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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
First let me say that though I've done some maintenance and replaced a few things over the years (in other vehicles), I am definitely not a mechanic, so any helpful advice anyone can give me will be greatly appreciated. Okay. Here's what happened:

I got in my '91 Laser (auto, 1.8L, no mods), turned the key and it started right up then almost immediately died and an acrid smell (burning insulation?) filled the cab. Everything seemed to still work - all the accessories, the starter turned the motor - but no running. I checked the gear selector and "what do you know" I couldn't move it. With the key locked the shifter button won't depress, but will with the key in acc. position. With my foot on the brake I still cannot move the shift lever.

I'm thinking my shifting cable broke (I haven't taken anything apart yet), but what about the smell? Or is it that my neutral start switch shorted-out - but shouldn't I be able to move the selector if it were just the switch? Am I off base here?

Please let me know what you think, and if you have any advice on where to go for any parts I might need, please, don't be shy. This is the only working vehicle we have, so I need to get it back on the road.

Thanks!
 

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Okay...I'm an idiot. I must've been REALLY stressed yesterday when the car broke. I went out tonight (I spent all day reading about the shift cables and looking for one [found one on ebay - didn't buy it]) and tried the test procedures for the key lock cable and the shift lock cable and everything went fine. The shifter unlocked and moved normally. Like I said, I'm an idiot.

By the way, here's an important post from another site about shifter cables and brackets
Code:
http://www.galantvr4.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Number=994337
Code:
Anyway, even after twenty-four hours, when I got into the car I could still smell that acrid smell, and it seemed to come from the center console or near there. Imagine my surprise (not really) when I read that the ecm is located under the center console. Right now it's dark, cold, and my garage is so full of junk that I really need to roll the car outside so I can have some room to crawl under the dash, so when I can, I'll hook my meter up to the diagnostic plug and I fully expect to see the needle peg-out and stay there. Soooo, time to begin the hunt for an ecm. Wish me luck. I'll let you know what happens (if indeed you're out there). Seems the least I can do.
Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, I found a bunch of electronic control units on ebay - huge price variations. I found one for just over twohundred, a Cardone - anyone know anything about them? Strangely, the california ones are cheaper. Too bad mine isn't. I got the correct one for my car from this post:
Code:
https://www.dsmtuners.com/threads/ecu-questions.522580/
I'll order it as soon as I'm sure.
Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I tried the test procedure today and at first I got the expected steady 12v (it was actually only 10-11v), but then I didn't get anything (huh?). Anyway, I went ahead and bought the new (remanufactured) ecu, but I won't get it FOR A WEEK!
(sigh)
I'll let you know how it goes.
Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Great news! I got the new ecu today. It seems they sent it two day priority. The bad news is that it doesn't work :(.

I know I shouldn't complain about how hard it was to get in, but it was a bitch! They left almost zero slack in the looms that connect to it.

I think they (Cardone) mislabled it. They remove/deface all the original stickers on the casing, but I could still read the one with the last four digits in bold type and it wasn't what it should have been. I know they could have reprogrammed another type to make it compatible, but the fact remains, it doesn't work. It starts right up, but it won't idle (dies right away) and it misses like crazy while I'm keeping it alive, and the "check engine" light is on (never was before).

Okay, one final rant - Haynes...I used to really love Haynes manuals, but this one just kinda sucks. Not only does it leave a lot out (brakes for instance), but it's just not as complete as it used to be for the things it does cover. This time it told me I had to remove the gear shift (automatic). It told me to remove the screws and pull it off. Not only did I not have to remove the gearshift at all, but it left out the OD button entirely. I could go on, but I won't.

