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VS went 1500 km then died at destination. Low idle / ticking / white smoke

haydenlee

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Hi there, long time forum reader, first time poster.

This is a fairly long post. I want to be completely thorough.

The gist of it is that VS Acclaim has a low idle, waits to change from N to D and the idle gets lower upon turning the wheel.

If you want to skip reading this and ask me whatever questions you want to get to the bottom of it- I'll answer anything, even if the answers in this massive blurb of writing.

Thanks in advance!

If I lay the problem out as in a story, it might help make it clearer to both you and me. So here it is, chronologically.


- 1997 Holden Commodore VS Acclaim, V6 Eco-Tec

- Problems when bought (A month ago):
- Rough gear changes, a short wait when going from neutral or park to drive or reverse, or from drive to reverse or vice versa.
- Ticking sound coming from what sounds like just in front of the steering wheel. Only there when throttle is applied, gets louder and faster as more throttle is applied. However, even at 100 kmh, when you take your foot off the throttle a bit, to cruise, ticking goes away. Seems to be throttle dependent. Mechanic said could be some sort of 'leak' - did he mean voltage, vacuum, or maybe something else? Doesn't seem to affect performance.
- Slight wait to pick up when throttle applied. Could be plugs or leads, right?
- Disposer mentioned that the engine light would come on sometimes. (I inspected this afterwards- read on!)
- Disposer mentioned that husband 'put some diesel in' and that 'it's ok because we put in the fluid that cleans and repairs' (or words to that effect)

- So, I bought the car $1000 with 7 months Rego when we NEEDED a car was great, got a RWC done (New shocks and interior fixes such as window buttons) and it drove well (aside from the aforementioned problems) for ages. Several three hour drives, some up to seven hour drives, all well. Good fuel consumption, good power.

- Also during this time, we changed the ATF, as the hose came off and spilt the old lot onto the Bruce Highway.

- So, we set off on our 1500 km journey. We fill the car up three times. It runs absolutely perfectly, all the way there. About 10 minutes after the third time we fill up (pretty much at destination), we stop in a lay-by and turn the car off. I turn it back on, and as I turn the wheel, the revs drop too low, the car stalls and the oil light flashes just as it dies.

- I attempt to turn it back on, but it won't turn over. I only try once.

- I, for some reason, come to the conclusion that I should put some more oil in (as the light was on momentarily, I assume that we have a leak and it needs oil to start).

- I spill some as I'm putting it in (D'Oh!).

- The car turns back on, but now with a white smoke that is coming from in front of the drivers seat, underneath the block- it only happens when the engine is revved a bit.

- I tighten the oil filter a tiny bit, and notice that the ignition lead furthest from driver on the drivers side is a little loose. I make sure it's completely tight and start car again. No smoke.

- Could it be that oil has gotten in the plug.....place..... somehow? Or is it more likely that the oil that I spilt was just burning off the engine and had all burnt off?

- No sign of smoke since then, whatsoever.

- Since this one incident (or, more likely, before it, which caused the incident), it has a low/rough idle. It idles at around 500, maybe a bit higher, which goes even lower if i turn the steering wheel (?!)

- The temperature never goes higher than normal, I never get any temperature related warning lights or anything either

- However, the dashboard and just behind the steering wheel seems to get quite a lot of heat coming off it

- ATF is nice and pink and plentiful. Coolant is green, non-milky, completely topped up and perfect. Oil is non-bubbly, clean, seems ok.

- I checked the engine error codes and got:

- Code 15 - Coolant temperature Sensor high voltage
- Code 16 - Coolant temperature Sensor voltage unstable
- Code 44 - RH Oxygen Sensor Lean (O2)

- My next course of action is to:
- Use the Multimeter I have just bought to check the ignition leads
- Check the plugs while I'm at it
- Remove and swap O2 sensors and check if error code changes from RH to LH

What do you guys think?!

P.S. Thanks for reading if you got this far!
 

VR38

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Burn the witch at the stake.
 

Brett_jjj

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It sounds like it could be exhaust problems. The ticking noise could well be exhaust leaks if the ticking goes away when you back off the throttle, and the heat coming from the drivers side could be the leak blowing exhaust gasses onto the body under there, heating it up. The low idle and stalling could be anything. The coolant temp sensor needs replacing by the look of the codes your getting as the engine management system uses the coolant temp sensor signal to help regulate how it controls the engine etc.
 

haydenlee

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It sounds like it could be exhaust problems. The ticking noise could well be exhaust leaks if the ticking goes away when you back off the throttle, and the heat coming from the drivers side could be the leak blowing exhaust gasses onto the body under there, heating it up. The low idle and stalling could be anything. The coolant temp sensor needs replacing by the look of the codes your getting as the engine management system uses the coolant temp sensor signal to help regulate how it controls the engine etc.
Ahh that makes sense!

