Help needed with 1988 Peugeot 505 GTI mystery . . .
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Thread: Help needed with 1988 Peugeot 505 GTI mystery . . .

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    Default Help needed with 1988 Peugeot 505 GTI mystery . . .

    Driving home last night, a strange thing happened.

    The car (a 1988 Peugeot 505 GTI) suddenly began hesitating, losing power. After a few moments, the radio/CD went dark and I also think the interior lighting may have dimmed slightly. This went on for (at a guess) 15-20 seconds with the engine just chugging along but otherwise unresponsive until, on my third or fourth attempt at flooring the accelerator pedal, everything suddenly righted itself (including the radio/CD coming on) and the car took off again. It was fine for the rest of the drive.

    A similar thing had happened on the drive out. It was still light then so I didn't notice any effect on interior lighting (and didn't have the radio on). There too, it corrected itself after I floored the accelerator. I'd assumed it was some sort of fuel blockage which had cleared but the repeat occurrence on the way home seems to rule that out.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated (it's a mighty long way from out here to the nearest Peugeot mechanic!).

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    1000+ Posts Beano's Avatar
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    Battery and/or alternator connection ?

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    Fellow Frogger! Roland's Avatar
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    I agree with Beano.

    You really need to disconnect the leads from the battery - clean all the surfaces and reconnect.
    Also do all connections where the leads attach to:-
    IE. Starter motor, Body work, Engine block etc.
    If there is a separate earthing lead from the engine to the bodywork then remove, clean and refit that one as well.
    Then just to make sure - do the same with the alternator connections.

    Cheers
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    And make sure that the fan belt is tight.

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    Thanks guys, that's got to be worth doing.


    As a matter of curiosity, given the radio/CD blacked out altogether, the Electronic Control Unit malfunctioned to some degree (I assume that's what caused the loss of engine power) while the interior lighting only might have dimmed a touch, and given everything went back to working perfectly, could this little collection of data points help pinpoint the cause more precisely?


    It just seems slightly weird to me that a generalised iffy connection would produce such random and transient effects. If you tell me that's how these things work I'll obviously bow to your collective expertise but as I said, I'm still a bit puzzled.


    P.S. I've had the car for two years and it's been faultless until yesterday. Given what happened, one thing might be relevant; the ECU occasionally produces an apparently random series of "clicking" sounds before quietening down again.

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    Bad battery connection is one possibility. Another is a short circuit somewhere on the battery side of the fuses. In particular, a short circuit on the accessories fuse feed would kill all the accessories and might only pull down battery voltage enough to dim the interior lights slightly. That might explain how one circuit was more affected than another.

    But then, as I recall, the accessories on the 505 are relay switched and the relay lives in the fusebox, so there's not a great likelihood of a short on that circuit alone. Still, seems worth looking into.

    Have fun,

    Rob.

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    Thanks Rob. With my limited understanding that seems to make sense. For that to be the cause, presumably the ECU would have to be on that accessories feed as well. Is that the case as far as you know?


    I don't have enough knowledge about auto electricals to even be dangerous. Given the intermittent nature of the problem, would this be a tricky one for an auto electrician to figure out?


    While on the subject of auto electricians/mechanics, does anyone here know of a decent Peugeot one anywhere in the Western Downs area in Queensland?

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    It was only a theory and I wouldn't rush to the auto electrician. All the same short circuits do happen and can be dire (smoking looms, fire). In your shoes I'd go ahead with checking the battery terminals as others have advised, but I'd also take the opportunity to have a look at where the feeds come in to the fuse and relay box and wiggle the wires as they might have been wiggling with wind/vibration when you saw the problem. Sparks or arc sounds would confirm the problem. Might be wise to be able to pull a battery terminal in case you DO find a short and, this time, it isn't momentary. Beyond that, I guess, let it develop...

    The engine stumble quite likely was ignition related rather than ECU (which only does EFI on the 505). The coil would respond instantly to a low voltage where your interior light would take a moment or two to dim.

    One other thing which bears mentioning, though I think it not a likely cause, the 505 ignition switch is not great. Sometimes, while driving along, it'll move into a no man's land between "ignition" and "start", where the accessories are off, but the starter motor isn't running -- usually noticed by the blinkers not working. Some blame heavy keyrings, but the dodgy switch doesn't help. Anyhow, FWIW.

    Have fun,

    Rob.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robs View Post
    Might be wise to be able to pull a battery terminal in case you DO find a short and, this time, it isn't momentary.
    I'm not sure (undoubtedly my fault!) what you meant with this comment. Wiggling the wires etc would presumably have to be done with the engine running, yes? If so, did you mean I should just loosen a battery terminal so I could pull it off quickly if something started seriously shorting?

    In terms of otherwise letting it develop, is there any serious potential downside in just leaving it like that?

    By the way, I really appreciate you taking the time on this, Rob.

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    1000+ Posts Peter Chisholm's Avatar
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    Whatever approach you take it's the sort of fault that needs to be sorted out sooner rather than later. Not a lot of fun being marooned, even momentarily, halfway across an intersection or on a busy freeway

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    All good suggestions above.

