2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

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Eladner
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2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:55 pm

Hi there,

I'm hoping someone can help with the issues my car is having.

I have 2009 Pontiac vibe with roughly 130k miles on it. I took it on a road trip in march and shortly after I got home I noticed that it was idling very low/rough when I was stopped at stop lights. The rpms fluctuate down to 500 or so and the car vibrates pretty bad. The idle was random at first, not really that bothersome and some days were worse than others. Eventually it got really bad in reverse, the whole car shook and it actually did stall once or twice. Then it started having trouble starting (intermittently of course so i can't demonstrate for anyone). It cranks over for a long time and then will eventually start but it is ROUGH. I noticed that it helped it start when i gave it some gas. Oh and to top it all off it isn't accelerating like it should. When i give it gas its very slow to go and then a few seconds later it realizes I'm trying to go faster and it kicks in all at once.

My brother is a mechanic so he cleaned the throttle body and the mass airflow sensor thinking that could be the cause of at least the idle issue. We also put new spark plugs and cleaned the corrosion off the battery just in case. He scanned it and it didn't throw any codes and the check engine light isn't on. After a couple of weeks I took into the shop. They claimed that there was quite a bit of carbon build up in the throttle body and promised that they had fixed it by cleaning out the fuel system. It idled really well for a couple days. Then i got gas. After that the low idle returned with a vengeance. So I took it back to the shop. They checked for a vacuum leak did a fuel pressure test and probably several other things but they couldn't find anything out of the ordinary. They refunded me for the fuel cleaning and told me that they had no idea what was wrong and to take it somewhere else. Frustrating right?

So my brother replaced the intake plenum gasket in the throttle body and we thought that had done the trick. Until i got gas. It idled low immediately after i filled up. However it only did it that one time and then not again until today. Today marks the 11th day since the gasket was changed and the 6th day since i last filled up. Today I went to start my car after work and after three attempts it finally started. I had actually let go of the key and the ignition continued to turn over and then it started. After that rough start the car is now idling low in reverse and when I'm stopped in drive. It is much less frequent than it was but it's still there. The poor acceleration has continued throughout all of this, it never resolved with anything that we did to the car. I'm at a loss of what to try next. I've called several mechanics and they flat out refused to even look at the car.

There appears to be at least some correlation with getting gas in my car and the low idle. The idle also seems to resolve itself for a while when the throttle body is removed (like it was for the fuel cleaning and also the plenum gasket).

I'm curious if anyone thinks any of my cars symptoms link with each other or if they are all separate issues. Does anyone have any thoughts on what could possibly be causing any of these issues?
Last edited by Eladner on Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jolt
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby jolt » Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:15 am

He scanned it and it didn't throw any codes and no the check engine light is on.


The "Check Engine" light is on? If it is on, you need a different scanner tool to read the codes.

You make it sound that the problems start after you re-fuel the car. Are you getting bad gasoline? Have you had heavy rains in your area? Have you gone to different gas stations when you re-fueled? Have you tried premium fuel in it? Have you replaced the gas cap on the tank?

What size engine is in the car, 1.8L or 2.4L?

If you have water in the gas tank, the only true way of getting it all out is to drop the gas tank and dump all the gas out. If it is a small amount of water, you could try some gas line anti-freeze but most gas now has alcohol in it anyways so that may not help the gasoline absorb the water. The other area is the envop system problem but need codes or your going to have to start testings yourself.

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Caretaker
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Caretaker » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:56 pm

Yes, I have repeatedly reported the same issues on these boards over the past year, with some caveats. My car has never stalled. My top notch mechanics are convinced it is carbon related. I have had everything scrubbed out and it has helped. I'm getting to the point where I believe the throttle body needs to be replaced (should the symptoms resurface in any meaningful way). What else can it be? After all the carbon removal services have been performed, new plugs, new ignition coils, new battery..........there's not much left. I also think our perceiving that the symptoms go away "for awhile" have more to do with the relearning procedure when our battery is disconnected, than any carbon removal procedure we've had performed.

