Q: Won't start - 1996 Nissan Pathfinder

asked by on October 30, 2016

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.

Timing Belt Replacement $295.56 - $1425.61 Get a Quote
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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.

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