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Car won't Start? READ!!!

Old 24-Jan-2007, 11:48 PM
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Car won't Start? READ!!!

Hopefully this Stops some of the repetitve no start threads that we always have...




I – Does the car NOT crank, or crank slowly?
If the car doesn’t crank at all, or cranks very slowly, areas to investigate include the following, in order of likelihood:

1. Check your battery terminals and cables. Loose, corroded, or broken battery terminals or cables will drain your battery. If the car cranks very slowly, your battery may have some juice left. If not, it may be completely dead.

2. Using a DVOM (Digital Volt/Ohm Meter), check the voltage on your battery. Red probe goes to the positive post; black probe goes to the negative post. If battery voltage reads low (anything lower than 12 volts is low!), your battery has been drained. This could be due to any number of things. Did you leave an interior light on by mistake? Are your battery terminals loose or corroded? Did your battery ground out on an aftermarket strut bar? Is your alternator going bad? Take your battery to your local AutoZone, O’Reilly, Advance Auto, or similar parts house. Most of these chains offer free battery testing and free charging (especially if you bought your battery from them).


3. If you have an Automatic, is the car in Park or Neutral? If you are M/T, are you depressing the clutch all the way when starting the car? If yes, your Neutral Safety Switch or Clutch Safety Switch (respectively) may be faulty. Refer to FSM for proper testing procedure, or just unplug it.

4. When you turn the key, do you hear the starter click? If not, time to check it. Refer to FSM for complete testing procedure. Check the starter relay first. On a 1g, this is located under the dash, to the immediate left of the steering column. There are three relays down there – the starter relay is the one in the middle. With KOEO and clutch depressed, battery voltage should be present at the relay. On a 2g, the starter relay is located near the radio.


5. Check the Alternator fuse (80A in a 1g, 100A in a 2g). This is located in the main fuse box under the hood, and should be the largest fuse in there, making it easy to spot. Careful – it’s also the only fuse that is secured by a bolt, so keep this in mind when attempting to remove it. (See image below for location)

6. Pull the upper cover off of your timing belt and make sure you have not snapped or damaged the timing belt. If you are at all in doubt about the condition of the belt, pull it out and replace it. If there is any possibility that you could have jumped timing, run a compression test to verify if (or, more likely, how many) valves were bent.




II – The car cranks, but just won’t start.

There are four main things a car needs to run: Fuel, Fire (Spark) at the right time (Engine Timing), and Compression. Once the car has all of these things, it really has no choice but to start – remember, cars are just machines. With a car that cranks but doesn’t run, the first thing you need to do is diagnose which one(s) of these four basic necessities you’re lacking.

1. Checking for Fuel: Sparing you the painstaking details, there are a couple of things you will need to do to verify that you’re getting fuel. Try spraying some starter fluid into the cylinders and try to turn the car over. If the car will start, you are most likely not getting fuel.

Start by removing the fuel line from the filter (passenger) side of the rail (Careful! The fuel system is under pressure, and since you can’t start your car, you can’t relieve the pressure in the lines. Keep your face away from the fuel line, and wear protective eye gear. Imagine sticking your face in front of a bottle of champagne before uncorking it. Get the idea?)…Stick the end of the fuel line into a clear container and have a friend crank the car (or turn on the fuel pump via the check connector behind the battery). In a normally operating fuel system, plenty of clean gasoline should fill the bottle pretty quickly. If you don’t see a lot of fuel, or if it looks nasty, change your fuel filter. If nothing comes out at all, you will need to make sure your fuel pump is turning on. Open the fuel filler door and remove the filler cap. Have a friend put his or her ear up to the filler hole and listen as you crank the car (you have to crank it! Putting the key in “ON” will accomplish a whole lot of nothing). You can also power the fuel pump via the check connector. Stock fuel pumps will emit a faint buzzing or whining noise when they turn on. Larger aftermarket pumps (especially Walbro) will usually be loud enough for you to clearly hear inside the car yourself. If you don’t hear the “whine”, that’s your problem – your fuel pump isn’t powering on. Possible reasons for this include a faulty fuel pump, disconnected or damaged wiring to the pump, or a faulty MPI relay, among a few other things. If you are getting fuel to the fuel rail and your fuel pump is operating, but the car still doesn’t start, it’s time to consider fuel pressure. Pull the return hose from the Fuel Pressure Regulator and see if it’s wet with fuel after cranking the engine. If it’s dry, your Fuel Pressure Regulator could be faulty. Buy or borrow a fuel pressure gauge (these are fairly inexpensive, and can be purchased from any AutoZone, O’Reilly, or Advance Auto, etc.). Follow the manufacturer’s directions and refer to FSM to check the fuel pressure. Remember to remove the vacuum line (small rubber vac line going to the Fuel Pressure Solenoid – the one your Boost Gauge should be T’d to) from the fuel pressure regulator and pinch it closed with your fingers (or an adequately sized bolt).

