Greasemonkey: 2001 Chevy Impala – Hard Start

Seems like I run into enough car problems that I should start logging my experiences with them. Thus, I’ll be creating a new section titled “Greasemonkey” with all of my mechanical-repair escapades.

To kick it off, let me tell the story of my wife’s 2001 Chevy Impala recent repair. About 2 months ago it started losing power. Initially it would only show up when using a good deal of throttle, such as when passing or accelerating from a stop. It would never die, but it would sound like it was gasping for air, and huffing in effort. Initially, I thought that the the plugs hadn’t been changed since the car was purchased, and the car now had just under 100K miles on it. So I went out and got new plugs and wires. No change. Then I figured that it wasn’t getting enough fuel, so I replaced the fuel filter. At this point I gave up and brought it into the local auto shop. Diagnosis: Plugged catalytic converter. Fortunately it was covered by something like a 100K mile recall. After replacing that, the car was back in shape.

Fast forward about 2 weeks. The car start having problems starting. It turns, but doesn’t fire off until about 5 seconds into it. After it has been started, you can shut it off and start it right back up again with no problem. This past week it started dying while driving down the road. You could start it right back up in neutral. We just started parking the car in a garage and had noticed after the car had been sitting in there for about 10 minutes, the garage was filled with a gasoline odor. However, there were no evident puddles of gas. I initially suspected a failing fuel pump, but the fuel smell was nagging me. So today, after driving it home, I popped the hood. Low and behold the vacuum tube near the fuel regulator has a wet appearance. I pulled the tube coming from the regulator, and gas started dripping out. I hopped online, did a search for “2001 Impala fuel regulator” and didn’t find much, but about 2 pages into my search I see this link on a different vehicle: GMC Repair: 1999 GMC Sierra 1500 5.3L. Still, a GM vehicle, and similar year, but a different vehicle. However, the symptoms are identical. So I run down to the local Checker Auto, grab a new fuel regulator and some spring retainer clip pliers. Here’s what I did: Remove the rubber tubing connector from the regulator. Be sure to drain the pressure from the fuel line. Place some towels around the Schraeder valve and press the pin. Fuel will spray, so be careful. Next, compress the retaining ring with the pliers, being careful to make sure the ring doesn’t spring off and get lost. Finally, pull the top of the regulator off, and remove the screen and rubber gasket if they remain inside. Take the new regulator and push it in place. Replace the clip, tubes, and cap to the valve.

Now, just start it up! In my case it started immediately. However, it’s possible you could have some air in the lines, so just let it turn a bit if it does not. Turn the car off and let it rest for about an hour, then try it again. In my case, it worked like a charm.

Good luck and have fun!