Suddenly won't start - 98 Dodge Avenger


Old 01-22-02, 08:31 AM
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Suddenly won't start - 98 Dodge Avenger

'98 Dodge Avenger (base model)
Standard, 2.0 liter, 4 cyl
80K miles

Yesterday I tried to start my car and it wouldn't start all the way. When turning the key, you hear the usual start up sound and then, instead of the engine turning over and being able to drive away, there is a scratchy sound and the starter returns to cycling.

Tried to pop the clutch but was unsuccessful... Battery is fine, fuel pump primes accordingly...

We've had no issue with this car in 50k miles.. no warning sounds, lights, change in performance, etc..

Is there an ignition test that can be performed on this car?

Is this a possible computer problem? Maybe fuel sensor?
It seems that the engine is simply not getting any gas, and yes there's plenty of gas in the tank.

Any suggestions?
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Old 01-22-02, 01:05 PM
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There is no 1.8 in an Avenger. I assume you mean a 2.0......

You're not clear on what the problem is.

Will the starter engage now? Does it spin the engine? Engine spin and not start?

By your description it sounds like a bad starter, but you need to furnish more details and zero in on the problem so we can help.

If the starter turns the engine and it won't start, check my post "The Basics" for some ideas. Tell us what you find as a result of reading that as well.
Old 01-22-02, 01:21 PM
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More description

No warning lights, no error messages

No leaking fluids

No drain in power

Full of gas

Fuel pump primes accordingly when starter is engaged

Starter cycles

Just as engine is ready to turn over and run there is a scrathing sound and then, instead of the engine starting and allowing the car to be driven, the starter begins to cycle again.

Ultimately, car won't start, can't resolve by popping clutch or jumping battery, depressing gas pedal, etc.. Nor does it work to allow the car to sit and fix itself... Which would be GREAT! -

If there is an ignition test that can be performed on this vehicle, as there was for an older Dodge Spirit I once had, perhaps I could be more specific.. Does such a test exist for this vehicle?

Old 01-22-02, 01:24 PM
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The starter getting its "second wind", and that's strange.

But, let's for a minute assume it is OK and turns the engine over.

Again, as instructed in the prior post check my post "The Basics" and tell us if you have spark and fuel or lack thereof. I describe how to check for spark in that post.

Let us know what you find.
Old 01-22-02, 02:48 PM
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Further with my unhappy engine

Spark: There is no distributor, the computer fires the plugs...

Can an ignition test be performed? If so, what is the key turning sequence to cause the engine light to flash the code?
Old 01-22-02, 03:03 PM
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Once again , you need to tell me if you have spark .

Pull off an ignition cable at the plug. Stick a screwdriver in there and leave it to a metal ground. Crank the car. Tell me if you have fat, blue, consistent spark at all times when cranking or not.

If you do not, we have an ignition problem. If you do, we have a fuel problem.

Need to take it step by step.

The computer fires the COILS, not the plugs.

This vehicle is OBDII, you cannot pull your codes without the use of a scanner or OBDII code reader. Autozone rents them.

So far, your computer has nothing to do with your problem. We can't be sure until you answer my question here
Old 01-27-02, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Conus
Posts: 505

Hi Guys;
Was just cruising for some info and saw this post. Is it possible that his/her timing belt have some broken teeth and nee replacing?
I have a 1980 Volvo that had the same syptoms even after I replaced the starter motor ( Unneccesarily it sees!) as the timing belt was missing teeth and when it hit that spot would screech just like a broken starter motor.
Just a tought and for your consideration
Old 01-27-02, 07:02 PM
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Could be...

But we have not heard back from this poster in a while and in response to my questions for clarifying this, we have not heard anything either . Either he/she is furnishing the information or has had it fixed by now.

It would be nice to know, I agree .
Old 01-28-02, 01:06 PM
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Well.. timing belt it's not...

Here, I would insert a big question mark...

Last Monday, I tried to start the car, it wouldn't start.
Last Friday I gave in and had it towed to the dealer for repair under warranty.

Car was dropped off and the tech couldn't get it to start either.. His first deduction?? Timing Belt.. either broken or off track..

They let it sit over the weekend and after a few restarts today (turning the key all the way off in between tries) the car started right up, chugged for about 5 seconds and then ran great!

