2008 Kia Spectra engine knock and white smoke when trying to start

Hey guys. We have a 2008 Kia Spectra SX that will not start. Here’s the story. My grandfather was driving the car and started just fine. No issues or anything since he bought it last week on Saturday. He drove it everyday with no issues for the next 3 days. On Wednesday, he drove the car but the engine shut off so he had to pull over on the highway. The battery, radio, lights and all that stuff works. He got it towed to a mechanic that replaced the spark plugs and said the engine sounds like it’s locking up when trying to start it. It will not start but will turn over. When trying to start, it has a faint amount of smoke coming the front lower section of the engine. It also has a faint knocking sound and will not start with starting fluid when sprayed into the intake. Any ideas on what it could be? I’m considering purchasing a new engine for the car but want to make sure it’s nothing simple that the mechanic possibly overlooked. Thanks a lot in advance for any advice.

Knock could be a number of things but I’d be thinking crank Sensor may be causing not starting

I will buy a new crankshaft sensor tomorrow morning and install. I will post back on here with the results.

Find a new mechanic, that will actually diagnose the problem. Quit throwing parts at it based on random internet ideas, you’llprobably go broke before the problem is fixed.


Bought it Saturday and it died on wed? Check oil level?

The oil level is up to par. It is a little dark though so I’ll change it. Any thing else you can think of.

A new engine for an 11 year old Kia Spectra - that is just wasting money . The first thing is a better mechanic for a second opinion. This was most likely a ( As is ) purchase but if from a dealer lot it can’t hurt to ask if they can help.


Brandon, you can ask all the questions you want but to get the actual diagnosis the vehicle needs to be seen in person. I don’t know why the point being made that just throwing parts at a problem makes no sense bothers you.

1 Like

Unfortunately my GPA purchased it from a 3rd party individual so we’re SOL there.

A rod knock won’t stop it from running so I would keep looking. If it won’t start with starter fluid, then ignition or compression. Easy to check either. Pulling and inspecting plugs may give you some clues as well (like water leak into combustion chamber(s)), then check compression…

There was nothing wrong with the post PVT Public made . Stop being so sensitive .

Great idea. Thank you. We bought brand new spark plugs yesterday but auto zone also rents out the compression kits so I’ll start there.

I apologize. Took the comment the wrong way. Just under a lot of pressure to get this car fixed and its aggravating.

Sorry man. I apologize.

What does that mean ?

Just someone else other than a dealer. Some dude in Texas that didn’t need it anymore.

Hey everyone just an update for you. First of all I wanted to apologize for getting saucy with some of you earlier. I have drill the TXARNG in 1 week and I just dont have the money to take it to a mechanic. So sorry for being an a hole earlier. I went to Auto Zone and test the compression of all 4 cylinders. From left to right, the first 3 show a healthy 90psi but the last one shows 50psi. I also bought a spark plug tester and they are sparking. I tried starting the engine with starter fluid and it didn’t start. I’ll keep doing some testing and keep you posted. I really do appreciate you’re support and I’m sorry.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, and excuse my language . . .

Those compression numbers are so low, they’re actually pathetic

I just looked up the specs for your vehicle

You’re supposed to have a minimum of 185psi compression

Your engine has serious mechanical problems, provided the numbers you posted are accurate. A. cylinder leakdown test would narrow it down further, meaning it would tell you if the problem is top end or bottom end.

I’m a cynic, and I think it’s quite possible the seller knew the engine was damaged goods, so to speak, and wanted to just pass off his problems onto somebody else

By chance, did your grandfather buy the car from some kind of a dealer? If so, there’s a slim chance they would take the car back, or maybe let him choose another car off the lot. Then again, I’d be worried the other cars on the lot might also be harboring massive problems . . .

It’s possible the seller had absolutely no idea the car was in bad shape . . . but I doubt it

Was the oil level correct when your mechanic checked out the car?

1 Like

Based on the smoke and low compression (all cylinders but one in particular) I’m leaning toward a bad head gasket. The knock you heard could be due to the prior owner running it with a bad headgasket, coolant in the oil and so the bearing knock. The knock could also just be due to coolant in the combustion chambers but warrants further investigation as the former would be a death warrant but if it just happened, it may be salvageable depending on who is doing the repairs. What does the oil look like? Does it appear to be really quite new, like it was changed shortly before sale? Is the coolant getting consumed or low?

1 Like

90 psi is not good for car motor. It’s ok for an air compressor. Get it?