1995 Dodge Stratus 95 Stratus HAS NO START PROBLEM

Tiny
MS STEELE
  • MEMBER
  • 1995 DODGE STRATUS
Electrical problem
1995 Dodge Stratus V8 Automatic

HELLO,
the other night I was driving and when I stopped the car shut off I tried to start it but it wouldnt start back up. I had a diagnostic done, the mechanic said that the machine wouldnt even read what was wrong. The check engine light didnt come on while he was doing the diagnostic. He checked the wiring and fuses still nothing, he checked to see if gas was coming out of a tube under the hood it was. He says the timing belt is still good. It is also not getting a spark. It does crank but wont turn over. The battery is good he said spark plugs and wires are good. The mechanic says that its not the distributor and that I probably need a new computer. Can you please give some type of insight I dont have money to waste trying to figure out what the problem is


Thank you
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Monday, September 6th, 2010 AT 3:23 AM

7 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi Ms steele. Welcome to the forum. First lets sort out some comments to prevent confusion. Your car has either a V-6 engine or the more common four cylinder engine, not an 8 cylinder. Only the six cylinder has a distributor.

You said "it does crank but it doesn't turn over". Those both mean the same thing. A lot of people take "turn over" to mean the engine starts and runs, but it refers to turning over the engine in an old car by turning the hand crank. Based on the original problem, I'm pretty sure you mean the starter is cranking, (turning over), the engine, but it won't start and run. That would correlate with stalling while you were driving.

A lot of aftermarket scanners won't communicate with the computers on the car. Other than blown fuses or using the incorrect cable or adapter, I don't have an answer for that. I've run into that problem too, but my Chrysler equipment always works. If there is no problem with the car's engine computer, you can retrieve any engine-related diagnostic fault codes by cycling the ignition switch, then watching the flashes of the Check Engine light. Turn the switch from "off" to "run" to "off" to "run" to "off" to "run" three times within five seconds. Don't crank the engine. If it does accidentally crank, even for a second, turn the switch off, wait about five seconds, then try again. Cranking the engine aborts the test mode.

The Check Engine light will go off, then, about five seconds later it will start to flash a series of two-digit codes. Typically it will start with one flash, a short pause, two flashes, then a longer pause before the next two-digit code begins. Code 12 just means the ignition switch was turned off and can disregarded. Some models don't even bother to display it. It's the next code(s) that are important. The last one will be code 55. That just means "end of message" and can also be disregarded.

The codes are only meant to get you into the circuit or system with the problem, not necessarily the defective part. One clue that might lead your mechanic down the wrong road is the presence of fuel pressure. There are three systems to consider on all Chrysler engines. The fuel delivery system, the ignition system, (spark plugs and wires), and the trigger circuit that turns both of them on. 99 percent of the time the trigger circuit is the problem. That results in no spark and the fuel pump won't turn on. What makes it misleading is even though the fuel pump isn't turning on while cranking the engine, it DOES turn on independent of the trigger circuit for one second after turning on the ignition switch. You might be able to hear that one-second hum when you turn the switch on. That one second burst is enough to develop sufficient fuel pressure to make it look like the fuel delivery system is working when in fact it is not.

The fuel pump, ignition coils, and a few other things are powered through the automatic shutdown (ASD) relay when the Engine Computer gets pulses from the camshaft position sensor and crankshaft position sensor. Those pulses are only developed when the engine is rotating, (cranking or running). It is most common for the camshaft position sensor to fail. When it does, there will be no spark and the fuel pump won't run except for that first second after turning on the ignition switch. Most mechanics know they have to do more tests. The easiest thing to do is measure the voltage supplying the coils, injectors, and fuel pump. Those items will have 0 volts at first, and 12 volts for one second when you turn on the ignition switch. The critical measurement is the 12 volts is supposed to come back as soon as you start cranking the engine. When it does not, suspect the two sensors I mentioned. Hopefully the stored diagnostic code will point to the defective one. When the engine stalls while driving, coasting to a stop usually provides enough time for the computer to notice the missing signal and set the appropriate code in memory.

