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Unhappy starting woes

I have a problem and I was wondering if any of you have any insight to offer.

1974 1.8l Fuel Injected (stock)

So a while ago I was driving the car and it didn't start up like it normally did...it had to turn over a few extra times and I didn't make much of it. I drove off and came to a stop on a hill. I started off, but the car stalled. I didn't stall it with sloppy clutch-work or anything, but the car just lost all power and stalled. It would not go and soon after failed to start. (I didn't try to start it so much that I killed the starter - the car didn't have gas or spark or compression, I don't know which one).

So after that I towed it back home (I wasn't half a mile from my house). It didn't start so I checked all the vacuum hoses, made their connections extra tight and it started and ran OK. I got a new fuel filter for it and put it on and it ran OK for about a day.

And now it just won't start. I haven't tried to do anything with it since summer (when it started giving me trouble) and now it's cold in Wisconsin. My friend's dad believes it's something with the fuel injection system. If anyone out there can offer me any insight as to what might be wrong or where I should start looking, it'd be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:30 PM
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Check for spark. Get a spare plug and tape it so the threaded part or the outer electrode is touching a ground, like the fan shroud. Hook that plug up to a plug wire. Have a buddy crank the starter, and you should see a nice spark at the plug.

Check for fuel. Does the tailpipe smell like gasoline after you crank the starter for a while? You can also put the injectors from one side of the motor into some glass jars. Have a buddy crank the starter so you can look at the spray pattern while the engine is trying to start. It's probably best to unplug the coil so you can't get any sparks while doing this... And keep a fire extinguisher handy!

Check compression. Use a screw-in compression test gauge. Make sure the valves are in adjustment as well.

If it has spark, it has fuel, and it has air (or compression), then the problem is either with the timing of the spark or the amount of fuel going in.

--DD
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:37 PM
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Thanks a ton.

Whats this screw in compression guage you speak of and where do I screw it in?



Are there any articles on adjusting the timing?
I know PP has one on valve adjustments - really, how hard is adjusting valves?

Thanks-anymore help is also appreciated.
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:42 PM
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There is a Pelican Tech Article on timing your 914.

Adjusting the valves is time-consuming, messy, and will cause you to utter swear-words you didn't know you knew. In German. At least, the first few times. After that, it gets pretty straightforward, as you already know the angles to "attack" the valve adjusters from, and where you want to turn the engine over to.

I believe it's good to have someone with experience set up one valve for you, so you know how the feeler gauge feels when the gap is correct.


...A compression tester screws into the spark plug hole, and can be picked up at most auto parts places and most tool places.

--DD
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:01 PM
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hot dam... the only guy around here who might know anything about 914s and their valves says that he won't go within 30 feet of one of those engines. he's an old guy who fixes up old germans, mostly beetles and a few bmws. we went and talked to him and he cringed when he heard that we had troubles. After that he pretty much told us to get lost. Heh, oh well - looks like im goona have to go it my own for this one.
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:41 PM
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You're in trouble now if some geezer won't fix a 914 motor, because they're SOOOO much different from a beetle. It sounds like he really knows his stuff....





These things are so simple you'll be surprised at how much you figure out on your own. DD's right you need spark, fuel, and air for any engine to run. Now I don't know diddly about fuel injection, but at least yank a plug out and turn it over to see if you have spark (and condition of the plugs as well. You can also tell by pulling off the spark plug boot, and holding the wire end close (1/4 inch?) to a fan shroud bolt - is there a spark arcing ascross the gap?
Do you also hear the fuel pump turn on? You should hear it when you turn the key, just before the "run" position it should come on.
Air? Pull of the air filter (and box, can you do that on an FI car? I told you I don't know how FI is set up...) If it was running before, chances are good hat you still have compression, you dont' just "lose" compression all of a sudden - it'll still run, albeit poorly, but it should still pop or sputter or burble or smoke or something.
Hey Dave, what about a shot of starting fluid in the intake tract? Good idea or bad? Just to get it to pop, or is it fuel-pressure dependant?
25 bucks for compression tester at Sears or wherever, get the one that has an air-hose nipple on one end too. You yank the plugs and the tester screws into the plug hole. (Take out all the plugs before doing it, and remove the coil wire too). It's a good idea to check your compression anyways.
Lotsa people here have FI, and can help you if these other things check out OK and it still won't run.

Then go sputter past Ol' Geezer Joe and make sure it's a day where he's outside fixing a beetle or something.
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Old 12-13-2004, 06:01 AM
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The 1.8 fuel pump does not do the ~1.5 second "buzz" like the 1.7/2.0 fuel pump does when the key goes from "off" to "on". The pump runs when the key is in "start", and also when the flap in the air flow meter has moved off its stop--that is, when any air is getting sucked into the motor.

You can pull the air filter box off a 1.8, but you need to keep the air flow meter attached to the intake hose.

Starting fluid is OK, unless it builds up to the point where it backfires through the intake. That can warp the flap inside the air flow meter, which will then cause all sorts of problems for you until you buy a new one. ($$$!)

I recommend using a spare spark plug for the spark test because that way you don't have a hole in the cylinder head pushing air and fuel out into the engine bay... Where you have a spark plug creating sparks... (See where I'm going with this? If not, then duct tape a fire extinguisher to your leg... )

Unfortunately, there isn't a massive L-jet website like Brad Anders' D-jet website. But the late Buses used (practically) the same injection as the 1.8 914s, so you can find info on http://www.type2.com .

But I would verify the ignition system (do you have spark, how's the timing, etc.) and the presence of fuel and the basic functioning of the motor (compression, valve adjust) before digging into the fuel injection.

BTW, the 1.8s really hate vacuum leaks. Those make the engine run lean, which can eventually damage the engine significantly. (My old 1.8 holed a piston after a couple months' worth of running lean.) They can also cause non-starting conditions, and poor running. So brittle or cracked vacuum hoses are very much not your friends!! Ditto any air leaks in the "parts" of the engine, like in between the accordion pleats on the rubber intake hose. (And cracked or brittle fuel hoses are an invitation for your car to have an engine fire. FIRE BAD!!)

--DD
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Old 12-13-2004, 10:17 AM
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