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Thread: Fuel starvation: symptoms and causes (possible and probable)

  1. #1
    Team Z8 Satch's Avatar
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    Fuel starvation: symptoms and causes (possible and probable)

    During my recent trek, I encountered three incidents:

    1. I ran that sucker stone dry, bone-empty, out of gas. (Yeah, like you've never done it!)

    2. Several days later, on the Mongolian steppes of No Cell-Phone, Wyoming, the car stuttered, stumbled, and coasted to the side of the road, dead—exactly as if it had run out of gas, even though it still showed 1/4 of a tank. A few minutes later, however, damned if it didn't roar back to life; it ran for the next three days without further incident.

    3. On my eastways run to Indiana, it did the same thing in Idaho. Again, after sitting for a while, it ran fine again.

    My theories ranged from bad fuel to clogged fuel filters to damage to the fuel pump from running the tank dry. Since it seemed to happen at the quarter-tank level, I resolved to refill at half-empty, and the car ran fine for the next three days to Indiana, where Steve Dinan posited yet another theory:

    It seems that BMW had some problems with fuel-tank corrosion before they went to plastic tanks. When the corrosion in the bottom of the tank gets stirred up, particles of it float up to the fuel-pump intake screen; after a while, enough rust particles accumulate there to stop the fuel flow. Let the car sit until the particles drift back down again, and the car will run again.

    Steve also agreed with the possibility of a simple clogged fuel filter: Again, those can clog intermittently, and then open up again when the particles settle. That's the one I'm hoping for!


  2. #2
    That's a new one on me, good luck getting it solved, and for sure lets know the cause when you do!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  3. #3
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Those are issues normally only encountered when driving classic cars.

    Satch, this is proof that you DO own a classic.
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  4. #4
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    For years, my car will show 1/4 tank remaining, then the the gauge will suddenly drop to almost reserve. Related?

  5. #5
    I just finished reading your column in the August 2015 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car and had a flashback to this thread. I hope at this time you sorted through the above concerns. Was it debris from the fuel tank?

    Since you wrote about your uncle's Ford... In college I had a Triumph TR4A that in my senior year started with 4 of 4 cylinders firing as required but by the last three months of school had only 2 and sometimes 3 pistons carrying the load. My father gave me his Ford Gran Torino Elite (also mentioned in your article) for my transportation needs until I rebuilt the engine in the Triumph. After graduating and securing a job, I remember putting the engine block of the TR4 in the trunk of the Ford to transport it to a local machine shop with room to spare for my golf clubs!
    My Best,

    Ed

    2002 Z8 Jet Black//Sport Red
    2012 SLS AMG Obsidian Black/Classic Red

  6. #6
    Team Z8 Satch's Avatar
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    Hello from not-so-sunny Indianapolis, on the way to show the car at the Biltmore!

    We just picked it up from a day at Dreyer-Reinbold, where they changed the oil and filter... and the fuel filter, too, since that MAY have been at least the primary cause of the we're-out-of-gas-AGAIN syndrome. The car was nicely shined up by Jimmy Buff-It (it's really Ricky, but Ricky Buff-It is not so evocative). They have 93-octane here for three bucks a gallon: Life is good.

    Also, they believe the top issues---the top is a German top installed not long ago at a cost of just under $4,000---may have to do with the legendary strings. The top was being pinched in the mechanism; not only does that quickly tear holes in the top, but it also prevents the top from going down far enough that the tonneau will fit. I have to say that having the top down unpinched, with the tonneau correctly installed, is a relief.

    Tomorrow we'll drive from Indianapolis to Asheville---ahead of the rain, I hope. I'll let you know if we wind up on the side of the road.

    Oh, I finally answered the question about S62 oil reserves---but that's another thread somewhere around here.

  7. #7
    Pictures please, love Asheville, such a lovely part of the country!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  8. #8
    Team Z8 Satch's Avatar
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    Pictures? You wanted pictures?!

    Ah, nothing like having the tonneau fit properly!
     

  9. #9
    Z8 Madness Z-acht's Avatar
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    Great looks!
    Ton
    1 of the 71 original Dutch sold cars (jetblack/red)

  10. #10
    Team Z8 Satch's Avatar
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    A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the car show...

    Okay, earlier, I posted:

    Tomorrow we'll drive from Indianapolis to Asheville---ahead of the rain, I hope. I'll let you know if we wind up on the side of the road.

    Why yes—yes, we did wind up on the side of the road. Several times, in fact.

    The first time, we had gone over our 200-mile "safety" distance by about 50 miles, and when we got going again, we thought we were good when we made it to the Shell station. The second time, the road was narrow and the rain was falling, and we were only about a quarter of the way through the tank. So when the car started again, we made it through a tunnel—PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T DIE ON ME IN THE TUNNEL!—and found a glorious construction camp in a clearing on the other side, allowing us to get off the road and call AAA.

    When the roll-back truck finally delivered us to Asheville, we had missed our dinner at the Biltmore, but sure enough, the Z8 fired up as if nothing had been amiss, and we drove around the block and into the parking garage. But instead of putting the car on the lawn of the Biltmore the next day, as scheduled, we took it to BMW of Asheville, where of course they could find nothing amiss.

    Two days later, we drove the car without incident to Greenville, South Carolina, where Century BMW replaced the fuel pump and fuel-pump relay (those do get iffy on occasion). I'm also going to have them change the trans and differential fluids, and the spark plugs, since the car has now reached 105,000 miles and I don't know when those were last changed.

    Mind you, it's hard to diagnose the problem when the car is running like a watch, but the techs report that the fuel pump smelled "burnt," which would jibe with my theory that I cooked the fuel pump when I ran the tank dry in Oklahoma. I don't know why it would be intermittent—BMW pumps are usually working or stone dead—but I don't mind changing it at this mileage anyway.

    Next up: A drive to New Jersey. I do hope that one proves boring!

  11. #11
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    That's a crazy story! So sorry it messed up your plans.... But once you've confirmed the solution, someone will thank you! At some point... You can't be the only one.

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