What process should I go through to find out why my car won't crank?

Asked by Dec 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM about the 1996 Honda Civic Coupe DX

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

It turns over perfectly and acts like its not getting fuel but I can smell fuel if I pump the pedal.  I checked all the fuses
and spark plug wires to both the plugs and distributor and all seems good there.  How do I check the distributor? I
am not sure the rotor is turning fast enough?  How would it act if the timing belt is broken?

8 Answers


You could squirt a little starting fluid in the intake to see if there is spark. You might be able to see the cam if you took the oil cap off and someone turns the motor over. Take the distributor cap off at the same time to see if the rotor is spinning.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

The rotor is definitely spinning. I did that earlier.

What would the next step be if I determine that I have spark?


Easiest way is to spray a little starting fluid in the intake. If it fires, you have spark and it's a fuel delivery problem. No fire means no ignition.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Would you change the fuel filter before changing the fuel pump just in case there is a blockage?


Blockages usually show signs before they completely block off fuel supply. If your car has been idling rough, stalling ect for the past few weeks then if could be a blockage. Large objects can't really make it into the fuel system because there is a siphon in front of the fuel pump to prevent large objects like that from entering. It is more likely that the fuel pump has failed. They often fail with little warning.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Yes I would change the fuel filter before changing a fuel pump. Do you know that it's not getting fuel? Is the fuel pump relay working? Is there power at the fuel pump electrical connector? Can you hear the fuel pump run when you first turn the key on? Why are you changing the pump? Changing a fuel pump is not easy, cheap or fun. Make sure you need one.

Thanks for all the good info. No rough idling but I have been noticing a hesitation occasionally when accelerating. I will check the things you mentioned and get back to you.

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