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Thread: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

  1. #1
    Original Gearhead pdexta's Avatar
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    HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    My parents came down this weekend and were going to take my Miata back with them. My dad gets in the car, drives about 4 miles to the gas station and tops off the car with 3 gallons of gas. Car cranks up, drives less than 1/4 mile and dies abruptly. He said it didn't sputter or anything, just shut off. I drove to the car and it turns over fine but doesn't want to crank. We have the car towed back home and I'm a little stumped on it.

    Where I'm at now:
    Megasquirt parameters are all in check, I've had crank/cam sensor issues, but this is 100% not that
    Car reeks of fuel, pull the plugs and when you turn it over it shoots geysers of fuel out of all 4 spark plug holes
    Plugs are soaking wet, but all 4 have spark
    Timing checks out perfect; verified on crank, both cams, and cylinder 1 (I promise, I've set miata timing like 294875928 times)
    Gas receipt shows 93 octane, Racetrac insists fuel couldn't be in the wrong tank, but it smells off to me and my ethanol sensor is reading an impossibly low 6% ethanol (it was at 10% before adding 3 gallons of fuel).

    The only thing I can come up with is that we got diesel somehow, car ran for a bit and then crapped out. The 70% gas, 30% diesel mix won't fire and just floods the motor. Other than that I don't even have a clue. Is there any other explanation you guys can come up with? I hate to dump an entire tank of fuel on a stupid theory, but I'm having trouble coming up with anything else.
    Scott
    2000 SE Miata ♦ 6sp, MS3X, GTX2860 @ 20psi, E85
    2005 Civic Hybrid ♦ 5sp

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    Events Manager minuteman048's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    Take a gas jug and go back to the same pump and pump a gallon and see what you got. The clue is it happened right after the fillup.
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    Dump the fuel. It’s the first and cheapest way to take it out of the equation. I thought you ran on e85. How’s your tune on 93?

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    Original Gearhead Joe Morreale's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    Disconnect the injector harness, so you don't get any fuel. Disconnect ic so you can spray starter fluid, to see if it fires. If it does, I would drain the tank and see what happens with a couple gallons of fresh 93 octane.
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    ✨ Senior Gearhead 3K+ SmileyFace's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    If the problem is with the 3 gals of gas there must be other cars who filled up from the same pump, and are having the same problem. There is one possibility that the fuel to air mixture is all is the problem, is it possible that the turbo is not functioning properly and is not delivery the correct amount of air through the cold air system to the intake manifold that could account for the overflow of fuel in the cylinder. Have you been able to test the fuel by lighting a very small amount in a bottle cap to see if it flamable to an open flame.
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    Individual-1 ☚☻☛ Agent☣Orange's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    It sounds electrical to me like the crank sensor working intermittently. If you want to rule out fuel, go back to the same pump your dad used and fill a glass jar to check if diesel. When the car abruptly shut off, did everything else electrical like lights and radio work?

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  8. #7
    Original Gearhead pdexta's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    I really appreciate all the feedback, thanks guys.

    Quick update, I drained the tank, refilled with 6 gallons of E85, and changed the spark plugs. I switched the car over to 93 because my parents were taking it home and I knew there wasn't a lot of E85 around, plus I assumed it'd end up sitting for a while and thought I'd be better off with 93 in the tank. I've got several hundred miles on 93 octane now and it's pretty well tuned so I don't think that's the issue. There's still a ton of fuel in the cylinders. I pulled the fuel relay and have been cranking it over to shoot as much out as possible. Gonna let it sit over night and hopefully evaporate some. No real progress made so far as it won't even think about cranking while so flooded.

    Quote Originally Posted by whiprsnapr View Post
    Dump the fuel. It’s the first and cheapest way to take it out of the equation. I thought you ran on e85. How’s your tune on 93?
    Done! I usually run E85, just switched for the move. 93 tune could be better, but it's good enough to not cause this kind of issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Morreale View Post
    Disconnect the injector harness, so you don't get any fuel. Disconnect ic so you can spray starter fluid, to see if it fires. If it does, I would drain the tank and see what happens with a couple gallons of fresh 93 octane.
    I pulled the fuel relay. I'll try the starter fluid trick tomorrow, it's just so flooded now there's no hope.

    Quote Originally Posted by SmileyFace View Post
    If the problem is with the 3 gals of gas there must be other cars who filled up from the same pump, and are having the same problem. There is one possibility that the fuel to air mixture is all is the problem, is it possible that the turbo is not functioning properly and is not delivery the correct amount of air through the cold air system to the intake manifold that could account for the overflow of fuel in the cylinder. Have you been able to test the fuel by lighting a very small amount in a bottle cap to see if it flamable to an open flame.
    I called Racetrac and they were immediately super defensive and insisted "That could never happen." One it dries out if it fires up and runs on the new gas I'll definitely be down there to speak with someone. I pulled the filter and the turbo seems fine, spins freely. I didn't light the fuel, I feel like I'd lose my eyebrows or worse trying that, haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent☣Orange View Post
    It sounds electrical to me like the crank sensor working intermittently. If you want to rule out fuel, go back to the same pump your dad used and fill a glass jar to check if diesel. When the car abruptly shut off, did everything else electrical like lights and radio work?
    I've had a lot of electrical issues, but this particular one feels different to me. If it is electrical it's definitely something different than what I've seen before. My cam sensor issues result in no tach signal and therefore no fuel. This situation is presenting an RPM signal and massive amounts of fuel. I'll check with my dad on other electronics and see what he says.

    If it was 1 cylinder I'd wonder if it was an injector issue, but this is all 4. I guess that could come back to electrical, but it seems unlikely.
    Scott
    2000 SE Miata ♦ 6sp, MS3X, GTX2860 @ 20psi, E85
    2005 Civic Hybrid ♦ 5sp

  9. #8
    Original Gearhead Joe Morreale's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    After you get it running, you may consider the fact that with all the fuel you dumped in the cylinders that there may be some leak down into the oil. With the stress we put on the oil I'd probably change it. Just a thought.
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  11. #9
    Original Gearhead pdexta's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    Oh yeah, I was definitely planning an oil change after all this, sucks because I just changed it. I talked to my dad a bit last night he said again that it just died, no spitting and sputtering. He also questioned the amount of fuel in the cylinders, it's a huge amount that would be unusual. I'm wondering now if it is something electrical that's holding the injectors open to just dump a massive amount of fuel.
    Scott
    2000 SE Miata ♦ 6sp, MS3X, GTX2860 @ 20psi, E85
    2005 Civic Hybrid ♦ 5sp

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    Individual-1 ☚☻☛ Agent☣Orange's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Dead Miata Troubleshooting

    I wonder if it might be better to just have the Miata transported up there so you can focus on the move.

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