Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Won't start - 1996 Nissan Pathfinder

asked by on

My car wont start, we took off the distributor cap and the rotor isn't spinning, does that mean that the timing belt popped? And is it fixable? Also we were driving at around 45 mph when the car stopped working and wouldn't crank since.

My car has 164375 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Yes, a possibility is the timing belt has f...

Yes, a possibility is the timing belt has failed. However, it is also possible (and greatly preferred) that the gear driving the distributor has sheared off. Your engine is "probably" in that class of engines known as "interference engines" which specifically means that unless the cams and crankshaft are in time (i.e., the timing belt is connected and in the right position), the pistons can potentially hit the valves causing mechanical damage.

Obviously, that means to not attempt to turn over the engine anymore. Although it is a straightforward procedure to install a new timing belt (assuming it has broken, pull the distributor first) you really won't know if you have damaged the valves or piston heads until you get the car running again. In all probability, you will be okay, but there is that risk that damage ensued once the belt broke because you do have an "interference engine". If you need help having this issue resolved, a certified pro from YourMechanic can diagnose the no start so that this can get fixed correctly.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: engine misfire. 1995 Toyota Corolla

Hello. These types of issues can be hard to diagnose. Most of the time they are caused by a failure within the distributor itself. Also common is the shaft being slightly worn, which will cause the RPM reading to be...

Q: 93 Oldsmobile Cutlass supreme won't start.

Hi there. Check the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors and make sure that they are plugged in. If the engine is cranking but not starting then the crankshaft position sensor could have failed. Also, check the mass air flow sensor...

Q: Car wont start

The symptoms you describe sound like the fuel pump stopped working and the engine doesn't have the fuel pressure it needs to keep running. Have the fuel pressure checked to see if the fuel pump is not pumping fuel to...

Related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...