They tried to test for error codes.. nothing
The tested the fuel filter, injectors, line and fuel command mod - no problems

They even tried to cause it to not start again, after running for a few minutes.. no troubles

So - once again, as it was two years ago, there's nothing wrong with my car - the shop thinks I FLOODED it! Never let it be said that you can't flood a fuel injected engine.

Also, something they mentioned, the problem starting may have been caused by a small bit of particle actually in the fuel (BAD GAS - I wish I could report the station that I filled up with just hours before the trauma - I sure won't ever go there again) and somewhere along the way it became slightly clogged and just worked itself out after numerous attempts to start the motor.

Is it wise to use the injector cleaner fluids you can purchase, do they really do anything? I usually use low or mid grade fuel, 85 or 87 around here, and don't notice any lack of performance, but I guess I got a bad tank.

and hey, while the car was at the shop, they fixed the recall on the model!!

All is well and I have my car back... sigh.... I am again happy

Thanks for all the suggestions though!
Old 01-28-02, 01:14 PM
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Choose good quality fuel from a station that moves a lot of volume. That way, you'll be sure to get good fuel and it won't be stale. Change your filter once a year.

Often, certain states have additives in the fuel which are problematic. Also changes in temperature can cause problems when "winter" fuel is run in milder climates during a change in winter (such as the warm spell we are having in NYC now..).

Keep an eye on it and vary where you buy your fuel.

85 is too low of octane unless it measured by a different method. Most places sell 87 which is the R+M/2 method. Check your owner's manual for the recommended grade. It's usually 87, but some places rate it 85 and that's acceptable. The owner's manual is the guide to use here.
Old 01-28-02, 02:19 PM
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Unhappy What did the shop do to justify the charge?

Just a quick question.. the dealer/service mngr just got done telling me that they didn't do anything but try to start the car and poof.. there it went, just fine.

Now he's left a message telling me of the charges for their servicing my vehicle.. To substantiate, he's now claiming they pulled the spark plugs and wiped off the gas because I flooded the engine.. except, they were able to start the engine before ever trying anything with the plugs...

I most certainly could have pulled and wiped off the plugs myself..

It seems that the shop is just trying to weasle as much out of me as possible.. and making up any excuse (one that is totally unverifiable) to justify it.

Any thoughts?
Old 01-28-02, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Conus
Posts: 505
Hi Expressed;
Before I even start, remember that there is such a thing as a mechanics lien on a auto. The shop is allowed to charge you just for looking at the car! If you leave it, and they open the hood,or anything, they charge by the hour and the book rate. If the job is done in 5 minutes but the book says 35 you are charged for 35! That said, I suggest that you contact the manager/owner of the station and inquire why you were not charged at the time of the auto pickup, if you had picked it up before the notification ( you weren't clear on that). Also, if you have paid the bill at the time of pickup I believe that you have satisfied the debt and that any subsequent notification of charges is without merit and unsupportable.
Check with the local Better Business Bureau and ascertain if this dealership has a history of this conduct and be prepared to file in writing a complaint, if necessary, with copies of your receipts. Also contact the manufacturers customer relations department as many of the larger companies are virulent in their pursuit of this type of conduct. They will threaten, at times, to pull their franchise from people such as these. They may even consider the bill satisfied and say so( but get it in writing!). Especially in competive times for them like these are.
Good luck but dint lay over and pay the bill without a fight! They just want some more money!
Old 01-29-02, 05:17 AM
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Yup, if I've got it right...

Call him up and ask, "Why didn't you charge me before I took the car?"

How you now know he didn't just add in a little extra.

I agree, contact the guy and try to resolve it. Then find another shop or go back to Chrysler and get them to have a look at it.

Did you also check for any symptoms that match your problem under "recalls and bulletins"?
Old 01-29-02, 09:01 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

I actually paid the bill and turned it over with the dispute to my warrantly company. They reimbursed me fully and they will go company against company, instead of little consumer against the LITHIA corporation.

All work has to be done by the dealer, so at least I know I am getting accurate work done (in theory).

It's up to my warranty company now.. at least they're good for something!
Old 01-29-02, 09:11 AM
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Lol. Those warranties sure cost enough, so let them handle the problems!

I agree.

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