She’s Touchy

The new exhaust gasket came sooner than I thought but I didn’t have time (or good weather) to address it until this past weekend. The car stayed up on jacks for a few days. This may become significant later because after I did put the gasket in and let the car down I attempted to start the engine and got nothing but the starter cranking. This made no sense to me since the engine had run just fine a few days earlier. Did being tilted to the side on jacks for a few days somehow upset something? I can’t imagine why that would be, but what else could it be? The engine was running fine just a few days ago and I hadn’t changed anything related to it. Time for diagnostics.


The first thing to do is make sure electricity is getting to the ignition parts. I’ve learned that the easiest thing to do in that department is to first check the fuses. On my car that would mean fuse 4, which is for the in tank fuel pump, and fuse 6, which is for the main pump and the fuel injectors. Those looked fine, so I moved on to more complicated things. Since these sorts of tests would require the engine to crank while observing things outside of the cabin I needed the help of my oldest son. With his help secured, I first wanted to make sure the timing belt was still on. If that belt somehow broke or came off its gears the distributor wouldn’t turn (among other things) and electricity would not be distributed. The easiest way to test this is by taking off the oil filler cap on the valve cover and watching the cam shaft while cranking the engine. If that is turning then the belt is intact and the dizzy should be spinning too. My cam was spinning away nicely so the next step was to take out one of the spark plugs and set it against a grounded part of the body. While cranking the engine I watched the plug for a nice, bright spark which it indeed had. At this point I was satisfied that my issue wasn’t spark related.


I wanted to make sure fuel was being delivered to the engine so that the spark, which I was now confident was being made, had something to combust. First I made sure the pumps were running. I started that process by verifying that the fuel pump relay was priming when the ignition key was turned to on. Next I jumped the left sides of fuse 4 and 6 together and listened for the whirring sound of both fuel pump which I clearly heard. This means the pumps were pumping, but was fuel arriving at the injector rail? To test this I got out my fuel pressure testing kit and made sure I was getting sufficient pressure when the car cranked. My gauge showed around 40 psi which is what I was expecting. So I knew I had spark and that fuel was getting to the injectors. Maybe the injectors weren’t being triggered? The afternoon was getting on and I had other things to do, so I decided to find an inexpensive “noid” tester which I could use to make sure the injector solenoids were being triggered. Amazon had one for around $20 that included a Bosch style connector, so I ordered it and figured I’d wait until I got it to do anything further. I called it a day and proceeded to do some yard work instead.


The next morning I decided to see if my car had magically fixed itself. I’ve found that some machines are sometimes inclined to do this. Lo and behold the engine started right up. This is not really a good thing since although it’s nice to have your mechanisms just sort of start working – seemingly without any effort – these kinds of machines are often just as capable of spontaneously deciding not to work. So I have a noid testing kit now, which I guess is good, and a working car, which is even better. To make sure everything was running smoothly I took it out for a short drive and even stopped in a local big cemetery for a glamor shot.