No Start 3: Checking Engine Mechanical Condition

Checking Engine Compression. How To Troubleshoot A No Start (1.8L Nissan Sentra)

One of the most overlooked areas, when testing a hard to diagnose no-start, is the mechanical condition of your 1.8L Nissan vehicle.

Checking the engine mechanical condition means an engine compression test and possibly checking for a blown head gasket (among a few things).

  1. When performing an engine compression test, what you're looking for is an average compression reading of NO LESS THAN 120 PSI across all or the majority of the engine cylinders.
  2. If you have one or just two readings that are under 90 PSI your Nissan vehicle will still start and run, albeit with a misfire condition.
  3. The following tutorial will help you do a compression test:
    1. How To Test Engine Compression (Nissan 1.8L).

No Start Summary

So in conclusion, the root cause of the Cranks but Does Not Start condition of your Nissan Sentra is a lack of one of the following:

  1. Spark.
  2. Fuel.
  3. Air (from a lack of cylinder compression).

Thankfully, all of the above can be tested with simple tools. Which leads me to the next talking point: to check the basics, you need tools. There's just no way around it.

One of the analogies that I've always enjoyed repeating, about doing a job without the right tools is like trying to eat a bowl of soup with a fork.

So besides knowing what to test, you need tools to do those tests. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg, since you can buy a lot of diagnostics tools that are tailored for the pocket-books of the serious do-it-yourself-er. Here are some of the basic tools you'll need:

  1. Fuel pressure gauge.
  2. Spark tester.
  3. Compression gauge.
  4. Multimeter.

Most of these tools you can buy or rent for free (after you leave a cash deposit which you'll get back when you return the tool) at your local auto parts store (mainly AutoZone and O'Reilly Auto Parts). Or, if you want to save some bucks, you can buy them online.

More 1.8L Nissan Tutorials

You can find a complete list of tutorials here: Nissan 1.8L Index Of Articles. Below, is a sample of articles you'll find in this index of articles:

  1. How To Test The Starter Motor (Nissan 1.6L, 1.8L).
  2. How To Test Engine Compression (Nissan 1.8L).
  3. Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Test Nissan Sentra 1.6L (1995-1999) (at:
  4. How To Test The 2000-2002 Nissan Sentra 1.8L MAF Sensor (at:
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Nissan Vehicles:

  • Sentra 1.8L
    • 2000,