1998 Chevy S -10 Won’t Start Sometimes – Engine Turns Over

Reader Question I have a 1998 Chevy S-10. It’s has a 4 cyl 2.2 ltr. engine in it. The transmission is automatic and was rebuilt last summer. It has approximately 95,000 miles on the odometer. It has never been used for towing anything (just so you know as much as I can think to tell you.)

Four weeks ago I got in my truck and cranked it and my security light came on (it has a fuel cut-off security feature) and didn’t go off. I turned the truck off and tried to restart it. Nothing happened. I didn’t even have power to anything. No radio, no headlights, no interior lights. Nothing.

I called my dad to come and help me out and he checked all the fuses and the battery and found nothing wrong. He lost a fuse and went to get a new one and while he was gone everything came back on. So I tried to crank the truck and everything died again. A few minutes after my dad came back it all came on again and I was able to crank the truck and drive home.

My dad thought that maybe there was a short in my battery or something. So he said if it happened again we would swap my battery (it’s only a year old and was still under warranty). I had no trouble with it for two weeks. Everything was great. Then two days before I was supposed to leave on vacation, I was pulling into my driveway and my truck cut off.

I still had power to everything, but I couldn’t get it to crank. We are at a loss. We replaced the battery. I’m getting fire to the plugs and the fuel pump is working but it won’t crank. It’s like it’s flooding out when we try to crank it.

Various people have suggested the following: timing chain, cold air sensor, mass airflow sensor, distributor coil and fuel pressure regulator. How do I check these things, though? I really don’t want to have to pay $150 towing fee to move it somewhere else if I don’t have to. We want to try to find the problem and fix it ourselves. Any suggestions, thanks Terri.


I think you might have/had two problems. When you start off you talk about not having power to the headlights etc. etc. that is a lack of battery power, which could have either been a bad battery or a loose battery cable. GM cars are notorious for corrosion inside the battery cable and for battery cables that work themselves loose. A loose battery cable can cause all kinds of electrical issues.

Since you replaced the battery, it sounds as though that issue is gone now. Now you can “Crank” the engine….meaning, the engine will turn over, but won’t start. Correct, last time you could not crank the engine over, nothing happened when you turned the key, now the engine WILL turn over when you turn the key it just wont start.

If you have fuel and spark, the only other thing needed to start the engine is compression and timing. BUT, just because you see fuel and spark with a naked eye does not mean that they are strong enough to produce a fire, and start the engine.

GM cars, especially trucks are notorious for bad fuel pumps. Even though you can see the fuel coming out it might not be enough pressure to start the engine. I would have someone get under the vehicle and bang on the bottom of the gas tank with their fist or with a rubber hammer WHILE you are cranking over the engine. This can help kick start a weak fuel pump.

If this model has a distributor, I would look inside the distributor cap for damage to the cap itself and the ignition rotor. Also make sure the wire from the ignition coil is attached to the coil and the distributor.

I doubt you have a timing chain issue, that is not very common these days. When the chain breaks or “jumps a tooth” on the timing gear, it will make the engine sound noticably different when you crank it over. Either it will spin over much faster, or slower, or in an irregular pattern, but it should sound obvious that something is wrong just in the way the engine spins over. The mileage on the engine is not high enough for me to suspect that.

In summary what I would inspect:

Fuel pump – might require a fuel pump pressure gauge that you screw onto the engine to check the pressure

Ignition coil – and coil wire leading to the distributor

Ignition rotor and distributor cap – if equipped with a distributor

Anything else is really going to require a mechanic and some test equipment, or you will probably spend more time and resources guessing than you would paying to have it diagnosed, which you can always repair yourself once you know what it is.


Austin C. Davis

Posted in: Running Problems

1 Comment on "1998 Chevy S -10 Won’t Start Sometimes – Engine Turns Over"

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  1. travis says:

    its the body control module,this is a problem with 98 models only.when u turn the key it wont start and when driving it will just die.scan ecm it will give u a u1000 code.mine did the same thing and 8 dealeships,17 techs could not diagnos this.a 40 year gm tech that was 68 years old found the problem.there r no bulletians about this.dont change the ecm its the computer under center of dash.it has to be flashed to your vin.

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