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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This car has been quite the hassle, posting here as a last resort. 1989 Sterling 827sli died while driving, cranks fine but no start, not getting any spark to spark plugs & also not hearing my fuel pump prime. Voltage to the ignition coil is reading 11.5, replaced distributor & no change. Replaced the ignition coil, as well as spark plugs & spark plug wire/ignition coil wire with NGK, no change. Took a test light to the multi plug at distributor & is getting power, as well as new rotor is spinning freely (not with car off) have test lit all fuses both in the cabin & engine bay though not tested any relays. Just replaced the ignition control module, no change.
 

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My 623 suffered from cranking but not starting, turned out to be the fuel relay by the foot pedals.
I have one here but not sure if the 800's use the same one.
They suffer from dry joints if you can solder.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My 623 suffered from cranking but not starting, turned out to be the fuel relay by the foot pedals.
I have one here but not sure if the 800's use the same one.
They suffer from dry joints if you can solder.....
I’m thinking this could be my problem, I don’t have any pgmfi light, but I swear I don’t hear the fuel pump priming on ignition, I have pressure at fuel rail but not seeing anything on this relay, if you have a pic you can upload that’d be great!
 

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as promised,
this is the faulty relay, well it was on mine!

Motor vehicle Automotive design Fixture Automotive exterior Material property

the back can be removed to reveal the circuit board.......
Automotive lighting Rectangle Gadget Bumper Automotive exterior


and this is where it lives under the dash, might be different on a 827, I left mine hanging down for slightly easier access.....
Motor vehicle Vehicle Automotive exterior Electrical wiring Gas


I have a spare relay if yours is the same, maybe we can work something out if you need it.

I'm also selling my 623GSI if you want another motor!! (its on here and fleebay) wink wink........
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow thank you! Looks like the 800s use a little bit different style relay from what I’ve been seeing, I popped my head up behind the pedals today but hopefully some better luck tomorrow, appreciate your help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Motor vehicle Auto part Electrical wiring Automotive exterior Electronic device

Hood Electrical wiring Computer hardware Auto part Machine

Got under the dash, doesn’t look too promising under here. Various zip ties holding things in place from PO I’m assuming, however no sign of this black ‘Mitsuba’ relay, all fuses are sound, it is definitely good at hiding!
 

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In case of 827 from 1992 this relay is:

"It has been found! Thanks Roverlike. But how can I get it out? it is behind/obove the fusebox, in a housing and assembled with a little bar which is secured with a screw on the frame. The screw is on the upper side of the frame. You can see the screw coming through the frame at the lower side. Can I just pull the ralay out of the housing, without removing the screw? It is nearly impossible to remove the screw out of the frame from the lower side. you cannot remove the screw with a screwdriver from the lower side and there is not enouh room for a hand and screwdriver at the upper side."

This is a copy from Dutch site where I helped another member to find this relay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sky Font Wood Landscape Mountain

Thank you! For future reference it is indeed directly behind the inside driver fuse box, you have to get your head behind the brake pedal & you can mark out the bottom color of the relay.
Unfortunately my good news ran pretty short, all soldering connections looked intact & no cracks, soldered them again anyway & popped back in!
No change, ecu under passenger seat doesn’t flash any codes in any key setting, no spark, and do not hear fuel pump priming. Replaced parts are fuel pump & filter (I have pressure at fuel rail), ignition coil, distributor, timing belt is intact, ignition coil reads 11.5 volts but no spark to HT leads. Car died while cruising at 70 on highway.
Really running out of ideas here, is it likely for my entire ecu to fail randomly? I have it pulled but don’t think there is a way to test.
 

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What are last six digits of your VIN? I might help a bit digging in the circuit diagrams, time permitting.

In my experience the ECU is the last thing to fail... No error code means either no power to ECU (or part of ECU), ECU does not register a fault (but there might still be one that falls outside the ECU checks) or the ECU is indeed completely 'dead' (can be resurrected at special shops with special tools). Did you check for power to ECU on correct pins? More likely something with a fuse, connector/plug, wiring loom or outside the realm of the ECU monitoring. It could be as simple as a short circuit to ground of a low voltage signal wire somewhere in the loom? I suggest to get yourself the circuit diagrams and go through all the ignition related circuits. No fuse or corroded fuses in the engine bay holder? Battery full and not half-depleted (yes, that happened to me as voltage was probably just a tad too low, despite everything 'seemed' to be working correctly). If automatic, did you check the P/N start inhibit switch just to be sure? Did you do a compression test, so you know there is compression in all cylinders (rarely blow all the same time, but nonetheless good to check)?

