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Thread: Crank, no start checklist

  1. #1

    Crank, no start checklist

    Well, since I'm depressed af about my car dying, I figured I'd post up my thought process of how I think I'm going to tackle this issue. If I can't solve it by the weekend, I'll take it to a shop.

    1. Reflect on events that occured previously that may be related.

    Hit rev limiter in 3rd
    Car starting losing power and dropping cylinders.
    Car died when I pulled into driveway.

    As you all may know, I had a misfire issue that started off at around 6000 rpms, and eventually decreased to around 4000 rpm. I had no starting problems while these issues were present. I installed headers which seemed to take care of the misfire issue until yesterday when I realllllllly winded the engine up, all the way up into the rev limiter in 3rd. I did this intentionally as it should not cause any failures under normal operating conditions. Well, I guess the weak link finally broke.

    When I hit the rev limiter, the engine cut power as expected. The overrun sounded normal, but as I got back on the throttle, I felt a similar vibration as before. Turned the car off and back on again and it's still there. I'm only a few miles from home at this point. As I'm driving along, it feels like more and more cylinders are dropping out. The car died on me at a stop sign and was very difficult to crank. Once it started, it needed throttle or it would die again. I made it home, let her idle and she died.

    2. Check Fuel
    Fuel pump is good, haven't put a gauge on it but it's new, so we'll put that at the bottom of the list along with all 6 injectors dying at once... it's just not likely.
    I sprayed carb cleaner (closest to starting fluid that I had on hand) into the intake this morning and it started once, but I believe that was because it may have started anyway as subsequent attempts yielded nothing. Not even a stutter. This points to a lack of spark.

    3. Check spark
    Here is where I suspect my issue lies. I have 12V on the harness rail which tells me my fuse is good. My ring terminal grounds are good. I don't measure any strange resistance, such as a short or open, on the trigger line to the DME. My next course of action is to verify that I have a spark pulse (and injector pulse while I'm in there). I'll use my meter for this, but a test light works just as well.

    4. Check mechanicals
    Let's assume that we get spark and fuel working. Next is compression and timing check...oh shit. I just remembered that there was a bolt in my oil pan when I did my oil pan the crank trigger wheel bolted to the crank? Damn, that's going to suck hard to get to if that's my issue. But the spark and fuel injector pulse check will tell me that quickly. It's not the kind of bolt that I found . But yes, that would be part of the check as well. The cam and crank trigger wheel check.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. She will be resurrected.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Charlotte, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by DeathTrap View Post
    I just remembered that there was a bolt in my oil pan when I did my oil pan gasket...
    Holy shit man and you were driving that thing? Do you have a pic of the bolt???

  3. #3
    I can't find the pic. It had 180k on, so if it hadn't fallen apart by then, plus nothing "looked" out of place...pretty much just sent it.

    It was a small M8 looking ish hex head bolt.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. She will be resurrected.

  4. #4
    I'm back at the crib and got a chance to do some searching.

    Pulled a plug or three and they are SOAKED in fuel, clear indication that fuel is good.

    Ignition coil harness has good ground and good voltage supply, BUT the trigger signal is weak. It's only going from 12v to 9v when I believe it should go from 12v to 0v. I'm trying to verify that with some members in my group. I suspect the DME is either bad or has a bad solder joint or component...

    I compared it with a spare DME I had laying around. The ignition resistances and voltages look about the same on both, of course the spare doesn't start the car because it still has its EWS enabled. I believe it is safe to assume the DME is ok for now.

    I can get the car to start and run on about three cylinders, backfiring, just all around poor running, by holding the throttle open while cranking. Not sure what that means yet but I'm noting it.
    Last edited by DeathTrap; 01-10-2020 at 07:20 PM.
    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. She will be resurrected.

  5. #5
    I did a ghetto compression check and found out that a spark plug in cylinder 6 gives me the same sound as no spark plugs in the engine, and its an awful sound.

    That probably means three things...
    Rebuild the motor I have
    Swap another motor
    Sell the car

    I've done all of those except rebuild an engine, but I really want a cleaner chassis to work with....either way is going to cost $$$
    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. She will be resurrected.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Tampa, FL
    First off, you suspected clogged cats first. Have you pulled the O2 sensors to see if the car runs better with less back pressure?

    If that's not the problem, do a REAL compression test on the engine. If you've been having misfires on that cylinder 6, possibly due to detonation, you may have burned an exhaust valve, which would explain the lost compression. Then do a leak down test. You can buy a tester on Amazon. That will tell you exactly what's wrong.

    You need to be thorough and methodical with the diagnosis, no guessing and half tests.
    '04 330i ZHP sedan | Mystic blue | Alcantara | 6MT | 111k
    '98 740il | Schwartz 2 | Sandbeige | 5AT | 238k | lowered on Bilsteins w/ B&G springs
    '00 540i sport | Titanium silver | Black | 5AT | 120k
    '85 Mustang GT convertible | Medium charcoal metallic | Gray | 5MT | 215k | one owner, all original

  7. #7
    I already installed the headers, no cats to be clogged up. It ran great when it ran! I think I just broke the weakest link in the chain.

    I did a compression test November 2nd. At the time, all cylinders were 180 +/- 5 psi.

    I will buy a compression tester to get official numbers tomorrow, but it's not looking too good right now.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. She will be resurrected.

  8. #8
    Even if you have bad compression on one cylinder, it should still start, however thatb olt in the oil pan could mean anything.

  9. #9
    Did a compression check. I have 0 compression on 3 and 6, 50 on 1. Over 100 on 2, 4, 5.

    I took the valve cover off and found that no nuts were on the retaining washer thing for the VANOS sprocket and part of the VANOS housing was ground down.

    So worst case, I have bent valves due to the valve timing being out.

    Best case, replace VANOS components.

    I'll do a leak down test next to assess the damage.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    2003 Blue ZHP Sedan @ 210k
    Dead due to damaged valve. She will be resurrected.

  10. #10
    Good luck! Hopefully your valves are ok; idk where to even get vales for an e46

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