Reader Question: Austin,
I have a 1996 Mitsubishi Mirage that will not start. I usually drive the car daily, but prior to this problem, it sat for 3 days. I got in it to go to work and it started fine, made it out the driveway, and died about 50 feet later.
It has not started since. I check the fuel for water and the fuel pump for pressure and both are fine. When I checked for spark, it was there, but it seemed weak (yellow color). I was always taught that it should be blue. In checking the coil, I inadvertently broke a wire harness plug on the distributor and had to replace it along with the coil. Still will not start.
If I remove the spark plugs and spray starter fluid in the cylinders, it will fire but not start. If I spray it in the intake, it will also fire, but not as well. Twice in the two weeks prior, after starting it, the engine would rev up and down by itself.
Both times it did this, I killed the car, restarted it, and it ran smooth. On both occasions, it was unseasonably cold, so I just attributed it to that, but now I feel it may be connected. I had another car do something similar, and it was the map sensor. I tried reading the trouble codes, but nothing showed. I lined the timing mark on the cam, and the no. 1 piston appears to be TDC.
Can you please offer me some guidance?
I am not sure I can assist that much in this instance. I am glad you can at least see a spark. But if you cannot get the engine to run on straight starting fluid it kinda leads me to believe there is a spark problem OR a spark timing problem. If you can get the engine to run or at least start up on starting fluid, I would suspect you have a fuel or lack of fuel problem.
I am not real familiar with the Mirage and their electrical systems, but I would start from scratch again, check fuel pressure with a manual fuel pressure gauge, test for spark on ALL cylinders, check compression and spark timing.
Alldata might be able to give you a diagnostic chart you can use to test your sensors and components not sure what is actually available for this model.
Here is more about alldata if you are not familiar with their service.