Quick question: Does the ignition spark 'signal' (low voltage side) come through to the coil? I had one time that I replaced an ignition coil and the replacement was bad as well (it was new!). Just keep hunting with a decent multimeter and you should find the issue. Can't give much other advice remotely I'm afraid :(

If you don't hear the fuel pump it's unlikely to have pressure :confused: How did you check for pressure? Are the spark plugs wet (flooded engine)? That would confirm that fuel is indeed entering and the absence of a proper spark.

Can you check whether this procedure below happens as described?
Font Number Document Screenshot


As with all electrical issues: Go through it systematically and without a rush! Report back to us if you can't find it after doing the above (including posting what you did and which circuits you checked and what way). We might be able to assist you further. Unfortunately very hard to diagnose these issues without being at the car in question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow thank you for the reply!
222556, there is two ecu’s for this car, one being under each seat correct? Have not checked power to the pins yet, I have just replaced the main Mitsuba relay & the igniter module as well just to clear that out of my mind. Battery has good voltage & also have 12v going to the green wire on the ignition coil, as well as the ignition control module, all fuses look good & when ignition on, with a test light all come on, checking for fuel pressure by putting ignition on & loosening banjo at fuel rail & no pressure at all, spark plugs are all dry & have no arc, will be looking for diagrams in the coming days. Check engine light stays on in key position 2 & does not flash off. Safest bet is probably just gathering diagrams & going from there
 

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Will reply tomorrow more in depth as it’s 3:20AM and I really should sleep (not really a clear head, so so e stuff might be ambiguous).
Edit 2022-9-9: Have read through all the posts and put together a summary for extra transparency. If this is incorrect, please post the correction as these things are vital to get right for proper remote diagnosing.

General information:
  • Last six digits of VIN: 222556. This is handy to know for looking at the right circuit diagrams.
Symptoms:
  • Died while driving.
  • Does crank, but will not start.
  • No spark to spark plugs.
  • No fuel pump priming.
  • No error code blinks on ECU.
Parts replaced:
  • Distributor.
  • Ignition coil.
  • Spark plugs.
  • Spark plug and coil HT leads.
  • Igniter module.
  • Fuel pump.
  • Fuel filter.
  • Main relay.
Tested (so far):
  • Test light at distributor multi plug, which is getting power.
  • Distributor rotor (moves freely).
  • Test lit all fuses in engine bay and cabin fuse boxes.
  • Main relay (re-soldered and replaced thereafter).
  • Ignition coil voltage is 11.5V.
  • Fuel pressure: No (makes sense due to not priming).
  • Check engine light comes on, so no short circuit there.
My questions to you:
  • Is your 827 an automatic or manual?
  • How exactly did the car die? Where (freeway or not, etc.)?
  • What are your electrical skills?
  • Is the security system (immobiliser) not the culprit or would it not crank at all then (please research this and post back)?
  • Did you check the inertia fuel cut-off switch?
  • Did you check all solder joints in driver’s side fuse box? A couple of ECU and fuel stuff goes through there as well.
  • Did you check the oil pressure switch? If this goes, the engine won’t run if I remember correctly (or was that only on the SD1?...). Again, please research and post back.
  • Did you check for correct earth on engine ECU? Also check other earth points.
  • Did you check for alternating voltage (PWM) on fuel injectors while cranking?
  • Please check the procedure of ECU and systems startup as described in my previous post.
  • Please check the signal wire to the ignition coil while cranking (it alternates quickly, like a PWM signal) so we can confirm the ECU does not send out a spark to the coil at all.
The fuel/engine ECU is under the passenger seat and the automatic transmission ECU is under the driver seat (rather a pain to reach). If you can find an old Sterling dealer nearby, they might have a FastCheck device to diagnose most/all sensor inputs. As far as I know there is no way to diagnose the ECU itself, but as it is a Honda system in there, maybe a friendly Acura dealer could be of help as I think they might be the same ones as those in the first gen Legend. A temporary ECU swap with a KNOWN working one would be easiest to rule that out.

The automatic transmission ECU does have some bi-directional communication with the engine ECU, so there could also be some problem, I think?

If the check engine light comes on, the ECU seems to be getting power, but will need to verify the default behavior of the light (when no power, is circuit closed or open?).
 

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Updated my original, previous post. This new post is merely to trigger e-mail notifications (for your convenience) if you have enabled these.

