I imagine there are many instances of the correct answer to my question here, but I have little for diagnosis besides the engine sound.

I have a 1.4l petrol Toyota Corolla 2001 model. The car was serviced two or three months ago and it was mentioned to me that I should have the spark plugs changed (perhaps they were trying to squeeze me, but they might have been right). I haven't changed them yet though.

I hadn't used my car in about a week and now the temperature is low (just above freezing). The engine will turn and I hear some gentle "popping". I assume some cylinder ignitions are taking place. The sound is irregular though and it doesn't seem to quite be able to start.

The oil is low, but within the limits (it is possible the service centre didn't put the recommended oil in). I have half a tank of petrol.

One more thing, in case it may matter. I recently replaced the lower radiator hose, which involved draining and replacing the engine coolant. The reported engine temperature was fine afterwards.

Here are a couple of links to engine starting sounds. I'm guessing that a seasoned ear can diagnose the fault from this (fingers crossed)

engine sound 1 (will expire around 31st January 2021)

engine sound 2 (will expire around 31st January 2021)

Thanks very much for any help people can offer!

  • I know my engine sound links will not work any more. If someone can suggest a place to post them for free, where they will be available in perpetuity, that would be great!
    – aghsmith
    Feb 16, 2021 at 21:01

2 Answers 2


With the help of a friend, I eventually got my car started. The spark plugs were very worn, but this was not the underlying cause of my problem. The engine had become flooded with fuel.

The problem was resolved with a jump start from another vehicle (my jump start battery was not enough), and an extended key ignition. The starter motor turned the engine around for long enough to clear away the excess fuel and a load of white smoke came from the exhaust pipe which had a petrol smell to it.


FYI, there is typically a "clear flood mode" where if you crank the engine with the gas pedal ALL the way to the floor, fuel delivery is disabled.

It is also very useful for listening to the engine turn over so you can hear badly sealed cylinders.

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