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

Please Help! 2000 Dodge Stratus died while driving wont start back up!

Yeah, that’s what happens when a timing belt breaks.

This doesn’t make any sense. It literally cannot start if it won’t turn over.

This is OP’s last statement on the matter. Of course, he then said the car started but didn’t turn over, so I think we have some confusion in the sequence of events.

I suspect, unfortunately, that he means the car’s engine died at 75mph, then he pulled it over and turned the key to “off,” which was superfluous because the engine was already off, forever.

1 Like

I’m not sure why everyone assumes it’s the timing belt. Could be…or could be other things.

OP, report back what happens when you get the battery charged. If it starts, get the alternator tested. If it doesn’t start, tell us what it does do (engine turns over, just clicks, or whatever).

To those suggesting timing belt, would you not hear some type of noise on an interference engine after the timing belt breaks at 75 mph? I ask because I don’t know. But I’d think you’d hear some clattering of unhappy engine parts…interfering with each other…?

I’d guess it is either out of gas or the alternator isn’t charging the battery. Usually the latter would show up as a warning light on the dashboard (when the engine is running). Not always though, and given the battery now measures only 11.5 volts (the sign of a severely discharged battery), I’m guessing the problem is a charging system problem, or a faulty battery. Either could cause the engine to stop running while driving.

No, it’s not like in the movies

The engine will just literally die, as Shadowfax suggested

Ok. I would’ve thought there’d be some valve clatter type noises. I’ve never had a broken timing belt or chain (knock on timing cover).

Here’s my thinking . . .

At 75mph, the hood, doors and windows closed, you’re not going to hear any brief noise under the hood

Before you know it, it’s all over, and you may not have any idea why your engine is no longer running

Many people that bring their non-running car with a broken timing belt into the shop simply say something along the line of “My car simply stopped running, without any kind of noise or warning”

3 Likes

Could be the timing belt, pull the oil filler cap and see if any part of a camshaft is visible and have someone turn the engine over, either by hand or with the starter. If the camshaft doesn’t move, the belt is broken. The other ways to tell are remove the upper timing cover, or remove the valve cover, or do a compression test.

What I would try first is listen when you turn the key on and see if you hear the fuel pump in the back start up to pressurize the system. You mentioned the car starts on the third try, that is a symptom of either a fuel system that won’t hold pressure or a weak fuel pump.

If the belt has failed and you have valve damage the cost of the repair will be more than the value of the car.

You might consider a faulty or intermittent ASD (automatic shutdown ) relay. Problems with those relays are not that rare and can certainly cause an engine to die instantly and leave no codes.

A lot of electrical current flows through them and can burn the contact points inside the relay. The problems with Honda’s main relay are due to the same thing; high current draw over time.

If the vehicle was still running and you shut it off then it is most likely not the timing belt.

The story sounds like the battery was drained and not enough amperage to restart the engine.
11.5 is not enough to start the engine and this is why it will only click, when the key is turned.

I presume the alternator stopped charging the battery and driving it a short distance drained the battery enough to cause the engine to start to act strange before you shut the engine off.

With a charged battery, you should be able to start the car, but if the battery will not charge above 12.5 volts then the battery is most likely to be bad.

If it does start, the voltage at the battery should be above 13.5 volts. If lower, then the alternator is not keeping up with charging the battery.

Yosemite

Get a new battery…the readings are way too low.A good battery should read 12.5 volts and when engine starts it should read 13.5-14 V.

My experience with a timing chain is that it just shut off at a stop light and didn’t stumble or anything. If you ever get it to turn over again you can try to look through the oil filler to see if you can see the lifters moving. If not, timing chain, if so still could be timing chain.

Also a fuel pump shutting down will just stall the car and not necessarily sputter, so can’t rule that out. If you ever get a working battery again, check to see if you hear the pump run for a few seconds when you turn the key to on.

A bum alternator that would gradually drain the battery to the point where there was not enough voltage to run the ignition system and computer, will also just shut down. Actually this would be my first guess. Charge battery, have alternator checked. Otherwise on to the above and a shop.

He also made this statement…

Yesterday i was driving down the interstate and it just shut off on me, i pulled to the side it did seem to idle a little low and i shut it off.

Sorry, but it CAN NOT be a timing belt if that happened.

I agree that if it was really idling low, you’re right. But the OP has been so confusing as to the sequence of events, even to the point of saying that the car would start but not turn over, that I don’t think we know what happened yet.

I suspect OP is confused over the difference between dash lights coming on when the key is in the “on” position, and the engine actually running. We really need OP to clarify what actually happened before we can help him.

4 Likes

update, i got a new battery the car is trying to start but makes a loud pop noise like a back fire right under the hood, could the fuel pump be sending fuel and when i try to start it makes the back fire?

and sorry about the confusion about start but wouldn’t turn over it sounds confusing to me as well i just heard some people say it before on forums meaning its trying to start but won’t turn completely over and run

like saying in the previous post i have a multi meter and can do some checking if i can get pointed in the right direction :slight_smile:

I heard if it is a DOHC 2.4 Engine than i dodge a bullet with valve damange - oldtimer_11 considering it is even the timing belt

I’ve had a similar thing happen when I’m testing something w/the engine requiring it be cranked w/ the ignition system disabled. Doing that a few times dumps raw fuel into the engine. then when I hook up the ignition system for a test start, that raw fuel can ignite & cause that backfire symptom. So did that pop occur after you’d been cranking it multiple times without success? If so, could be just the ignition of pooled fuel from the crankings.

yes i get a pop on about the 3rd try starting, you can smell it too, i pop the hood to try to pinpoint the location and it seems to come from the air box or close to it.

Fire/heat in the cylinder from a prior firing could be igniting gasoline puddling in the intake manifold next time the intake valve opens. Valve and ignition timing problems could cause that too.