If the Check Engine light will not flash the codes, suspect a defective Engine Computer but that isn't a common failure item on Chrysler products. Failure of the camshaft position sensor is more common on the four cylinder engines. It is on the drivers side of the cylinder head. It's in the distributor on six cylinder engines. Crankshaft position sensor failures seem to be more common on the six cylinder engines.

Hopefully that will help. If you need more help, post a reply with a listing of the fault codes.

Caradiodoc
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Monday, September 6th, 2010 AT 5:06 AM
Tiny
MS STEELE
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Its a v6 engine. The mechanic said he used a obd 2 reader and it couldnt diagnose the problem because the check engine light would not come on. I asked him to come check the crankshaft/camshaft sensor he said he will not be able to figure out what the problem is until the check engine light comes on I dont know how true that is. Should I go to another mechanic or do you think the computer is the problem? And can you tell me where the computer is located?
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Thursday, September 9th, 2010 AT 2:10 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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I think I can clear something up about the Check Engine light. Other brands of cars are plagued with the light coming on as a nuisance, but Chrysler products are very good in that respect. When the light comes on while driving, there WILL be a diagnostic fault code stored in the Engine Computer. But many mechanics don't understand that when the light has turned on, even briefly, the stored code is related to a problem that could adversely affect tail pipe emissions. There are other codes that are meant to make diagnosis of other problems easier but they will not result in the Check Engine light turning on. So, the light doesn't have to be on to check for codes. Very often the light won't be on when you get to the shop but the code(s) will still be in memory. They can be especially useful in searching for the cause of intermittent problems that don't show up for the mechanic on his test drive. For that reason, it is important to not disconnect the battery until the codes have been read and recorded, otherwise that valuable information will be lost.

Now, it's possible your mechanic was referring to a different problem. When you turn on the ignition switch, you should see the Check Engine light turn on for six seconds as a bulb check. If that is not happening, the reason must be determined. The bulb could simply be burned out in which case a code reader can still be used. If, however, the computer is not turning the bulb on, there is a problem in it or in the wiring to the bulb. If the computer won't run the bulb, it might not communicate with a scanner or code reader either. Chrysler has extremely little trouble with Engine Computers in that respect and in general. A failure of a scanner to communicate with the computers on the car is almost always the fault of the test equipment. I've run into that problem many times but my Chrysler DRB3 scanner always works.

One more tidbit of information that only applies to Chrysler products. You can make a generalization about the severity of the problem by the actions of the Check Engine light. The light will never turn on for a very minor problem. "Engine running cold too long" is a perfect example. Every car will have that code up here in Wisconsin in the winter because it takes longer than six minutes to reach normal temperature. A little more serious problem that affects emissions will turn the light on while you're driving, but if the problem goes away, the light will turn off on its own. Still more serious and the light will turn on but if the problem goes away, the light stays latched on until you turn the ignition switch off and restart the engine. Then, the light will stay off until the problem occurs again. For a really important problem, the light will always be on when the engine is running, even if the problem hasn't occurred recently. The most serious problem is when the light is flashing steadily. That means stop the engine as soon a possible because something is causing way too much raw fuel to enter the engine and it will lead to overheating of the catalytic converter in the exhaust system. That can be an expensive repair.

If any problem is detected and sets a code, then does not occur again, the code will be erased automatically after starting the engine around 50 times. On cars older than yours, it was common to disconnect a sensor on the engine to put the computer into a sort of "setup" mode to make some adjustments. As soon as you did that, the Check Engine light would turn on. It would turn back off when that sensor was reconnected, but the fault code would stay in memory for those 50 engine starts, (typically a week or two). We normally erased that code before giving the car back so no one would be mislead by it if a different problem popped up before it erased. Other codes can be introduced accidentally by the mechanic from wiggling loose connectors or disconnecting things while the ignition switch is turned on. That's a normal part of working on cars today, but those codes should really be erased when the service work is completed.

To get back to your mechanic, there can be many problems that do not result in a code being stored and don't turn on the Check Engine light. One glaring example is the fuel pump and fuel supply system. The correct fuel pressure is critical for proper engine performance but pressure is not monitored by the computer. Any codes that are set will be from the RESULTS of low fuel pressure. A typical code might be "running too lean too long", but it's just as likely the engine will stumble or hesitate on acceleration but no code is set at all. The fault codes are just one tool for the mechanic to use in looking for the cause of a problem.

