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As some may remember, SWMBO has a Punto which I have a strange affinity for. Avoiding a motorway closure we took to the back roads ("it'll be an adventure" - last time she said that brought on the Incident of the German Pikeys.)

Piloting the Punto in a spirited memorial on the day of Colin McRae's funeral I spied a deer, braked hard and didn't hit it. Result. Then the engine lost power and coasted to a stop.

Key on and it gives battery and oil lights, and the injection light shows for 5secs and then goes out as normal. It cranks and turns but sounds like 'constant speed', no varying load and the inj light comes back on. The fuel tank's half full and I couldn't see anything pouring out. I've fiddled with a button that looks like it might be a fuel cut out reset on the floor by the passenger seat, but with the air filter off I could smell fuel after waiting an hour and then cranking it.

2hrs later TroddenMasses appeared with tea, sandwiches and a rope and dragged it to Bristol for us. My affinity for this diminuitive example of Italian automotive guesswork is waning.

A) can someone tell me what's wrong with it?

B) does anyone have a similar car (94 Punto SX 55) to do some tests for me?

C) anyone know a Fiat-style LR4x4 forum? I have found some with posts like 'where does washer fluid go?' and 'I bought a car with the EMS light on. The man said it was good but it rattles a bit, burns more fuel than my mate reckoned it should and it eats the ceramic on spark plugs. Are these related?'. Nobody seems to be fitting Ducato axles, tyres from Asda shopping trolleys and making their own traybacks.

SWMBO is in the LR this week and she's threatening to use public transport. Help appreciated.

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It cranks and turns but sounds like 'constant speed', no varying load

Does it turn over quite quick? If so maybe cam belt has gone.

Had this happen when the belt went on my old (dis)astra. Missus pulled on to drive and it stalled, went to re-start it and it just spun over, turned out belt had snapped.

Go to loacl motor factors: "Have you got a cam belt for a fiat?"

Reply: "Seems like a fair swap"

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Has it got a Impact switch - ie the switches that kill the ignition on an impact, if you braked really hard then these can be activated as it thinks its had a prang, can't remember exactly what these switches are called, but they do have a button often on them which you can reset ?

Nige

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I'm with HfH (not with him, but I agree with him....)

Some cars have an inertia switch, much like the airbag deployment oojit, so when you have a crash it cuts the engine. Some fancy ones even turn on the hazard warning lights for you, and then lower the windows after five seconds or so. I've even heard of high-end LR products having an explosive battery positive cable, so when you crash it there's no fire risk. Clever, but I wonder how much the main dealer charges for a new one of those..... :rolleyes:

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Surfing the web at the roadside (gotta love technology... just not Italian technology) I found a reference to an inertia switch by the passenger seat. I found a rubber grommet on the floor by the passenger seat with a 'petrol pump with a line through it' icon. Pressing it there seems to be a switch underneath but the action is very vague, I'm not sure if it's pressed or not. However, as Mark suggests I can smell fuel in the intake with the air filter off so something's getting through.

I thought about the cam but I can't check at the roadside because the cam/rocker cover doesn't show the innards. On initialising the ECU I can hear the fuel pump run and it did cough weakly on a couple of occasions if I left 10secs for anything in there to evaporate. I'd have to brake hard to unseat the belt.

I checked all the fuses and nothing seems amiss. I haven't actually dipped the tank but if there's a smell of fuel, there's probably fuel. I couldn't check for a spark because the leads are sheathed in rubber and the dizzy's bolted down under a cover.

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My first thought would be similar to that of Mr White and Mr Hell.

However I have experienced something similar in a similar situation. Whilst emulating Mr Blomquvist in a BMW 325i, it shuddered to a gasping halt. It turned out to be crud in the filter that had moved due to high 'G' and almost totally blocked the fuel flow...

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If you can smell fuel then I would be tempted to assume that it is flooded. In which case, once the cam belt has been eliminated, towing it about behind the Landy might work or, filing that, remove the plugs overnight and, in the morning, put them in the oven for a spell (with your breakfast sausages would work) before refitting and trying again. Fiats often need this sort of mollycoddling in my experience.

Chris

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My first thought would be similar to that of Mr White and Mr Hell.

