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437 K Legacy Wagon Won't Crank

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Hello All,

I have a 91 Wagon that was a daily driver until 2 days ago. 140 miles per day. 437k miles so it's almost broke in!


I drove it to work and went to move it at lunch and it would turn over but not start. It does not sound like it's firing in any cylinder.


I verified fuel was getting pumped and spark was getting to the plugs. Cylinder have compression but I didn't measure it.


Fuel and starting fluid into the intake does nothing.


I'm a welder and car work is by no means my strong point. Is there something I am missing?


It has been flashing codes for MAF sensor , coolant temp sensor,knock sensor, and Airflow sensor.


Would one of these cause an issue when trying starting fluid right into the intake manifold?




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It did finally start and they pressure never got above 30 and it's pretty rough.


The 1st time the head gaskets were EVER replaced was 2 years ago. It must mean ole Fuji heavy industry assemblers and gaskets were pretty good.


I appreciate the feedback and may be back as I work through getting her back on the road. Will not stay in 4th gear either so some major work is ahead if I decide to do it....i hate to give up with those power seat belts still working. Seems just wrong!

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  • 3 weeks later...

30psi is incredibly low, hot or cold.


An engine really only needs 3 things to operate- fuel, spark, and compression. Even an extremely poorly timed engine would still at least sputter or backfire a couple times even if it didn't actually start or run. If it was something sensor or computer related, etc, it would probably just be preventing your plugs from firing or causing your fuel pump not to turn on. You said that you have verified that the plugs are firing and tried starting fluid, so I'd say it's pretty safe to say it's a compression issue. Does it sound normal when cranking? Low compression usually doesn't sound right.


When you did the head gaskets a couple years ago did you have the heads machined and use new head bolts, or did you just slap new gaskets in there and call it a day? Head bolts are torque-to-yield so they are for single use and need to be replaced every time or else the gasket can fail prematurely. Also any time the heads are taken off even if the proper loosening/tightening pattern/sequence is used there is a chance that the heads will warp which would also cause a bad seal and premature gasket failure. They should at least be indicated to check for flatness, and machined if they do show any signs of warping.


Stuck/ bent/ burned valves would also cause low compression. If you do take it apart to check the head gaskets, definitely take a look at the valves. And check the piston rings too. That's a lot of miles even for a jap car, there's a good chance you could have some other issues besides just bad gaskets. Were you burning a lot of oil?




Hah, and I love how the power seat belts have become a cool 'classic car' type thing. I had a 1st gen back in the early 00s when I was in high school, knew a few people with ingegras and other stuff that had them back then and we all friggin hated them lol. They were so damn annoying, probably why they don't use them anymore (that and the fact that they're not a very good restraint). I used to just leave mine unhooked from the little emergency release button. I felt bad for the kids who's cars couldn't do that. I'm not hating on them or anything, just gave me a little laugh is all.

Edited by RecklessWOT
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