If I drive it for a while, it will not start back up until it cools down. The engine is not running hot, it turns over when trying to start, it just will not start until it cools down. I have been told it was the starter, the alternator or the fuel pump. I can't afford to fix all these, especially if they're not the problem. Does anybody have any ideas about what could be going on?
Well, there's a few things here. First, what it's not:
- starter: if the engine is turning over, the starter is working fine.
- alternator: the alternator charges the battery and has absolutely nothing to do with starting the engine. If your battery is fully charged and the alternator belt isn't seized, the alternator has nothing to do with a no-start.
Now, what it could be and how you can tell. An engine needs 3 things to start:
- fuel: delivered by the fuel pump. First things first, with the car off, turn the key to "on" without starting. If you hear a hum coming from the back of the car, the fuel pump is working. Second thing, fuel pressure. Get a fuel pressure tester, hook it up to your fuel line near the engine and measure the fuel pressure while the fuel pump is humming. Third, fuel injectors. Check your fuel injectors for electrical continuity, that will tell you if they are working or not.
- compression: Get a compression tester ($15-$20) and do a compression test.
- spark: If your engine has ignition wires, get a timing light and test every single one while someone is trying to start the car. You should see very regular flashing.
All that being said, a warm engine not starting, it could be your fuel injectors are leaking and flooding the engine. That "broken" wire theory is also plausible. Ignition wires are usually affordable, and you can probably do this yourself. Twist and pull to remove, twist and push to plug in. Only ever disconnect 1 ignition wire at a time, so your replacement is connected to the correct spot at both ends.