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Let's add a "Car Won't Start" guide to archives (I'll start)


Old 12-22-2004, 09:36 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Atlanta, ga, 30315
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Default Let's add a "Car Won't Start" guide to archives (I'll start)

There are so many posts from people that say "My car won't start what do u think it could be" And the answers are always either "did you check your battery" or "Main fuel relay" or "I replaced the ______ and that fixed it" Here's my attempt at a guide to diagnosing no-starts without throwin parts at it like you're rich. You guys should append whatever to it and put it in the archives or something

Please note this is for when your car CRANKS but will not FIRE. Cranking is when your engine is turning (Whir-whir-whir-whir), not when you turn the key, hear click and then nothing at all.

Tools required:
-Test light ($2 at wal-mart, also available at autozone and most hardware stores. In a pinch, an old headlight or brakelight with wires will work)
-1/4 drive ratchet, extensions and 8mm, 10mm and 12mm sockets

Optional tools:
Multimeter (Less than $20 from wal-mart. get DIGITAL one)
-Wiring diagram (Helms, Haynes, Chilton etc)
-Spark tester

Understand this relationship: Ignition switch powers ECU - ECU powers Main fuel relay to turn on fuel pump - Starter turns crankshaft- crankshaft turns timing belt and camshaft- camshaft turns distributor- distributor sensors tell ECU the engine is turning - ECU tells ignitor to fire the ignition coil - ECU turns injectores on and off.

Step 1:
-Turn ignition on and see if the check engine light comes on. If it does then we know the ECU is getting power. If not then check the ecu fuse, and possibly (not not very likely) the main fuel relay could be bad. The main relay supplies power to the ECU, and once the ecu is powered it "tells" the relay to send power to the fuel pump. Which leads up to step 2:

Step 2: Listen to see if the fuel pump comes on for 2 seconds after the ignition is turned on. it will be a buzzing sound comming from the back of the car. If you do not hear it then the main fuel relay is probably to blame. check this link http://www.markl.f9.co.uk/howt...y.htm
For info on how to fix it.

Step 3: Check for fuel injector pulse. Unplug one of the electrical connectors from the fuel injectors and put your test light across the two terminals. You can also use a "Noid light" from autozone or wherever. Have someone crank the engine. If the light flashes that means the ECU is turning the injectors on and off which means 2 things:
1. Your distributor sensors are working (that tell the ecu the engine is spinning)
2. Your timing belt is not broken (How the hell can the distributor turn if the timing belt has broken.)

If your test light flashes go to next step.

If the light doesn't flash then check the fuse for the injectors, if the fuse is good then take distributor cap off, and check to see if the rotor spins when you crank the engine. If it doesn't then your timing belt is broken. If it does then your distributor sensors are messed up and you should buy a new distributor.

Step 4: Check for spark

-Pull a plug wire from engine, stick a spark tester on the end, have someone crank the engine and check for spark. You can also use an old plug if you connect one end of a wire to the outside of the plug and the other end to the chasis

-If no spark then take the distributor cap off (three 8mm bolts/screws). Check it for cracks and other problems. Ground your test light to the chassis and put the end on the coil negative (-) screw. Crank the engine and see if the test light flashes. If it does then the ignitor is doing its job and you should replace the coil. If it doesn't flash then the ignitor is not working properly and should be replaced.

-If you got spark and you have injector pulse and the fuel pump's comming on then that leaves the following:
1. Timing belt jumped a tooth
2. Clogged air filter
3. Clogged fuel filter or fuel line, weak fuel pump
4. Clogged exhaust (It can happen, but highly unlikely

Also, pull your plugs and make sure they're not fouled
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