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I had the spark plug wires in the wrong place on the distributor cap and tried to start the car - I put them in the right place and now it won't start. what do I do?

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bad spark plugs should have either white or black discoloration on the spark tips, or be saturated with oily gunk on the spark tips. bad spark plug wires usually can only be ruled out by replacing them with new wires. your distributor(cap) may be to blame, so examine the distributor rotor for wear.

HOWEVER, first test the battery for charge with a voltometer/alternator. it should test 12 volts.

if the battery is charged, you should next test the ignition coil. unplug the ignition coil wire from the distributor end of the wire, and turn the key to the "start" position, while holding the distributor end of the ignitioin coil wire a fraction of an inch from a grounded/unpainted part of the car's metal frame/body. if the ignition coil is good, you will get an obvious spark/arc when the key is turned to the "start" position.

if the ignition coil tests good, you shoud then examine the distributor cap/rotor for wear, and replace the distributor cap if it is questionable. next, you move to the spark plugs/spark plug wires. replace the spark plugs if they are questionablke (as you have likely done) and then replace the spark plug wires. if all of this os done, and it still not start, then you PROBABLY have bad compression, or a broken timing belt/chain. there is a special meter to check piston compression, and, if the compression checks good, i FINALLYwould move on the the most expensive possibility of the timing belt/chain being broken.

i would recommend purchasing a "hayne's" or "chilton's" repair manual for your specific model vehicle at an auto parts store for around $20. all the diagnistic techniques/procedures i have mentioned are illustrated or described in these type of manuals. i am not aware of a method to check the timing chain in detail, buit a rough description of such a procedure would be to remove the cylinder cover, put the car in gear, and attempt to push/tow the car a very short distance while in gear/drive- afterwards checking the rocker arms to see if they moved while the vehicle was moved in gear. this procedure should also be described in detail in a "chilton's" or "hayne's" manual.

Posted on Mar 26, 2011


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