My wife has a 2000 MAlibu with 70k miles on it. It runs fine most of the time except for in JAnuary of last year it would not start. It turned over but would not start. So we towed it to a repair shop and of course it started fine for them. Everything was fine until this past friday when it did the same thing even to the point of starting fine at the repair shop. The shop put the computer on it and no codes were saved. THey don’t know what is going on and neither do I. Help!
You can lessen your chances of this being caused by maintenance items if you ensure that the scheduled maintenance has been done: clean air filter, clean fuel filter, spark plugs fairly recent, not original spark plug wires, good electrical contact of the battery cable terminals, and a battery which can produce its rated power (have it tested, outside in the cold, if possible). When the engine didn’t start, how did it crank? At normal rate? Or, was it weak? Had the lights been left on? Was the engine cold, or hot?
Since it seems to crank ok you need to find out if the spark plugs are firing and if the engine is getting fuel. If you purchase one of those no contact voltage testers used for house wiring it will show a light when you get it within about a foot of the plug wires while the engine is cranking and there is spark getting to the plugs.
To test for a fuel problem you can spray some starter fluid into the intake.
THe last time this happened a fiend of mine who has worked on cars in the past looked at the plugs, plug wires. I will look at the air and fuel filters. THe car cranked normally, the engine was cold and the lights were not left on. Would water in the gasoline cause a problem like this? Both times I put dry gas in and a couple days later it started.
I’ll expand a little on Cougar’s ideas. Major need items for an engine is SPARK and FUEL. When it doesn’t start is an ideal time to check for the presents, or absence, of either. Have a practice run-through with your wife with the contact voltage tester. Hold it close to the spark plug wires while someone cranks the engine. Next, stick the plastic straw, that comes with the Lighter Fluid spray (get at an auto parts store), into the black plastic intake tube (along side a vacuum hose will be fine). Attach the spray can to the straw and give it a two seconds spray. Attempt to start. If it starts, the problem has been narrowed to a fuel problem. If the fuel makes no difference, it’s probably, a spark problem. Either way, the things to troubleshoot would be much reduced, and hopefully, curable.