By May 16, 2008 Read More →

Engine Won’t Start Sometimes

My car runs fine, no stalling, no issues at all. Then suddenly a couple weeks ago it wouldn’t start on the first try – it turned over but wouldn’t catch. Then I tried right away again and it started fine.

It ran fine ever since until yesterday morning. Then it did the same thing – only this time it didn’t start at all until later in the day when it started just fine and ran fine again. I could turn it off and let it sit and it would start. Then this morning – once again – it won’t start.

It did rain the past two nights, but it has rained before and I had no issues so I doubt that is the issue. It just will not catch and actually start. All the power is fine – battery is fine. This is frustrating because I am a widow with two small children and really need this dang car – plus I just bought it – have made only one payment.

Thank you in advance.

Hello Heather,

These kinds of starting problems can be a real pain to track down and repair. You have to rule out what the missing ingredient is as to why the engine will not start. Is it not getting enough fuel, or is it not getting spark to the spark plugs. Is there compression…are the pistons moving up and down inside the engine, or did the timing belt break?

Unfortunately both of these items are not very easy to check yourself….things are just too complicated these days to do much at home.

I would suggest you do a few things, just to rule out the very basic stuff (you might get lucky)

1. Open the hood and look for anything that might have broken off or is hanging loose….follow the spark plug wires from the spark plugs back to the top of the engine…are they still attached to something at both ends?

2. Does the engine sound funny when you try to start it? If the timing belt broke, the engine will spin over MUCH faster than normal and will sound like there is no resistance to it …which there is not anymore if the belt broke.

The timing belt is located inside the engine so you can not see it. You can remove the oil filler cap on the top of the engine and have someone crank the engine over…you should see things moving up and down inside the oil filler cap area. If you do, the belt is OK, if you don’t , the timing belt might have broken.

3. Have someone bang on the bottom of the fuel tank with their fist or a rubber hammer AS you crank the engine over…this can help jump start a weak electric fuel pump which is located inside the fuel tank.

4. Check for spark at the spark plugs. Remove a spark plug and hold it close to the metal engine with the spark plug wire attached AS someone cranks over the engine.

CAUTION use a set of rubber coated pliers or something with wood or plastic to hold the spark plug….it WILL shock you!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really don’t recommend you do this……but if you want to, this will help you determine if you have spark or not.


Austin Davis

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."

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