Mechanics

WON'T START!

1998 Plymouth Breeze

Engine Mechanical problem
1998 Plymouth Breeze 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 170000 miles

I have a 1998 Plymouth Breeze 2.4 L 4 cylineder. Car won't start. Cranks over but is not firing. Have changed teh crank sensor and cam sensor. It does not do this all the time but the problem is getting worse and happening more frequently.
Check engine light is not on. So no codes to have checked.
Avatar
Lisajnapier
February 24, 2010.



The next time it doesn't start, check for spark at one of the spark plug wires. If it's present, suspect a fuel pump that isn't starting up. At the mileage you listed, it's likely the brushes in the pump motor are worn. The pump will continue to run once it has started. It will rarely quit on its own once it's running.

Have a helper bang on the bottom of the tank while you try to start the engine. It only receives power for up to two seconds after turning on the ignition switch, then not again until the engine computer sees engine rotation, (cranking or running). For that reason, banging on the tank must be done while cranking the engine.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Feb 24, 2010.
We have checked and the spark plugs are not getting fire.
I can hear the fuel pump when the engine cranking over. I have checked and it is getting fuel.

I'm not wanting to throw parts at it. Like I said we have already replaced the crank position sensor and cam sensor.

Tiny
Lisajnapier
Feb 24, 2010.
Ok, I suspect a faulty ecm, , maybe drivers are faulty. Also test the engine coolant temp sensor, and all your " fire" connections, also check the automatic shutdown relay in the distribution center.(Mostlikely the problem)

Sorry to leave you hanging. I actually had your last message on my 'puter yet, but with a bazillion windows open, I forgot to follow up.

I only have a '98 service manual, but the circuit should be the same. The cam and crank sensors are the only two that are needed for the engine computer to turn on the Automatic Shutdown (ASD) relay which powers up the fuel pump and ignition coil.

I wasn't thinking about your fuel pump comment. After overcoming my oldtimer's disease, if you indeed are hearing the fuel pump running during cranking, the ASD relay must be turning on. That would only leave the coil pack, however, before we condemn it, it would be smart to make a few tests. Use a voltmeter or test light to check for 12 volts on the dark green / orange stripe wire of the coil pack connector. That is the same circuit that feeds the fuel pump. Of course, you'll have to do this when it doesn't start. Remember, the voltage will only be there for about one second after turning on the ignition switch, then it will turn off. It should come back during cranking, so you'll either need a helper to crank the engine, or you'll have to set the meter or light so you can see it from inside the car.

If the voltage is there, and steady, during cranking, but there's still no spark on any plug wire, suspect an intermitent connection inside the coil pack. I would really expect that to cause an intermittent stall along with an intermittent failure to start. The grounds are made through two wires to the computer. The chances of both having an intermittent break at the same time isn't likely, so we won't look there for now.

If voltage is not there during cranking, watch for voltage on the dark green / orange wire when you first turn the ignition switch on. If you see voltage for one second, then it goes away, the wiring is good. If that happens, but it doesn't come back during cranking, that would contradict your hearing the fuel pump, so we won't pedal down that road now.

If the voltage is never there at the coil pack, try to dig down to the back of the alternator. There will be two small wires in a single plug. Perform the same voltage measurement on the dark green / orange wire in that plug. Actually, either wire will work but the dark green / no stripe can be expected to have less than 12 volts. You're after " something". Nothing is not acceptable. If you find voltage there during cranking, but not at the coil pack, there is a break in the dark green / orange wire between the coil pack and the splice for that wire. That isn't common, so I'll hold off following that line of thought for now. (Fingers are getting sore from typing).

If there's no voltage there either during cranking, bypass the ASD relay, then check for voltage at those places again. You can do this with the ignition switch turned off. An easy way to bypass a relay is to pop it out, snap the cover off, reinstall it without the cover, and gently squeeze the metal flipper with the contact. Sorry if I'm making it too simple. Some people have no idea what I'm referring to. You can also use a piece of wire or a paper clip. In the socket, with the relay removed, disregard the two parallel terminals on either side, and the unused center terminal. That leaves you with two terminals that form the letter " T". Those are the two to connect. When they're connected, there should be voltage to the coil, alternator, and you should hear the fuel pump run.

