting the cam and crank sensors I would check the following.

Before even considering it to be the flexplate causing the hesitation/stuttering I would consider replacing the TPS first. The TPS is a common wear item, which gets plenty of use. I know you did check it, but it is possible it has a dirty signal. Without a scope, you can not see this.

A vehicle's throttle position sensor (TPS) provides very important information to the engine’s computer. The computer uses this data to give the driver more or less engine power as needed. And very often, a driver experiences the effects of a faulty or bad TPS sensor as an engine hesitation or stumbling during acceleration. The TCM also uses this information for proper shift points and TCC lockup, as well as the map sensor, distance sensor,input and output sensors. Input and Output sensors may cause your problem too.

First make sure your getting the 5 volt reference signal.

Unplug the TPS electrical connector. Turn on the ignition switch, but do not start the engine. Using a voltmeter, probe the connector’s terminals coming from the computer side to test for supply voltage. Touch the negative lead to the connector’s terminal ground-- Black/light Blue wire--and the meter’s positive or red lead to the connector’s terminal reference voltage wire, a Purple/White wire. These should be the two outer prongs. Your meter should read a steady 5.0 volts at the terminal. If you don’t receive this voltage reading, there is an open or short in the supply wire. Turn off the ignition switch and plug the electrical connector back to the TPS.

Next check your voltage going to the PCM through the signal wire Red/ Dark Blue wire. Should be the center prong.

Insert a pin through the ground wire and another pin through the signal voltage wire and connect the voltmeter probes to the pins using alligator clips. Turn ignition to "On" do not start the vehicle. As you manually open and close the throttle plate, watch the voltage readings at the meter. The voltage should gradually increase from 1 to 5 volts and back to 1 volt. If you see erratic movement or no movement of voltage signal, replace the TPS. Turn off the ignition.

There is an alternative to replacing the TPS sensor, if you do have a dirty signal.

An electrolytic capacitor (440 microFarads, 35 Vdc) with the negative side connected to the SIG RETURN wire and the positive side hooked to the TPS SIG wire gave absolutely *troublefree* operation! Even though the TPS is basically trashed, the capacitor filters out almost all of the electrical noise, and the auto tranny once again shifts like factory-new!

Results with other values were:

220 mF, 35 Vdc - too little filtering. Tranny a little flaky.
1000 mF, 35 Vdc - far too much filtering, and a 1.5 second delay in transmission shift response crept in.

The cost of the capacitor....40 cents. It filters out the noise.

Personally before hacking into the wiring I would replace the sensor just to be safe and know it's good.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
“Your have none of the symptoms of a cracked flexplate."

That makes me feel better.

“If you no longer have the starting problem after readjusting the cam and crank sensors I would check the following.

Before even considering it to be the flexplate causing the hesitation/stuttering I would consider replacing the TPS first. The TPS is a common wear item, which gets plenty of use. I know you did check it, but it is possible it has a dirty signal. Without a scope, you can not see this.

A vehicle's throttle position sensor (TPS) provides very important information to the engine’s computer. The computer uses this data to give the driver more or less engine power as needed. And very often, a driver experiences the effects of a faulty or bad TPS sensor as an engine hesitation or stumbling during acceleration. The TCM also uses this information for proper shift points and TCC lockup, as well as the map sensor, distance sensor,input and output sensors. Input and Output sensors may cause your problem too.”

The TPS is definitely worth looking at again. The MAP sensor cleared the code when i installed it so i feel good about it. The distance sensor was never replaced. The input and output sensors do worry me. I found out they could cause shift problems after i had the van back together. The magnet in the transaxle pan was full of fur and i have seen many posts saying the input and output sensors can accumulate these partials and malfunction, along with the solenoid pack filters getting clogged.

“First make sure your getting the 5 volt reference signal.

Unplug the TPS electrical connector. Turn on the ignition switch, but do not start the engine. Using a voltmeter, probe the connector’s terminals coming from the computer side to test for supply voltage. Touch the negative lead to the connector’s terminal ground-- Black/light Blue wire--and the meter’s positive or red lead to the connector’s terminal reference voltage wire, a Purple/White wire. These should be the two outer prongs. Your meter should read a steady 5.0 volts at the terminal. If you don’t receive this voltage reading, there is an open or short in the supply wire. Turn off the ignition switch and plug the electrical connector back to the TPS.