While I cannot offer anything definitive, I did come close to pushing mine over a cliff this weekend. Found out that my minor oil seepage is coming from the timing gear cover. My engine has to be removed just to replace all (5?) gaskets. I told my mechanic to examine as many parts as he can while the engine is out (engine mounts, maybe if he can see whether I need a new seal or two to eliminate my longstanding oil consumption issue). This is a $2,000 repair bill I didn't see coming. As I've posted before, this will be my last Toyota AND GM car....ever. Having my doubts that I'll be able to enroll in our 200,000 mile club, but I'm paying the money to an excellent mechanic and hope that it will be money well spent. Good luck with your issues. Think about a new(ish) throttle body. I believe even the current Corolla throttle bodies will fit our car, so there should be some good junk yard offerings with low miles.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:38 pm

Thanks for the replies. That was a huge typo. My check engine light IS NOT on. If it was my life would be much easier. It may be pure coincidence that the issue seems to reoccur when i fuel up. I have tried getting gas at several different stations and there doesn't seem to be much difference. Also since this has been happening for several months now I'd imagine any bad gas would've worked its way out. Today when I left work the car started fine but when i put it in reverse i felt the low idle and heard a belt squeal. As soon as I put it in drive the squeal stopped. When i stopped to turn left onto the highway the rpms dropped to 500 and the car shook. Less than 1/2 mile down the road i had to stop again and the car shook really bad, i was worried it was going to stall. I stopped two more times on the way home and it idled perfectly. It's just so random.

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:41 pm

Caretaker wrote: I also think our perceiving that the symptoms go away "for awhile" have more to do with the relearning procedure when our battery is disconnected, than any carbon removal procedure we've had performed. .


I had thought about this as well. It may very well be that, but my brother had disconnected my battery only to clean it and the car didn't change its low idle at all. That's why I'm thinking it links to the throttle body. I am no expert by any means though lol

jolt
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby jolt » Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:30 pm

With no codes, the ECM think every thing is normal so that kind of rules out a misfire on the ignition system for now. The throttle plate controls the idle speed. The 2008 and older Vibes have a ISC valve (Idle Speed Control) for idle control but the 2009 and up do not. The throttle plate is opened and closed by a electrical signal from the ECM. Controlling the idle is done by three parts; the ECM, the wiring between the ECM and throttle body, the throttle body itself. You need to check the six wires (if my memory service me right) from the ECM to the throttle body. Check continuity of each wire and also check that the wires are not shorting to ground. Since the problem is not constant, you need to push and pull on the wires as you check them to see if the continuity stays the same or if you get a change in the resistance of the wire. It should not change if the wires are good. Clean and make sure the connections are good at the ECM and the throttle body. Connections should be sealed with dielectric grease (silicone base grease). If the wiring is good then that leave the ECM or throttle body. Neither one has serviceable parts in them. Of the two, the throttle body does have parts inside that can wear out. The throttle plate is controlled by a high speed drive motor. This has better odds of being bad then the ECM has.

Here is a link to a fellow checking a 2009 Vibe with a rough idle problem that he shows the throttle plate movements and voltage not staying steady when it should for a smooth idle speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AYq_qk1U7A

You can watch video here too. http://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php ... cc=1442296

And of coarse it could be something else too that is causing the problem. Have you changed out the PCV valve and done a complete check for vacuum leaks? That includes checking the lines that go to the evap system by the gas tank and the power brake booster; for vacuum leaks. Most vacuum leaks will cause an increase in engine speed but the ECM will try to compensate for that by pulling the throttle down. Do the mechanical things that you can test first because the throttle body and ECM can cost a lot and are parts you can not return. Good luck as intermittent problems are the hardest one to fix.

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:12 pm

It has been checked for vacuum leaks. I took it to autozone today for a battery/alternator test just for laughs and giggles. It tested at 13.31 volts and had failed voltage regulation. Could this be the culprit?

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vibrologist
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby vibrologist » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:45 am

failed voltage regulation. Could this be the culprit?