I'm going to quit for now because there's too many directions to go in. No sense retyping a service manual when the problem might be easy to find. One last comment though. During cranking, if you see pulsing in the test light or an erratic reading from the voltmeter, the ASD relay is pulsing on and off. There are further test procedures for that related to a shorted crankshaft position sensor or its wiring. It just occurred to me also that I took a Stratus to a Chrysler school once, and it cut out four times during the trip. The trainer mentioned a problem they were seeing where a wire for the camshaft position sensor woud lay against a sharp metal bracket, rub through, and ground out intermittently. If the 8 volt supply to the cam and crank sensors gets shorted to ground, the computer turns that supply off to protect it. The voltage will not come back until you turn the ignition switch off and back on.

When you encounter this no-start condition, what happens or what do you do to get it to start?

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 1, 2010.
After not starting in the driveway for over a week. The battery finally went dead. I tried several times each day to get the car to start. I put a battery charger on. We were getting ready to push it into the garage but decided to try one last time to see if it would start and it did. So. The test process to get it to start was out the window.

We hooked the scanner up to it and the scanner would not read the error codes. Kept saying it could not connect to ECM.
We traced down a wire connected to the cam sensor that was plugged in backwards and did not have a good connection. So we corrected that problem. The Scanner still would not read the codes. Scanner would connect to the transmission.
All this time the car keeps starting. Which at this point is not really helping at all.

The car done this about a month ago. After trying to start it over and over for 3 hours it finally started. Didn't have the no start issue for 2 weeks. Again tried over and over to start and after bout an hour the car started. No issues for 2 days and it wouldn't start one morning which lead up to what I told you at the beginning of this message.

With the scanner not being able to read the codes. I'm leaning toward the ECM being bad.
What do you think?

Tiny
Lisajnapier
Mar 1, 2010.
There are a lot of aftermarket scanners that won't communicate with Chrysler computers, and most that do will only access the engine computer. If yours EVER did communicate, you know it is capable. In that case, yes, I suppose it could be an engine computer problem.

I'm working with someone else with a similar problem on a Neon with the same ignition system. They found when the no-start occurs, if they let it sit with the ignition switch on for 15 minutes, it will start and run fine all day. Does your car have an anti-theft system?

When your no-start occurs again, go to the dark green wire / orange stripe at the coil pack and use a test light to measure the voltage. When you turn the ignition switch on, the test light must light up for one to two seconds. If not, there's a computer, wiring, or ASD relay problem. More likely you will have voltage for that two seconds. Next, the voltage should appear and be steady during cranking. If not, the pump is not running because the ASD relay is not turnng on. That points to the cam and crank sensor or their wiring. If the voltage is pulsing during cranking, a sensor or its wiring is shorted. Check for 8 volts at either sensor on their power wires. On the Neon, that's the solid orange wire. If that voltage is missing on both sensors, either the engine computer is defective, or more likely, the wire is shorted to ground, typically from rubbing over a sharp metal bracket. Once that wire is grounded, the computer shuts that power supply down to protect it. It won't turn back on until the ignition switch is cycled to " off", then turned back on.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 2, 2010.
Agree

I have only had this car since July. To my knowledge it does not have a theft device. How would I know?
It doesn't have keyless entry or a light on the dash that says alarm.

Unfortunatly we have never tried to hook the scanner up to the car before. It does hook to my moms chevy lumina. If I can get the car to Oreilly or AutoZone do you think the scanner they have would read the computer?

The car is currently in the garage. It starts each time so far but I am still leary of using it since we don't know when it will leave me stranded.

Tiny
Lisajnapier
Mar 2, 2010.
I'm not familiar with the scanners at the parts stores, but I read a lot of favorable comments. It's worth a try. My guess is they can only read fault codes, not sensor data, and they can't perform actuator tests or read " input / output" data like the manufacturers equipment. Their purpose is to sell parts, not necessarily diagnose deeper problems. That would put them in competition with the local shops that buy their parts.

That said, what you really need anyhow at this point are the fault codes. If the problem doesn't occur again for a while, the codes will erase automatically after about 50 engine starts, (typically about a week), and that valuable information will be lost.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 2, 2010.
Yes, autozone is only gonna give you fault codes, they wont be able to command sensors off and on like a scanner from the dealer, however, you do not want to pay 75.00 to read trouble codes when you can get them for free, so you need to make that decision, do you need codes or data from each sensor.