Question about 1996 BMW 318

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1990 318i engine no compression yet timing chain ok cam and lifters working pistons going up and down has spark 0 compression wont start

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Jonah Oneal

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Posted on Mar 07, 2010



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I suggest you bring the pistons to TDC, one at time on the comprssion stroke and do a "cylinder leakage test". Put compressed air into the spark plug hose and try to detect where the air is going. If you have the piston exactly at TDC, it will stay there when you put conpressed air in the hole, if it's off a little it will push the piston down. If you have the valve cover off you can watch the valves to determine if you have the pistons on the compression stroke. You should be able to buy a fitting from an auto parts store that will thread into the spark plug hole. If not take an old spark plug and bust the guts out of it and weld a pipe fitting to it to adapt your air compressor hose.

Posted on Mar 07, 2010


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Lots of guesswork here.
Firstly, have you checked for compression on all cylinders.
If compression is low or non exisistant then you have a major problem probably caused by the timing chain slipping and causing damage to the valves /pistons etc
I would do this first.

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Does the 2007 Prius 1.5 L have an interference engine?

this yours? the real name? Great question, I dont know.
the NON X engine IS !

gasoline (1.5L, VIN B, 5th digit, 1NZFXE engine)

That X means:
making it a simulated Atkinson cycle, engine. not OTTO.

with a very unique cam timing and high compression. 13:1

the engine is cam chain driven.
so if you dont let the chain scream ,what's the worry.?

on many High CR engines, the piston chases the exhaust valves
closed very very close, so close the engine is interference.
i find nothing on the web to say if X , is or not.
also what about VVT.?
what if it failed, in the wrong spot, owner ignore DTCs
and the chain screaming. then what? (nobody knows, it seems)

id love to do the check by hand, but not many motors sitting about to do that.
the non X engines FSM warns that there are interference issues.
so does the X get that same warning, ?
if worred buy the FSM.... and tell the world. as its not on the web.
check out the wild cam, timing and even wilder, VVT timing ranges...

Chain off, spark plugs out.
if the chain snaps
there is no VVT with no chain.
so the hand check method works
valves at max open. (watch the lifters)
spin crank, no chain 360 degrees.
does it hit? felt by hand?, the non X does.
repeat for each side, intake exhaust.

i spin crank not cam to feel it, as cranks is smoother.
some engines btw are SO close they only hit hot and at high RPM.
a good spec, for this is 0.040" valve to piston clearance at all times.
at normal temps and presssures and RPM.

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only 3 things will cause this engine not to start (crank and not start) fuel, ignition, timing.
You haven't mentioned the engine cranks over or not, so I have to assume it cranks over.
Possible timing chain or the crank sensor on the timing chain. Have you checked this? you need to remove number 1 spark plug & when the piston is in the full top position on compression, remove the dist cap & see what spark plug wire the rotor is pointing to inside the dist cap. (I'm sure if you google checking for top dead center you'll find the proper procedure)

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Installed new timing chain but car wont start

What the last person said with the additional comment that being even one tooth off can cause it to run bad or not start. I prefer making marks on the gears and chain or belt- whichever you have and transferring the marks by teeth counting to the new belt or chain- fool proof. Did you rotate either the camshaft or crankshaft with the timing chain removed? If your engine is not a zero interference engine than you may have damaged the internal parts. Even on some zero interference engines, you can damage the camshaft by rotating it backwards. Your timing is just plain off or you may have damaged the engine. Sorry, don't know if your is a zero interference or not- I think most are not. I know my Miata is and my Eclipse was not. If it is not a zero interference engine and your marks are way off on your timing- just go ahead and save up at least the money for a new head and send it to mechanic. If it is a zero, and your marks look on- see if the interpretation of the mark could possibly be 1 tooth over on either the cam or crank. Make you go blind staring at it that intently and u can make mistakes.

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Car wont start

At first, I thought 'coil pack'. But you said it tried to start. So that's out. You might check that you're getting spark just to be thorough.

Did it ever start again after the stall on the interstate?

If not, I'm leaning towards the timing chain.

What happens if your timing chain broke:
  • The timing chain no longer turns the cam(s)
  • The cam(s) no longer open/close the valves
  • The valves become stationary, remaining open or closed depending on the position of the cam(s)
  • If even one valve is open in a cylinder, no compression.
  • No compression, no start.
How do you confirm this without tearing apart your engine?

Do a compression test on all cylinders. If only one or two have compression (or one or more have zero compression), I'm tipping over towards the timing chain.

Have a compression test done.

Hope this helps


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