Reader Question: My 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier ran one day in the cold Michigan weather shut off and would not start the next day. I have not a clue!
I tried to warm the engine with dipstick warmer and heating blanket but it will not fire.
I am assuming the engine will crank over and over and over but will not start. This is not like a dead battery and NOTHING is happening, right?
You need to determine which key ingredient you are missing – spark, fuel, and compression. I would first listen for the 2-second whine of the fuel pump when you turn the ignition key to the ON position.
If you do not hear the whine, get someone to bang on the bottom of the fuel tank with their fist or rubber hammer AS you crank over the engine. This can jump-start a weak fuel pump.
If you think the fuel pump is working, then check to see if you have spark at the spark plugs. If no spark, work backwards and check the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft sensors.
Last is compression. If the timing chain broke or “jumped time” the engine will spin over much faster than normal and make a funnier noise since there is no resistance inside the engine it will sound different as you crank the engine over.
You can also remove the oil filler cap and look inside the valve cover as someone cranks the engine over. If you do not see anything moving inside, the timing chain could have a problem.