How to tell if it's the timing chain that prevents car from starting

Asked by Jan 17, 2008 at 04:02 AM about the 1990 Pontiac Firebird Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

car was running fine.  shut motor off.  got back in and tried to restart.  it tried to start and then went dead again.  tried this several times, but would not stay running except for one time it tried to stay running for about 30 seconds with misfire symptoms and then died. Now it want try to stay running at all.

7 Answers

you may need to chance fuelfilter or you could have a bad coil not feel is timeing related.


Agreed, if timing chain is broken, engine will not run at all.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

it may have gone bad and be slipping. if it whirls over fast it probably doesn't have compression, which is a symptom of a timing belt

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Easy way to check is to bring the engine timing mark to tdc and pull your distributer cap and the rotor should be pointing at the #1 spark plug wire on the cap and it could 180 out and if so just rotate the engine once and then it should be on the money if it is way off you have timing chain problems. I would recommend you check to make sure you have spark and fuel pressure ( and fuel volume )It is most likely a fuel problem, Good luck.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

those cars dont have timing belts only chains no matter the engine. if it somehow jumped time it would backfire really bad. but a chain is usually broken or worn and even at its worst point of wear it would still run just badly. and no turning over fast is not a symptom of a broken timing chain bc there will be at most 2 cylinders with no compression the other 4 or 6 depending would have plenty of compression to keep it from turning over fast

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if you have a distributor an easy way to check chain wear is to pull the cap and use a breaker bar and socket to turn the engine back and forth. see how much the crank turns before the rotor turns


These engines can and do jump time a few teeth and will not run. The proper test is to take a compression test. A Non running engine the compression on a jumped engine is around 50 per cylinder. Sounds like you jumped a few teeth - These had factory plastic teeth and they end up in the pan so that woul dhave to be removed to clean the teeth out if a chain needs replacing. The distributor movement test is not always a good test if the chain is still on the gear .. Good Luck

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

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