Definitely YES! I had a failing voltage regulator/alternator in a Ford Windstar and it caused intermittent idle problems. there were other problems, like dashboard going haywire etc.

The computers can't handle severe voltage fluctuations.
Vibrologist
'05 Vibe

"It is important to know the difference between 'accurate' and 'precise' even if you are neither!"

http://forums.genvibe.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=43476

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:26 pm

Ok guys, it wasn't the alternator. I took it to GM and they found that there is low compression in cylinder #1. It was gonna cost 1500$ to tear the engine down just to diagnose the problem so I'm considering my options. With the symptoms that I listed in my first post any ideas on what exactly could be causing the low compression? My dad is pretty handy, handy enough to even rip an engine down. I'd just like to have an idea of what i'm getting into here. As sad as it sounds i'm happy to maybe have a cause. Expensive or not its better than having to make a car payment.

pakong
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby pakong » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:02 pm

I would like to know how this goes

jolt
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby jolt » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:58 am

Loss of compression has three usual ways of happening. A burnt valve, bad piston rings, or a bad head gasket. All three of these things can be cause by other problems with the engine, like a burnt valve by not checking and adjusting the valve clearance, bad pistons rings from over heating the engine and this can also cause a blown head gasket by warping the cylinder head surface. If a cylinder has been run lean for a while, you could burn a piston. If a cylinder has been run rich on fuel, you could damage the ring lands in the piston and have bad rings and pistons.

So one way to figure out what it might be is to know more of the past history of the engine and what kind of maintenance has been done to it. Has the car been over heated, has it been ran low on engine coolant, what color is the coolant, has the coolant been changed, has the valve clearance been checked and adjusted, does the engine use oil, what other repairs have been done?

Checking the compression can be done with two types of compression gauges. One is a pressure gauge that is done as this link shows:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/ho ... -14912158/

As the article shows, adding oil to the test may give you a clue if it is a valve leak or a ring problem. This is the older way of checking compression and is referred to as a dry and wet compression test, wet is when the oil is added. The other compression test is called a leak down test and is done with a different type of gauge setup that feeds air into the cylinder. Here is a little better article on both testing methods:

http://www.dsmtuners.com/threads/compre ... ng.338152/

You could also get an idea if it is a burnt valve by checking the valve clearance. If the clearance is tight or none, you have very good odds that it is a burnt valve. Any testing you do will go back to a compression test or pulling the head off and tearing things down to find where the major compression loss is at. Everything has wear on it at this point so fixing the major cause should get the compression back but do not expect it to run like a new motor because the rest of the engine is still has wear on it too. O' and there are other ways to loose compression too like I mentioned above about a burnt piston, or cracked cylinder wall, a bad camshaft lobe on the intake valve if doing a regular compression test (if air can not get into the cylinder, it can not be compressed), etc... If it has low compression there is no good way to know for sure what the cause is until you have to take it apart and you may as well because it is no good the way it is now.

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:08 pm

Still dealing with this nightmare. The car is barely starting now. My brother redid the compression test. The dry test was 90 psi on two of the cylinders and 120 on the other two. The wet test caused the psi to increase to 140 on the cylinders that were reading 90. So that sounds like it's likely rings? This issue is so weird. It's not blowing weird smoke or anything that would be a common tell of engine problems. There is a fluttering noise sometimes when I drive. It's usually around 2000 rpms. He's going to check the oil for coolant tomorrow and drop a scope down to see if he can get a better idea of the issues.

jolt
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby jolt » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:01 pm

Are the two low pressure cylinders next to each other? If they are, it could be a leaking head gasket when you see the same compression reading from adjacent cylinders.

Some other testing can be done by applying air pressure to the cylinders and listening for where the air is leaking from. In the second link I gave you it said:
"While listening for leaking air on each cylinder, the following guidelines will help identify potential problems. This isn't 100% foolproof, but does give you a good place to start looking for issues.