    Another one, when you have checked everything else, would be to check the battery lead itself. A friend had a 505 GTi in which the heavy cable from the battery to the starter motor had been chafing on something and had worn through the insulation. It shorted out and everything, intermittently at first, started failing. Eventually it died altogether. Luckily the battery didn't explode, but it certainly would have been a risk with the sort of current that cable would have been capable of carrying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingolf View Post
    I'm not sure (undoubtedly my fault!) what you meant with this comment. Wiggling the wires etc would presumably have to be done with the engine running, yes? If so, did you mean I should just loosen a battery terminal so I could pull it off quickly if something started seriously shorting?

    In terms of otherwise letting it develop, is there any serious potential downside in just leaving it like that?

    By the way, I really appreciate you taking the time on this, Rob.
    No worries -- I'm making up for having not said much here lately.

    You don't need the engine running, but the ignition should be on for the wiggle test. Arcing or clicking of relays says something's wrong. And yes, the idea was to have a battery terminal already loosened so you can yank it if things start getting exciting (not terribly likely, but have to defend against Murphy).

    Potential downside of "let it develop" is the possibility of a fire or conking out somewhere really inconvenient.

    However ... I reread your first posting and 15 seconds is a LONG time for a short circuit. Perhaps the ignition switch IS the problem. If it cut ignition, the engine would "chug along" unresponsively, pushed by the transmission and, in your pumping at the accelerator, maybe you bumped the key back into a good position. You could try jiggling the ignition switch while driving along and see if you can reproduce the problem. Another possibility is an intermittent failure in the accessories relay itself.

    Have fun,

    Rob.

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    Rob, Peter, Demannu, Beano and Roland,


    Right, a little update.

    As a first step I've done what everyone recommends and found a few interesting things. The main connection to the starter motor was loose enough to allow me to relatively easily swivel the wires attached to it. Also, a separate wire which attaches with a slide connection (not sure what the right name is) was verrry loose. Finally, turns out the connector on the negative battery terminal was slightly too large so that, even though it was tightly done up, it could be moved. Not sure if this actually mattered but in any case I've replaced the connector with a new one that's nice and tight.

    I did what you suggested, Rob, and pulled out the fuses assembly, checked underneath back to where the wires feed in and also wiggled them all with the ignition and the radio on. Far as I could tell, it all seemed just fine; indeed I was amazed at how clean and new it looked.

    It was getting dark by this time so other than starting the car I figured I'd leave a decent test drive until tomorrow or possibly Wednesday.

    Once again, many thanks to everyone. Once I have some idea if that solved the problem, I'll post an update.


    P.S. Demannu, given the loose starter motor connections I found your friend's experience is intriguing. It sounds like my experience could fit the kind of things that happened to your friend, yes?

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    1000+ Posts Beano's Avatar
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    Sometimes after fiddling and cleaning, you realize the problem has gone, and you never know what it may have been.

    Don't forget this one :

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    If there is a separate earthing lead from the engine to the bodywork then remove, clean and refit that one as well.
    I had an earth strap on my 504 come loose once. It is a woven copper strap about 10 inches or a foot long, running underneath the car from the body to the gearbox. Electricity then tried to earth through other things....like the choke cable.

    Most likely your 505 has one too.


    If your rear lights ever do odd things, always check the earth connection back there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beano View Post
    Sometimes after fiddling and cleaning, you realize the problem has gone, and you never know what it may have been.
    Wouldn't that be great!

    Thanks too for the hint about the possible earthing lead from the engine to the bodywork. I didn't see one while I was under there but if anyone knows that there should be one on my model, please just let me know and I'll have another look.

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    Glad to hear that the general wiring looks to be in good shape. The loose battery and starter terminals are (and always were) the most likely problem. Here's hoping you won't get the strange symptoms again.

    I think the "slide connection" you mention is the spade/blade terminal on the starter solenoid. If that comes off, the starter will not activate at all. Probably worth disconnecting it, closing up the gap on the wire terminal a little with a pair of pliers so it sits tigher on the blade, then reconnecting. Not the funnest place to work in -- small pliers (and small hands) might help.

    There's much to be said for adding a relay to activate the solenoid. Saves much wear and tear on the ignition switch and makes starter engagement more positive. Not much to do with your original question, but could be one for the todo list.

    Have fun,

    Rob.
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    It certainly wasn't the most fun place to work! And yes, I did exactly what you suggest, tightening the slide slightly so that it fitted on nice and snug.

    Fingers crossed . . . if anything new and "strange" does happen, I'll provide the details.

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    I've had a not dissimilar intermittent issue with my 505 GTi. I've noticed with headlights on that you can be driving along & the lights go dim. This can last a minute or two then they'll come back full strength. Seems to be a matching dim of the instrument lights too. In my case the +ve battery terminal was hanging by a thread. Bought a replacement & finally got round to cutting the old one off the wires & clamping them into the new. There was an extra red cable (possibly aftermarket) that went from the +ve terminal to some junction fitting near the washer bottle & would no longer fit because the new terminal had the clamp bolt @6 o'clock not 3 o'clock so had to make a new longer piece for this!
    So far seems better but I haven't been far enough in the dark to call it definitely 'fixed'
    Baldrick


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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick56 View Post
    So far seems better but I haven't been far enough in the dark to call it definitely 'fixed'.
    I know what you mean! Went for a drive yesterday (50 km round trip) and everything seemed to be going swimmingly until I was about 15 kms from home. Nothing dramatic (in fact, hardly noticeable) but there was a brief period of hesitation and power loss again. Soon as I floored the accelerator it sorted itself out instantly.

