Not starting

Tiny
WINFREDGA
  • MEMBER
  • 1990 DODGE OMNI
  • 2.2L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • MANUAL
  • 170,000 MILES
Wife drove to work, then nothing. Turn the key and nothing. Dash lights on. Battery good. Pulled negative lead off battery and let set for half hour. Checked the leads to ECU, when I connected the negative. Got power would crank but would not start. Today I went out and it started right away. But when I turned it off went back to nothing when you turn the key. Where should I start looking?
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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 AT 12:09 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The place to start is with the exact symptoms. "Nothing" does not tell us anything. There can be over sixty wires going to the engine computer. It sounds like you tested all of them when you reconnected the battery negative cable? At one point the engine cranked normally but would not start or run, then later, when it would not crank, were the lights and other electrical systems working?

When the engine did crank but not run, could that be because it was cranking too slowly? Have you considered the possibility the battery is weak and / or has corroded or loose cable connections? You might start by measuring the battery voltage when the engine is off. If it is good and fully-charged, it will be 12.6 volts. If you find closer to 12.2 volts, it is good but badly discharged. If you find 11 volts or less, it has a shorted cell and must be replaced.

If it appears the battery is good but discharged, charge it at a slow rate for an hour, then measure its voltage again. If the engine does start and run, measure the battery voltage again with it running. You must find between 13.75 and 14.75 volts. If it is low, we will need to diagnose the charging system.
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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 AT 2:31 PM
Tiny
WINFREDGA
  • MEMBER
When it did crank it was normal speed, just does not seem to be getting fire. Battery is holding did a charge at 12.5 volts. This morning when I hooked battery up it started without any problem. Run it for about fifteen minutes. When I turned it off and tried to restart it did nothing when you turn the key. From the on all the dash light, dome light works headlight. Dash lights go out when you turn the key. No dimming of dome light when you turn the key. Only code is computer has been reset.
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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 AT 3:19 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
What was that fault code? A real common problem was caused by the Hall Effect pickup assembly in the distributor. The symptom was the engine cranks normally but does not start or run. If you investigate further you will find there is no spark, but too many people get stuck on that and troubleshoot the wrong system. You need to look further, then you will find there also are no injector pulses. The fuel pump also does not run during cranking, so a lot of people replace the pump, but the fuel pressure can be misleading. There will be pressure because the pump still runs for one second each time the ignition switch is turned on.

Measure the voltage on the positive terminal of the ignition coil, or either smaller terminal on the back of the alternator, to see if the automatic shutdown, (ASD) relay is turning on during cranking. You should find 12 volts there for one second when you turn on the ignition switch, then it will go back to 0 volts. What is important is if that voltage comes back during engine rotation, (cranking or running). The engine computer turns the ASD relay on when it sees engine rotation, and it knows that by the signal pulses it gets from that pickup assembly in the distributor. You can use a digital voltmeter to check the voltage, but they usually respond too slowly to catch that one-second voltage pulse. A test light works better for this test.

Be aware too that these pickup assemblies, as well as the newer crankshaft position sensors and camshaft position sensors, commonly fail by becoming heat-sensitive. The engine may run fine as long as the car is moving and there is sufficient air flow to keep the sensor cool. The typical failure occurs when a hot engine is stopped for a short time, as in when filling with gas, then "hot soak" allows heat to migrate to the sensor causing it to fail. They commonly work fine again after cooling down for about an hour.

As for the cranking problem, the first clue is whether the starter relay is clicking when you turn the ignition switch to "crank". If it is not, we have to look at the ignition switch and connector terminals, and the clutch switch. If the starter relay IS clicking, that circuit is okay and we have to look at the high-current starter solenoid circuit.

If you have a thick, clear plastic ring around the ignition switch lock cylinder, there are two things to consider. The first is overheated connector terminals. The switch must be replaced for that, then the two blackened terminals and four" of their wires must be replaced separately. That problem affects the accessory circuits like power windows, radio, and heater fan. The people who have the most trouble with this are those who run the fan on the highest speed a lot, and especially those who turn the ignition switch on or off when they do not turn the fan speed down first.

The second problem is a mechanical problem with the lock cylinder that prevents the switch from turning quite far enough to engage the starter circuit. The clue is everything else works normally, but the starter relay does not click. The dealer's part department has a repair kit for that. In my experience that problem has never been intermittent. A metal cam breaks, then the no-crank condition is permanent.
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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 AT 6:49 PM
Tiny
WINFREDGA
  • MEMBER
Fault code that always come up is 12. Today had a fault code of 51.
What I did not know before is car was losing power and using more fuel. With it not starting I agree it could be a crankshaft position sensor. Not it will start with no problem, let it run until it heats up. But, when you turn it off and try to restart it, you get nothing when turning the key. Have to wait a few days before it will start again. Being an older car is the sensor called something else. Cannot find reference at parts store under crankshaft sensor for my car.
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Friday, November 25th, 2016 AT 4:56 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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I mentioned previously the Hall Effect sensor was a real common problem, and every parts store will have some in stock. It is a three-inch diameter plastic disc that sits right under the distributor cap. On the newer cars they use two sensors instead that perform the same function. Those are the crankshaft position sensor and the camshaft position sensor. If no one understands the term "Hall Effect switch", just tell them you need a distributor pickup assembly. It will have a three-wire plug.

For the no-crank problem, you need to determine if the starter relay is clicking when you turn the ignition switch to "crank". Knowing that will tell us which circuit we need to troubleshoot. If you cannot hear it, have a helper place their fingers on it, then feel if it clicks when you turn the ignition switch.
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Friday, November 25th, 2016 AT 6:26 PM
Tiny
WINFREDGA
  • MEMBER
Replaced the distributor pickup assembly and replaced the ECM and still have the same problem. When you turn the key on all dash lights come on, dome lights everything. But, when you turn the key there is nothing but a click. Not sure what it is that clicks, because I am in the car. Click sounds like it is coming by the ECM, there is two silver things there with nothing on them and a black connection not sure what it is.
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Saturday, January 28th, 2017 AT 3:22 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Now we're back to a different symptom involving the starter. Most likely you're hearing the starter relay. That will make a single click each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank". If it's a fairly loud single clunk, that is due to worn contacts in the starter solenoid. If you have the little silver Nippendenso starter, there are repair kits for those. The clue is the starter will work eventually after you cycle the ignition switch multiple times. It will take more and more tries as time goes on. You're going to have to look and listen under the hood while a helper runs the ignition switch. You can't make observations or take test measurements from the driver's seat.
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Sunday, January 29th, 2017 AT 12:27 PM
Tiny
WINFREDGA
  • MEMBER
Last part in case someone else has a problem. Checked the starter relay it checked out. Clicking was coming from the starter solenoid. Had to pull the starter cause there was way to get to the solenoid. With starter out hooked up to battery checked the ignition pole on the solenoid and was getting same current the battery has. So ignition and neutral safety switch was sending current to solenoid. Replace the solenoid put the starter back in and it started right up. Till next time, thanks for your help.
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Sunday, March 12th, 2017 AT 10:27 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Dandy. Hope that's the solution.
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Sunday, March 12th, 2017 AT 2:54 PM

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