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No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 30 Jun 2017, 07:25 am
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Join Date: Jun 2017
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Default No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

Hi y'all, jumping right in with both feet.

(TMI alert) I'm disabled, though I don't usually like to admit that because it's irrelevant to most life experiences. But in this case it applies to car issues because without a car, I am more or less immobile. So I try to keep on top of maintenance issues ... oil changes, brakes, electrical issues. In the summer I tend to freak out if the car is not running well because of the heat. This is the 5th summer I've owned the car and the first summer it's had the hiccups.

By "hiccups" I mean periodically it started hiccupping a couple of months ago primarily when sitting at a stop light. It's a 2004 non turbo automatic transmission with approx 80k miles. I've read a little bit on the internet and it seems to be nothing to worry about. I check the transmission fluid cold & hot to make sure it's steady, and there has never been a drip on the ground or underneath the car itself. But today I was pulling out of the driveway to head to a distance about 15 miles away, and instead of hiccups it seemed to have a small seizure. I stopped in the driveway, letting it idle and it had another little seizure. I drove it around the block very slowly to see if it happens when it's going faster than idle speed and it does.

So I opted not to go the 15 miles on a very desolate farm road because I didn't want to have to risk having the car break down on that two lane road with no shoulder to park on, or having to walk home.

There are no codes. Over the past few years I've gotten a gas cap code and that's it. And I've always been proactive with maintenance (I don't do it myself, but I used to have a reliable mechanic) but moved six months ago and have not needed to find a mechanic and frankly during summer I avoid service because of the inability to get anywhere on foot during the repair time. I got an oil change a few months ago at a place, but it wasn't a full on mechanic shop where they could diagnose it. I'm stumped as to what it could be because of the lack of codes. I could drive it until it does throw one, but will that happen at the same time when it locks up on a highway? That's what I'm afraid of.

Is there anything that I can reach without jack stands or a lift to check and/or replace myself? There's a Napa parts store here in town, but I doubt they do any diagnosing. Of course money is an issue as well, and if it's a $2k repair I will have to let it die and move to a town that has public transportation. I appreciate anyone's help on this issue.

P.S. It passed smog 6 months ago, and the spark plugs/wires were changed about 10k miles ago, and the gas cap code I resolved by buying a new cap, and the brakes were replaced last November, i gave it a new battery and tires when i bought it (about 20k miles ago) and other than oil/filter/air filter replacements, there has never been any major repairs and none in the report i got when i bought it used. So even though it's only got 80k miles, could it be dying of old age?

Last edited by OldMiner; 30 Jun 2017 at 07:33 am.
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 08:06 am
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 161
Default Perhaps this is a clue?

Not getting any codes thrown at me, I forgot about checking for code status doing the key-turning trick. I videotaped it but don't know how to post it here. The first few times, it did not do anything except dings & showing the odometer. Then, it once went dark and didn't make any noise at all. I thought maybe it was "thinking". I waited and it never did anything. So I started over. This time, after the sequence was over it said "done" and nothing else. So I did it again, and got the dead silence routine. Then did it one more time, and got "done". So .. is it just DONE and ready for the scrap yard?
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 10:33 am
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Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
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Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

Welcome to the forum.

I would suggest that with no codes that you try to find a fuel pressure tester to see if your fuel pressure is low. Do you have anyone you know that might have some mechanic tools?

If the fuel pressure is good I would check the wiring going to the Crankshaft sensor and check to make sure its making good contact.

If you can borrow an OBDII Scan tool and verify that you are not getting any codes.
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Last edited by ptcruisersteve; 30 Jun 2017 at 01:05 pm.
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 12:13 pm
rsrocket1's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 756
Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

By "hiccups" do you mean a severe drop in engine idle RPM's?

Does this happen with the A/C on/off, only when the A/C is on or regardless whether the A/C is on or not?

Does it happen at a stop light if the car is in neutral?

Do you ever have a "hiccup" when the car is moving?

Do you keep an eye on the coolant temperature and has it ever been higher than a needle's width above half way? (especially with the A/C on and while at a stop signal)

just asking
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 02:04 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 10,271
Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

First, welcome to the forum from the great sovereign state of Arkansas!

If it was me, I'd first go get a bottle of "Heat" fuel dryer in the yellow bottle. I'd also get the "cheap" red bottle of STP fuel treatment. I'd put half of each bottle in the tank when near full. Water and/or trash in the fuel tank will cause the exact symptoms you have described. If that's it, a mixture of Heat (to disperse water) and regular STP fuel treatment (to dissolve organic solids/goo) will often do the job.

Of course, this might not be it. But it's something cheap and easy to try. And I'm all about trying the cheap and easy solutions first. I told my wife that's why I married her.
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Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 30 Jun 2017 at 02:08 pm.
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 02:12 pm
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Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

Thanks ptcruisersteve, for the welcome and the advice.

I think Autozone might scan it for me, and I don't have a fuel pressure tester but the 'zone might. Crankshaft sensor wiring, is probably the easiest check. It's 100 degrees out though so I will wait until the birds are singing in the morning to get back out there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
Welcome to the forum.

I would suggest that with no codes that you try to find a fuel pressure tester to see if your fuel pressure is low. Do you have anyone you know that might have some mechanic tools?

If the fuel pressure is good I would check the wiring going to the Crankshaft sensor and check to make sure its making good contact.