Next check your voltage going to the PCM through the signal wire Red/ Dark Blue wire. Should be the center prong.

Insert a pin through the ground wire and another pin through the signal voltage wire and connect the voltmeter probes to the pins using alligator clips. Turn ignition to "On" do not start the vehicle. As you manually open and close the throttle plate, watch the voltage readings at the meter. The voltage should gradually increase from 1 to 5 volts and back to 1 volt. If you see erratic movement or no movement of voltage signal, replace the TPS. Turn off the ignition.”

The TPS sounds easy to test with a scope or voltmeter. Just for completeness i will test it again after my 2 day time and temperature test.

“There is an alternative to replacing the TPS sensor, if you do have a dirty signal.

An electrolytic capacitor (440 microFarads, 35 Vdc) with the negative side connected to the SIG RETURN wire and the positive side hooked to the TPS SIG wire gave absolutely *troublefree* operation! Even though the TPS is basically trashed, the capacitor filters out almost all of the electrical noise, and the auto tranny once again shifts like factory-new!

Results with other values were:

220 mF, 35 Vdc - too little filtering. Tranny a little flaky.
1000 mF, 35 Vdc - far too much filtering, and a 1.5 second delay in transmission shift response crept in.

The cost of the capacitor....40 cents. It filters out the noise.

Personally before hacking into the wiring I would replace the sensor just to be safe and know it's good.”

I agree with you. The capacitor trick is an interesting story, but i would consider it an emergency fix because i could not get a new TPS.

Here are the before and after pictures of the magnet in the transaxle oil pan. The before picture has my fingerprint on the fur. To me this looks terrible and that's why i worry about the input, output sensors and the solenoid pack filters being clogged.

This is an article on rebuilding the solenoid pack. And the talk about fur collection on the sensors.

http://www.allpar.com/mopar/transmissions/solenoid-pack/index.html
 

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The fur you talk of is clutch fiber. It's normal to build up over time. It's the reason a magnet is there. I would worry more of the small flakes of metal. Metal flakes aren't a good sign. They are silver in color, which usually means one or more clutches has worn down to the metal. This would cause a shudder or a slip with RPM's rising in a particular gear. This wouldn't cause a miss or no start condition however.
Any that I've needed to rebuild, were much worse, then seen in your pan. A rebuild may be seen in your future though. When it starts slipping in a particular gear, rebuild it ASAP. Before more damage is done. It can be rebuilt for a little over $300 if you do it on your own. .
Cleaning the sensors and the solonoid pack may help, but I don't guarantee it.

I read his article. It didn't totally fix his problem. He still had low pressure. I can almost bet he needs to rebuild it in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
2 days have gone by without starting the van and it did not want to start. It normally fires right up, i cranked it once for a few seconds and stopped. I had a feeling it may be the ASD relay so this time i was ready for it. Last time i had forgotten what position the ASD relay was and put the new relay in the wrong place for the first few cranks. When it has had the hard starting problem in the past it takes about 5 cranks to start it. This time i had the ASD relay clearly marked and the new one in the van with me. I quickly swapped out the relays and cranked it again. This time the van fired right up.

This is not definitive proof that the relay is the hard starting problem but it does point to it. The next test will be leave in the new relay and see if the hard starting problem comes back.

I had cleaned up the contacts on the old ASD relay and they look good, but relays also have a mechanical life and the pivot points may be worn a bit to much.
 

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I have to agree with the diagnoses against a cracked flexplate. I had one on my '95 voyager & it acted more like a rod knock than anything else......
 

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I waited 2 more days to start the van with the new ASD relay. It cranked for a few seconds and it did not start. I had a new idea. Maybe 2 days is to long to sit for fuel pressure to hold. I turned key to on for few seconds and repeated 3 times. Then i tried to start it and it fired right up. I could leave a fuel pressure gage on it but i need to read it while i work the key and it is not long enough for that.

Also besides the ASD relay there is a fuel pump relay that could be having a problem....But today i did clearly hear the fuel pump run when it should. Usually the ABS system pumps up as soon as i turn the key on and i can not hear the fuel pump but today it did not.

I thought a lot about the stuttering problem at high speed again and i realized it is the exact same symptom i had with the spark plug wires to close to the sensor wires earlier. So maybe i am still getting feedback from them. So yet again i rearranged the sparkplug wires that go through the alternator bracket for more clearance.

