1994 Dodge Dakota - No Spark

Question for those that are more handy at auto mechanics than I am -

1994 Dodge Dakota 2WD
3.9L Engine / 5-speed

Ran fine - stopped in driveway overnight. Will not start. Starter engages. Engine does not turn over. I have fuel flowing. No spark. So far, I have replaced in the following order:

  1. Plugs
  2. Plug wires
  3. Distributor cap / Rotor
  4. Crankshaft position sensor
  5. Ignition Coil
  6. Pickup Coil

I think I have covered everything that should affect spark. Still no spark.

I am open to suggestion before I have it towed someplace for a more experienced person to have a go at it.

Thanks in advance for any ideas you might have.

Do you have power to the coil with the key on? Do you have power to the ECM? You have covered all the normal stuff.
Check all the connectors for a loose connection.

Did you set the points in the distributor??? Did you gap the plugs???

Sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to overlook

Ah Phlosphr, cars in the US haven’t had points since 1974.

And I think most plugs come pregapped. :wink:

:eek: Dooh!! :slight_smile: LOL I have one of these and I had a similar problem… but I just had to set the points…


I agree on sometimes overlooking the obvious. I did gap the plugs. As previously mentioned, there are no points. I did shoot starter fluid into the throttle body just to make sure it was not a fuel issue.

I will check connections again.

I am not a mechanic, but if your car was running fine the night before, I doubt your problem requires a tune up. Tune up problems are usually gradually evident.

Since your engine won’t turn over, I’m curious as to how you’ve established that you get no spark.

I’ll assume that you don’t know for sure and if that is the case and you are satisfied with the fuel and the fuel flow, you might check the timing chain/belt.

Good catch The Flying Dutchman, I read the stater engages, and skipped to fuel flowing.
What do you mean that the starter engages, but the engine does not turn over?
Do you mean the engine does not catch, it just cranks? Or do you mean it does not turn over and you don’t the rowr-rowr-rowr sound when the key is turned to the start position? :confused:

Hope you don’t mind making a brief clarification - you mean that the engine turns over but does not catch, because you have fuel, air, but no spark? You’ve done the old “screwdriver in the plug boot, arcing to the engine block while cranking” to verify that there’ no spark?

Or do you mean that the engine does not turn over at all, even though the starter solenoid engages the starter? If a car has the second symptom, I would guess a low/weak battery or a corroded connection. Particularly since it was running fine just the night before.

Otherwise, I’ve got nothing that’s not already been tried or suggested.

I was taking the word of a couple mechanic friends on the “no spark”. I will do the screwdriver in the plug boot thing & report back.

Sorry for the confusion. The starter engages the engine & it does have the “rowr-rowr-rowr” sound. It just never fires.

Did they test for it, or did they say “It sounds like you are not getting any spark?”
There is a huge difference.

You mentioned that you changed the spark plug wires. Did you install them in the correct order on the distributor?

Also, check the distributor cap. If you removed it and then put it back rotatated by 180 degrees the car won’t start and flames will come out of the intake.

Is that even possible? It’s been a while since I worked on any cars with a mechanical distributor, but the ones I recall all had the caps keyed to a tab on the distributor body so they could only be installed one way.

I used to have a Dakota.

Have you checked the battery?

On most 4 cylinder engines the cap is perfectly symmetrical so it can be installed both ways. And if you install it the wrong way you get flames coming out of the carburetor. I know because I’ve done that mistake in the past.

I’ve never tried to rotate the cap on a fuel injected engine, but in theory you should still get flames out of the intake.

Latest updates -

I personally did the “screwdriver in the plug boot” thing. No arc to the block.

Plug wires were replaced one at a time, each replacing one as it came off the plug & the distributor.

The distributor is exactly in the same orientation as the previous one - and there was a notch to prevent it from being otherwise.

This is a 3.9L - 6 cylinder.

The battery does not seem to be the issue (although I am not claiming to be the expert). It does crank, the engine just does not fire. Wouldn’t that be indicative?

Not always. How strong of a crank is it? Is it agressive and fast, or does it sound like the mechanical equivalent of a smoker’s wheezing cough?

It was strong when I was first attempting to get the truck to turn over. Of course, it has been getting less strong as I have been trying to find the cause for it not firing though. I am not thinking that is it.