Question about 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier

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Cavalier cranks but does not start

1996 Z24 2.4L DOHC

I just bought this car knowing it didn't start. I guess you could say its a project car. The guy said that when it died and never started again, that he was driving down the road around 45mph.....the car started to over heat and he pulls over..... the car dies and never started again.

After i purchased, put it on a trailer, and got it to the house i charged the battery. I tried to start it and it sounds like it is sputtering and bucking somewhat.... almost like it is out of time. I have scoured the internet looking for different problems/solutions and found it could be a timing chain issue, a water pump, a timing tensioner, coil pack (there are 2 of them), anti theft something or other, or a clogged converter. The guy also said that it did leak water near the water pump. Could the water pump going out prevent the car from starting?

I would like to see if anyone has some answeres.
Let me know if you need more information.

Thanks in advance

Posted by on

  • 5 more comments 
  • jasonhaas79 Feb 23, 2009

    I'm going to check for compression today. I was thinking the head could have got warped also. My only hope is that if it did jump timing that i don't have bent valves.
    So in summary, it sounds as if the water pump or thermo stat went out to cause over heating, causing it to warp the head and create a water leak.
    I forgot to put that the seller also said the car would have white smoke coming out the tail pipe for the few weeks it ran. Only when he started it and it ran for a few mins would it stop.


  • jasonhaas79 Feb 28, 2009

    I checked compression on cylinder 4. Got to about 100 to 125. Checked number 3 and it only went to 25 and then I noticed water reflecting out of the spark plug hole. Cranked it without anything in the hole and water shot out. So now my question is...... warped head? Blown head gasket? Cracked cylinder wall? Number four had the smell of gas but number 3 did not.

    Going to take the engine out Monday night and disassemble it all by Weds. The spark plugs and coil packs never really showed to much of a sign of extreme heat like i though it would since the car overheated. I guess we will see.


  • mike loshbough
    mike loshbough May 11, 2010

    like i said probably a warped head

  • Chris Kieninger
    Chris Kieninger May 11, 2010

    ooo the white smoke is definately not a good thing....

  • carhob May 11, 2010

    i would look at timing chain,compression check,their prone for head gasket problems

  • Chris Kieninger
    Chris Kieninger May 11, 2010

    i would also check for fuel pressure

  • mike loshbough
    mike loshbough May 11, 2010

    sounds like he got the engine to hot and warped the head thus no compression

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  • 36 Answers

Although a water pump is a iisue with this car and costs a fortune to replace it is not the reason why the car will not start.
I suspect you have a coil pack problem but you first need to establish whether you are missing gas or spark.
When you turn on the key do you hear the fuel pump start. If not you may want to push the pluf in the fuel line to see if you have fuel. If there is no fuel replace fuel pump.. ( In fuel tank.)
If you have fuel and no spark you replace col pack or crank sensor. A OBD 2 reader will tell you whats the problem if you have no spark but it usually doesn't alert you if there is no fuel.

Posted on Jun 10, 2009

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