Next, check to make sure your injectors are firing. Measure the resistance at the injector clips with your DVOM. Resistance should read 2-3 ohms at the injectors, and the clips should be receiving battery voltage while cranking. Take a long, rubber-topped screwdriver and place the metal end on top of each injector, and your ear on the other. Crank the car, and listen for a sharp metallic “clicking”. You’ll hear the clicking each time the injector fires. If your injector’s aren’t firing, try swapping out your Injector Resistor Pack with a known good unit. These don’t usually go bad, but when they do, they’ll keep the injectors from firing. The ECU may also be at fault here, or the wiring to the injectors may be damaged.

2. Checking for Spark: Before checking for spark, first remove and inspect your spark plugs. Are they improperly gapped or have they been fouled by age, improper fuel mixture, etf? If so, replace them and try to start the car again.

To check for spark, disconnect one of the spark plug wires and attach a spare spark plug (it’s always good to have a spare handy – you can use a cheap-o one from Wal-Mart for testing purposes). Place the plug and plug wire onto the valve cover and have a friend crank the car. Do you see spark arcing onto the valve cover? Sometimes it’s best to do this test at night – this makes it easier to see the spark. Repeat this test on all 4 cylinders to verify that you’re getting spark all the way across. If you’re not getting spark on some or all of the cylinders, first check the condition of the spark plug wires – does the spark try to arc through the wire while you’re testing? If so, the wires are damaged and must be replaced. Next, check resistance at the dizzy. Specs differ by year, so refer to your FSM for the specs for your particular vehicle. If everything tests out okay and you’re still not getting spark, pull the ECU and check the board for damage due to capacitor leakage.

3. Checking Engine Timing

4. Checking Compression


III – Fuel, Spark, Timing and Compression are good, but the car still won’t start!

We’ve narrowed it down this far, and we’re definitely making progress. There are a couple of things we can check now that will usually “seal the deal”.

1. Has your car been sitting for any length of time? If you’ve stored your car, or it’s been down for a while, and now won’t start, you can bet that the gas in the tank has gone bad. Drain the gas tank. Remember to remove the fuel pump and all related electrical connectors first. Dropping the fuel tank will take about an hour if you’ve never done it before). Clean the fuel tank with high pressure water and let it air dry IN A SAFE LOCATION (away from any possible danger of sparks or extreme temperatures) for at least 24 hours. Fill the tank with a few gallons of high octane gas, as well as a bottle of Fuel System Cleaner (like Seafoam) and/or Octane Booster.

2. Does the car eventually start, or act like it’s trying to start? Is the problem especially bad after the car has sat overnight, or on a cold day? This is likely your ECT (Coolant Temperature Sensor). The ECT is the first sensor the ECU looks at when you start your car. The ECU asks it "How cold is it outside today?" and the Temp Sensor responds. The ECU takes that information and decides how much fuel to send to the injectors. If your ECT is faulty, the ECU will either get an incorrect reading back, or no reading at all, and will stay in open-loop, dumping fuel into your cylinders, making your car excessively hard (or impossible in some cases) to start.
I'm not sure of how to check the ECT on our cars, perhaps you have a haynes to refer to on this one.




- I do not take credit for this, I found it online. I haven't even read it over fully but I will be editting out any inaccurate parts + adding to it as the days go on (bruno you may also edit as you see fit)
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Old 24-Jan-2007, 11:53 PM
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great write up!
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Old 24-Jan-2007, 11:55 PM
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nice find honda tech
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Old 25-Jan-2007, 12:42 AM
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sticky ?
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Old 25-Jan-2007, 03:56 AM
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Originally posted by starboy869
sticky ?
yes, eventually archives too
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Old 30-Jan-2007, 09:45 AM
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good write up chris.

a print out of this will now live in glove comp. permanently
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Old 11-Feb-2007, 10:14 PM
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nice post
but to check your batter u need a tester for it
only getting the voltage wil not do
u need to know the cold cranking amps it has
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Old 11-Feb-2007, 11:53 PM
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wow i loved the write up very helpfull
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Old 28-Mar-2007, 09:26 AM
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quick question...

what if everything that a car requires to start is working, except one of them. What if the engine doesn't have compression? what can i do then? Thanks...
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Old 06-Apr-2007, 09:45 AM
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Buy compression in a can and give your cylinders a spray!


No I'm kidding.. it's either your cam timing is off (timing belt jumped) you bent a valve.. burnt a valve, etc. No matter what it is.. its not good.
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