Car turns over but won't start

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  #1  
Old 03-13-10, 04:41 PM
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Car turns over but won't start

We have a 2002 Malibu and it won't start! We know about the security issue, have bypassed that. It will turn over, but it won't start. We've changed the fuel filter, the air filter, and cleaned the carburator. Sometimes, on rare occasions, it will start, giving us enough time to run to the store, grab some food items, and get back home, but it might be 2-3 days before it will start again. We're afraid to go anywhere other than that and turn the car off since we've gotten stuck for several hours twice. And no one around here will help. We can hear the fuel injectors prime when we turn the ignition key. We have spark in the spark plugs. Anyone have any ideas?
My husband has been doing this:
http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbul...d.php?t=979793
 

Last edited by Gyverbabe; 03-13-10 at 04:47 PM. Reason: more info
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  #2  
Old 03-13-10, 05:05 PM
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I'm thinking fuel related, maybe fuel pump??? I would do check the fuel pressure at the rail. If you have spark and no fire I would think that the cylinders would load up, since they arent maybe there is no fuel.

I just had a fuel pump and regulator in our '98 Bonneville, its symptoms were that it would run sometimes and sometimes not. Eventually had to get it towed when it gave it up all together.
 
  #3  
Old 03-13-10, 05:22 PM
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We can't check the fuel pressure, but we do hear the fuel pump prime when we turn the ignition switch. We are pretty much stuck here with no way to get anywhere to get it checked. We've both been out of jobs (hubby since January, me since end of Feb) and now we have to way to try to find another job. We just moved here last year and know no one we can ask for help.
 
  #4  
Old 03-13-10, 05:24 PM
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You need to determine the general area of the problem first.

Try this...

Check the basics, Fuel, Spark, Air.

Fuel: While someone is turning the key to start, have someone else spray starting fluid into the throttle body. If you get a response, then this is a fuel problem.

Spark: Remove a spark plug and place the side screw portion against a piece of body metal or engine metal (grounded to battery negative/ground). Then watch as someone turns the key to start. See if there is spark. Advanced spark testing is to use a spark testing tool which would typically have a gap of .25 inch. You should see a crisp blue spark. This is a larger gap than a spark plug and tests that the coil is producing a high enough voltage. (Good spark as opposed to weak spark.)

Air: Slightly press on the accelerator while trying to start. Normally the throttle is completely closed and the IAC (Idle Air Control) valve adjusts to admit air into the engine. By pressing slightly on the accelerator, you are bypassing the IAC valve and allowing air to enter the engine.

Combination test: While someone slightly presses on the accelerator and turns the key to start, have someone else spray starting fluid into the throttle body.
 
  #5  
Old 03-13-10, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill190 View Post
You need to determine the general area of the problem first.

Try this...

Check the basics, Fuel, Spark, Air.

Fuel: While someone is turning the key to start, have someone else spray starting fluid into the throttle body. If you get a response, then this is a fuel problem.

Spark: Remove a spark plug and place the side screw portion against a piece of body metal or engine metal (grounded to battery negative/ground). Then watch as someone turns the key to start. See if there is spark. Advanced spark testing is to use a spark testing tool which would typically have a gap of .25 inch. You should see a crisp blue spark. This is a larger gap than a spark plug and tests that the coil is producing a high enough voltage. (Good spark as opposed to weak spark.)

Air: Slightly press on the accelerator while trying to start. Normally the throttle is completely closed and the IAC (Idle Air Control) valve adjusts to admit air into the engine. By pressing slightly on the accelerator, you are bypassing the IAC valve and allowing air to enter the engine.

Combination test: While someone slightly presses on the accelerator and turns the key to start, have someone else spray starting fluid into the throttle body.
I agree with all the above but would go easy on the starting fluid. Just a light spray (two seconds) will get results.
 
  #6  
Old 03-14-10, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
I agree with all the above but would go easy on the starting fluid. Just a light spray (two seconds) will get results.
Good point! (I'll add that to my starting blurb for the future...)

That starting fluid is highly volatile!
 
  #7  
Old 03-14-10, 10:20 AM
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But on your spark check test, when it sparks and then you try to start the car, has it ever sparked but then not started? That is obviously important. If it then starts, you haven't learned anything. (You might say, "Well duh!", to this, but have to ask.)

Are you saying you think you get fuel and spark, when it don't start?

How many cylinders is this car? 6? I know with 4, that if you drop one cylinder, that can ball things up bad enough to cause a no start with just one down cylinder sometimes. With 6, you'd think it try to go with one down cylinder. That way you can pretty much guess whatever is wrong is affecting all cylinders and not just one - like fuel pump or crank sensor for example.

IF it turned out to be spark related, and not fuel related, I know that cars with crank position sensors have a habit of firing one time and not another.

There are search engine sites where sometimes you can learn of others having the same issue with that year car, and learn what some likely causes are. Just type in something like "Malibu car problems", or whatever else you can make work for you.
 
  #8  
Old 03-14-10, 01:11 PM
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I had a mopar in the '90s that would start and then stop after about 20 seconds. Long story, short answer: Computer thought car was being stolen and shut down the engine (spark and fuel I guess). I needed to put in a new engine computer and it was good as new. I didn't have any security system on my car but evidently the computer got fouled somehow and was running the stolen car program. A Mopar service manager diagnosed it over the telephone (my car was stuck at work in the parking lot 30 miles from home); one guy that knew his business.
 
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