And despite the fact that it is a cold drizzly day i pulled the coil pack and looked at the coolant sensor again to make sure it was not leaking coolant into the connector and wiring, it was perfectly clean.

With the lousy weather i do not know when i will run the TPS noise test but i did not forget.
 

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When mine sits for a couple days it does this very thing. If I try to start it just with turning the key from lock to start it rolls for quite a bit. I turn the key to On and wait for the pump to quit priming pressure. Turn it to start and it fires right up almost instantly.

This can be a small pin hole in a fuel line, a leaking fuel injector, the pressure regulator leaking or the pump check valve itself. Pressure should remain for at least an hour.

Personally this doesn't bother me. Once I start smelling fuel I'll look at it.:D
 

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Is this by chance an AWD? I found a TSB that may pertain to your problem if it is.

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO ALL WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLES ONLY.

SYMPTOM/CONDITION:
Loss of fuel pressure or extreme fuel pressure fluctuation while driving. Some vehicles
may encounter one or more of the following symptoms; fuel pump noise, erratic
transmission shifting, engine power loss or engine die out.

REPAIR PROCEDURE:
This repair involves the replacement of the fuel pump module with a revised fuel pump
module.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
When starting the van I always let it go for a few seconds the first time i turn to ON position, before i go to start. It just seemed today that doing it multiple times were needed. It could also be a coincidence.

No this is not a AWD van. I talked to the guy at the auto store about this. He said he has never had a customer that does have one, those things must be rare as hens teeth.

There is something different to report after a check ride. This is after moving the spark plug wires. Traffic was fairly heavy today and it was hard to find a place to floor it up to 65 MPH and test the high speed shifting stuttering. I was only able to do it twice and due to traffic hard to stare at just the dash lights. However i am fairly certain that the maintenance light did not come on, i think the speedometer may have zig zagged a little though and the engine did stutter at the shift points.

I am now wondering if i have had duel problems going on. Maybe the sparkplug wire interference and a fuel pump developing a problem. I know i do not have a fuel leak anyware. This summer i replaced everything from the fuel rail to the gas tank. At least once a week for 2 months i checked all fuel connections for leaks. That means getting under the van and checking all points were there is a hose clamp as well as looking under the hood. But the van has 175,000 and never had a fuel pump changed or injectors. The fuel regulator was replaced 2 years ago and in the last couple of months i have checked it several times for any sign of leaking.

“Pressure should remain for at least an hour.”

How much pressure.

A couple of weeks ago in this thread i was reporting some leak down numbers for fuel pressure.

http://www.dodgetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=345640

I let it run for about 1 minute and shut it down. The fuel pressure gage said 40 psi, i timed it to go to 38 psi and it took 3 minutes.

i put a fuel pressure gage on it and turned the key to the on position, not start and i saw around 40 psi. I then started the van and after a minute shut it off and the gage was at 48 psi.

I let it sit for 5 hours like this getting cold. Went back out and the fuel pressure was at zero. I turned the key to on position for 2 seconds then off and checked the gage. I had 40 psi or so.

I then waited about 10 minutes and the fuel pressure was down to 30 psi. After about 30 minutes the fuel pressure was 20 psi.

From those numbers it does not seem like i have a fuel pump problem. So i am still chasing my tail.
 

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During engine operation, the fuel system is maintaining the required fuel pressure to meet the demand of the engine. When the engine is shut off , the fuel system should be at or near the same pressure level. The rate at which the fuel pressure drops can be an indication of an internal system leak (assuming no external leaking occurs).

Two most common areas of concern are the fuel injector nozzles and the pressure regulator. If the regulator valve has a poor seal, fuel will leak past the valve seat area and, since the pump is no longer running, pressure will quickly drop off. The causes for this could be a worn valve, weak spring or defective diaphragm. An internally leaking regulator can cause long crank times as it takes the pump longer to build pressure in the system.

The other potential problem area could be the fuel injector nozzles. The nozzle may be leaking due to a deposit build up on the nozzle or a worn out internal valve seat. In this case, fuel leaks directly into the engine’s cylinder.
This is a common cause of long crank times and hard starts after a short engine shut down. It’s never good to have fuel filling hot cylinders which can result in an over rich condition during startup.