Another thing your mechanic might have been referring to is if there were an intermittent problem, such as engine stalling but restarting in a few minutes, there will be nothing he can do right now unless the problem shows up for him when he's standing there with his test equipment at the ready. That's where the codes can often help. It should be understood though that the codes are not meant to point to the exact part that failed. While that often turns out to be true, the codes are just meant to indicate the circuit or system with the problem. More testing, meaning more time and $$$ is needed to test the suspect parts and associated wiring.

After rereading your original post, it appears your engine is not starting at all. It certainly is possible you have a defective Engine Computer, but there are a lot of other possible causes that are more common and less costly.

Caradiodoc
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Thursday, September 9th, 2010 AT 8:44 AM
Tiny
MS STEELE
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Finally got the computer and it started right up now the car is leaking oil pretty bad and it has smoke coming from under the hood. Do you know what could be causing that problem?
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Monday, September 27th, 2010 AT 2:21 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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This is going to require a visual inspection. Check for a puddle on the ground. If there is one, its size will indicate the speed of the leak. A few drips after parking the car suggests a gasket leaking up higher on the engine, and it takes a while for the oil to run down. A bigger puddle toward the front of the engine could be a leaking sending unit for the oil pressure gauge or a loose oil filter. Oil leaking from that area will spray around the front of the engine and will burn off when the engine is hot.

For gasket leaks, try to find the highest place you see oil on the engine. It will only run down from the source of the leak. A valve cover gasket can leak so slowly that you don't notice it when the car is driven every day, but if it sits for a while, there might be enough oil leak out that forms a puddle up high on the engine, and you'll see and smell it until it burns off.

Other common sources of leaking oil include the oil pan gasket and the camshaft plug on the upper side of the engine.

Caradiodoc
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Monday, September 27th, 2010 AT 2:47 AM
Tiny
MS STEELE
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Ill never buy a stratus again in life.
So today the car was overheating really bad. I had to pull over and let it cool off. While waiting I could hear the car making a thumping sound that seemed like it was coming from the dashboard. Found out the clamp on the heater hose needed to be replaced fixed that no more overheating.
Drove the car about 2 miles on the way back it started making this clicking noise that got louder and louder then when we stopped it shut off and started smoking (clear smoke with no smell). We let it sit for a couple hours then it started up fine but after about 2 minutes it started making the noise again. Do you have any clue what this could be? Please dont say its a head problem :( the dipstick says that theres oil in there.
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Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 AT 3:48 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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The key word here is not Stratus; it's 1995. What you're experiencing is common to all car brands and models, some just develop major problems half as often, then cost twice as much to repair. When I take a cross-country trip, I only trust my third newest vehicle, a 1988 Grand Caravan. It has higher mileage than all of my other four cars put together, but it only has an Engine Computer. Newer cars have Transmission Computers, Body Computers, Heater / AC Computers, Air Bag Computers, Anti-Lock Brake Computers, Anti-Theft Computers, etc.

GM has by far the biggest problems related to all of these computers. I think thanks to the misguided "Cash For Clunkers" law, there are going to be a lot of new GM owners who will say "never again" for their next new car purchase. Ford isn't much better. All you have to do is read through these forums to see there is no such thing as a perfectly reliable car, no matter what the guy on the tv ad says.

As a former instructor, I was amazed at the number of repair bills students and coworkers showed me. It is real common to have an $800.00 repair bill for a GM front-wheel-drive car every six months, and a lot of people accept that as normal. One of the latest gimmicks is to build the Body Computer into the radio. That prevents you from buying an aftermarket radio. Now you must have your original radio repaired at very high cost, otherwise your cruise control and power windows won't work. "Gotcha". Factory-installed anti-theft systems are very effective at keeping owners out of their cars. They cause almost as many problems as they prevent. Charging systems are a major headache. It's common to go through four to six generators in the life of the vehicle. Heating / AC Computer modules cause a whole pile of problems. Adding the dual-zone gimmick greatly increases the number of problems and complaints. None of these things are common on Chrysler products, ... Yet.

