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Car Not Starting

My 1993 Toyota Corolla station wagon is not starting. The starter tries but the car does not start. It was fine yesterday but just won’t start today. I am unemployed at the moment so am looking for any help I can get

Has the weather changed? How full is the fuel tank? How many miles on your Corolla? Have you had any work done on the starter? Has all the regular maintenance as listed in the owner’s manual been done?

The gas tank is full - only driven 50 miles since last fill-up. It has about 130,000 miles on it. The starter was replaced a year ago (and seems fine). I bought it used from the friend of a friend 4 years ago so I don’t know about the maintenance before then. Since then my mechanic has seen it and serviced it several times a year. Unfortunately, he lost his garage last spring but installed a new clutch for me anyway three months ago at his house.

“The starter tries” - can you be more specific about that? Are you saying that you turn the key and it cranks over just fine - nice and strong sounding?

If it is cranking fine then you can just start by figuring out whether you’re missing fuel or spark.

If you spray some starter fluid into the intake and that gets it to fire even for a few seconds then you have a fuel problem.

You can use a spare spark plug or spark tester to check for spark.

Start by figuring out which kind of problem and then you can report back.

Yes, it cranks just fine. I’m not particularly car savvy, especially with the more modern cars (decades ago the first thing I would have checked would have been the carburetor); could you tell me where the intake might be found?

Also, a friend of mine just took a look and said he thought maybe the timing belt has slipped; is that even a vague possibility?

It sounds to me like what you need is a tow truck.

A broken or slipped timing belt is a possibility. For a quick check to see if the belt is broken you can pull off the oil cap, peer down into the valve cover with a flashlight and have someone turn the key. If the belt is still intact you will see stuff moving in there. That doesn’t mean the belt didn’t slip by a few teeth - just that its not broken.

To spray starter fluid into the intake just follow the big black tube, probably on the right hand side of the engine compartment, away from the air filter box to where it connects to the engine. You can either pull that off on the engine side and spray past the throttle plate (just look inside the big hole where it attaches) or look around there for any hoses attached to the top of the motor, pull that off and spray in there. Any other hose has to be reattached before you turn the key or it will make for a giant vacuum leak.

A spark tester will come with instructions.

Did I mention that I think you just need a tow truck? Or at least find someone you know who is at least a little bit car savvy.