CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Mitsubishi cranks but won't start!

Within the past few month the battery, the alternator, the 02 sensor, and the catalytic converter have all been replaced. Driving down the street at night and the engine just stopped. The electrical system was still working. Coasted to a clearing where there was enough space to pull the car over. Once stopped it wouldn’t start again. The starter sounded like it was trying to crank but different somehow. All lights are working. Battery is good. But, it just will not start! Got any ideas on what the problem is this time? Please.

Could be a broken timing belt - it sounds different when it’s turning over because the valves are not opening and closing, so there’s little or no compression. One way to check is to take off the oil filler cap. If you see some mechanism in there, and it’s not moving while the starter motor is turning over the engine, that pretty well confirms a timing belt problem.

3 Likes

The first place to start is the battery cables.
When you replaced the battery, did you clean the corrosion from the clamps.

A poor connection many times will light the dash and the headlights, but will not allow the heavy draw of electricity that it takes to turn the starter motor.

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10 http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/kd-tools-terminal-battery-brush-kdt201/25980576-P?searchTerm=terminal+brush.
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the negayive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!

Yosemite

You say it died and the starter motor sounds different now. Do you mean that it sounds like the engine is turning over faster than normal?

If so, that could point to a broken timing belt. Easy to check; bad news if it is broken because your car has an interference fit engine. This means cylinder head damage will occur if a timing belt breaks or jumps.
Pray that it’s not the timing belt.

1 Like

Most likely it is either no spark, no fuel, or broken timing belt. I’d start by checking all the fuses first. Then making sure the camshafts are turning, usually that’s pretty easy just by peeking into the oil filler hole and verifying movement during cranking. Wear eye protection. If that’s ok, check for spark at a spark plug. No spark, suspect crank position sensor. Spark ok? Suspect something wrong with the fuel system, faulty fuel pump or fuel pump relay or fuse.

Thanks to everyone for your helpful advise. Turns out it was the timing belt!!!

Thanks for keeping us informed OP. Was the engine damaged internally due to the timing belt breaking? No damage? Repairable? Replacement Engine? New car?

My 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer would not start because I kept starting and immediately stopping the engine a total of four times. On the fifth time the car would crank but the engine did not turn over. It kept doing this even after waiting a couple of hours. I finally decided to recharge the battery, unplug the ECU (two big harnesses with clips behind the battery), and clean both the battery terminals and clamps. After a solid 14 hours of recharging overnight, it worked fine in the morning and the engine started almost immediately after cranking. The lesson here is do not stop and start the engine as it can completely drain the battery.

And what does that have to do with the broken timing belt this thread was about?

5 Likes