Car repair mystery

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Okay, it's not a big problem - just a matter of curiosity. Here's what happened; My buddy called me up - he doesn't even have a descent set of wrenches and wanted to come over and change the serpentine belt on his mini van (an old, p.o.s. Dodge Caravan) Fine. I had him put a wrench on the tensioner (so that he'd bust his knuckles, not me) and pull toward the front of the vehicle to take tension off of the belt while I slipped the belt off of one of the pulleys. I removed the old belt, routed the new one over all of the pulleys but one, had him take the tension off again and slipped the new belt onto the last pulley. Job done. We try to start the car and it doesn't start. It cranks over just fine, but won't start. We scratch our heads, wiggle wires, and curse a lot - turning the key after every scratch, wiggle, and curse to see if it will start. Finally my buddy (vehicle owner) turns the key 5 times to have the dash board lights flash a code at him. He then goes in the house to call a parts store and see if they have a code book and will look up the codes for him. While he's calling, I'm grasping at straws and I wonder if it's possible that when taking the tension off of the belt tensioner we had tightened the bolt through the middle of the tensioner's pulley causing it to be too stiff causing the belt to not turn freely enough to start. He says not possible. (He also says that was not really a bolt, but just a bolt head on a welded stud - I don't know if that's right… how do they get the pulley on the tensioner if that were true?) Anyway - I try to back that bolt off just in case - the wrench moves 2 or 3 mm. I try the key again - no start. I decide to turn the headlights on to see if they stay bright, go dim, or shut off when I try starting. While I'm trying to remember what the headlight test is supposed to tell me, the car starts. I let it run for a minute, shut the headlights off, shut the car off and started it again (no headlights). Everything seems fine and the car starts normally. It's driving us nuts that we don't know a) why it wouldn't start or b) why it did start. What in the world happened?
  2. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    What codes did he get? Let me guess......code 12, which is loss of battery power in the last 25 key starts, and code 55, which is end of messages. If any other codes popped up, let me know and I'll see if I can translate them for you.

    Is it a 3.3 V6? Crank sensor failures are common, and he may have one in the works.

    Replacing the serp belt/playing with the tensioner had nothing to do with it, imo.
  3. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Mike - there was 2 codes before the 55 end code. I think they were 12 and 27, but I'm not sure about the 27 (I think he might have counted the flashes wrong) It was a 4 cyl eng. - and I agree the belt change and playing with the tensioner had nothing to do with the not starting / starting.

    Is there any chance that turning on the headlights had anything to do with starting? ..or was it just complete coincidence? Gremlins?

    volumefiend - my friend wants to call these car guys that do a national radio show about cars. (I forget their names) Somebody has got to know what happened.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Click and Clack?
  5. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Your signature says it all. Nobody can possibly tell you why it wouldn't start. The prob that kept it from starting no longer exists.

    I can name things all day that can become intermittent and can keep the engine from starting.

    Loose coil wire.
    Bad connection on ignition switch.
    Neutral safety switch.
    Computer module.
    crank position sensor.
    oxygen sensor.
    clogged fuel line/filter.
    bad ignition switch.
    intermittent fuel pump.

    The list can go on forever.

    There is a chance that the fault stored itself on the computer. Bring up the code once more and see if it indicates a failure.
  6. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    Matt, turning the lights on and off is pure coincidence. I'm still going with the crank sensor (or pickup coil, depending what year and 4 cylinder) being the problem.