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Car Won’t Start – But Has Good Compression, Spark and Fuel


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Hey guys, my '87 Starion has hit a bit of a brick wall and I'm hoping someone on the forum might be able to shed some light. A local shop has been meticulously going through the car, replacing and servicing everything as needed with no real issues to date. However, just as things were wrapping up, it suddenly won’t start for no obvious reason.

Here are some basics that I know:

1. The car will crank, but won't start

2. It has compression, fuel and spark (compression is great across all cylinders, it was just re-tested)

3. The following items that might be associated with this problem have already been replaced:

- Spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor
- Injector clips
- Ignition coil
- Alternator

4. The fuel injectors have been cleaned and serviced, fuel filter has been replaced

5. The leaking throttle body has also been serviced, the gaskets replaced, etc.

6. A complete new timing kit was also installed. The firing order is correct, there seem to be no issues here either

7. The battery is good

Any help or ideas would really be appreciated!

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18 hours ago, tux said:

Any chance the distributor was removed recently?  

Same thing I was thinking. Make sure the distributor ignition timing AND cam timing are still correct. It's easy to mess up the timing when replacing the timing chain. 

Does it spit and pop randomly when cranking?

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2 hours ago, obsolete said:

I know you said it has spark, but when you say '87, I think faulty knock box (ignitor).

Can you see the needle on the tachometer move when you crank the engine?

Good catch, I was thinking the same thing about the ignitor. Here is something else. The poster said that the fuel filter was changed. There are five filters in total: One under the hood along with one each screen filters under the fuel injectors along with one prior to the fuel pump and  one in tank filter on the bottom of the pick up tube. In closing, what ever you or someone else does, don"t continue to try and start the car if it won"t start. All your doing is  sending fuel into the cylinder head, piston bore and the crankcase. Just make sure if you do that  you change the oil a couple of times to remove raw fuel from the crankcase.


Edited by Caliber308
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I missed where you said you checked the firing order already.   So what happened?  Did it no longer fire up after the ‘tune up’ items you mentioned above or did it run after those but then just stop?   If it’s the prior, I’d focus greatly on timing because it would most likely be something that you did incorrectly.  

pull the valve cover and spin the crank to TDC.  The dowel in the cam gear should be at 12 o’clock.  If not, spin the engine 180 degrees. If still not at 12 o’clock, then there is your problem. If it is, pull the distributor cap and make sure the rotor is pointing to #1. There is a nub on the distributor housing very close to #1 you can use as a guide without having to eyeball the sissy cap position.   If it’s off a tooth, it’s pretty drastic  and will be far from that nub   Sorry, I don’t have a photo handy at the moment  

check that timing first because if you have fuel, air, spark and proper mechanical timing, it will at least fire. 

could dump an ounce of fuel down the throttle body, secure the intake house, and try it.  if it fires up for a few seconds, you will know that the timing is good and can move on from there.  if it does nothing or backfires, you still have a timing issue   

always retrace what you did first, for it’s usually some stupid error you inadvertently did prior to starting to troubleshoot other items   






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