Now I'm not sure what to do. Cardone's pitch sounded good - complete re-soldering, each unit tested - but IT DOESN'T WORK! I don't know, should I try another Cardone (expensive), try a refirbished one from Whitey (a salvage yard owner in Spokane)(less expensive), or go with a "live" used one (cheapest).
(sigh)
I'll be back.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, I guess I should update...
I went ahead and ordered one from Whitey's. It came in today and it was someone else's order for a Honda. Whitey's was a bit put-out at first (they must get a lot of bad returns or something), but after a careful reading of my return, and perhaps a corresponding return from the guy who got my ECU, they were very apologetic. Man! This is taking way too long!
I discovered that you get a much better search return on ebay if you just search the model number, in my case md159561. I got a lot more results for rebuilt units from a variety of rebuilders. I decided to go with facr_inc, whose real name is Foreign Auto Computer Repair, Inc. located somewhere in Texas. I liked what they had to say about themselves. They've been in business for over twenty years rebuilding modules, and apparently started-out doing mitsubishi modules. They claim that the mitsubishi modules up to '94 used a kind of capacitor that leaks over time and corrodes the boards, so they replace all of these, removing the problem of early failures. They also do repairs if you send yours in, promising a one day turn-around. They have a five year guarantee. I don't know if they do mods or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised. My "new" ecu will run me about $275.00 with tax, about the same as the cardone one I bought.
Wish me luck.
Chris
 

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I don't know if the ECU is your problem but if you want to go that route first; you can buy a DSM/ Eclipse capacitor kit for very little money on eBay and have someone replace your capacitors. I did that on my 91 Eclipse 1.8 and it did the trick for me. the smell you described is textbook capacitor blowout. Some say it smells fishy (but it's not good).
You already beat the 2.0 interference valve problem by owning the 1.8. There are few capacitor replacement write-ups on the forums
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@doublesharp
Thanks for the reply. If you had gotten to me earlier I might've gone that route. I had no idea there were capacitor kits available anywhere, let alone ebay. That said, I have to admit to being utterly (and I mean utterly) ignorant of electronics. I could probably solder connections at an acceptable level, but I don't even know how to recognize a capacitor. Yeah, I'm sure it's the ECU. My car ran almost perfectly before its sudden demise; it never threw a code. The ECU was my first thought when I smelled that stench coming out from my center console. It was only the ascendancy of my "lizard brain" that got me thinking it was anything else (truthfully, I think I was pressing the OD button in an effort to unlock the gear shift, lol).

Well, I got my ECU from Foreign Auto Computer Repair today and put it in. I'm not sure.

I haven't taken it out on the road yet - just idled it in the garage for a few minutes. It's dark and raining, and I'd rather walk home in the daylight if I have to, so I'll wait until tomorrow to "run it in". It's idling without stalling - an improvement over the Cardone one, but it's running rough - missing some. It's been more than a few years since I've had to install a new ECM in a vehicle, so my memory is more than a little fuzzy. I know they need to "adjust themselves" to their new environment, but I can't recall whether there was this much missing involved.

It's true, I got a five year warranty on this unit from Foreign Auto Computer Repair, but it turns out there are exclusions:
"All sales are final. No returns, No refunds."
"We guarantee our parts/repairs to be in full function."
"We do not guarantee that it will fix your vehicles (sic) problem, misdiagnosis is unfortunately common."
"Misdiagnosis is liability of purchaser, as is Reflash/Reprogramming, which must be done when needed by qualified tech with part installed."
"WARRANTY VOID is (sic) SEAL BROKEN, or if failure is due to other parts, such as IAC mtr. failure, any electrical short, ect (sic)..."

So, perhaps the warranty really isn't worth much. If there's a problem with their unit, all they have to do is claim it's really a problem with my car. Time will tell, I guess. I really can't afford to be throwing so much money at this without actually fixing anything. As an additional kick in the pants, I have to return my original ECU as a core or they VOID THE WARRANTY. I'll have to go out and buy another one if I decide I want one to rebuild on my own (assuming it's just capacitors, that is).

I do have a question. When one of these goes out, is it common for it to take something else out with it?

Thanks for reading another chapter in the ongoing saga of the Hunt for an ECU. If everything evens-out after I drive it a bit (in other words, if I'm finally quit of this problem), I'll stop by and let you know.
Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, I ran it around the block today and it didn't get any better - probably got a bit worse. It did, however, finally throw a code, a 41, injector. So, I need to go buy a test light, since I don't have one, so I can justify sending the ECU back - since it obviously doesn't work right.
(sigh)
Chris
 
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