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98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 2:59 PM

I've looked through the threads with similar problems (e.g., 2000 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start), and I am not finding much more to go on so here it goes...
My 98 Chevy Cavalier's engine died on a short drive from home. I could not restart it (it turns over but does not seem to catch) Nothing was obvious so I got a tow home.
I checked plug connections (not voltages) and the battery. I have relatively new alternator and coil. Since it was turning over, I didn't think it was a starter problem, but I couldn't think of other low hanging fruit because I heard the fuel pump run when turning the ignition on and there were no trouble codes and no dead fuses. I took the battery and starter in to test. The battery is getting 350 CA, and the starter seemed to test fine but they said maybe it fails under load. I have tried using another battery for starting the car and have used a 10A charger in starter mode. I bought a starter anyway (partly because I broke off one of the studs when removing it). That was not the problem. I disconnected the fuel supply at the fuel rail, and some gas comes out when trying to start the engine so I figure it's getting fuel (I don't know how much should be coming out, but I guess I'd say 1/2 cup per attempted start). I had also wondered if their was too much fuel so I let it sit overnight and that didn't result in anything so I don't think it's ever flooded.
Can anyone suggest particular tests please?

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#1

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 3:12 PM

For starter's, welcome to CR4! ..also, sorry your vehicle is being problematic.

We get an alarmingly large amount of problems regarding this make and have some good information buried in the threads.

Here's a couple in particular that might be able to give you some ideas on some test to run:

2000 Chevy Cavalier 2.2 - Turns Over but Won't Start

Strange Starts for 2000 Chevy Cavalier

Some members might have some additional insight to share with you. Let us know if anything develops further (for better or for worse), best of luck!

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 4:24 PM

Thanks. I looked through one of those two threads previously.

The tank was 3/4 full so I don't think it was a factor of being empty/unprimed or not matching gauge

Can one rule out the ignition if it's cranking and I'm getting spark?

Re: check timing - that might be the point I get it checked by a pro (I have no timing light and I've never done any of that).

I could buy a noid light and try that on the EFIs.

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#2

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 3:33 PM

Trouble codes?

Sensors all work?

The fuel pump should continue to pump, if unhooked from the rail, as long as the key is in the on position.

You should also be able to hear it, faintly, every time the key is turned on, but if hooked to the rail, the pump should stop after a couple of seconds after turning key on and not trying to start it.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 4:20 PM

Thanks. No trouble codes. I think the sensors are working, but I figure the only way of really knowing is voltage measurements(?). Nonetheless, if any sensors are dead, their not shutting off fuel, spark, or cranking. I saw something about checking the cam sensor. Yes, the fuel system seems to work all the way up to the fuel injectors (I guess the next step for testing them is to get a noid(?) light).

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 10:29 PM

Forgive me, I don't know the Cavalier . . . but do you buy your fuel from the same gas station? . . . or from whomever sells the cheapest on the day?

The reason I ask, every now and then we hear of petrol stations (Sydney) having alarmingly filthy tanks . . . that people fill their cars from . . . and it plays no end of havoc in the fuel system and the injectors.

Take a moment to view your fuel filter. If it's brown or shows signs of crap . . . that may be the reason. Your injectors may be full of rubbish and cannot atomize the gas as a result.

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 1:21 AM

Thanks. I didn't think about that, and it makes sense as a possibility. I always get the gas from the same place (not the cheapest and not the most expensive), and I already ran a quarter tank. Hmm, I would expect some knocking or sputtering, but the cutout was sudden, and I can't get any starts.

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#6

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 11:21 PM

With the engine turning over there are only two things which can stop it:

no spark

no fuel

pull a plug, rest it on the engine and crank the spark should be strong, blue not feeble.

There is probably a fuel cut off solenoid near the engine, in case of accident, check that also.

fuel pump running does not mean that there is fuel at the injectors or that the injectors are opening..... perhaps you need some specialist diagnosis....

