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Old 09-01-2013, 07:28 AM
 
1,139 posts, read 3,215,225 times
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looking for help!

1999 Nissan Altima won't start this morning. When I turn the key in the ignition, the engine doesn't want to engage, you hear the whirling noise as though its going to start but it doesn't...

2 days ago while driving, the car would stall at times but then be back normal, doesn't want to go fast even when RPM was well above 4000 so cut short the errand and came back home.

I checked the battery, it has 12.6v and when I turn on the ignition it goes down to 11.5ish(have analog multimeter so number aren't that accurate), lights, power windows everything works.

My neighbor who is a mechanic came over and suggest perhaps the starter isn't working..so purchased one and took 3 hours to put that down and even still the engine doesn't want to crank up. I have no patience to remove the starter and go back to AutoZone to return it!

Pulled the spark plug out, had little oil and cleaned them out. Then the ahha moment, tried to check for spark by holding the spark plug against the engine body and starting the car but I did not see any spark..now we think it maybe the distributor.

Anyone want to chime in?
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:47 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 81,029,699 times
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Whirring sound? If your timing belt broke, it would sound like the engine turning over much faster than usual, but it would never fire. Sometimes, when a timing belt breaks, it occurs when it is cold, just as you try to start it in the morning and put the first stress on it. The stalling on the earlier days could have been from the worn timing belt jumping a cog.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:07 AM
 
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Do you know for sure that the engine is turning over, but not firing?

Sounds to me like your starter is spinning, but something is keeping the bendix drive from moving forward and engaging the engine. If that's the problem, the solution is a different starter.

By the way, if you got a "rebuilt" starter, instead of a "remanufactured" starter at AutoZone, the chances of it being bad are higher...
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:20 AM
 
1,139 posts, read 3,215,225 times
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It says re-manufactured. Please see link and image below.

Link: AutoZone | Duralast Import/Starter

I already spent $130 on the starter.

What about the spark plugs? should I not see arc from it to the body of the engine when I turn on the car?

I have a Tire Plus like 5 miles away and they are offering $14.99 for vehicle diagnosis..should I try them first before I put more money?
I just need to find a buddy with a tow truck...
Attached Thumbnails
1999 Nissan Altima won't start - whirling noise but engine doesn't engage-starter.jpg  
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:19 AM
 
15,859 posts, read 21,919,843 times
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OP, you have multiple issues. Not YOU, your vehicle.
1, whirring noise when key is turned is sign of starter turning but Bendix not engaging. Look up Bendix, self education is might!
2. Reason Bendix is not engaging is cuz you do not have enough power supply to it. Or, it is simply bad, or, starter is bad, but, normally it goes down to a small piece of electronics screwed to the starter housing, keep forgetting the name for it. It's like a capacitor or something. It goes bad - Bendix does not engage, you go turn starter in as core, and pay for a "new" one that has that part replaced (it's about 6 bucks worth) and was cleaned with parts cleaner to make it shine.
3. VERY LIKELY reason your Bendix does not engage is because you have 2 sub-issues:
- low voltage/amperage supply to starter, I almost bet you due to oxidized battery cables and
- low battery charge. What should have been done was to buy a - now two dollar, used to be 99 cents - worth battery terminal cleaning tool, charge battery with charger, clean terminals, pull plugs out and take butane torch to them to clean them hot white from any residue, THEN start the car.
4. Possibility 4 is - alternator going south and not charging battery enough, but I still keep my bet on dirty terminals, as MANY have I seen. And 95 Nissans are helluva reliable cars. Btw, dirty cables will cause premature alternator failure. Your battery, in full charge, should be showing around 14V, btw. 13.7, 13.8, somewhere there. Good TRUCK battery will show over 14V.
Bendix takes a lot of power to engage and even more to turn engine. Week battery or bad connection - no engine turn.
5. Oil on spark plugs is separate issue. You likely to have plug tubes, and those are notorious about leaking oil onto the spark plugs, past the tube seals. It's $30 worth fix, as you have to remove valve cover and replace seals and cover gasket.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 81,029,699 times
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I'm still not understanding what is happening when you turn on the key and get a "whirring sound".

If the starter is turning the engine, but it won't fire, then it is not the starter.

If the starter is NOT turning the engine, then there is no point looking for a spark in the plug wire.
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Old 09-01-2013, 11:13 AM
 
1,139 posts, read 3,215,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post

If the starter is NOT turning the engine, then there is no point looking for a spark in the plug wire.
Thanks. I didn't make that connection before but only after the starter was replaced.

Anyway, took the car to Tires Plus and the beginning didn't go well.

Initially was told vehicle diagnosis was $14.99 so I figure even with towing it's worthwhile and now they charged me $89.99 saying engine diagnosis is different than vehicle diagnosis.

Short story - the mechanic said the timing chain is broken and we need to replace the engine and gave me a quote for $2500 and am really really reluctant to pay $2500 for a car that's worth $1500...

Question: If it's timing chain then should any belt or pulley turn when I look in the engine compartment?
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:23 PM
 
676 posts, read 925,599 times
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Smarter folks than me will come on here and say this but I wouldn't trust anything a chain like Tires Plus tells me about an expensive repair. They lured you in with a big come-on and are now trying to get you to bend over and take it in the a**.

You need to get some other diagnosis' from other places, preferably an independent shop with a good rep. Maybe your mechanic neighbor friend can recommend a place?
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:01 PM
PDD
 
Location: The Sand Hills of NC
8,773 posts, read 16,805,990 times
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You cannot troubleshoot auto problems on the internet. Call a mechanic.
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Location: Location
6,728 posts, read 9,043,982 times
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Okay, I'm chiming in. I have a 1990 Toyota Corolla and until last month, it went everywhere. Until it decided not to start when I turned the key. Plenty of battery, just didn't want to run. Had two little girls with me, and had to call Triple AAA to get towed. Turns out it was a fuse. Yes, a 15 amp. fuse under the hood, that powers the fuel pump. They replaced the fuse and all was fine for about three weeks. Then the same thing happened. Replaced the fuse and it was good for about three days. It is now in the garage at my house and I am looking for a replacement car.

Silly as it may sound, it might be worth checking. Good luck.
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