1. Air whistling out of the intake filter, at the intake manifold, or through the intake piping - probable leak at the intake valve
2. Air heard hissing out of the tailpipe, turbocharger, or exhaust manifold - Probable exhaust valve leak
3. Whistling or hissing out of the PCV valve, oil filler cap hole, or dipstick tube - Worn piston rings or cylinder wall.
4. Air bubbles in engine coolant at the radiator cap or in the coolant overflow - Possible blown head gasket. May also indicate a crack in the cylinder head or cylinder wall.
5. Air escaping from the spark plug hole of an adjacent cylinder - Likely a blown head gasket between cylinders.
"

Now you will always get some air leakage past the piston rings so don't worry about that. It is just that the air leakage should be the same on all cylinders. Pull the valve cover off, make sure that both valves are closed on the cylinder you are applying the air pressure to, put the piston on that cylinder to bottom dead center, use the adapter that you used to do the compression test with and hook your air hose from your air compressor with a pressure regulator to send air into the cylinder at the spark plug hole in the cylinder head. Turn the pressure regulator up to 100psi and listen for where the air is leaking from. Compare the sound and location of the air for each cylinder to note where the changes in sound are coming from.

While you have the valve cover off check your rocker arms. spin the motor over and watch each valve to make sure they are moving as they should. The 1.8L engines have been know to throw rocker arms off if over rev'd. This can happen when down shifting with a manual transmission.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it may be cheaper and take less down time by replacing the motor with a good used one from a salvage yard.

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:22 am

Thanks for the reply. I'll relay all this to my brother since he is the one working on it. If we ever get it pin pointed I'll let everyone know.

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:44 pm

Mystery may have been solved. He tore the engine down and found that the head gasket is broken. He's going to replace it tomorrow hopefully! With any luck that will fix all my problems :)

jolt
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby jolt » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:43 am

You should have the head checked to make sure the surface is flat. The 1.8L factory spec sayes; "Cylinder Block Side - Maximum Warpage 0.002 inches". That is less than the thickness of most sheets of paper. To be safe, most shops would resurface the head. Some more stuff to be aware of is the cylinder head bolts. These are "torque to yield" bolt and should also be replaced once they are loosened. I will not bore you with details about the bolts as you can look up "torque to yield" bolts. The head bolts will cost as much or more then the head gasket but is cheap insurance against having another head gasket failure. A shop would also replace these as they do not want another head gasket going bad.

The head bolt tightening spec for 2009 1.8L Vibe is as follows: Cylinder Head Bolt first stage = 36 lb ft; second stage = Turn 90°; third stage = Turn 45°. If you do not have one of these, get one: https://www.amazon.com/Lisle-28100-Torq ... B0002STSW6 . It does not have to be this brand. If you look down the list on that page, you will see others.

Be sure to follow the factory manual when dealing with the camshaft timing gears and the built in VVT that is in each gear. Great detail must be given with these timing gears so read the factory information about installing them.

hurdygurdy71
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby hurdygurdy71 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:50 am

I also own a 2009 vibe that is having the exact same issue. 165,000 miles.
Low idle when coming to a stop. Especially if I come to a sudden stop. Has died occasionally.
Also has issues starting sometimes.
Have taken to 3 different mechanics - last one being a GMC dealership.
Car does not show any codes.
Tried replacing throttle control unit - did not work.
Replaced ECM. Worked fine for 2 days then started to do it again.
Did replacing your head gasket resolve your rough idle symptoms?

Eladner
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Re: 2009 Pontiac Vibe with reoccuring low/rough idle (and other symptoms)

Postby Eladner » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:54 am

Replacing the head gasket seemed to resolve my issues. It was replaced in August of 2017 and so far I havent had any issues. I had a low idle for a second the other day but I believe it was due to the extremely hot weather. No issues starting anymore. It was the craziest thing, it didn't have any symptoms of a headgasket other than the low compression. I was told that the gasket itself was probably the issue and that there must be some faulty ones that were used in my make and model. The car had never overheated and the head wasn't warped.

Hope that helps!!


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