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#9
In reply to #6

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 1:25 AM

Thanks. That's how I checked the spark, and it looked like a good spark and pretty regular. Moreover, it's a young coil, but I will check the resistance there.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 1:38 AM

Disconnect the return fuel line and put it in a bucket, turn on the ignition until you hear the pump running, (do not crank) is fuel flowing into the bucket from the line - a good flow.

If so filters etc are probably ok

Re-connect

check for pulses at the injectors to see if they are opening while you are cranking.

does your exhaust smell of fuel while you are cranking? are there puffs of air coming out while cranking?

One other thing which could be stopping it is a blocked exhaust - melted CAT perhaps

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#7

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/20/2012 11:59 PM

In that model, you can have spark but not enough to ignite the fuel. Check your coil wire for resistance. The coil wire may be a carbon fiber and if so, after cranking for 60 seconds, check to see if the wire is hot. If it is hot it is putting too much resistance and the spark may be there but too week to ignite the fuel air mixture. As another mentioned, you may have fuel but how much pressure is the fuel pump putting out? If it is less than 4.5 psi then it will not drive the fuel through the filter and to the cylinders.

Good luck.

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#17
In reply to #7

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 2:53 PM

Is it possible that ignition HT wires can heat up if their resistance is too high say 40 000 Ohm? I thought with say 4Amp through primery coil winding at 12 Volt stepped up to say 30 000 Volt, the current flow in the HT leads would be so minimal that it could not heat up the leads?

Correct me if I'm wrong please.

Check the Chevy's feul pressure, I think it should be about 3 barr [45 pounds]

Spark should jump at least more than 8mm [About 3/8"] Otherwise it cant jump the sparkplug gap of 1mm under compression in the cylinder.

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#11

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 8:51 AM

I just need to say that over the years I've owned a number of Toyotas and Fords and I've never had the kinds of problems that I've seen here with Chevys, especially the Chevy Cavalier. And I've kept all of them until they had over 100K miles on the odometer.

Yes, I know this comment doesn't help the OP, but it might help the next person who's thinking about buying a Chevy.

As far as I know, most Fords are still made in the US. Two of the ones I owned were made at the facility in Missouri, which is a UAW plant, I think.

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 9:29 AM

This site is becoming very popular with disabled Cavaliers in some part because of internet searches. If just you and I were to post fictitious threads about Ford pickup truck non start problems, we would start to find some real Ford pickup problems show up because of others searching for sites dealing with non start Ford pickups.

Another problem is that no one would want to start a Cavalier owners site, so that forces owners to look outside their owners group.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 11:24 AM

Yep, good point, sorry.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 11:28 AM

Don't be sorry.

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#16
In reply to #13

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 11:40 AM

So you're saying that 'CR' has morphed from meaning 'Conference Room' to 'Chevy Repair'?

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#12

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/21/2012 9:23 AM

If you have spark, and fuel, you still need air, and compression. Do you have a compression gauge? If so pull the plugs and take some readings. If you have no compression gauge, Have an assistant Hold the throttle down and activate the starter while you hold your hand over the air intake. The idea is to try to block ALL of the air from entering the engine while the throttle is wide open. The suction is a byproduct of the compression, sort of. If you have good strong suction, you should have compression. This is not an accurate check, but is good enough to test for a jumped timing belt or chain. Good luck.

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#18
In reply to #12

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/26/2012 10:23 AM

Cavaliers/Sunfires with 2.2l engines are notorious for timing chain tensioner failures. This will cause the symtoms you describe. When you replace the chain and tensioner, you must clean the debris out of the oil pan, or you will be doing the job again in short order. Getting the oil pan off is misery, but necessary.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Won't Start

11/26/2012 10:36 AM

No argument from me on that. But there should be no guessing here. The compression test will reveal a broken, or jumped timing belt.

If the belt had just jumped one tooth, the compression will drop to about 3/4 of the normal compression. If it jumps more than one tooth, I have always found nothing for compression.

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