1985 Plymouth Reliant

Engine Performance problem
1985 Plymouth Reliant 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 72000 miles

Got an 85 Reliant that hasnt been started in 2 years. Last time it was started it only took a few minutes, Im told, to get it to turn over. This time it is not catching. It has a new battery and a quarter tank of gas and pulled a plug cover added a metal screw and it does have a spark. It has now consumed about a quarter can of starter fluid but it just wont quite start, comes close kicks over but wont stay running. Please help need this car to run but absolutly cannot afford to have it towed to a shop to get charged $200 just to find out what the problem is
May 28, 2009.

If I come up with an answer I tell you what I find, real determined to figure this out. I have a 1987 Plymouth Carevelle and it also sat about two years and will not start but acts like it will, mostly when you let off the key.

Reminds me of the Chryslers that used to have the ballast resisters on the firewalls and would always go bad, you could tell when you let off the key and you would get a couple of cylinders fire but it was too late cause the starter is already disengaged at that point.

Try this as I am going to do this step tomorrow to isolate the problem better. I no longer have a remote starter button but I am going to hook one up to the starter solenoid then turn key to on position and try and start it. Seems silly but it may answer some questions and help me to find out what is going on maybe, because every time I let off key it fires couple of times like it wants to run so I am going to fool it. If something’s happening during cranking like lower voltage to the coil during cranking then maybe this will help me.

You may already know this but during cranking ignition coils have traditionally gotten full voltage during cranking and gets dropped down during run position, this is done so the coils don’t overheat. If they don’t get the full voltage during cranking engines just don't want to run.

If this is going to narrow it down then I suspect the power module is bad, the coil, injector ect are actuated via this module and hence ballast resister is built in the power module. Why from sitting that this would fail? Don’t know but this is my best guess at this point, further investigation is needed however.

D. W.

May 30, 2009.
I need to make certain I didn't replace parts that weren’t needed so, I must say there were no codes indication of power loss with the power module and also there were no codes indicating processor brain was bad either.

I was down to the possibility the ignition timing was off but how? Distributor was exactly were it has always been, easily discernable by a flat spot that just so happens to be parallel to the engine block, just as it had always been. When I first worked on it the distributor cap's center spring loaded center tower button inside of cap was burned away and rotor button center terminal was burned and pitted from the spark arcing its way to the rotor instead having a physical pathway/connection there. No telling how long those parts were like that when the car was still running about two years ago?
So I had changed the cap and rotor but to no avail. Nothing. I then had checked engines timing belt, looked normal.

Found out today I needed to advance the ignition timing all the way by turning the distributor fully counter clockwise to get earlier spark.

My engine is running and car drives normal. I am going to take distributor cap off and go back to store and see if cap is different in some way like the caps posts are in a different position then the original that could be different. I no longer have the old cap to compare them closer.

Now I don't know if you changed your cap on your engine but I can think of no other reason at this point as to why my distributor had to be rotated so far, best guess at this point is it is the wrong cap.

Try advancing the timing, but first check cap, rotor.

D. W.

Jun 1, 2009.