01 Chevy Tracker random fuel flooding


2001 Chevy Tracker,(Suzuki w/chevy moniker), 92,000 miles currently, done this six times in the last four years. When you try and start the engine it cranks over just fine. However, it floods with gas and it will not start. When towed to dealer it starts when they try it although twice plugs were very wet and it wouldn’t. No codes ever recorded so dealer is stumped. It did it today, I gave it a shot of starting fuid in air cleaner(I know but I was mad!). It started right up. No pattern or logic to when it will do this other than when engine is cold. Remember 6 times in four years. This is intensly frustrating as you never know where you will be when it will act up.


Perhaps the fuel pressure regulator is acting up.


Good one. I will have that checked. Perhaps something will show. This is so random and intemittent that it is hard to pin down to date. It has been 15 months since the last issue. As always, without a trouble code the dealer’s eyes glaze over and they send you away. Since it went out of warranty I now have an excellent independant shop. Thank God for real mechanics in real shops. I will give them a shot at this. Oh, and thanks…


It may be a fuel problem, or, it may be an ignition (spark) problem. We don’t know the circumstances of how the spark plugs got wet with fuel. After an engine is cranked so many times, it’s expected that its spark plugs will be wet with fuel. You say you added more fuel, by spraying starter fluid into an engine you thought was already flooded. If an engine is flooded, flooding it more won’t make it start. Erratic fuel flow can be caused by a dirty fuel filter, a faulty fuel pressure regulator, or an erratic fuel pump. To clear a flooded engine, hold the gas pedal down 3/4 (or, fully. Check the manual.) while cranking the engine. As the engine starts, let up on the gas pedal. For a lack of fuel, use the Starting Fluid spray. An independent shop may find the trouble where the dealer can’t.


I have had the fuel filter replaced. When it won’t start, you know right away. It usually starts immediately. When the issue rears it’s head it just cranks. We have never cranked more than twice. We have learned that dead is dead. I tried today for instance on the second attempt with the accelerator on the floor. No difference. When it acts up it is like is not getting fuel or spark. It just cranks. The service manager accused us of pumping the accelerator causing the flooding. He was close to getting hurt. It’s always the owners fault. That is why I made the flooding judgement. Truth is I don’t really know what the dealer has done in the past as all you have is what they tell you. I also know that with starting fluid all you need is a little spark and you have combustion. I will certainly have the fuel pump and/or regulator closely looked at. When the engine did start today, it did not sputter or caugh and then smooth out like it was flooded. It just started like normal. Perhaps it was fuel starved and the spray got it going. This makes sense with the pump or regulator suggestion. Thanks so much…


Let us know how it turns out eh?


Can you hear the fuel pump run, for two seconds, each time the ignition switch is turned to START? To RUN? Sometimes, the ignition switch will send power (12 volts) to the fuel pump in RUN, and not in START, and vice versa. There are two relays, the “main relay” and the “fuel pump relay”, between the ignition switch and the fuel pump. The more items there are in the path, the more that can go wrong. Disconnect the electrical connector at the fuel tank for the fuel pump. Put a voltmeter to the pink with black wire. Have your aide turn the ignition key to RUN. You have two seconds to check for voltage. Again. Turn key to START. Check for voltage. Again, two seconds. IF there isn’t 12 volts, swap the relays which have the same part number on them. Check voltage, again.


Why would a flooded engine start after being given a shot of starting fluid? If anything, that should make it worse; unless this fluky problem is not related to engine flooding.

There are several reasons why the plugs could be wet and the problem is not related to the fuel; lack of spark or a very weak spark.
It seems to me that it is assumed because the plugs are wet the problem is in the fuel system when this may not be the case.

If the vehicle were mine I would check for a spark when it acts up. If there is no spark then the first thing I would check would be making sure that power is reaching the ignition module and coils.
Maybe the problem is related to the ignition switch (electrical part).

A fuel pump trying to fail intermittently could also do this. With weak or little fuel pressure the gasoline will not be atomized and can cause a no-start condition. Personally, I’m leaning towards a no-spark condition since the symptom is dead is dead.

I would also drop by a local AutoZone or the equivalent and have them pull the codes; if for nothing else, an outside opinion. Just in case, since it appears the service manager at the dealer is clueless (go figure). You CANNOT flood a fuel injected car by pumping the accelerator pedal. All you’re doing is moving the butterfly in the throttle body.
Tell the fool to register on this board and recite what he told you.
It’s quite possible you’re the victim of incompetence over what could be a simple problem.


OK, while you may be right about the spark, the OPs question was on engine flooding.

That’s why I suggested a faulty fuel pressure regulator, but after doing a quick Web search, I’m wondering if the ECM is faulty.

OR does the ECM just up and die when it’s done?


When I turn the key to “on” you can hear the pump run for about two to three seconds and then shut off. Now to me the sound is coming from under the hood as I have the hood open. This I guess would not be the fuel pump but something else running for the seconds? When I turn the ignition off after using the vehicle, I hear the same sound for about two seconds after the engine is off. Like the pump is running until the pressure switch says no more. Again the sound is under the hood not from the fuel tank in the rear. This is all great info and I will pass this all on to the mechanic.


Absolutely I will do this. It is the least I can do for all the interest and care I have received.