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Mike, Technician
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2006 Kia Picanto 1.1. My daughter's car,

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2006 Kia Picanto 1.1. My daughter's car, has been plagued by erratic engine cutting out, back in, cutting out, at all speeds, loads, gears. Sometimes it has run for days perfectly, other days it has jerked its way up the road from the start, alternatively, started cutting out after several miles. It can cut out on tickover in neutral, and can be restarted easily. It runs perfectly, or not at all, never rough. It has had static and running diagnostics done twice by the Kia dealer, and once by an independent, and shown no faults, although it has not misbehaved on these occasions. She called out Green Flag rescue when it stopped 3 times in one journey at Christmas. It stopped while they had it on their diagnostic computer and still registered no fault code. It had never misbehaved badly for me until today, when it kept cutting out and back in (like a loose connection) until it became undrivable, and I coasted to a halt, clutch in. I noticed that the random flashing EM light synchronised with a random clicking from the dashboard and diagnosed a faulty relay. However, pulling the 4 blue relays and the black one above the fuse box, plus the large blue box bolted to the scuttle above the steering column, did not prevent the engine from restarting and running. Removing the lower dash panel (driver's side), I discovered what I thought was a large black relay with a 5-pin connector bolted to the scuttle adjacent to the side of the centre console/ heater controls, ref. Hyundai-Kia 95400-07800, whence some of the clicks seemed to come. On opening up this unit, it is not a normal solenoid-operated contactor relay, it is a small ECM with several chips and a fairly complex circuit board. But, with this disconnected, the engine would not start. Connector plug back in, it started. Repeated this experiment twice with same results. So what is clicking? I can't see any more relays under the dash. Having put it all back, I discovered that I could keep the engine going and get home (3miles) by keeping the engine revving above 2,500rpm, presumably the alternator was producing enough current to keep the failing contactor closed, but on pulling up on idle, and turning the headlights on, the engine stopped. Andy XXX

Hello Andy,
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Shantal, I have managed to obtain from a scrapper, the black ECM part numbered above (what is it - what does it do?) and all the other relays described above, although I don't think the normal relays I have found so far are the problem. I am about to set off for Newcastle, where the car is (60 miles) so will hopefully have some news this evening. Thanks for coming back to me. Reading forums, it seems like these little cars, great to drive when they are going right, are a pain to maintain/diagnose. Regards, Andrew.

Hello and Welcome..
My name is ***** ***** Im happy to help..
Given what you have said above - please let me know what you find on re looking at the car today or when you do then we can progress from there..
Kind Rgds , MIKE......................
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, Mike. I changed the ECM, and the engine still cut out, almost instantly, and was as bad to drive as previously. Then I changed the 2 square, blue relays next to the big black indicator relay. It appeared to run a little better, and allowed me to get off the estate, but started jerking more than I was happy to drive. I noticed that the two left hand blue relays of the block of four seemed to get quite hot (1 square one, top row, one smaller one, bottom row. I swapped out the LH smaller (bottom row) blue relay for one off the scrapper. EM light did not come on with all the other dash warning lights when I turned the ignition key to position 2, and the engine would not start. So I swapped that relay for the other scrapper small one, and it started and ran fine for about 10 mins. by which time I was loading it for the trip back to Cumbria. I restarted it, and set off, with it coughing occasionally, and used the 'keep it over 2,500 revs' principle while in town, and it coughed occasionally, then increasingly, so I pulled over, and swapped in one of the original square relays, (top left, felt hot.) It did 65-70mph happily for about 10miles along the A69 before starting to cough, so I pulled over, and swapped out the hottest of the four blue relays. Most of the remaining 40 miles home, it would cough occasionally, mainly while accelerating hard between 2,500 and 3,000 rpm (ironically), or when coming off the overrun and gently back onto the throttle. If I keep my foot on the throttle, it will not pick up, however, if I momentarily release the throttle, then re-apply it, it will click back in, and the EM light will go off until the next time. By this method, I found it easier to get the car home, sometimes doing 5 miles at a time without a cough, over hill and dale (A686). Overall it seems to be improving. It is now running on the last 10 litres of the tankful treated with Redex injector/system cleaner which was put in 10 days ago. Could there be impurities/debris/water in the tank, and would they give these symptoms. Do relays run warm? It doesn't seem to be the relays themselves, rather their positions which make them get hot. Hoping all this history helps with diagnosis. Regards, Andrew.

