When engine trouble strikes your customers, the most common issues will keep it from turning over (bad battery, dead starter, etc.). However, if the car engine will turn over but not fire (start), there are a few things to check. Generally, if there’s a lack of fire, it’s because of one of two problems. Either a) there is a lack of fuel getting to the engine, or b) there’s no spark to ignite the fuel.
Test for No Fuel
The most common issue here is a lack of fuel, which can be due to a number of different reasons, many of which can strengthen your ability to find cheap engines. Perhaps the fuel pump died, or maybe there’s a problem with clogged injectors or damaged fuel rails. The fuel filter might be dirty and clogged up. To test the system, you’ll need a pressure gauge. Hook it up to the fuel rail and then try to start the engine. Run the gauge into the cabin with you, or have someone else crank the car while you watch the gauge under the hood.
If the gauge shows an increase in pressure when cranking (which indicates that the fuel pump has kicked in), you need to make sure that the fuel pressure is in line with specs. If the gauge doesn’t jump, then chances are good the fuel pump has kicked the bucket. Finally, if the pressure does increase, but does so slowly or the pressure is very low, you should suspect blockages and clogs somewhere in the system (the fuel filter in the case of an inline filter, for instance).
If you have fuel, but no fire, you’ll need a spark tester. For safety, take out the fuel pump fuse; otherwise, it will run during testing, which can be dangerous. Pop off a spark plug wire and connect the tester in series (between the wire and the spark plug). Now, crank the engine. You should see spark within the tester while the engine turns over. If there’s no spark, you need to move up the line and test the other components to determine what’s gone wrong and where.
No fire isn’t generally a cause for engine replacement – you should be able to determine the issue without having to resort to installing a crate or rebuilt engine. Ignition system troubleshooting can be tricky, but it’s generally an easier fix than you might think.