Start the engine and let it warm up at idle. Note the fuel pressure while the engine is running. The pressure should be holding steady in the range of 35-50psi for most applications. Shut off the engine and look for a rapid drop in fuel pressure. In a properly sealing system the fuel pressure reading should hold at or near the running pressure although there may be slight change when the engine is first shut off. This is ok due to some regulators being affected by the manifold pressure while the engine is running. The key is to look for a rapid decrease in fuel pressure. A 2psi drop per 5 seconds, for example, is considered a rapid decrease and indicates a problem. If the rate is much slower then there is no need to worry. The fuel pressure will eventually bleed down over time.

Your readings seem fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I did an official fuel leak down test. The van was already warm from the trip to the store. I put on the fuel gage started the van and let it run for 1 minute and turned it off. Here are the results.

40 psi, Running pressure.
40 psi, 5 seconds after van turned off.
47.5 psi, 1 min after. 47.5 is not a typo.
47.5 psi, 7 minutes after.
46 psi, 10 min.
46 psi, 11 min.
40 psi, 15 min.
32 psi, 20 min.
24 psi, 25 min.
19 psi, 30 min.
15 psi, 35 min.
10 psi, 40 min.
8 psi, 45 min.
6 psi, 50 min.
4 psi, 55 min. Lowest reading on meter

What do you think about these numbers.
 

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Your holding a high pressure for 7 minutes. That is good according to tests. It's taking almost an hour to totally bleed down. Close enough that it shouldn't create any problem.
Seems pretty correct. Fuel pressure for the vehicle is 48 psi with the vacuum line disconnected off the regulator at idle. It should drop around 10 psi with it connected.
When you shut it off your hitting 47.5 with no vacuum being applied to the regulator.
Check for a weak fuel pump. Push the shrader valve to purge all fuel, or connect your gauge and push the relief valve on it. Turn the key on to prime the pump. Your pressure should hit 40-48 with the first prime. If it's low and takes two turns of the key to get to pressure, the pump is weak, the pickup screen is clogged, a line is clogged or the fuel filter is clogged. It shouldn't be the fuel filter, you replaced it. Unless you have alot of dirt in the fuel tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
“Check for a weak fuel pump. Push the shrader valve to purge all fuel, or connect your gauge and push the relief valve on it. Turn the key on to prime the pump. Your pressure should hit 40-48 with the first prime.”

After 5 hours i went out and turned the key to ON and checked the fuel pressure gage. It went up to 40 PSI.

“ If it's low and takes two turns of the key to get to pressure, the pump is weak, the pickup screen is clogged, a line is clogged or the fuel filter is clogged. It shouldn't be the fuel filter, you replaced it. Unless you have alot of dirt in the fuel tank.”

The pickup screen looked OK. Fuel filter is new. Gas tank was rinsed out with gas 2 times.

I am wondering if i was a bit to fast to give up on its starting this morning. I am so used to it starting on the first rrr of the starter that when i went 3 rrr’s i quit. Just now it took 4 rrr’s and for the cold weather maybe that is acceptable. That was only one try with the key and rrr, rrr, rrr, rr-zoom. It is 30 Deg F out now.
 

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I hate to say this, but aren't we getting a little off track here. I thought when it wasn't firing, it was determined no spark was occuring.
Have you pinned out and tested all resistance/continuity of each sensor's wires back to the PCM plug? Mostly the coil,crank,coolant temp and cam sensor. Maybe even the injectors.
An ignition switch can give scenarios of working fine, then all of a sudden not work right. Contacts inside can be bad, not connecting all the time. Wiggling it isn't a true test of how it's working inside of it. You can't open it to check it, but you can use contact cleaner and shoot it into the key hole, then work it in as you turn the key back and forth. This isn't a guarantee it'll work. The only true way to test it is through a multimeter to check continuity and resistance.
This is really where your at at the present time. Using the schematics your going to need to check each wire going to the PCM. From the sensors, ignition switch and so forth. I would fully test the ignition switch however, before assuming a wiring problem exists between the connections. It is an item that gets plenty of use. It also can cause the stuttering your experiencing. If the TCM is getting a bad signal from the ignition switch, it would cause it to flutter in shifting patterns.
A bad ignition switch would cause missing/stuttering/trying to die problems.
 
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