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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have posted some of this information in another thread called "cold starting issues" but people seemed to miss my point or ignore it. So I am starting a new thread that has to do with a cold starting issue concerning the Direct Ignition Module (or "cassette").

Warming up the "Direct Ignition Cassette" (DIC) seems to help a cold start issue:

With my NG900 (1996 900 SE Turbo), whenever the weather gets cold, the car would crank, but not start. I would crank over and over again, but the car would not start. This is true as long as the engine temperature is cold on a winter day. But this gets progressively worse as I battle the starting issue, so that even on relatively mild days, the car will not start. At the moment, if the engine temperature is a least 25-deg Celcius or higher, the car will start with no problem. But, if the engine temperature is lower, it will have trouble or not start. Even charging the battery would not help (the battery seems fine).

Over time I realized that as long as the engine is warm, the car will start. So, on a cold day when the car would crank but not start, I would pull the Direct Ignition Cassette (the red guy on top the engine) and take it inside my house to warm up. Sometimes I'll even warm up the DI cassette on top of a kerosene heater to get it nice and warm (almost hot). After installing the warm cassette into the cold car even on the coldest days (teens or twenties F outside) the car starts right up with no hesitation! What is going on? :confused:

I bought a new Direct Ignition Module about a year ago which totally solved this problem. With the Old DI unit intalled, the car would not start. But with the new DI unit installed, it started right away flawlessly like a new car. BUT, less than a year later (ie. just as winter arrived in Virginia), the new DI unit started behaving like the old one, with cold start issues. To this day, I can heat either DI cassette with a kerosene heater, and the car starts fine.

Please note that if I heat the DIC up, install into car and start, the engine runs smooth like a new engine. But, if I am not at home and cannot warm up the DIC, and if the weather is not TOO cold, I might be able to get the car started after cranking the engine 40-60 times until the engine temp gets up to about 24-30-deg Celcius. Once I do get the car started, it idles rough up until the temp reaches 50-deg Celcius, and (like magic) the engine idles smooth 50-deg Celcius and warmer.

My question: WHAT IS GOING ON? IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT MY CAR THAT IS CAUSING THE DIRECT IGNITION MODULE TO PROGRESSIVELY GET WORSE? WHY DOES HEATING UP (warm/hot) THE DIC HELP? :confused:

Note that my car uses resistive spark plugs, NGK BCPR7ES which I replaced twice in the past two years with proper gaps.

Also note that I never press on the gas/accelerator pedal during starting car. You are not supposed to do that with these modern fuel injection cars.

One other issue with the car that may or may not have a hand in causing the DIC to get worse or the cold start issue itself: The check engine light comes up whenever the car idles for a few minutes. Code P1171 (lean mixture) comes up. If I clear the code while driving on the highway, the check engine light does not come back on, even if I drive eight hours or more! Once I start city driving (start/stopping and idling) the same check engine code comes up within a couple to few minutes.

Thanks for your help ... :)
 

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You could be experiencing a short due to condensation buildup within the DIC's spark plug boots/coil housings...?

Best suggestion is to disassemble the DIC, spray everything down with CRC Electromotive Parts Cleaner, then apply a light coating of an electric grease to all connections before reassembly.

This will help to keep out potential moisture and insure a solid connection of all associated components, hopefully resulting in a 'start' every time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
NGK BCPR7ES Spark Plugs

Snigel: I cannot say 100%, but I do not think "condensation" is an issue. It does not matter how wet or dry things are, the Direct Ignition Module behaves the same. Also, I notice over time, it get worse: ie. You need to have the DIC warmer over time for it to work OK. In fact, once warm weather comes, the car will NOT start even on mild days. So it begins with winter cold weather, but ends up with a problem even in the spring with no freezing weather. LITERALLY IT HAS TO DO WITH THE DIRECT IGNITION MODULE TEMPERATURE. I HEAT THE DIC AND THERE IS NO PROBLEM. If I buy yet another new DIC, it will solve the problem in the short term, but in the long term, the new DIC will also start failing in cold temperatures.

Tweek: In my post I did say that I changed the spark plugs twice with NGK BCPR7ES (check my original post). I realize that if one uses the wrong spark plugs, that may cause the Direct Ignition to go bad. But I think I am using OK plugs.

Thanks again for your help ...
 

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Well, I just cannot manage to come up with any other reason why you would have repeated failures time and time again other than some atmospheric/climate condition particular to your locale, that is, unless there is an issue with the wiring harness/the ECU which, at this point, are the only two things you have changed/had checked yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Warm DIC helps start 900SE Turbo even when wet

Snigel, this morning it was raining and 60-deg F outside. Car won't start cold (usual condition - also happens on the most dry of days). When I removed the DIC, I took it inside and warmed it up (warm to hot) as per my usual protocal. After that, I reinstalled it on top of the engine, which was splattered wet with lots of rain even in the spark plug locations. Car started no problem. I still believe it has to do with temperature of internal IC electronics of the DIC rather than condensation. But, as you point out, we may never know for sure. Thanks for your input ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Controlled Experiment

Snigel, later this week, I will try, as per your suggestion, to "disassemble the DIC, spray everything down with CRC Electromotive Parts Cleaner, then apply a light coating of an electric grease to all connections before reassembly" and see if it helps. I'll let you know what find. Thanks ...
 
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