Car Won't Start but was fine last time I drove it--not the battery.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by WhipperSnapper, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. WhipperSnapper

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    Help! My 2002 Saturn SL won't start. The starter seems to work and it sounds like it is trying to start the car but for some reason it won't turn over or it won't spark. (I exchanged the two year old battery with a new one and that's not the problem.)

    I didn't notice any problems with it the last time I drove it but did fill up the tank. Is it possible that the fuel line could have frozen even though it's only about 25 degrees here and the temperatures have increased and decreased since then? What could cause a car to suddenly stop starting without any previous warning that it had a problem?
     
  2. spidey07

    spidey07 No Lifer

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    Probably a weak battery. Enough to turn it over, but not enough to really crank it good enough. How old is the battery?

    -edit-
    Apparently I can't read. I did read your OP. I don't think a fuel line would freeze unless it gets much colder or you had water in your tank.
     
  3. hanoverphist

    hanoverphist Diamond Member

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    are you sure the fuel pump is working? have you tested for a spark? these are the only things i can think of at the moment that would allow it to turn over but not fire. unless you have an alarm lock out that may be messing up.
     
  4. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    Hold the pedal to the floor while you try to start it.
     
  5. WhipperSnapper

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    Would a fuel pump suddenly die like that, though? I know a little bit about them and I think they normally just become weaker and weaker and more and more erratic in terms of the amount of fuel pressure they can put out.

    I'm not sure how I would test for a spark on my own, but why the hell would it not spark all of the sudden?
     
  6. AMCRambler

    AMCRambler Diamond Member

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    Does it have a check engine light on? A 2002 should throw a code if it's something causing the car not to start. Get an OBD II reader from the auto parts store and see if there's a code. Should narrow down whether it's fuel, air or spark that is missing from the equation.
     
  7. WhipperSnapper

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    The Service Engine Soon (or is it the Check Engine Light?) has been on for over a year. I looked it up in my manual and I think that's just a fuel tank gas-cap sensor or some sort of environmental emissions-related thing unrelated to the function of the engine. Maybe it's had an issue for a while and a sensor finally died.
     
  8. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    Holding the pedal to the floor will tell if it's possibly flooding. Holding the pedal to the floor tells the computer not to inject so much fuel when cranking.

    Also, is this the Saturn with the temp sensor problems?
     
  9. WhipperSnapper

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    Can't say I've had any temperature problems or temperature sensor problems.
     
  10. hanoverphist

    hanoverphist Diamond Member

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    yes, a fuel pump can just die like that. mine did on my suburban, it ran fine when i pulled into the gas station, wouldnt start after we filled up. 42 gal tank on that sucker, had to drain it and remove the tank to replace the pump. pain in the ass.

    testing for spark can be a difficult thing without the tools. easiest way is to pull a cable, put a spark plug in it and hold it to the engine while someone cranks it. youll see a spark (or feel it lol). how can a spark not happen? all kinds of different reasons. first identify what the problem is, then find out why it happened and fix it.
     
  11. jaydee

    jaydee Diamond Member

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    Guys, he said it's NOT turning over (aka, not cranking). Nothing to do with fuel or spark. Either your starter isn't getting juice the from battery, or the starter is bad.
     
  12. WhipperSnapper

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    No, it will try to turn over--it just won't start up. (When I said "turn over" I guess I meant "fire up".) It seems like it wants to start but just won't for some reason.

    I'm probably going to have it towed to a local mechanic who tends to get things done right the first time. If it is a fuel pump, I hope it's not one of those dumb designs where it's built into the fuel tank making it cost 10 times more than what it should cost to replace a fuel pump.
     
  13. c3p0

    c3p0 Platinum Member

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    Moisture can also cause that kind of problem. Have you run through any large puddles of water/snow/slush lately?

    c3p0
     
  14. jaydee

    jaydee Diamond Member

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    You're not being very clear. Will it "try" to turn over, or will it turn over?

    Assuming it does turn over, very basics: it's either fuel, spark, or compression. Some things you can try (do it in this order).

