Engine Troubles

So I recently got a new car, a 2000 Chevy Cavalier, well new to me at least, with 208753 miles on it currently and it was driving fine however this morning when I went to leave the house, it wouldn’t start. The starter sounds fine, and when I move it back to the on position instead of start, my radio and my air conditioner start, but it won’t start. I got it to start once, earlier today but then when I tried again, it wouldn’t start. Both the check engine and the battery light come on but if I didn’t have power, wouldn’t the starter not engage? I realize I’m being really vague but I don’t know what’s going on so any help would be great!

Out of gas maybe?

If the starter operates you have power (battery voltage).

Are you certain that there is fuel in the tank?

Is the fuel pump working? If the key is turned to the ON position without attempting to start the engine you should hear the fuel pump run for 3 to 5 seconds.

Have you attempted to start then engine while pressing the accellerator 1/2 way down?

So you turn the key to the ON position and all the dash lights come on and the blower fan starts. You turn the key to the START position and what happens? It cranks because you say “the starter sounds fine”, right?

To get the engine to start from this point, you need spark and you need fuel. I can’t tell either of these from the internet without a little more help. Is there gas in the tank? Can you smell any gas when you try to start it? Turn off the radio and AC and listen for a hum from the rear when you turn the key to ON. That is the fuel pump. If you hear it, that’s a good sign, if not, your fuel pump probably just went out. It also could be a number of things in the ignition system. Does the tachometer wiggle when you crank it? No? Your crankshaft position sensor may be bad. Could be an ignition control module.

If you aren’t very well versed in auto repair, now would be the time to call a tow truck and take it to an independent mechanic that you trust. You can find one in your area here on the website or ask friends if you don’t have one.

I am certain there’s still a half a tank of fuel, because I’ve been driving around a lot recently. I don’t hear anything when I turn the key to the on position and I tried to start the engine with the accelerator pressed down 1/2 way but still nothing.

If the fuel pump hasn’t been replaced, now might be the time. Pressing the gas pedal will do nothing in any event. No hum, no gas, no start. Check the fuel pump relay FIRST because it is easy to reach in the fuse box and the fuel pump fuse as well. Find another one like it in the fuse box and swap them, if the car starts, voila!, buy a new relay for whatever circuit you swiped that one from. Heck buy 2, replace them BOTH, they are cheap. Keep the old one as a spare.

If that doesn’t work, the mechanic is on-call…

Okay! Thank you for your help!

My recap, the failed starts drained the battery where there was enough juice for lights, but not enough to crank the engine. You can try a jump at this point and see if it will crank, and hopefully run enough to get the codes read for free at a nearby parts store.

I have a 1994 Cavalier (white!), 99,000 miles on it. I am on the third or fourth starter. My electrical issue, much more complex than this one, has been in these files for quite some time, but I think ultimately it is just something one lives with when the rest of the car is good.

If all else fails, or if you feel I may be correct, replace the starter, get one with a warranty for replacement, and you should be good. It makes little sense, but it works. They just had weak starters.

Get an aerosol can of carburetor cleaner and spray a healthy shot into the intake tract somewhere. Try to start it. If it runs for a second or two you know that you have spark and the problem is related to lack of fuel.

The next step would be to test fuel pressure. Offhand, I do not know where it is located on a 2000 Cavalier but there should be a fuel pump test plug under the hood somewhere.
A small jumper wire can be run from the hot side of the battery to that test plug. The pump should then run on its own and you should hear it. Now see if the car will start and run.
If it does then it’s time to diagnose the fuel pump controls.
Disconnect the jumper wire. The jumper cannot be left in place as it’s a test method only.

I’ll do some digging this evening and see if I can provide some specific info on the fuel pump test plug. Will post back this evening and maybe someone else can come up with it before me.

I would see if I had fuel…add some fuel if the needle is anywhere near the E because this person is not familiar with this car and or the fuel gauge. It could simply be out of gas…

Fill it with fuel…listen for fuel pump sound when key on engine off… proceed from there. After that you will be going after the FPR under the hood (Fuel Pump Relay)

The OP has homework to do…