If you can borrow an OBDII Scan tool and verify that you are not getting any codes.
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 02:23 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 161
Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

rocket, it's not severe enough to make me even check the gauge, just enough shuddering to put some fear into me. i will look at the rpm's next time it does that.

i rarely use the A/C mainly because it sucks so much fuel running it and mostly i drive at night and don't need it. but when i DO turn it on, there is definitely an immediate shudder that calms down right away.

it being an automatic transmission, i don't typically change the shifter unless it's to back up. so when it's at a light idling, it's in drive. and honestly I don't shift unless the car is completely stopped. since day 1 it has had clanking issues when changing gears unless the car is not moving at all.

the first hiccup while rolling was today, but i guess it was a hiccup that evolved into the seizure kind of thing. the coolant temperature is always perfect whether the a/c is on or not, and no matter what the temperature is outside. a couple of weeks ago i had to drive in the middle of the day during 110 degrees. i was low on gas, just trying to get into town so i used the a/c intermittently to preserve fuel. i kept a close eye on the temp gauge because my old car used to have overheating issues on hot days. i was amazed it never strayed upwards.

this hiccupping seems to happen more when the lights are on and/or the windshield wipers are going. if i didn't have relatively new plugs and wires i'd suspect that. maybe the guy didn't do it right? he said he had a hell of a time with one of them but since he said it worked out ok and the car drove off without a hitch i never thought about it again until now. and of course the guy lives 300 miles away now. not that he would warranty something he did 2 years ago ... i don't drive a lot, maybe it's just dying from disuse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rsrocket1 View Post
By "hiccups" do you mean a severe drop in engine idle RPM's?

Does this happen with the A/C on/off, only when the A/C is on or regardless whether the A/C is on or not?

Does it happen at a stop light if the car is in neutral?

Do you ever have a "hiccup" when the car is moving?

Do you keep an eye on the coolant temperature and has it ever been higher than a needle's width above half way? (especially with the A/C on and while at a stop signal)

just asking
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 02:32 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 161
Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

Go Razorbacks! Um, unless that's not your team/game. I've been to your diamond mine (didn't get anything but sunburn) and some of your hot springs and my ancestors are from the Ozarks so we're practically kin. I'm going to take your suggestion as it does sound like the easiest and cheapest and can't hurt to try and maybe while i'm there autozone might break out the scanner for me and see if it can scare up any codes. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Handy_Cruiser View Post
First, welcome to the forum from the great sovereign state of Arkansas!

If it was me, I'd first go get a bottle of "Heat" fuel dryer in the yellow bottle. I'd also get the "cheap" red bottle of STP fuel treatment. I'd put half of each bottle in the tank when near full. Water and/or trash in the fuel tank will cause the exact symptoms you have described. If that's it, a mixture of Heat (to disperse water) and regular STP fuel treatment (to dissolve organic solids/goo) will often do the job.

Of course, this might not be it. But it's something cheap and easy to try. And I'm all about trying the cheap and easy solutions first. I told my wife that's why I married her.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 30 Jun 2017, 02:50 pm
rsrocket1's Avatar
Fanatic Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 756
Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

Oh, another thing that causes drops in RPM at idle could be a vacuum leak. If you are nimble enough, you could spray carb cleaner or something similar around the engine and listen for a surge in RPM.

When was the last time you replaced the PCV valve? It is in one of the most convenient places in the PT Cruiser. Right here in this picture: <oops>

PHOTOBUCKET NOW CHARGES $400/YEAR FOR 3RD PARTY SHARING <-done with them

Check the hose attached to it also. If it's cracked, it could cause a vacuum leak which will cause stumbling at low RPM's.

Good luck

Last edited by rsrocket1; 30 Jun 2017 at 03:55 pm. Reason: Photobucket is now extorting money for 3rd party hosting
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Old 30 Jun 2017, 03:19 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
Posts: 7,301
Default Re: No Codes Thrown, But Car Is Lurching

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMiner View Post
rocket, it's not severe enough to make me even check the gauge, just enough shuddering to put some fear into me. i will look at the rpm's next time it does that.

i rarely use the A/C mainly because it sucks so much fuel running it and mostly i drive at night and don't need it. but when i DO turn it on, there is definitely an immediate shudder that calms down right away.

it being an automatic transmission, i don't typically change the shifter unless it's to back up. so when it's at a light idling, it's in drive. and honestly I don't shift unless the car is completely stopped. since day 1 it has had clanking issues when changing gears unless the car is not moving at all.

the first hiccup while rolling was today, but i guess it was a hiccup that evolved into the seizure kind of thing. the coolant temperature is always perfect whether the a/c is on or not, and no matter what the temperature is outside. a couple of weeks ago i had to drive in the middle of the day during 110 degrees. i was low on gas, just trying to get into town so i used the a/c intermittently to preserve fuel. i kept a close eye on the temp gauge because my old car used to have overheating issues on hot days. i was amazed it never strayed upwards.

this hiccupping seems to happen more when the lights are on and/or the windshield wipers are going. if i didn't have relatively new plugs and wires i'd suspect that. maybe the guy didn't do it right? he said he had a hell of a time with one of them but since he said it worked out ok and the car drove off without a hitch i never thought about it again until now. and of course the guy lives 300 miles away now. not that he would warranty something he did 2 years ago ... i don't drive a lot, maybe it's just dying from disuse.
When you are at the auto parts store have them do a free battery load test. Make sure your battery and battery charging system is working properly.
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