I realised just now that the ticking is still there without any throttle, just really quiet. So when the throttles on more, it gets louder and faster. Does this work with the theory?

Also, a bit of extra information- after turning the key twice, the fan comes immediately on (coolant sensor problem or normal occurrence?) and the oil and error lights come on, but then both go off after the car is on. Is this normal?

The check engine light only comes on when hot and going through town or roundabouts or generally stopping and starting. If I go on the highway or cruise for a bit, it goes away.

Thanks for the help so far! Is there anything I can check to test out the theory?

And does anyone have any ideas about the rough idle? I'm thinking leads and plugs.
 

Pollushon

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I've had the hesitation on acceleration before and the idle drop to stall on PS pressure. Ended up being the throttle body (TB) full of muck and throwing the IAC out. So from full throttle off (IAC open) to putting the hoof in (IAC closed) the IAC couldn't close quickly or fully. It's also normal for the PS to cause the revs to drop, but in a perfect world the ECU just accommodates and it's a non event, barely noticeable. That is unless your IAC is clagged. This can also cause 'rough' idle as the idle is too low.

Pull your IAC out and see if it's a carbon stalactite. If so, rip off the TB, strip the TPS and IAC and clean that puppy with TB cleaner and elbow grease til you can eat off it.

As for the lack of start where you put more oil in, did you actually check the oil level? It's normal for an oil light flicker on key off I've found, means nothing. I'd be more inclined to say it's the standard auto inhibitor switch issue, another one I've suffered. Still haven't replaced it as on the odd occasion it happens I just jiggle the shifter or put it in N. Sometimes it just rights itself.

The code 44 could just be a symptom of a dead temp sensor, which will screw with the mix by giving the ECU incorrect info.
 

James39

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Ahh that makes sense!

I realised just now that the ticking is still there without any throttle, just really quiet. So when the throttles on more, it gets louder and faster. Does this work with the theory?

Also, a bit of extra information- after turning the key twice, the fan comes immediately on (coolant sensor problem or normal occurrence?) and the oil and error lights come on, but then both go off after the car is on. Is this normal?

The check engine light only comes on when hot and going through town or roundabouts or generally stopping and starting. If I go on the highway or cruise for a bit, it goes away.

Thanks for the help so far! Is there anything I can check to test out the theory?

And does anyone have any ideas about the rough idle? I'm thinking leads and plugs.


Well if it makes sense then change that sensor, since the car has no idea what the temp is it runs at a default setting and will explain why the idle is rough. The tick noise seems to be a leak in the exhaust so check the system for the leak and repair.
Smoke in the engine bay will mean you have a oil leak somewhere .
 

K-BAGZ

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Put baby powder on the exhaust flanges and surfaces, and get someone to block the exhaust tailpipe with a rag. This causes a heavy restriction and you'll be able to spot the exhaust leak from the baby powder fluffing up!

Check the voltage at the coolant temperature sensor harness plug, should be approximately 5V with ignition on. Recifty wiring if necessary. And replace the sensor as stated above.

Clean the throttlebody and IAC valve also as stated above.

Might be time for a O2 sensor replacement, but check the resistance of the spark plug leads and condition of the spark plugs.
 

Brett_jjj

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Yeah, the cooling fan will constantly run with the car running if the temp sensor is not sending the proper signal to the ECU. Im pretty sure the temp sensor for the ECU is the same on the V6's through from the VN to VS so you should be able to find a second hand one easily enough to get you out of trouble.( there may be a JC member on here who lives near where you are who could help you out). You will need some plumbers thread tape or some type of sealant for a second hand sensor so it seals properly. Theres 2 different temp sensors (actually ones a temp sensor and ones a temp sender) used on the V6 (VN-VS), ones uses a single wire and that ones for the temp gauge on the dash. The other sensor has multiple wires and is used by the ECU. Be sure the ECU one is the one you replace.
 
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Pollushon

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Put baby powder on the exhaust flanges and surfaces, and get someone to block the exhaust tailpipe with a rag. This causes a heavy restriction and you'll be able to spot the exhaust leak from the baby powder fluffing up!
Why am I only learning this now, so simple! Legendary, I think I have a flange leak, I'm about to go find out.
 
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