Most people don't know that Ford involves two expensive computers, including the most complicated one, (the instrument cluster), in honking the horn. Unfortunately, whatever insanity one manufacturer dreams up, the others copy a few years later. Years ago a dead horn was usually repaired with a ten-dollar relay or a twenty-dollar horn. Today the typical cost of repairing a dead horn is over $500.00. "Gotcha".

High-intensity discharge head lights, which are a major safety hazard to other drivers, cost hundreds of dollars to repair regardless if it's a burned out bulb or a defective ballast assembly. Both are common failure items. "Gotcha".

By now you see where I'm going with this. I would rather walk the six miles to town in the dead of winter than buy another new car. As a former tv repairman and a former mechanic, when people asked me which product was the best one to buy, my response always was, "forget the tv and radio ads and forget what the salesman wants you to hear, Ask what the repairmen drive and why". My '88 Grand Caravan with 219,000 miles has never needed a transmission repair, the heater controls work perfectly, every single light bulb works exactly as designed, and I know when I hop in and turn the key, no computer is going to think the van is being stolen. And none of these things need a computer to make them work properly. Now, my '95 Grand Caravan is on its third computer-controlled transmission in 124,000 miles, and has no interior lights because of a defective Body Computer. Imagine, ... A $250.00 computer is needed to do what pair of six-dollar switches used to do.

There is a lot of pent up anger from car owners who feel they're being held hostage by the manufacturers. I'd love to buy another new car but absolutely no way would I even consider that until the manufacturers get back to using common sense. I don't want guaranteed regular, expensive repair bills.

Now that I've vented, (thank you), let's get back to your car. A loose or broken hose clamp can happen to any car and that is probably the least expensive cause of overheating I can think of. My best guess, since you observed the smoke had no smell, is there was water on the engine left over after the mechanic conscientiously washed any spilled antifreeze away. Had you driven a lot more than two miles, that water would have been evaporated and you wouldn't have seen any smoke, (steam). If I'm right in that regard, you won't be seeing that any more. The thumping you heard in the dash was the result of the coolant boiling, similar to the lid bouncing around on the pot on your stove. That thumping suggests it is likely the coolant temperature didn't get too much over 212 degrees. By adding a pressurized radiator cap, just like cooking food in a pressure cooker, it raises the boiling point of water to over 250 degrees. While that's obviously not the goal, the boiling point goes back down to 212 degrees when pressure is lost in the system. That's what happened when the hose clamp broke. What I'm trying to suggest is the water in the coolant started to boil due to loss of system pressure, not because the temperature suddenly shot up.

A leaking head gasket can cause overheating, and severe overheating can cause a cylinder head to warp and / or a leak to develop in an already weak spot in a head gasket. This can work either way, but it's just as likely, due to the nature of the problem, there was no further damage done to the engine, especially since you stopped right away. While I could be wrong, don't panic yet. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge.

As for the clicking, your best bet is to have someone listen to it. If it only occurs while driving, suspect a minor problem with the brakes, especially if the noise changes when braking, or something as silly as a tree branch stuck underneath. Don't laugh. That happened to me twice! If the noise occurs even when the engine is not running but the ignition switch is turned on, it could be related to the heater fan. Don't overlook the possibility of a leave falling inside. If the noise is coming from the engine, common causes include a worn serpentine drive belt and worn bearings inside one of the tensioner pulleys. Those typically make noise right away, not after waiting two minutes. Hydraulic lash adjusters can make a ticking sound if the engine oil is too thin or the pressure is too low. If you have an oil pressure gauge on the dash, and it's reading lower than normal, the oil could be diluted with raw fuel as a result of the previous no-start / stalling condition. It's always a good idea to have the oil changed as soon as those types of problems are fixed. If the pressure is reading normally, the oil still could be diluted. The hydraulic lash adjusters are the last thing down the line to receive oil and there isn't much pressure left there anyway. Thin oil will prevent those adjusters from pumping up with oil resulting in their clattering. Oil thins out even more when it warms up, so oil-related problems sometimes don't show up right away when the engine is first started. If you think this might be what you're hearing, have it listened to by someone who can stand right there. They can often tell what the cause is just by listening to the type of noise and what they can do to affect it. Sometimes switching to one grade thicker oil at the next oil change solves this problem, especially in high-mileage engines.

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 AT 9:07 AM

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