Hello again Andrew, thank you for your reply and info there.
First thing to mention is that that relay you were asking about /module is for the immobiliser it's unlikely that's the immobiliser system won't cause such running problems once started.
The other thing to mention is that yes, relays can get quit hot in use ...I would advise to check the vehicles earthing circuits though inc the main earth straps to endure no issues there, that's to rule out any such electrical issues.
Other than that yes, you could easily be being misled by the relays clicking etc , it could well be a fuel system /fuel fault. If the fuel system causes such faults, cutting out etc , the relays will click etc , because it's cut out...not the cause....
So yes, given what you have described Andrew, I certainly would suggest checking /having the fuel /system checked to inc fuel pressure tests to check it's within spec. It would be unusual for. Fuel pump failure causing this but the fuel filter should be checked /changed ( if fitted, some didn't have them ) ..then go from there as above .
Working as above I'm sure you will get this sorted Andrew from what you have outlined..
Let me know if you need anything else at all..
Meantime , please do click on the Excellent ratings for me... I really appreciate that and Thank you....
Kind Rgds, MIKE.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for that, Mike. Hadn't thought of earth straps, although the way the engine spins on the starter, (when it won't start), I don't think that is the issue, although a more localised earthing problem may be. Anyway, I'm also going to pull the pump out of the tank and drain it, and clean the filter. Fingers crossed. I'll rate you when I'm happy. Probably good, would have been excellent for a quicker response.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Mike, I pulled the pump, drained the tank and shecked the filter. All as clean as a whistle, and no water either. Still cutting out. Think I know location of ECM, so I am about to pull centre dash out to check connections/ part numbers. What is the likelihood that the one in the scrap auto model is the same, - does the ECM on an auto, control gearbox functions as well, or does it have a separate unit for that? I suspect this car has had a weakness in respect of this issue since we bought it 2 years ago. It cut out once on its test drive in Manchester,when cold, and at lights, but restarted and continued without further issue. I negociated full service, plugs, and timing belt before delivery. It then broke down the day after the salesman drove it to Newcastle. Fixed (took 10 days) under warranty, then needed new key about 1 year ago when the one supplied stopped speaking to the ECM or immobiliser (according to Benfield Kia Newcastle). Bought with 50,000 miles, now done 71,000. Sorry this is making you work so hard. Have you heard of dodgy ECMs sporadically and erratically giving false signals, having better days and worse days, or do they normally just go pop? Car needed for work, Monday, so if no joy, may need to find an alternative. OUCH!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Found ECM - bolted to a bracket off the n/s 'A' post, behind the glove box. Jiggled all the leads while running - no reaction, but cut out 2 mins later. Any answer to compatibility of auto model's ECM to this one (manual).? Regards, A.

Hello there Andrew -

My sincere apologies - I had a complete system meltdown and was not able to get back to anyone for the last two days ! --

I am sorry ! This is just a quick courtesy reply so that you are are aware - Im now going to re read all that you have written / consider it properly and will get right back to you -

Kind Rgds, MIKE.
Hi again Andrew..

Ok - re the Ecus - no you cant interchange them - manual and auto ones are different -and too - you cannot just swap on from a breakers as they are "coded" to the key / immobiliser / Bcm systems...

If its looking like a suspect Ecu issue, we always advise to send the Ecu to a specialist company for proper testing - they have proper test equipment for these that you just cannot do without... one such company if its helpful for you is the link.. there are others that you can find / use - using google etc.

Yes these do have ecu problems - they also have wiring loom and injector problems -- In view of all, I would suggest a very careful check of the wiring / loom - and again, earth points - inc those on the engine/ engine bay ( smaller ones )
Check very carefully too the loom - kinking it / feeling it - you can often "feel" a bad wire / cracked wire on the loom that way.. and another way to yes, the "wiggle test" - with the engine running - wiggle the loom everywhere - and particualr on the connectors... any change / cut of the engine will have found your fault.

Also - pay careful attention to checking the integrity of the wiring / connections to the actual ignition - and back of dash cluster... known faults occur there that can cause such issues.

--- just going back to the fuel supply issue that I mentioned - while I note you have not found any issues there - I mentioned fuel "pressure" checking.. this can only be done with proper test equipment. I wasn't so much thinking dirty / contaminated fuel etc - rather fuel pump faults. If the pump is failing to maintain actual specified pressure, you will get such faults as you have. - So do bear that in mind.. it is a test that should be done with such issues as you have.

I hope that helps you further Andrew - let me know how you get on...and / or if you need anything else at all..

Best Rgds - MIKE.

