Madza 3 Hatchback (2008) cranking but not starting, zero codes?

My car has a reoccuring problem where when I turn on the ignition it cranks but doesn’t start. This happens in all four seasons so it’s not just when the weather is cold. I’ve had 3 auto shops (including a Mazda dealership) diagnose it as a bad fuel pump, so I had the fuel pump and EGR valve replaced last year. When the issues started again after a few months the fuel pump was changed again under the warranty. I have also changed the battery twice in the last year.

Now the check engine light and powering steering fluid light is on. My car will crank, but it’s like the engine won’t catch. Starter issue? I had triple A come out and test the battery and they said it wasn’t a battery issue. I also had him try to read codes on my car, but he said it kept saying error on his machine. So I purchased my own car reader, and when I try to test it also says “Error” no codes! I’m not sure what’s going on with this car. No one seems to know what’s really wrong with it, and I want to sell this car but the starting issue has me worried I won’t get any money for it. I just want to figure out what’s wrong with it. If the repair costs are thousands of dollars I won’t bother fixing it. Any help is appreciated.

Does the car have a fuel filter? If so, has it ever been changed?

I wonder if you might have a “lazy” fuel injector too. Just a wild idea.

Concerning the code reading, you either have a problem with the DLC connector or both scanners used were incompatible.

check the fuse for the OBD2 port. the fuse could be blown and causing it not to be able to read.

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No. The starter is cranking the engine.

There may be no fuel, or no spark. There are fairly simple ways to determine which, if you can do them when the crank-but-no-start occurs. For example, if a shot of starting fluid into the intake gives a brief startup, that’s a sign the engine has not been getting fuel. If it has no effect, that’s a sign there’s no spark.

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@shanonia 's post above is where I’d start w/this problem. Pretty easy to do. Most likely the problem is either no fuel or no spark, but until you know which it will be very difficult to resolve. Since you’ve taken your car to several shops it appears, you could ask them if they’ve already determined which it is, no spark or no fuel. Engines can crank and not start for other reasons, but checking for spark and fuel during cranking is where to begin.

@George_San_Jose1 Thanks. But if no fuel, wouldn’t installing a new fuel pump have resolved the issue? If no spark, do you have a suggestion of what would then need to be fixed?

I’m honestly tired of driving somewhere and then having to tow my car home because I’m stuck in a parking lot. Again.

Honestly, I have not changed the fuel filter myself. Don’t know if it was ever changed when I bought it used a few years ago.

@shanonia Thanks. Do you mind explaining how I could do this? Sorry I’m not very car savvy. Unless you mean letting the mechanic know this information.

Nope. If the pump is just dandy but the car doesn’t send power to the pump to run, then no fuel will go to the engine. So your problem is not the pump, it is elsewhere. Where? It depends. If there is no signal from computer to the fuel pump relay, no fuel. If the relay has failed, again, no fuel.

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Get a spray can of starting ether. While the engine is being turned over by the starter motor, spray some ether into the air intake for a couple seconds. That’s the open end of a tube that goes to the air cleaner and the throttle body on top of the engine. If the engine RPMs go up momentarily, as if it’s almost starting, that’s evidence that the engine is starved for fuel but the ignition system is OK. If there’s no change in the speed of the cranking, that’s a sign the ignition system is not working.

Use that stuff sparingly and with caution (eye protection.) Good luck and please let us know your results.

There are several common reasons “no fuel” could prevent starting, even though the fuel pump was good.

  • No electrical power to the pump (as posted above by MM)
  • Fuel injectors not being pulsed
  • Fuel pressure regulation problem
  • Clogged/faulty injectors
  • Empty gas tank

Common reasons for “no spark” on all cylinders

  • Faulty sensor, e.g. crank position sensor
  • Electrical connector not connected or not making good contact
  • Battery/charging system problem

“Cranks but won’t start” is often one of the easiest problems that mechanics diagnose in modern cars, provided the job is done systematically. The problem occurs when a tech tries to fix it by using the guess-replace method. That method worked pretty good in pre-electronic-fuel-injected cars, but not so much with todays cars. You can easily run out of money before you run out of guesses.

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