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03 Kia Spectra will not start

Old 01-22-2015, 07:52 AM
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Default 03 Kia Spectra will not start

**Hey guys, I posted this on a Kia specific forum but I am not getting much love, so I thought I would put it out here too, to see what people have to say.**

Hey guys,
I bought an 03 Spectra in non running condition because I had an engine to swap into it. So put a new timing belt and water pump on the engine and dropped it in. Tried to start it, and it would not start. I figured out it would not start because it did not have a fuel pump in it. So we got a fuel pump from the junkyard and installed that....still will not start. Sometimes it will sputter a little bit, and other times it will sound like a diesel engine for a few seconds and then die.

So I checked compression, and all 4 cylinders were between 205-220 psi, so I assume I am fine there.

Then I checked for spark with my inline spark tester and I am getting orange spark at all of the spark plugs. Not sure if it's too weak to ignite the gas or not. So I changed out the two coils and nothing changed.

So I moved onto fuel, and when the pump primes we get around 50psi and it falls off to ~30-25 pretty quickly. Then when cranking the fuel pressure goes to the low 40's. So since I was getting some fuel pressure (not sure if it's enough) I thought maybe the injectors were clogged since the plugs were not soaked in gas. So I swapped fuel rails/injectors from the old engine...no change. Then I checked the electric pulse on the injector connections with my noid lights. They all are getting pulses but they seem to be erratic, some will flash right away while others take a few seconds of cranking before we see the first pulse/light.

Can any one tell me where the injector and ignition coil grounds are?

Any thoughts? Why wont this engine start?
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:57 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Sounds like your timing is off. pull the timing cover and make sure that everything lines up properly
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:59 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Your first issue is that it's an 03 Kia Spectra.

Second, it def sounds like a ground and or timing..but I can't help with location
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Old 01-22-2015, 08:54 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Originally Posted by BAN HAMMER View Post
Sounds like your timing is off. pull the timing cover and make sure that everything lines up properly
I'll double check it, I set the timing with the engine out of the car, and I turned the engine around twice to check it, and it was spot on...but maybe something moved.

Originally Posted by Lord Humongous View Post
Your first issue is that it's an 03 Kia Spectra.

Second, it def sounds like a ground and or timing..but I can't help with location
I agree with the first problem. I got screwed on a deal a few years ago, so I have this engine sitting around for a while, and I have been looking for a car to put it into...and this is it. I know it's an awesome car

I'll double check the timing. I can see the battery ground and it goes down to the trans, and then there is one on the back of the intake that goes to the firewall. I am not familiar enough with these cars to know where the grounds for the sensors/ecu are.
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Old 01-23-2015, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Okay, so I have been looking over the car again. I rechecked the mechanical timing and everything is spot on. I am building fuel pressure, if I have enough that is still debatable. So I pulled plug #1 to check spark again...I propped it up on the valve cover to ground it, and I cranked the car....the spark looked good and the damn car started! But it was running as if it was missing a cylinder since I did not have the plug in. So I shut the car down and screwed the plug back in...no I am back to the same thing. What in the world would cause the car to run when missing a plug and then not even start when the plug is plugged back in. I'm at a loss, I'm going to poke around on google. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 01-24-2015, 11:06 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Looking around on google, there is not a ton on information on this, but it seems that possibly the engine is not spinning fast enough to start with all spark plugs in (full compression), so by decompressing the engine(removing a spark plug) some the engine is able to spin faster and start. So I am leaning towards a weak battery, or I have an issue with voltage drop going to the starter. Anyone else have thoughts?
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Old 01-24-2015, 11:13 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

A weak battery wouldn't have anything to do with it dying after starting. Sounds like timing to me. Check the crank/cam position sensors if it has them.
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Old 01-25-2015, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Originally Posted by yahh View Post
A weak battery wouldn't have anything to do with it dying after starting. Sounds like timing to me. Check the crank/cam position sensors if it has them.
I know the mechanical timing is correct. The ignition timing is not easily adjustable since it is COP.

We swapped the battery with no change. So I started looking at it more yesterday evening. After looking around more and doing some really scientific tests seeing if the exhaust was hot in certain places after I let it run for a minute with a plug removed, I figured out that the pre cat (attached to the exhaust manifold) is clogged. Do I unbolted the exhaust manifold, and tried starting the car with all if the plugs installed. The car fired right up. So thanks for kicking around ideas with me guys. This one turned out to be a clogged exhaust.
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Old 01-26-2015, 06:42 AM
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Default Re: 03 Kia Spectra will not start

Originally Posted by cardana24 View Post
I know the mechanical timing is correct. The ignition timing is not easily adjustable since it is COP.

We swapped the battery with no change. So I started looking at it more yesterday evening. After looking around more and doing some really scientific tests seeing if the exhaust was hot in certain places after I let it run for a minute with a plug removed, I figured out that the pre cat (attached to the exhaust manifold) is clogged. Do I unbolted the exhaust manifold, and tried starting the car with all if the plugs installed. The car fired right up. So thanks for kicking around ideas with me guys. This one turned out to be a clogged exhaust.
I was going to mention this when you said it started with a plug out. Looks like you got it all figured out though.
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