Cranking but no start


After not drving my car for a few about a week I wanted to drive it again, But when I tried to start it it just kept turning but no start. Any ideas on why it just wouldn’t start after about a week? The battery is being charged back to full at the moment.

(Aristides Balanos) #2

What year and what engine Maxine ?
First step would be establish if the reason is no spark or no fuel.
Do you hear the fuel pump running ?


(Jason Miller 1993 XJS 4.0 convertible, 1997 XK8 coupe ) #3

Looks like an 88 xjs v12. Yes first step is always seeing if you have fuel and spark. Did it even “hiccup” at all, or just spin?


it just made the whirring sound of the starter. nothing else, but I haven’t really been listening for any other sounds though, I’ll try to hear for anything weird.

(Jason Miller 1993 XJS 4.0 convertible, 1997 XK8 coupe ) #5

Your fuel pump will be a pretty quiet vrrrrrrrr from the trunk area when you first turn the key. I will say it can be hard to hear, it helps to have someone else listen in the trunk while you turn the key to on, but not trying to start

(scrimbo) #6

You say whirring of starter…is it turning the engine over???

(Carl Hutchins, Jr. ) #7

Yeah, that is how I would interpret "Whirr . Starter motor runs, but solenoid does not drive the gear forward to mesh to the fly wheel. Odd, but it happens.


(Bernard Embden) #8

You need to give the list more info.
Always start by identifying the year of your car.
Symptoms need to be as specific as you can.
Example, starter turns (whirring?) but engine does not turn over.
That eliminates “ fuel and fire” as the next logical determination and instead focuses on the starter and flywheel engagement process.
Hope this helps. Good luck

(scrimbo) #9

Bad starter or weak battery? ?

(Kirbert - author of the Book, former owner of an '83 XJ-S H.E.) #10

I don’t believe it happens. The way the solenoids work on these starters is that the gear has to move forward, and only once it is fully engaged do the contacts close to energize the starter motor. IMHO, the only way the starter motor runs without turning the engine is that the Bendix itself has failed – which is a possibility, but it’s rare. I don’t believe I’ve heard of a failed Bendix on an XJ-S.

The other possibility, of course, is that either the pinion is totally stripped – not likely – or there are a few teeth missing on the ring gear. I’ve never heard of a ring gear missing a few teeth on a Jaguar V12, but I’ve seen it on a 289 Ford. Those teeth are hardened, and apparently can just snap off. Then if the engine just happens to stop in the right spot, it’ll never turn again.

I suspect the description this owner is trying to convey is that the engine is turning over but not firing. If on the off chance it really is just the starter spinning, the thing to do would be to use a socket on the hex on the front of the crank damper to just turn the engine a few degrees by hand. Then try the starter again. If it engages this time, it’s possibly a ring gear missing some teeth. That can be checked by simply removing the torque converter cover off the bottom of the bellhousing and manually turning the engine around a complete rotation while inspecting the teeth. Unfortunately, if they’re bad, the transmission has to come out.


Alright, I turned it and I heard that really quiet vrrr, I think that’s the fuel pump, and then tried to start the car and it didn’t go.

(Aristides Balanos) #12

OK, we know now that the engine is turning and the pump is running.
Next see if you have spark.
Hook a spare spark plug in one of the leads and try to start the engine while having someone looking if the spark plug produces a nice strong blue spark.


So do I just pull one of my distributor things out? I’m sorry I’m not familiar with all this wording. And also would any spark plug work? I don’t have spare XJS Spark plugs.

(Michael Garcia) #14

any lead where it ends at the plug,
not distributer end…
and any plug that fits,
or clicks into where the one on the engine was…
you can pick up a new one at an auto parts store for a couple of dollars.
position it where the metal bottom is not touching metal, maybe place it on a board or rubber…
this next part is kind of important**
when you turn it over,
the motor,
make sure your buddie isnt holding or touching it. It may produce a rough shock…

to sum it up,
l would put on a pair of thin gloves,
gentlely remove a wire, place a new plug into it, turn it over…
in a dimley lit environment,
the spark will be more evident

(scrimbo) #15

Haven’t you got a mechanic or a friend that knows SOMETHING. about cars? Take a short course in car care or get some high school auto shop manual to read about auto basics. It sounds like you are not truly into mechanics and this stuff, and i am no expert, requires at least some basic car care knowledge which not everybody is in to.

(Aristides Balanos) #16

No, the metal base MUST touch the engine, otherwise nothing is going to happen.
The one that holds it must hold it only from the rubber lead plug, or even better leave it laying down somewhere in the engine, making sure the metal base makes contact with the engine.


(Carl Hutchins, Jr. ) #17

Off on a new trail.


An engine needs fuel. air, compression and spark. each in the correct amount or correct time.

  1. I made a “spark checker”. A clean spark plug, with a wider gap than normal. About .040. I attached a ground wire and alligator clip to assure ground.

Attach any of the high tension wires from the distributor.

No hands needed

Crank the engine. dim light is best. A healthy blue is needed. wimpy yellow not good enough.

Carl .

(Michael Garcia) #18

suprised it has been so long,

l remember suspending them where they didnt make contact with anything, but in this case, with the length of wires not being as long… proceeded to error on the side of caution.


you clarified it.

l have one of these light tools that go between the plug and wire…


Alright guys, it turns out I was just stupid. or someone else did it, but there were spark plugs without their caps on them because someone pulled them off, probably my siblings. I’m sorry for bothering. But the problem was the spark, so thank you guys for pinpointing it for me.

(Bernard Embden) #20

Your siblings pulled the spark plug wires off ? (Smile)