1997 Malibu Not Running Right

malibu
chevrolet

#1

Last night I was on my way home and I had been driving for about 30 miles. Once I got closer to home my check engine and oil pressure light came on and my car started running really crappy. I was able to get it home by driving about 5mph. The faster I would go the more it would stutter. I started it up this morning and it would idle a little about 1000rpm and work its way all the down until it died. Thanks in advance for any help.


#2

Once I got closer to home my check engine and oil pressure light came on and my car started running really crappy. I was able to get it home by driving about 5mph.

That five mph trip might prove to be expensive. Don’t try to drive it to the shop.

When an oil pressure light comes on or the CEL blinks, it means Pull off to the side of the road as quickly as safe. Turn the engine off and get your cell phone out.

I recommend having it towed to your local INDEPENDENT mechanic after you call him or her.

#3

Oil pressure light comes on because either the sender, or lead is faulty, or because the oil pressure is too low to provide adequate lube to the moving parts of the engine. So then the engine will wear like crazy, and or sieze up, or shut down. This basically ruins an engine pdq. Have it towed to the shop and check your bank ballance to see if you can afford to get it fixed. Alternatively, it could be a faulty battery cable, but that is an outside chance, like drawing to an inside straight.


#4

Thank you both for the answers. Now if my engine is showing full on oil what can I try before having it towed? Oil pressure switch?


#5

If you did lose oil pressure, you very likely killed the engine by continuing to drive it.


#6

Its turns out I didn’t lose oil pressure. I was able to hook up a OBD2 reader and the only code it gave me was P0300. I replaced the spark plug wires and checked the plugs. Some of the plugs looked like they had been working but some of them looked liked they hadn’t been working at all. I had my ignition module checked and it tested ok. I also checked the coils and they are fine as well. What else should I check regarding this code? Thanks.


#7

“I had my ignition module checked and it tested ok. I also checked the coils and they are fine as well”

You might want to elaborate on that. Checked how and by whom?

“Some of the plugs looked like they had been working but some of them looked liked they hadn’t been working at all.”

That could also use some elaboration.

An OBDII code reader won’t tell you whether you have low oil pressure or not. Did you check the oil level?

I think that what you most need right now is a compression tester. I would check compression in all cylinders before I spent any more time and money on it.


#8

I had my ignition module tested at autozone. They ran it through the test about 15 times and it passed each time. The guy that was doing it made sure it was warming up while testing it. In regards to the spark plugs when we took them out the white ceramic below the electrode was black on some of the plugs and some of them were only off white. The car is full on oil as well. We were able to get it to stay running but it runs really rough.


#9

The plugs/cylinders that were working right are the ones that are off white.

The ones that are black are the ones to worry about.

I think that you may have a bad head gasket. Check out the compression.

If this is a 6-cyl, those engines are also notorious for bad intake manifold gaskets.


#10

Thank you for your responses. I know that this engine is notorious for blown head gaskets. Is there anyway to tell just by looking at the engine that a head gasket is blown? Also if I did have a blown head gasket wouldn’t my OBD2 reader give me a code for that? When I do a compression test what should the psi be per cylinder? Thanks again.


#11

The typical easy signs you’d get of a bad head gasket would be white smoke out the tailpipe and coolant in the oil & vice versa. If coolant gets in the oil it turns it into something that looks sort of like a milkshake. But you can get neither of these (at least initially) and still have a breach.

A code reader can only read what the car’s computer reports about emissions systems sensors. It won’t whisper a word about a head gasket b/c it has no means to do it. Except…if you did have a bad one then one thing that might happen is a random/multiple cylinder misfire (i.e. code P0300). Mis-“fire” is often from a lack of “fire” - or spark. But more generally it means that no combustion took place in a cylinder. For that you do need spark, but also compression (and fuel and air).

The engine, if a 6 cyl, is best known for intake manifold leaks rather than heads. You could also have that problem.

In any case, with a misfire checking the ignition components is a typical first step. After that checking the compression is a standard thing to do to avoid chasing a problem that ends up to be mechanical. I don’t know exactly what kind of compression this engine should get, but if you have a compression problem and a few plugs look good and a few look bad you’ll know it when you see it. If you see anything under 150 worry (smile at 170) but what you most want to know is how consistent it is across the cylinders - e.g. if you have a few at 160-170psi and a couple at 90 it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.


#12

Turns out I had a broken camshaft. I will be inspecting the engine further tomorrow. Thank you all for your help.