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Answered 2011-09-13 17:07:20

Timing chain or gear broke. This times the valves with the pistons.

Other Possible ProblemsIf the car has spark, then it is not the timing gear or chain, as this drives the cam, which in turn drives the distributor shaft. If it doesn't have spark, the quickest way to check if it is the timing gear/chain is to pull the distributor cap and see if the rotor is turning when you crank the engine.

For a car to run it has to have compression, spark, air and fuel, in the right amounts and at the right time. If a car isn't even trying to start, one of these is usually missing. Given that you have spark, and fuel pressure at the rail, this would seem to narrow down the options:

1. The spark could be happening at the wrong time, for example if the distributor was not clamped tight enough and it rotated in its bore, or if the timing chain skipped, etc. Use a timing light to verify that spark is occurring at the correct time.

2. Even though there is fuel pressure at the rail, that does not necessarily mean it is getting to the intake. An electrical problem could be causing the fuel injectors not to fire. Unfortunately with TPI it's not easy to pull an injector to see if it is pumping. Given that you have spark, I would try taking off the intake cowl and squirting a small amount of gasoline or starter fluid into the plenum, then turning it over. If it has compression and spark at the right time, this should make it fire up, if only for a few revolutions before it dies again. If this works, you know it's an issue of fuel not reaching the cylinders.

3. If those two possibilities are eliminated, I would begin to suspect that you don't have compression for one reason or another. I broken timing chain would do that, as the valves would not actuate and those that are open would get bent when the pistons came to top. If you have spark though, it's not that, in which case it would likely have to be a blown head gasket(s). One sign that may signify a loss of compression is that, assuming a well charged battery, the motor may turn over faster than normal because the starter does not have to fight against compression. You can check for compression using a compression gauge, which is a pressure gauge that you can insert into a spark plug hole, allowing you to observe the cylinder pressure while cranking the motor with the ignition disconnected.

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