-- Please dont forget to click on the Good / excellent ratings for me Andrew so that Im credited for my time etc - Thank you again - and note, you can get back to me anytime you might wish / need - clicking the ratings does not close you out.. Thank you again.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Mike, Having checked the ref. numbers on our car against the scrappers, none, being the same, I reckoned the ecus must be different. However, I thought I might be onto a winner with the transponder antenna coil (black ring around the ignition switch) which I swapped out, and apparently are a known weakness. But no, it started fine, and cut out shortly afterwards, as usual. I had already swapped the black box immobiliser unit, and surprisingly perhaps, it does not seem to be key or ECU specific. I find it hard to believe that a lack of fuel pressure would activate a cut out on the ignition or the injectors - why would anyone design a system like that? As for the loom, I have wiggled and bent all wires and connectors I can get to with the engine ticking over, and have never been able to reproduce an action which causes the engine to cut, yet, if I leave it standing, (and it is a very quiet, smooth-running engine), it invariably cuts out within a few minutes, but restarts immediately. If the pump wasn't producing adequate pressure, how could it achieve motorway speeds for 10mins and more (with occasional jerks) but cut out on tickover after only a few seconds at times. You can hear the pump humming whenever the ignition is turned on. Being normally a diesel driver, I tend to hesitate before starting to crank the engine. If it was a poor connection/thermal resistance fault, surely this would get worse as the journey progressed? Anyway, for now I concede defeat. I am leaving the car, and this history, with my local auto electrician, to check it over next week. Thanks again, wish I could say we'd sorted it.

Hi again..

Thank you for your reply and further info..

As I mentioned, the Ecu's are different... and too as I mentioned, this wouldn't be an immobiliser fault ( re your ref to the read coil. Yes they are a common fault - but for starting issues - not cutting out like yours once running )

>> I find it hard to believe that a lack of fuel pressure would activate a cut out on the ignition or the injectors - why would anyone design a system like that

That is a fact - a lack, be it complete loss or drop outside spec of fuel pressure will indeed cause cut outs such as you describe - thats why I mentioned to have it pressure tested... No it wont cut the ignition, but it will on the fuel side cause intermittent running to full cut outs....

>> If the pump wasn't producing adequate pressure, how could it achieve motorway speeds for 10mins and more (with occasional jerks) but cut out on tick over after only a few seconds at times..

Im talking "intermittent" faults ... not continual - which could add up. You will hear the pump hum as you say-but not when driving, you cant diagnose it that way. Im not saying it is the fault.. Im saying though it could be - and should be rule it out if nothing else - the same as you have with the wiring.. seemingly all is ok there.

Again - you have to rule out such things to be able to confident move on otherwise you can miss something and be chasing for hours something that isn't there. Being its the car is is, this can easily be tested with the right plug on equipment..of course you will need garage help for that.. I doubt the auto elect has that...

Other than that - such a fault can indeed be electric / electronic - Common is the crank sensor but you say you have changed that. After that, ignition coils / sensors / ecu etc can all be affected by heat and fail intermittently giving such symptoms - all these then would be next on the list.

All I can do is advise Andy on the symptoms you provide.. sometimes these sorts of faults can be very hard to get sorted even when working on the it is hard from here not being able to be hands on.. so again, all I can do is advise from the symptoms... with the right equipment , you should get to the bottom of this for sure..

If there is anything else feel free to get back to me..

-- I would appreciate you would please leave at least a Good rating Andy so that Im credited for time etc spent helping you.. and I thank you in advance.. and wish you all the very best -

Rgds - MIKE.
Mike, Technician
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Experience: Tech Expert
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Mike, just to finish off the story. Left it with our local auto-electrician; my wife drove it the 11 miles into town, and reported it ran fine, he kept it for 2 days, drove it round a bit, left it running for 20 minutes once warm, - no fault. He reckoned it was probably a dodgy connection/cracked wire/badly soldered component, and short of checking every inch of the engine loom, there was no quick or easy way of finding it. I set off for home, and it misbehaved within the first mile, and several more times after. I found an ECM and ignition key/barrel on e-bay for £50 - worth a punt. Fitted them last evening, and I have covered over 100miles since without a hiccup. It may have been the ignition switch, but I suspect the ECM. There have been several unresolved threads (and some resolved) with similar undiagnosable intermittent faults, which I reckon could have been caused by dodgy ECMs. I have told my daughter to trade it for a suitable VW, as they tend to be reliable, and there is no shortage of competent independent mechanics who know these vehicles inside out. Hope this helps.