    - Check the fuse for the fuel pump.
    - How much fuel did you have in your tank? If it was running towards empty last time you ran, maybe some water has settled into the bottom of the tank and that's what you're pumping into the engine.
    - Could be low compression due to sticking valves. If you have access to an OBDII scanner, see if/what codes come up. If you've got a DTC P0300 stored in there, this is probably the case.
    - Check spark plug wire connectors for to see if they're clean or gunked up
    - Check the spark plugs themselves to see if they have the correct gap still, or are at least in the ballpark.
     
  15. Gibson486

    Gibson486 Lifer

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    timing belt?
     
  16. Meghan54

    Meghan54 Diamond Member

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    Naturally, it's in the gas tank. That's about where all cars have their electric fuel pumps these days.

    Now, what's a dumb design is not giving repair access through your trunk/hatch space or under the rear seat to the pump but instead make you drop the tank to replace the pump.

    And yes, the pump can just die without any warning. Our Blazer's pump died a couple of months ago like that. Started up, pulled out of driveway, stopped at the stop sign at the corner of our road, and it just died. No warning.

    Of course, it did last 8 years and 182K miles, but still......


    If you don't hear the pump initially start up and pressurize the lines when you turn the key to the "run" position (not "start"....), either the pump's dead or breaker/fuse blew. But pay attention, it will only run for a second or two then.....easy to miss if not listening carefully.
     
  17. Kaervak

    Kaervak Diamond Member

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    Check your crank position sensor. When that goes bad, the car wont start. To check if it's the fuel pump, turn the key to the ACC position. If you hear a whirring coming from behind you, that's the fuel pump. Also, make a post here: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/
     
    #17 Kaervak, Feb 11, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  18. LordMorpheus

    LordMorpheus Diamond Member

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    Check your fuel pump relay and fuse.

    On my car the horn uses the same relay the fuel pump does, so if my horn works I can swap that relay with the fuel pump relay and try it again (having already checked that the fuse is good and getting voltage).
     
  19. WhipperSnapper

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    I guess that it does "turn over"; I'm just not real familiar with all of the terminology.

    I think the fuel pump does start; it makes a little buzzing noise for a couple seconds right? It sounds like a short humming noise. Everything seems normal other than the fact that the engine itself won't start when the starter turns it over. It seems like it gets really close and wants to start but just won't.

    Let's suppose that it is the crank position sensor. Is there an easy way I could determine that that is the problem? Would a crank position sensor suddenly up and die like that without warning?
     
    #19 WhipperSnapper, Feb 11, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  20. boomerang

    boomerang Lifer

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    Yes, sensors just fail with no notice. To diagnose whether it's the crank position sensor you would need to get the codes out of it. You've been driving for a year with the CEL on. I bet you've got more than one problem.

    BTW, just because the pump runs does not rule it out as the cause of the no start.
     
    #20 boomerang, Feb 11, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  21. bruceb

    bruceb Diamond Member

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    If it is the crank position sensor, while the part is cheap (around $60 at most) getting to it is not. It is usually behind the crankshaft pulley (same one the main belt goes on) and that must be removed to get to the sensor. A fairly hard job as that bolt is tight and pulley is a press fit. My guess tends toward the fuel pump went bad or the ignition not getting power. Start by carefully checking fuses for those circuits.
     
  22. Kaervak

    Kaervak Diamond Member

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  23. WhipperSnapper

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    Thank you very much for the links Kaervak.
     
  24. BabaBooey

    BabaBooey Lifer

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    First thing you check is battery cables for corrosion and proper ground and they can come loose and get gunked up with grease,dirt,etc...
     
  25. AMCRambler

    AMCRambler Diamond Member

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    You've been driving around with a CEL for a year and now you're surprised the car won't start? Sorry but that's kinda funny. Even if the light was just for a gas cap venting issue, if you don't clear it, when a more serious code gets thrown you'll never know! I'm willing to bet if you get the codes read you'll find out exactly what you need to look at to get the car to start.