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Nissan Sentra Will Crank But Not Start

Q. Good Afternoon, I have a 1996 Nissan Sentra 1.6 liter DOHC engine. Car has less than 80,000 miles. Have never had a problem with the car before. Car ran great since I bought it new back in 1996. I go out to start the car yesterday morning and it cranks but won't start. Car ran great the night and everyday before this happened. I can hear the fuel pump.

Nissan Sentra Will Crank But Not Start

I've replaced the plugs tested for spark and have spark and the plugs are getting fuel. Seems to me it's either the ignition module/Crank Angle Sensor? I tried a compression test and they seem to be real low on compression, 30 to 65 pounds. Is my gauge broke or is this another problem?

I was told it could be the timing chain. I've removed cover and timing chain is fine. Reinstalled the gasket and cover. So am I to assume it's the ignition module??? I'm a do it myself type person.

Please, any help would be great, but I want to make the right choice since the parts needing to be replace from here on out start to rise in dollars.

Thank you,


The engine needs three things to run, air, fuel and spark. If you have those, the engine should run. However, assuming your compression tester is good, the low compression will keep it from starting.
Nissan Sentra Will Crank But Not Start

That engine has two timing chains. One that goes from the crankshaft to the Timing Chain Idler Gear and the other timing chain goes from the Timing Chain Idler Gear to the two camshafts.

The one you saw when you removed the valve cover was the upper chain between the two camshafts. Unless you looked way down into the timing chain cover, you will not see the lower timing chain.

With the low compression readings, and you will want to confirm these readings, I would say the lower timing chain, or the timing chain guides, has broken or slipped several teeth.

Set the base timing, distributor rotor pointing to number one tower, number one cylinder on TDC of the compression stroke and the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley is lined up with the zero mark of the timing plate. If all three line up exactly, then it's not the timing chain. If they don't line up, then you do have a timing chain problem.

If that is the case, then you will probably have bent some valves since this is an interference engine.

Additional Information provided courtesy of AllDATA

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