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Dodgerench
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3385
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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I have a 1998 Dodge Neon. We are having to crank it 2 or 3

Customer Question

I have a 1998 Dodge Neon. We are having to crank it 2 or 3 times to get it to start when the engine is cold. After it starts and runs it will restart but after it sits for a while it goes through the same thing. We did change the fuel pump and the problem
still exists
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Hi, welcome to JustAnwer! This is Ed.

I'd expect fuel pressure loss to account for a small amount of cold start delay, but not two to three attempts before it fires. Your concern about loss of fuel system pressure was valid and does account for some instances of this sort of problem, but I really can't apply it to your present condition.

I'm going to begin with a few suppositions that may not be true...

That the only time you have a problem starting the car is after its been sitting for a prolonged period.

It might be an hour or overnight, so please fill in the blanks on that one.

That it runs completely fine once running! Once again, I'm filling in my own blanks on this one. If it doesn't run absolutely as you'd expect, let me know. A slow build-to-running (chug-chug) or sputtering before starting differs from a standard V-ARROOOOOM sort of start, where it suddenly takes off with no ill effects. Please tell me how it actually starts once it does fire.

There was no mention of a CHECK ENGINE lamp illumination while driving. If one so happens, by all means get a vehicle scan and report the results back to me. Many aftermarket automotive part stores will do this scan for free, such as Autozone or CarQuest. The 1998 model year didn't offer a customer-read option, which does sadden me.

So, let me know a few things..

How long it has to set before the problem shows itself.

If shorter periods of time result in lesser degrees of restart difficulty. Is it all bad or all OK?

If it starts fine once the cranking period is met. No misfire or slow build to running?

Is there a CHECK ENGINE lamp illumination at any time when running? You'll need to get the car scanned if so.

I'm usually available for a phone conversation if vehicle history or a casual conversation might help. It usually does.

Talk in a bit,

Ed

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Thanks for getting back to me,
It usually has the hard starting after it has been sitting for about 3-5 hours or more.
Shorter periods than that and it starts right up.
Once it starts even after the hard cranking it runs fine immediately, no stutters, hesitation, or misfire.
No check engine lights are on.Andrea
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Thanks, Andrea!

A scan won't likely show anything unless the CE light bulb is burned out... which does happen. It's a typical tungsten incandescent bulb, so they do burn out, so if you'd be so kind, check to see if it lights up at key-on. There should be a 2-3 second bulb test at each key-on cycle.

Many thanks for your reply! Good info and it will help.

Ed

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just cycled the key on and no check engine light came on, so maybe it is the bulb. I put an OBDII on it in the morning.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Oooooooo. If the CE light doesn't come on, it may also indicate PCM (engine controller) failure. Watch for operation of the CE light compared to when the engine wilactually run and let me know what you find. It might take a little time for the PCM board to heat up and begin working, which may be told by actual operation of the CE light. If you can confirm that the CE light doesn't work when the engine won't start, yet DOES when it will run, we may need to pursue a PCM problem.

Let's see.

Ed

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We think the bulb is burned out. We put our obd reader on it and got "inc" as the reading
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

inc? I'm not familiar with that response. Do you have an owner's manual with the reader that might have more info?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe it means inconclusive.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

That seems likely, especially if the engine isn't in running condition and the PCM isn't responsive.

Try this if the engine isn't starting right now.

Pop the hood and locate the PCM, which will be bolted to an area directly below the point that you add washer fluid.

With the key on, wiggle the two connectors while listening for a reaction from the relays in the fuse block just a few inches away. If it does click, chances are good that the engine will start.

If it doesn't click, try heating the PCM with a hair dryer for several minutes while you continue to monitor the engine for ability to start or communicate with your scanner. Since the problem seems to have a "timer" attached, that's probably tied to temperature, so let's bring the PCM up to something more like it'll be as you turn the engine off (and it'll normally restart). If effective, you can give the test a few tries to be sure the result wasn't a fluke, then replace the PCM if effective.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks we will give it a try after church :)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just a thought could worn FI O rings cause these symptoms? If we turn the key without starting it, until fuel pump stops it will start right right up.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

A leaky injector can certainly cause increased engine crank time, but it will usually be worst within the first hour after shutting the hot engine down. Engine heat will evaporate the fuel dripping from a bad injector, creating a vapor cloud that will push fresh air out of the air intake system, all the way into the air cleaner. All that fuel vapor needs to be cranked through the engine before you'll arrive at a combustible air-fuel mixture, because the fuel system is adding fuel to all this over-rich air in the engine.

The thing is, as time passes, it actually becomes easier once again for an engine that's flooded in this way to start. I'd expect it to fire right up at about the 4-5 hour mark, which is when it seems to be worst with your Neon.

Still, it doesn't hurt to test for flooding. You can do that by holding the accelerator flat to the floor when the engine doesn't want to start, which will tell the PCM to kill the injector pulse. This is called the clear flood feature, designed for just the purpose it sounds like -- it recognizes wide-open throttle during engine start and figures there must be a flooded engine involved. If this significantly improves your restart time, it seems pretty likely that a leaky injector (or 4) is to blame. They're easy to remove for checking, so let me know if we need to go that way.