I hope this set of circumstances helps others and the fix hopefully can also help others i hope!
So here we go! Once upon a time....
I parked up with the car at operating temp and on that small journey the car seemed sluggish. If any of you have had a MAF fault or vacuum fault your car will drop about 50bhp maybe, it's very noticeable! Anyway, my car felt sluggish like that. When i returned to the car it took a few more seconds than usual to start but it did start and it was rough until i gave a boot full and it seemed ok, i reversed the car and then i put it in D (obviously an auto) it cut out, Iíve never ever had that with an auto.
I let it roll forward while i steered out of the way and then stopped, let the DME relay click out and then started again, this time it revved much better and faster and i had my performance back. I drove home and checked a few more times but it all seemed fine.
I drove to work a couple of days later and it seemed sluggish again and then after work it took me about 10 minutes of cranking and messing to get her going. Something was clearly wrong!
I read through a shed load of forums and it seemed i had a few things to check:
1) I have INPA and an OBD lead, i read the faults and had an emission related MAF fault and an emission related crank position sensor fault stored. I cleared them and turned the car over, it fired and now was running really rough at idle and was struggling more to start. Both faults came back after deleting and re-reading.
2) Check MAF sensor, it was reasonably new so i did the old disconnect test and that showed the MAF to be working.
3) Oil use, a recent increase in oil used and some mayo on the filler cap, had all these symptoms.
4) With the airbox and MAF/flex pipe removed and turning the car over do you get a back fire through the throttle body of blue smoke? Oh dear i do!
A few similar faults had been described on a couple of threads so at this point i had:
Sluggish to start, misfire at idle, cleaned up a little past 2000 revs but down on power suggesting a misfire, increased oil consumption and some mayo and condensation. I followed the forums advice and bought a CCV valve off eBay for £27.99 new and delivered. I also bought a metre of 12mm internal diameter flexi rubber fuel line which i found out at a later date.
Fitting the CCV -
I read allsorts and decided i wasn't going to take the manifold off and would make things work my way.
I loosened the middle rectangular engine cover at the front so i could get a good pinch on the crank case breather on the right bottom of the crankcase this then connected to the CCV underneath the inlet manifold. I didn't take pictures so hope the descriptions to follow make sense.
What i did to get the CCV off was to remove the airbox and MAF and feed pipe to the throttle body, i then removed the alternator cooling duct and this let me get to the other side of the breather valve and unclipped that. It was pretty gunked up and a bit mayo'd.
The CCV is held on by 3 10mm bolts which are not so conveniently placed underneath the throttle body and slightly closer to the front of the car, they are pretty obvious when you have found the CCV by following the crank case breather.
The further most and lowest bolts are easy to get with a stubby extension on your ratchet, the top and closest to the front bolt was covered by some metal piping which i didn't follow to see what it was but i think its air con. I got to that using a little screwdriver, the one from the cars tool kit was perfect.
The CCV pulled backwards out of its rubber bung which was sealing it against the throttle body housing. The final connection was some rubber flex pipe which connects the CCV to the dipstick tube; this is the oil return pipe.
My rubber pipe was knackered! i had to cut it off at the dip stick end and then cut down the side of the rubber and then pull it off when i removed some of the pipe to open it up a bit. To get to it i put my hand down the gap between throttle body and my ABS solenoid unit and piping, it was far from comfortable but it was doable.
To remove the CCV there is an inlet manifold support bracket held on by a nut to the block and a bolt into the manifold, i removed this bracket which is at the front of the car end of the manifold. I then wiggled the CCV out.
It was minging! And a lot heavier than the new CCV purely down to the failed diaphragm in it and it being half full with oil, the oil return pipe was also really bad and full of carbon deposits.
If you have some carb cleaner then clean out the crank breather pipe, spray on the inside of either end of your fuel line which i cut down to about 45cm but cut some more off so maybe 35cm would be fine but have a check on that yourselves! With this pipe lubed up i went back into the gap between throttle and ABS and popped it over the tube end which went on easy but not slack. I didn't fancy the added fiddle of hose clips and with how little pressure there is i fancied it to be fine.
I then fiddled the CCV through the front gap under the manifold and got in position, bobbed the 3 bolts in finger tight and then connected the crank case pipe.
Now was test time, now following this work i was really struggling to get the car even started, it had deteriorated considerably, i jumped the car to help but it was turning over consistent but never quite catching but the back fire seemed to have stopped.
EVENTUALLY i got the thing going, the turn over and running seemed very similar to prior to the CCV replacement but something seemed a little better and that was the lumpiness under load, it seemed much smoother at low revs above idle so fingers crossed i have improved, judging by the oil all over the CCV and feed pipe i certainly had some oil issue going on there!
I slightly unfortunately for me put most of the bits back on and hit the forums again, this time focussing on the crankshaft sensor fault, the MAF fault had disappeared and now just the crank fault.
My knowledge of crankshaft sensors would suggest that there are too settings with a crank sensor, working or not, if it wasn't working the car wouldn't start and the EML would be on, i was very sceptical that this could be that but i had faults stored and found 3 or 4 threads from all over the world describing very similar circumstances to mine so it was worth a punt.
EBay jobby again brand new for £14.99 delivered.
My car is an October 1996 build so first was to locate the sensor and then the connector.
The sensor on my car and should be on any 328 before and for a while after mine is directly under the thermostat housing on the front of the engine above the main pulley, it is held in with a 5mm Allen key bit. If you stand over your driverís wing and squeeze your hand between thermostat and fan housing you will feel it there, i have a nice little ratchet with screwdriver bit attachments but an Allen key would also be fine to loosen this up. I then pulled the sensor out and had a look and mine had quite a weird look to it, a proper indentation down the middle, this was definitely a bit broke!
The next part to disconnect the sensor is why i said i wished i hadn't put so much of the airbox etc back, we need to get back under that manifold again! the plug was about half way back underneath the manifold, if you trace the wire from the sensor it pops up close to the crank breather and flows back to a 2 connection piece mid-way back in the manifold, one connection is the cam sensor and one is the crank, i reached in and unclipped the furthest one back which was my crank sensor, the two sensor lines where tie wrapped together so i reached in and cut this and then the wire and sensor was free...ish.
Above the thermostat housing is the plastic housing for the crank sensor, i read somewhere you can pull off some clips and this slides off, i have no idea how to get onto this as the fan etc is in the way so i decided to short cut it for now and i cut the sensor off and pulled the wire through from the connector end. i then routed the new crank sensor on the front side of the thermo housing for now and then found a nice way to route the wire and plugged and fastened the crank sensor and plugged it in, i then tidied up the wire and route it took temporarily.
I made sure all plugs and connections where in, any breather valves etc were also re-attached.
Now was the moment of truth.....fired up first time and ran perfect, i tidied up all the car and made sure everything was back to normal and checked my wiring system for the new crank sensor was ok, considering the time saved compared to the way other threads say to do it i was happy with the route and secured it all in place as much as i could.
So there we have it, rough running, sluggish starting, misfire and down on power, despite my knowledge and understanding we had the little bar steward crankshaft sensor to blame for all my misery, the CCV definitely needed doing, i think it was supplementing a poor running and i am now convinced i have the old girl running 100% better for about £60 and if you did both about 3 hours.
I really hope this helps someone else and if people want this supplementing with photo's i will happily do so when i get time.