1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position - First Generation Forum

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1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Saturday, May 05, 2018 2:31 PM
Hey Jbody Fourms,

I have an old 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, 2.0L SOHC Vin K, Fuel Injection. This damn car that has NEVER not started in its life, suddenly today won't start.

It will crank over and over, but it sounds like it's not getting fuel. Odd part though, when I put the key and turn to ON (not acc), the radiator fan turns on now... almost like it's on the OBD-1 paperclip-diagnostic-mode... not sure of the technical name, but it when you put a paperclip into the OBD1 port it will enter a diagnostic mode, turn the radiator fan on, and blink codes at you.

I checked every fuse, all good. Disconnected and reconnected the battery to reset the computer, still no luck... rad fan just spins when the key is set to ON (just like diagnostic mode, but with no code blinking).

I would think maybe the fuel pump suddenly died, but why would the radiator fan turn on? I'm 99% sure the pump is working as it makes an audible click when primed (it always has).

Amy old GM mechanics know why the car would suddenly start spinning the rad fam and not start?

Thank you!!! Willing to buy beer to whomever can figure it out.

Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Saturday, May 05, 2018 3:38 PM
Check for spark? ( Pull a plug wire, insert screwdriver and touch a ground somehere)

Try spraying fuel in the throttle body if it isnt itself while cranking.

When was the timing belt last changed? ( OHC 1.8 ?)

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 148K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Sunday, May 06, 2018 7:00 AM
92Sunbird PuertoRico wrote:

Check for spark? ( Pull a plug wire, insert screwdriver and touch a ground somehere)

Try spraying fuel in the throttle body if it isnt itself while cranking.

When was the timing belt last changed? ( OHC 1.8 ?)

Doug in P.R.



Hi Doug!

I'll give these a try. For the spark plug testing, how exactly am i testing it with a screw driver?? Pull the wire off the distributor? Or pull the wire off the plug itself?

If I open the intake, should I be able to see if fuel is spraying into the butterfly when the car is in the ON position and the gas is pressed? Any specific spray to use, like carb cleaner?

Also, timing belt was recently done (like 6 months ago) due to a leaking water pump. That should be 100%, but I'll take a look at the tension.

And it's definitely a 2.0L OHC the 1.8L I think was 1986 and below or something like that.

I'm still concerned as to why the radiator fan is turning on though at the same time this issue is happening... just seems too odd.

Thanks!!
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Sunday, May 06, 2018 1:56 PM
2.0 my bad, pull the plug wire at the plug and insert screwdriver and touch metal on the engine while someone is cranking it.

See if the TBI is spraying fuel while
you are cranking also. If not dribble some in again to see if it goes up.

Not sure on the fan deal, mine never worked ,( supposed to be turned on by the computer) so I wired it to a switch. You may have a bad computer or a bad fan relay

You better check the belt, could of sheared teeth off it, usually near the bottom pulley.


Doug in P.R.



92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 148K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Sunday, May 06, 2018 8:26 PM
Before doing anything...

How is the CEL (Check Engine Light) acting when you turn the key on?

Does it turn on, for about a second, turn off for about a second and then turn back on? Or does it just turn on when you turn the key on and stay on?
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Monday, May 07, 2018 2:22 AM
Six_Shooter wrote:

Before doing anything...

How is the CEL (Check Engine Light) acting when you turn the key on?

Does it turn on, for about a second, turn off for about a second and then turn back on? Or does it just turn on when you turn the key on and stay on?


It's been coming on, and then staying on... but no codes when I put it in diagnostic mode, just code '12' saying that diagnostic mode is working.

I'm pretty sure it's always been on like that until I started it, and then it would turn off? I could be mistaken though.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Monday, May 07, 2018 7:57 PM
No, It's supposed to flash once when the key is turned on.

It sounds like you might have a PROM reading failure. The LHM (Limp Home Mode) should be kicking in and allowing the car to start though...

It's possible that something has happened to the PROM and/or the ECM.

I would start by pulling the ECM and removing the PROM cover and making sure that the PROM is still seated properly. If it is, I'd pull it out and reseat it. It's possible that there is some corrosion on the pins making for a poor connection, which may be causing a partial read of the PROM and may be what's not allowing the LHM to kick in.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Tuesday, May 08, 2018 12:58 AM
Six_Shooter wrote:

No, It's supposed to flash once when the key is turned on.
Are you sure? The light on all 3 of my cars comes on and stays on when I turn the key to Run (engine not running). Once I start them, the light goes off. I just confirmed this on them. They are 2nd gens though (88, 92 and 94), if that matters.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Tuesday, May 08, 2018 6:09 PM
Yes, a Million percent sure...

GM OBD1 the proper CEL fsequence is:

Ignition turned on, CEL will illuminate for about 1 second, turn off for about 1 second, and then turn back on until a DRP is detected (DRP is "Distributor Reference Pulse", same nomenclature applies to DIS cars as well, just carried over).

