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.

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?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Won't start - 1996 Nissan Pathfinder

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: After new distributor and testing, car won't start

Confirm the basics first: Does it have spark at the plugs? Does it have compression? Are the injectors firing with proper fuel pressure? One (or more) of these is failing you, and will instruct the correct diagnostic path. A trained...

Q: Getting fuel, getting spark, and won't start.

Check the ignition timing on the distributor and see if the timing is off. If the timing is good, then the accelerator pump in the carburetor or the fuel injectors are not working properly (if your vehicle has TBI injection)....

Q: 2001 Chevy s-10 truck that won't start. Lights come on but when I turn the ignition there is no noise ( grinding, clicking )

Hello, thank you for writing in. The vehicle depends on two main components for starting. Considering the starter motor is not functioning at all, you either do not have power going to it, or the motor has failed and is...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
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...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...