My Car Will Not Start! Fuel will not ignite

I blew the timing belt on my 1997 Mazda Miata with 215,000 miles. It’s a non-interference engine so no damage was done. My mechanic put a new timing belt and water pump on. There is excellent compression in all four cylinders, fuel is getting to all four cylinders, and the spark plugs are sparking well. However, it will not start. It doesn’t even pop. The fuel is NOT igniting. He has re-done and re-done everything to no avail.

Any suggestions?

180 degrees off??

Yeah, your mechanic got the timing wrong. It’s possible for all the timing marks to line up and still be 180 degrees off. Have your mechanic read the shop manual…

He thought that and tried it. Still nothing.

He thought that and tried it. Still nothing.

That Miata has a unusual spark system.  Each plug fires TWICE per cycle rather than once.  It burns wires and plugs.  It can be a little odd trouble shooting because of that difference.  For this one, I would suggest a Miata mechanic.  Ideally you might find a local independent Miata or at least Mazda shop.  If not I would suggest a dealer or at least someone how knows about that odd ignition to start with.

I wouldn’t say that is unusual. Many cars have used this setup.

You have spark. Are you positive you have fuel getting to the cylinders? When cranking are you getting a lot of raw gas smell out of the tailpipe? Are the plugs “wet” when you pull them after an attempted start?

If you have fuel, spark, and compression then the timing of something is off. Timing of the spark, valve opening and closing, and timing of the fuel delivery by the injectors all have to be correct. No popping at all sounds like no fuel to me.

If you have fuel and spark, the fuel will only burn when compressed with the proper mixture of air. That means the timing of the compression is off. When the fuel is in the cylinders it must not be in the compression

Agree with the others that it is time for a new mechanic to take this over.

Is there any way that the spark plug firing order could have changed, like the wires going to the wrong positions? Perhaps using a timing light might show up something.

I also vote to change the mechanic. The engine is 180 degrees off. The engine must be timed with the compression stroke or the fuel will never ignite.

I know being 180 degrees off seems like the obvious answer and it was to my mechanic, so he tried that and it didn’t work. Is it possible that someone did something “goofy” the last time the belt was replaced which was before I owned it?

At times people use the phrase “my mechanic” when they really mean “my neighbor” is this the case here? are we realing dealing with a mechanic or just someone that read about a mechanic once?

No, we are dealing with a REAL mechanic.

I replaced a head on an eclipse (was for a friend) and I had the same problem. Timing was off on distibutor and timing marks were off on belt. Now I always mark both gears and corresponding places on moter with a sharpies prior to taking off the belt.

This is an idea from the hip and not thought through. But I, in this situation, would mark the cam gear and mark the head so that it would stay in this position (same starting position). then I would mark the cam gear and block for a start point. I would put the belt on and try to fire the motor thinking I had everything lined up at top dead center. Once again make sure everything is marked and easy to read at this point. The I would move the crank pully one notch at a time and mark it on the block (lined up with the mark originaly made on the crank pully)taking the belt off each time of course. I would go through this firing every notch until I went through all 360 degrees. (cam does not get adjusted from original position when taking belt on and off) This should not do damage if you have a non interference motor. Just an idea sorry is things are spelling errors.

If the spark plugs are sparking, the compression is good and all cylinders are getting fuel, the only thing left is timing. Either the valve or ignition timing is off or one of the things tou asserted isn’t true.

It would have to be a pretty good neighbor to put all that time in.

See if the tank has gasoline in it.

Also a pretty poor mechanic to need all this time.