It would be good if you could keep updating your start post with a list along the lines like I posted that contains all the information, so we all know what you have tried so far. This also makes it easier for other members to chime in with tips ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you wow, going to update your questions with my answers formatted below, going to answer the questions I've diagnosed & will update as I keep tinkering
General information:
  • Last six digits of VIN: 222556. This is handy to know for looking at the right circuit diagrams.
Symptoms:
  • Died while driving.
  • Does crank, but will not start.
  • No spark to spark plugs.
  • No fuel pump priming.
  • No error code blinks on ECU.
Parts replaced:
  • Distributor.
  • Ignition coil.
  • Spark plugs.
  • Spark plug and coil HT leads.
  • Igniter module.
  • Fuel pump.
  • Fuel filter.
  • Main relay.
Tested (so far):
  • Test light at distributor multi plug, which is getting power.
  • Distributor rotor (moves freely).
  • Test lit all fuses in engine bay and cabin fuse boxes.
  • Main relay (re-soldered and replaced thereafter).
  • Ignition coil voltage is 11.5V.
  • Fuel pressure: No (makes sense due to not priming).
  • Check engine light comes on, so no short circuit there.
My questions to you:
  • Is your 827 an automatic or manual? Automatic
  • How exactly did the car die? Where (freeway or not, etc.)? Car died on freeway going around 70mph around a slight bend, complete loss of signal.
  • What are your electrical skills? Mechanically much more than electrically inclined haha, I have diagnosed bad pinouts in connectors before but digging apart looms & looking for short to grounds is a first with this one.
  • Is the security system (immobiliser) not the culprit or would it not crank at all then (please research this and post back)?
  • Did you check the inertia fuel cut-off switch? I have, inertia switch was not triggered.
  • Did you check all solder joints in driver’s side fuse box? A couple of ECU and fuel stuff goes through there as well. Will be checking today
  • Did you check the oil pressure switch? If this goes, the engine won’t run if I remember correctly (or was that only on the SD1?...). Again, please research and post back.
  • Did you check for correct earth on engine ECU? Also check other earth points. I will be taking the seats out to check on the ecu's today.
  • Did you check for alternating voltage (PWM) on fuel injectors while cranking?
  • Please check the procedure of ECU and systems startup as described in my previous post.
  • Please check the signal wire to the ignition coil while cranking (it alternates quickly, like a PWM signal) so we can confirm the ECU does not send out a spark to the coil at all. Will check today
The fuel/engine ECU is under the passenger seat and the automatic transmission ECU is under the driver seat (rather a pain to reach). If you can find an old Sterling dealer nearby, they might have a FastCheck device to diagnose most/all sensor inputs. As far as I know there is no way to diagnose the ECU itself, but as it is a Honda system in there, maybe a friendly Acura dealer could be of help as I think they might be the same ones as those in the first gen Legend. A temporary ECU swap with a KNOWN working one would be easiest to rule that out.

The automatic transmission ECU does have some bi-directional communication with the engine ECU, so there could also be some problem, I think?

If the check engine light comes on, the ECU seems to be getting power, but will need to verify the default behavior of the light (when no power, is circuit closed or open?).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Looking forward to what you'll find. If you have any questions regarding schematics or measurement methods (like how do I measure X, Y or Z), do post them here and we'll help you on your way :)
So pretty big update, I remember testing fuse #13 with a test light & it had power, just pulled it & it was blown! Swapped in a new 10a fuse and when powering on ignition, fuse instantly blows. Pretty reluctant to find a sign of a problem! haha
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
So pretty big update, I remember testing fuse #13 with a test light & it had power, just pulled it & it was blown! Swapped in a new 10a fuse and when powering on ignition, fuse instantly blows. Pretty reluctant to find a sign of a problem! haha

SO, after unplugging the main relay & sticking a new 10a fuse in place, the fuse does not blow! Part number on the oem main relay for the sterling is RZ-0046, I have a spare main relay from a parts CRX that is RZ-0063, same pinouts! When plugging relay in, engine light turns off & relay functions properly! Finally getting a signal to the ecu which is giving 8 short blinks, which would be TDC sensor, doing some more digging now on how to replace one of those, doesn’t seem like something I can do without specialty tools, maybe sometime but not very good news
 

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So, luckily it was the main relay after all! Glad to hear it, but now I’m curious why it didn’t seem to work first as you did switch it with another one already? :unsure:

Even with a faulty TDC sensor, the car should start AFAIK, only a bit slower (couple more seconds cranking), but not entirely sure without consulting ‘the book’.

To get to that sensor you need to take off the timing belt at least I think (haven’t looked at instructions yet). As far as I can recall, you need to remove the front (or right, if facing the crankshaft pulley) camshaft pulley (from cylinders 4,5,6) and plastic covers to reach it. However, please do check the workshop manual as it should be in there.

I didn’t need any special factory tools (well, besides a torque wrench) to replace the timing belt, so I think you’re in the clear there. Otherwise, those tools will pay themselves back instantly anyway if you do it yourself.

It is possible to measure the TDC sensor, so you might not need to drop big cash (about 160USD). It also seems to happen sometimes that the potting/putty is failing and it moves, so some people seem to seal it back up again with epoxy potting: DIY:Repotting Crank/Cam Angle Sensor

And as always, it might also be a bad wire or oxidized plug somewhere in the engine bay of the sensor. My advice would be to check the wiring/plugs carefully first and measure it all to make an informed decision for further actions.
 
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