However I have experienced something similar in a similar situation. Whilst emulating Mr Blomquvist in a BMW 325i, it shuddered to a gasping halt. It turned out to be crud in the filter that had moved due to high 'G' and almost totally blocked the fuel flow...

That would be a credible possibility if it wasn't for the fact we're discussing a fiat punto, a 55 at that! :lol:

Edit: If you can smell fuel then there is a simple solution

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IIRC the Punto has a wasted spark coil pack system ……………. and the fiat coils are renowned for going on holiday and taking the ECU with them. The example of this is you find no spark and then replace the coil, but still have no spark as the ECU refuses to fire the coil. The last one I was involved in was £50ish for the coil pack and £250ish for the ECU …………I cant quite remember, but I think the ECU had to be pre-programmed by Fiat for the immobiliser codes and we programmed the rest using the Snap On Scanner.

:)

Ian

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Can you see the camshaft or a rocker through the oil filler hole? (I think there's a baffle plate in the way). If you can, then look for movement when the engine is cranked. No movement - snapped belt. Usually the engine cranking on the starter sounds different if the belt has snapped - quieter and spins quicker too. I'm not sure if this engine has a DIS system or not - if it has a rotor arm, then dizzy cap off and see if the rotor turns when you crank it.

Les.

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Can I flood an EFI engine? I'd guess that's eliminated anyway since I left it for half an hour.

I tried looking at the cam but there is a baffle. It does seem to spin quieter/more quickly but that might just be paranoia. Could that make the EFI light come back on when cranking? (cam sensor?) Les- how much work is in a Punto cam belt job?

£250 isn't attractive on a 1994 car, it had 55 horses when new and most of those are now asthmatic, lame or faking disability. If a coil/ECU has gone west I may have Punto seats in the Ninety soon.

I will, in order:

1) Look for the cam spinning

2) Pull a plug, look for wetness/colour/disintegration

3) See if sparks are getting down the sparktubes from EDIS to the plugs

4) Put a Tdi in there, they're nice engines

4a) consider Mark90's rag and fag option

I'm surprised FF hasn't extolled the "deerproofing" module in MS yet...

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Yes you can flood an EFI. I have flooded my Disco before. What I did was remove the fuse from the fuel pump and turn the engine over to blow out the surplus fuel. I then left it for 10 m inutes to try and dry the plugs a bit. Put the fuse back in and it started first time.

HTH

Ivan

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Changing the cam belt is no big deal on this engine, but it's classed as an interference engine, so valve damage is going to be your problem. Valves are available from motor factors, but obviously the head has to come off, along with the camshaft, etc.

Les.

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Les, are you sure it's an interference engine? Reading the Fiat forums suggests only the 16v engines meet in the middle, the 8v incl 55SX are free to spin. It might be time for me to learn about a whole new engine, deep joy.

It's frustrating because I'm away all week so I'm building a plan for execution on Friday. Meanwhile SWMBO is stocking up on rags and firelighters...

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You are right John. From the Autodata 'Timing Belts' manual:-

CAUTION: This engine has been identified as a FREEWHEELING engine in which the possibility of valve-to-piston damage in the event of a timing belt failure may be minimal or very unlikely. However, a precautionary compression check of all cylinders should be performed.

In that case I would just replace the belt and see how it runs.

Book time for replacing the belt is just under an hour.

Les.

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Thanks Les. I'm reticent to throw time and money at it if there's damage but if there's not likely to be any bent valves and other nasties then I'll take the front end off, time it up and wrap a cable-tie round it. Since that counts as a Fiat rebuild I may also treat it to a new alternator belt.

First step is to see if the cam goes, meanwhile I'll buy some more Haynes lies. Thanks for all your help guys. Can we have a new forum? "LandRover support vehicles, tech and discussion". :)

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This is a bit of a long shot, but have you tried a different key in it. My sister had a fiat that suddenly one day wouldn't start. Everything turned over and sounded right. Turned out to be the immobiliser chip in the key had died I believe this can be common.

Before you start taking things to bits it's worth a go.

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Well, thanks chaps for all your help. The timing belt was broken, replaced in about 2hrs and it starts on the button. Job done and I've surely earned myself some brownie points (and bought a new lead light into the bargain). Total cost £40 (incl the light) and not too bad a job at all.

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