Go out and look again, either you missed the brief flash off or all of your cars have ECM issues

This CEL sequence applies to ALL, and I mean ALL OBD1 GM vehicles, I can't think of one that doesn't work this way.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 1:40 PM
Six_Shooter wrote:

Yes, a Million percent sure...

Go out and look again, either you missed the brief flash off or all of your cars have ECM issues
Yeap, you certainly are sure and correct.

I had a look at all 3 and sure enough, the light does come on, quickly off and then quickly on again and stays on. Don't really know how I missed it, but I was actually just checking that the lights came on and stayed on. Wasn't thinking about you mentioning how it would flash and then come on to stay on, in an earlier reply. And mistakenly thought you were saying it should only flash but not stay on. Anyway, you are 1,000,000+1% correct.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 3:13 PM
LOL, I'll take that.

So the CEL in the Skyhawk in question flashes like it should?

Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Thursday, May 10, 2018 4:58 AM
Six_Shooter wrote:

LOL, I'll take that.

So the CEL in the Skyhawk in question flashes like it should?


Thanks everyone for getting back to me.

I just tested it, and it does indeed come on for a second, turn off quickly and turn right back on.

Oddly though, the radiator fan did not turn on this morning..?? I also heard the fuel pump start so I know that is working... I tried to start it, and it wouldn't run, just turned over and over and over. After that start attempt though, the radiator fan decided to turn back on so I didn't try any more.


My current guess is maybe a coolant temp sensor? If it's malfunctioning and reading an overheating engine, wouldn't it turn on the radiator fan and try to trim to fuel to a hot mix instead of a cold one- hence the no start?

Hrmmm... I ordered one just incase as it's a whopping $12 and is the original one in there anywho.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Thursday, May 10, 2018 4:04 PM
William Gou wrote:

Six_Shooter wrote:

LOL, I'll take that.

So the CEL in the Skyhawk in question flashes like it should?


Thanks everyone for getting back to me.

I just tested it, and it does indeed come on for a second, turn off quickly and turn right back on.

Oddly though, the radiator fan did not turn on this morning..?? I also heard the fuel pump start so I know that is working... I tried to start it, and it wouldn't run, just turned over and over and over. After that start attempt though, the radiator fan decided to turn back on so I didn't try any more.


My current guess is maybe a coolant temp sensor? If it's malfunctioning and reading an overheating engine, wouldn't it turn on the radiator fan and try to trim to fuel to a hot mix instead of a cold one- hence the no start?

Hrmmm... I ordered one just incase as it's a whopping $12 and is the original one in there anywho.



Update... not the coolant temp sensor.... put new one in, still same symptoms.

I opened the intake and the butterfly was wet, so it's defintely getting fuel.

Air: ✔
Fuel: ✔
Spark? I'll check that next.

Still clueless on the radiator fan turning on. I feel like it's related, but who knows?
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Friday, May 11, 2018 7:14 AM
Might be the Ignition Control Module?

http://www.j-body.org/forums/read.php?f=28&i=13660&t=13660



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Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Friday, May 11, 2018 9:26 AM
Orlen Brown wrote:

Might be the Ignition Control Module?

http://www.j-body.org/forums/read.php?f=28&i=13660&t=13660



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I'll see if I can find the procedure for checking it, it's hopefully a cheap fix.

I stumbled across the radiator fan testing procedure, and for it to come on with the ignition, I either have a faulty relay, a bad ground on a specific wire, or a bad ECM. I won't be able to test the relay until Monday or Tuesday, but I'm hoping my testing of the fan can maybe shed some light onto the no start?

Here's the fan testing procedure:
https://imgur.com/gallery/sPomMw4

Unless by chance the ignition control module AND radiator fan relay died simultaneously, it may be a faulty ECM? And I'm guessing a bad ECM = no start?
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Saturday, May 12, 2018 2:19 PM
If it was only the fan relay the engine would run fine.
The fan on w/ key on if not a bad relay is the diagnostic or limp mode condition or bad computer
A bad relay can blow the computer so also change the relay as insurance.
When working on the computer always have the key off and battery disconnected.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Saturday, May 12, 2018 6:06 PM
Just because you hear the fuel pump working with the key (on) does not mean it is working properly.If the fuel pressure is not between 9-13 psi the car will not run and just crank over and over.I suggest spraying some starting fluid into the throttle body and then try to start the car.If it runs briefly this is your problem. I doubt your car has Schrader valve to verify the fuel pressure and if the fuel pump has never been changed it probably is toast.The pump failing will show no codes just a non running condition and or sputtering hard to crank and a few other things related.Ok



Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Monday, May 14, 2018 8:40 AM
I had to crank the engine quite a bit to get it to start after I replace the Ignition Control Module because the engine was flooded from all the fuel sprayed in, and no spark. You might experience the same issue.


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Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 1:18 PM
Orlen Brown wrote:

I had to crank the engine quite a bit to get it to start after I replace the Ignition Control Module because the engine was flooded from all the fuel sprayed in, and no spark. You might experience the same issue.


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I ordered a new ICM for under $20, so we'll see how it goes once it arrives! Seems like a quick/easy thing to install.

