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Q: My Car cranks but will not start and it came out of the no where

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1997 Dodge Neon. It was working fine for a couple of weeks but then suddenly stopped working. It cranks but will not start. Ive had a few family members who have worked with cars take a look and they all have determinded that there is no spark. The spark does go into the disrupter cap but will not go into the spark plugs. We tried replacing the D cap but still wouldnt work. We replaced spark plugs still didnt work. Battery was checked as good. We are complete lost and are in desperatly need to get this car fixed but without spending a thousand for it to go into a shop for months. Jumping the car wouldnt even work. Please help.
My car has an automatic transmission.

For a motor to run, it requires three things:

  • Fuel
  • Spark
  • Injector pulse

If it is only missing spark and the coil is supplying spark to the distributor cap, I must assume you tested for this at the coil wire while it is disconnected from the distributor cap. Also make sure to replace the distributor rotor along with the distributor cap, as this part is also necessary to transfer the spark through the cap. The only thing you haven’t replaced in this ignition system are the spark plug wires. It isn’t common for all four wires to fail though, so I can’t believe this would be the problem. Never the less, if your testing is accurate, it suggests you need plug wires. I would however say you should revisit the spark issues and maybe take a different diagnostic approach to be sure the spark indeed doesn’t come out of the cap.

It is possible the coil does not produce enough power for the spark to make it past the coil. Knowing if the spark you see coming from the coil is sufficient is a matter of experience. The spark should make a hard snap when being tested. It’s possible that a weak ignition coil is unable to arc through the distributor and out to the plugs.

Checking the fuel pressure is almost always the first thing I do, so I suggest you rent a fuel pressure gauge from your local parts store and make sure the fuel pressure it good. Following that, checking for injector pulse goes side by side with checking for spark. Checking for injector pulse requires what is called a noid light. You can find these at your local auto parts store as well. If a car has spark but no injector pulse, then you should suspect the crank or cam sensor. Usually it will be the crank sensor. The PCM (powertrain control module) is suspect as well, but only after all other possibilities have been ruled out.

We have already covered spark, which you have indicated it has. Beyond that, Neon’s do have timing belts that will skip teeth. In this case, you would still see spark to the plugs, but the timing will be off and the car may fire intermittently, but it won’t run, and if it does, it will not run well.

Also, a typical diagnosis of this type won’t take months in a shop and it won’t be thousands unless it is something like the PCM. In which case, you can opt out of repairing the vehicle. You can book and appointment with us and we will come to you. Car is not starting inspection

Good luck!

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