    The fact that each time the problem has been resolved when I kicked down hard makes me wonder if there's an additional clue there somewhere. If anybody has any bright thoughts, they would be verrrry welcome! Failing that, it's hard to know where to go from here.

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    Flooring the accelerator does a couple of things. It opens the throttle butterfly wide and clicks the "full power" microswitch telling the ECU to inject fuel as commanded and ignore feedback from the oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor stuff seems unlikely to give the sort of problem your describing -- but maybe.

    More likely is that the AFM unit (the boxy thing behind the air cleaner) has become sticky. It's meant to measure air flow so the system will inject the corresponding amount of fuel. If it becomes sticky, you open the throttle a little, more air comes into the engine but the sticky AFM doesn't register the change, you get a lean mixture which cuts power a bit, you press a bit more on the throttle, if the AFM stays stuck, the lean mixture gets even worse. Then you open the throttle wide, a big rush of air unsticks the AFM and things come good.

    AFMs are prone to mechanical wear after a time. It is possible to dismantle and try to repair. I didn't have much success with mine ten years ago or so. Rather than buy a new one, I went the Megasquirt route -- not for the faint hearted.

    Anyhow, if it happens again, you might try easing back on the throttle and seeing if the engine starts running more normally.

    Oh yeah, you didn't say whether yours was an automatic. That's another thing that probably responds in a special way to full throttle -- but I haven't had anything to do with 505 autos.

    [Edit]Another thing full throttle would do is set the distributor vacuum advance to full retard. I suppose that might move the spark to a happier part of the rotor button but this would be a "reliable" failure rather than intermittent. In any case, the vacuum advance capsules often fail in these distributors in which case full throttle would have no effect.

    Have fun,

    Rob.
    Last edited by robs; 2nd August 2017 at 04:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robs View Post
    If it becomes sticky, you open the throttle a little, more air comes into the engine but the sticky AFM doesn't register the change, you get a lean mixture which cuts power a bit, you press a bit more on the throttle, if the AFM stays stuck, the lean mixture gets even worse. Then you open the throttle wide, a big rush of air unsticks the AFM and things come good.
    Now that rings true. Too early to get cocky, of course, but you might just have nailed it Rob.

    Is there a site on the net that provides some instructions for checking out the AFM? I've got the Haynes manual but unless I'm missing something it seems way short on detail.

    If this turns out to be the cause I'd like to make a little donation to your favourite charity (which of course probably means you!). Anyway, one step at a time.

    P.S. Mine's an automatic.

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    Yes, the last thing we want to do is get cocky. It surely doesn't explain the lights going out -- but dual diagnosis is quite common: loose battery terminals for the loss of light, AFM for the loss of action.

    A couple of links to give you the idea of what you're up against.

    Porsche 944 AFM repair.
    Item posted to AussieFrogs by Molerpa a few years ago: Rough Idle on 505 GTI

    I haven't actually watched through that video, but it looks to be doing the right thing. And I haven't reread Molerpa's posting right now, but I remember it had a few tips that seemed good -- though I was already Megasquirted by then.

    If those aren't what you need, try Googling for Bosch L-Jet AFM repair and hunt around.

    As for donation, none needed here. If you want, Guide Dogs will be happy to accept I'm sure.

    Have fun,

    Rob.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robs View Post
    It surely doesn't explain the lights going out -- but dual diagnosis is quite common: loose battery terminals for the loss of light, AFM for the loss of action.
    Yes, makes sense.

    I'll have a closer look, probably tomorrow, and let you know what I find.

    Thanks again.

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    Rob,

    Well, interesting.

    I took out the AFM and the flap seemed to move completely freely so there didn't seem to be anything useful to do there. Put it back together, started the car and the idle was way too low and lumpy. And, more to the point, wouldn't adjust. Bugger . . . happily, I noticed the hose to the supplementary air device had cracked right through just to the left of the clamp. Took the broken bit off and re-clamped the hose and voilà, everything sweet.

    The car is nicely responsive and so far the problem that started this little journey hasn't re-occurred (touch wood). Maybe that was the problem. The hose could have developed a crack which I turned into a complete break when I lifted it to get the AFM out. Guess I'll find out on the next decent drive.

    $50 went to Guide Dogs NSW.


    P.S. Bit of info that may be of general interest. I kept an earlier (1985) 505GTI and checked its AFM out of curiosity. The last three digits were "070" rather than "098".

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    1000+ Posts Beano's Avatar
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    Those hoses are well-known to crack. They're also as scarce as hens teeth.....but people can always improvise.
    Last edited by Beano; 16th August 2017 at 01:56 PM.

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