ECM seems okay, and I can't find the damn fan relay.
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Thursday, May 17, 2018 8:10 AM
Here is your Fan Relay Location. It is easy to either cut the ground or splice a ground in and run one inside to a switch your dash. 1st & 2nd gens are a piece of cake - the 3rd Gens is located in a fuse block and is a Pain. Now if anyone might happen to know the location of the fan relay on a 91 Cutlass Ciera? I'd love to splice a ground into that one as well!




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Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Sunday, May 20, 2018 7:26 PM
Orlen Brown wrote:

Here is your Fan Relay Location. It is easy to either cut the ground or splice a ground in and run one inside to a switch your dash. 1st & 2nd gens are a piece of cake - the 3rd Gens is located in a fuse block and is a Pain. Now if anyone might happen to know the location of the fan relay on a 91 Cutlass Ciera? I'd love to splice a ground into that one as well!




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WOW! I did not know it was right there... Thank you!! The weather has been nothing but rain all week, so hopefully this week it will be sunny and I'll be able to get the ICM replaced. If that's truly where the fan relay is, that too haha; it almost seems tooo easy

The ICM is in finally from rockauto, but I've been out of town with weddings and family nonsense. Current goal is Wednesday to get things installed/tested.

Fingers crossed that's it, I really don't want to do a fuel pump... or keep throwing parts at it. I'm very much 'if it aint broke don't fix it' with this wagon.

Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Saturday, May 26, 2018 3:15 PM
Update!!

I'm a bit confused, hoping someone can shed some light here.

So, fan relay was a success. It's slightly above the picture Orlen posted, on the firewall, but once we got that replaced the fan started working perfectly. Easy peasy.

Got the new distributor cap and ICM on with minimal cuts and cursing, but it still would not just keep turning and no start.

Next we tried a screw driver to the ignition module, spark. Distributor cap, spark. Spark plugs, spark. Pulled the plugs while there, regapped the plugs, and still full spark on everything, so we thought maybe the fuel.

Butterfly is getting sprayed nicely by the injector. We pulled the fuel filter and had pressure before and after the fuel filter. Had fuel pressure on the intake on the fuel rails, but still no start.

We then sprayed starter fluid into the intake, nothing. We were baffled. Next we took off the intake so it was bare butterfly and sprayed starter fluid directly into the manually open butterfly, and finally got a few chugs of it running like crap. That to us confirmed that spark was working finally, regardless of the testing earlier.

With turning the motor over though while being under the hood, it sounds like there's a slight hiss whenever the cylinder on the far right has compression... not sure if that's 1 or 4, but it's the driver side. We tried starting it with spraying starter fluid near that spark plug, and it was able to run for a bit, but low and rough like it was down a cylinder.

Our guess at that point was broken head gasket and loss of compression, as it decided to run like crap on its own after spraying fluid near that cylinder. We went inside, cleaned up, put the full intake back on, and tested it one last time, to which is started right up... all cylinders pumping away, and I swear was running quieter and smoother.

Test drove it a few miles, everything seemed fine..??

I don't trust it currently, but I'm baffled. Head gasket dying? No bubbles in the coolant...


Thoughts anyone?
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Sunday, May 27, 2018 6:18 AM
Well at least you have it running a little bit. Nothing like a little reward!

Doing a compression test will give you a lot of information about what is going on in there. It is possible you might have had a stuck valve that started to act a little bit normal on #4.

I'd still consider replacing the pump. PIA project but dirt cheap. You might discover there might be a lot of crap in that tank that isn't fuel!

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Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 6:33 AM
Orlen Brown wrote:

Well at least you have it running a little bit. Nothing like a little reward!

Doing a compression test will give you a lot of information about what is going on in there. It is possible you might have had a stuck valve that started to act a little bit normal on #4.

I'd still consider replacing the pump. PIA project but dirt cheap. You might discover there might be a lot of crap in that tank that isn't fuel!

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Aaaaand now I'm going to go crazy. Went to start it this morning to take it to work, and it's back to the fan kicking on with ignition, and it not starting. I'm wondering if the ECM either has a bad ground, or is dying? It has fuel, air, spark... it should run, but won't. Hrmmm..
Re: 1987 Buick Skyhawk Wagon, Vin K: Suddenly won't start, radiator fan turns on when key in ON position
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:31 AM
Yes these cars have been known to have ground issues. Old age promotes rust everywhere including ground connections. I remember last year when I was putting the Sunbird back together after a head job I forgot to connect the ground wire to a head bolt near the coil. I had all kinds of crazy symptoms that set me back almost a week scratching my head because nothing was related. One of the symptoms was that one of the idiot lights ( it think it was the alt ) would stay lit the minute you connected the battery up and stayed lit even without the key in the ignition! Making the matters worse I had managed to bury that connector underneath the intake and didn't even see it. Only when I looked back at some "before" photos did I remember seeing it there. So I'd bet you are experiencing a similar situation.

Be patient and you will eventually figure this out.

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