If your Chevy truck just cranks but won’t start up, several problems may be behind the frustrating scenario. Because so many issues may be behind your truck’s failure to start running, you need to find the underlying issue by a process of elimination. But where does one start?
If your Chevy truck cranks but won’t start, first eliminate the most obvious causes such as battery, immobilizer, or gas issues. Common issues with a chevy engine that won’t turn over involve spark plugs, fuel injectors, compression and distributor, and ignition coil problems.
Because there are a whole host of potential causes for your Chevy truck’s failure to fire, the best way to start is to tackle the most likely culprits under the hood.
If you would like to know the most common underlying issues behind the problem and how to solve them, please read on.
Table of Contents
Quick Checklist for Starting Issues
Before heading onto more serious issues, make sure it’s not a simple problem that you may fix from the get-go.
These issues may seem obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the most obvious problems for a more technical cause.
Here’s a quick check to eliminate the most obvious reason why your Chevy engine won’t turn over.
- Check that you have fuel in the tank
- Scan the computer memory for trouble codes
- Check your car battery is fully functional
- Check for starter motor or circuit issues
- Check if immobilizer or incorrect security settings prevent your truck from starting
- Check for blown fuses.
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You Have a Spark Plug Problem
Spark plugs are a vital part of your ignition system, and if your Chevy Silverado cranks but won’t start, one of the primary reasons may be a faulty spark plug.
Your spark plugs deliver the electric current from your ignition system to the combustion chamber of your engine. The spark plug ignites the compressed fuel and air mixture delivered by the piston while maintaining combustion pressure in the engine.
There are several reasons your spark plugs may be bad; beyond that, they are past their lifespan. However, the starting issue may be linked to other symptoms of spark plug faults that include:
- Increased gas consumption
- Reduced acceleration
- Hard starts
- Engine misfires
- Rough idling.
Depending on your Chevy type and engine, your spark plug typically has a lifespan of 30,000 to 120,000 miles.
The ignition coils and spark plug wires last about double your spark plug lifespan. Replacing a spark plug is not rocket science, but you might have to maneuver around shields and intake manifolds to get at them.
How to Solve Spark Plugs Issue?
Spark Plug Tester
A handy tool is a spark plug tester, which you may place against your ignition wire while connected to your spark plug.
Turn on your ignition and check inside the clear sides of the tester; even if your car fails to start, you should see visible sparks or a glow if your spark plugs are firing.
You may do a simple check by eye by simply removing the spark plug from the engine. Place the tester ignition wire to the terminal of the removed spark plug, then touch the metal part of your cylinder head with the lower metal part of your spark plug.
Turn over your engine and note whether you see a spark emitted from the spark plug tip.
Assess Your Spark Plugs
Once removed, you may examine the top of your spark plug for indications that you will need a replacement.
The central electrode should have light brown or grayish residue, and it shouldn’t show signs of oil or black deposits which may prevent your Chevy from starting.
Replace the Spark Plug
Replace the spark plug with a new one of the same type and try to start your engine again. If your Chevy truck still cranks without starting, you may eliminate spark plugs as the cause of your engine trouble and move onto the next potential culprit.
You Have a Fuel Supply Issue
Fuel injectors deliver precise amounts of fuel into your cylinder even when your engine is spinning at high RPMs. Fuel injectors spray fuel in your truck’s engine for optimum combustion and efficiency.
Over its lifespan, the injectors fire millions of times and may be prone to wear and tear or clogging and may stop your engine from functioning correctly.
If your fuel is not reaching the cylinders of your Chevy, your truck will likely crank but not start. Before diagnosing the problem, ensure that your:
- The fuel tank is filled with fuel
- Your fuel pump is working properly
- Your filter is free from clogging
- Your fuel pressure regulator is functioning
- Your fuel injectors are not cogged.
A quick way to check fuel supply issues is to spray starter fluid into your air intake hose. If your Chevy runs for a few seconds then dies, your Chevy is not getting the necessary amount of fuel.
How To Solve Fuel Injection Issues
Fuel injectors are essential because they meter out the fuel that enters the intake manifold and your engine. You may access the correct resistance for your particular fuel injectors online or consult your vehicle repair guide.
Dirty or leaking fuel injectors may be the reason your Chevy isn’t starting and also show symptoms such as:
- A decline in your truck’s performance
- An increase in your gas bill; due to increased fuel consumption.
If you wish to troubleshoot fuel injection issues, you should test each fuel injector with a multimeter. You may access the correct resistance for your particular fuel injectors online or consult your vehicle repair guide or follow these steps:
- Make sure your car is turned off as you will not need power for this test.
- Remove your injector wiring harness.
- Take a multimeter or Digital Volt-Ohmmeter and place it on the ohms setting.
- Test the resistance by pacing the meter leads on the prongs inside the connectors, ensuring they are not touching one another.
- For high impedance injectors, expect a range between 12-17 ohms, and for low impedance injectors on larger injectors should read between 2-5 ohms.
- Repeat on all your injectors. There should not be a difference of half an ohm between the injectors, and you should investigate any injector that displays a different reading.
Otherwise, the problem may be with your wiring harness,
Turn your ignition on but not running, and test the DC of each wiring harness terminal. Your reading should be around 12 volts for each of your injector wiring harnesses, or they may be a problem in your wiring.
You Have a Compression Issue
Without compression of the fuel/air mix, the spark plugs can’t properly ignite the spark that causes the combustion necessary to power your engine.
If there is a leak, the compression cannot maintain combustion, and your car will not run, Typically compression issues stem from:
- Jumped timing belt
- Burned or damaged valves
- Worn out compression rings
- Blown head gasket.
Other symptoms that your Chevy truck has timing belt issues include:
- Revving issues
- Ticking noises from your car engine
- Exhaust issues such as excessive smoke.
How to Solve Compression Issues
Your timing belt/chain ensures that the camshaft and crankshaft rotate in rotation. Timing belts have a lifespan and may become worn and damaged over time.
As models vary, you should consult your Chevy owner’s repair manual to determine your timing belt replacement interval to ensure your truck does not develop these issues.
On specific Chevy models, removing your timing cover will only partially reveal the workings of the timing belt, so your best resource is to consult your owner manual to ascertain if it is time for you to replace the belt.
Replacement mileage may vary from 60,000 to 150,000 miles, but if your Chevy is 6-10 years old, it may be time for a timing belt replacement.
You Have Ignition Coil Problems or Distributor Issues
Most modern Chevys don’t have distributors anymore but have a specialized self-contained plug wire that has its own coil. Either this newer version attaches the wire from the plug, or you may find them in what is called a coil pack.
A couple of troubleshooting tips for your distributor or your ignition coil include:
- Your ignition coil should show a clear spark in operation and if it does, the problem is not with the coil. This evidence probably means your distributor and the wires connecting your coil, plugs and your distributor are at fault.
- If there is no spark, you need to look at the coil itself or its interrelated wires to address the issue
- Check your ignition coil has the correct voltage and if not, follow it back and check for disconnections or interference.
- Test if your crankshaft position sensor is working correctly (where applicable.)
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If you are thorough and follow a straightforward process of elimination, you will find the reason behind your Chevy’s non-performance.
Hopefully, it is something simple that you may tackle yourself, but it’s best to seek professional assistance if it is more serious.
Either way, keeping an eye on suggested replacement intervals for your Chevy parts will go a long way towards preventing future problems.
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