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Dodgerench
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3110
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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2003 dodge stratus: 4cyl cranks but no start..spark..reliable

Resolved Question:

2003 dodge stratus 4cyl cranks but no start. seems there is no spark, has fuel. very reliable in past, first incident.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
HiCustomer welcome to Just Answer!.

You're right... the 2.4 engine in your model is a "model" of dependability, but stuff happens to everything eventually. Let's see if the engine controller has left us any usable codes that would help with the diagnosis.

You can pull codes from your Stratus (if it's a 4-door Stratus) by using the customer code-read feature. Roll the key from off to on three times, leaving the key ON. Watch the odometer for code display and let me know what you find. Write 'em down, as the exact numbering of the code is critical.

Talk in a few,
Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
read out shows p0455, p0344, then done
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Thanks!
You've got two things going on, but only one that will kill the engine. P0344 is an intermittent camshaft signal, but is usually accompanied by a P0340 (cam sensor circuit) code.

At this point, I'd be inclined to think you have a bad cam sensor or the timing belt has slipped or shredded. Slipping would be more likely to set the P0344, but stranger things have happened.

Have you been able to restart the engine at all?
Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
NO, IT JUST CRANKS BUT NO START, DOESN'T APPEAR TO FIRE EVEN INTERMITTENTLY. TRIED TO REGISTER A SPARK AT THE COIL/IGNITION BLOCK ON TOP REAR OF ENGINE BUT HAD NO VISIBLE ARC WIRE TO CONTACT.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Does the engine sound any different when you crank it from days past? Does it have the same cadence... same sound as before? A slipped or broken timing belt will result in a smoother, more turbine-like sound from the engine since engine compression is affected.

What do you think?
Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
NOT A SMOOTH OR FASTER CRANK SPEED, KIND OF CHUGITY CHUGITY LIKE ALWAYS. USUALLY STARTS WITHOUT MUCH CRANKING, NO PREVIOUS SOUNDS OR WARNING TYPE NOISES.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Thanks!
Try this. Pop the hood and locate the cam sensor, located on the back side of the cylinder head (actually facing the left fender). It's on the forward cam.

Disconnect the sensor, something that requires clicking the red slide-lock to its opposite position. Look at it carefully and note that one end of the slide-lock is thicker... the other end is the one that you should push on. It doesn't have to come out, just be clicked to an even position with the main connector, at which point the thumb tab will release the connector.

Now disconnected, crank the engine continuously for about 10-15 seconds, but at least for ten seconds. Use a stopwatch if you're not sure...

I'm not completely sure about this model, but some systems allow engine start with only cam or crank sensor signal. There's a good chance that once the cam sensor is disconnected, the PCM (engine controller) will switch to Plan B, which is operation without the cam sensor.

If it works and the engine runs pretty much as always (but with a lower RPM limit), chances are good that you simply need a cam sensor, something easy to replace.

Give it a shot and let me know what you find.

Talk in a bit,
Ed
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3110
Experience: 30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
Dodgerench and 4 other Dodge Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
NO JOY, JUST CRANKS.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Do you have a digital voltmeter handy? We could tell if the cam sensor is producing a signal by tapping into the cam sensor connector.

If nothing else, recheck your codes. With the cam sensor disconnected, you should show a P0340 code now. If it doesn't turn up, let me know.

Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
no, just analog.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Ooops. I tried to sneak an edit in before you saw the last post. Check it out again if you would....
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
same codes with cam sensor disconnected.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
sorry to make so much trouble, appreciate what you are doing.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Do a battery disconnect now, something that requires removal of the cable at either jump start location, a 15mm nut. The easiest one would be the negative post since you don't have to worry about arcing to anything and the damage it could do.

Once disconnected, give it about 60 seconds and reconnect. You'll see light sparking, but that's normal.

Get back on the starter and give the engine three good spins, about ten seconds apiece with the cam sensor disconnected. I'd expect to see SOME cam sensor code generated by that point, most likely the P0340.

Sorry about your radio stations...
Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

now get NO codes, simply reads 'done'. No worries on radio, still can set them, this no start is a puzzler.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
That's odd. Was the cam sensor disconnected the whole time?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
still is
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
OK, we can figure this out.

Even with a jumped timing belt, the camshaft will still turn. We need to determine whether the timing belt is blown, which might be easiest at the cam sensor.

Remove the cam sensor, something that's pretty accessible. There are two 8mm hex bolts to remove, then the sensor drops away.

Have someone crank the engine while watching the camshaft for rotation. If it rotates, chances are very good that you simply need a cam sensor.

Reinstall the cam sensor at that point (or before if you'd rather do this only once) and tap into the tan/ yellow wire at the cam sensor which is your signal circuit.

This circuit should show 5v-0v-5v-0v... ad nauseum. The actual voltage will be close to these numbers, but not exactly as shown. Expect a tenth of a volt variance... otherwise, it should be very close to the same thing I mentioned. A voltage that never varies or one that is in the 1v-4v range isn't acceptable.

I'm concerned with your analog voltmeter as it might not have the electrical impedence required for testing this circuit. Decent DVOMs are available these days for less than $20 from places such as Sears, Radio Shack, Home Depot, Lowe's and Harbor Freight. Any of these will be up to the task, with some Harbor Freight units coming in under $5.

But basically... If you see the cam turn and hear nothing unusual in the sound when cranking, chances are good that you simply have a bad cam sensor. I'd recommend doing more testing before the actual replacement, but if time is an issue, go with the cam sensor.

Always here!
Ed
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3110
Experience: 30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
Dodgerench and 4 other Dodge Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
will do. thanks
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX're not done here yet. I'll keep this thread open for any problems you have along the way.

Even if the cam sensor shows signal, you may have an out-of-time cam, so it's far from done at that point.

See what you come up with and keep me in the loop.

Much appreciated,
Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I appreciate that.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
No problem-o!
Check for a signal out of the cam sensor and in the absence of that, confirm whether the camshaft is turning. My feeling at this point is that you have a simple cam sensor failure, but chances of failure are present.

If you see no signal, yet you have rotation, it opens a whole new can! We'll figure it out.

Check it out and keep me posted.

Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
well, there is nothing turning under the sensor. looks serious
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
You're right. If nothing turns with engine cranking, it's a busted belt.

The good news is that this is a non-interference engine, meaning no engine damage. You'll need a belt and (probably) a water pump just for system integrity even if it checks OK right now. The water pump is used as an idler for the timing belt and its failure takes everything down.

Thanks for the extra effort! Finding the root cause will save you some diagnostic costs once the car goes in for repairs.

Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
is this a job for a shade tree guy like me?
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
I really don't think so. It's a pretty tough fix and if you need a new timing belt tensioner...it means you'll have to replace the timing covers as well. The tensioner was revised and isn't compatible with the old covers, which requires removal of the backing cover.... which requires removal of the cam gears.

I may be wrong about the timing covers... I just don't know the date when compatibilities ae OK. But the crank pulley has to be pulled off (using special tools) and if the cam gears need to come off... more of the same.

While the engine has no valve-to-piston problems, intake-to-exhaust interference can happen during repair, so it's another wrinkle in the repair process. I'd recommend taking it to a repair facility because things can get complicated fast.

Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
understood
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Great. If you have any questions down the road, don't hesitate to write back.

All the best!
Ed

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