How To Diagnose A No-Start Problem (1995-1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo)

How To Diagnose A No-Start Problem (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo)

Quite a few things can cause the engine in your 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina (or Monte Carlo) to crank but not start.

Thankfully, there is a diagnostic strategy that you can use to find out which component is the one causing the engine to not start.

With the help of this tutorial you'll be able to easily find out what is causing the engine to not start.

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Un 'Arranca Pero No Prende' Del Motor (1995-1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo) (at:

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  • 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999.
  • 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999.

Difference Between A No-Start And A No-Crank Condition

I want to let you know that this tutorial only diagnosis a cranks but does not start problem.

In a 'cranks but does not start' problem the starter motor cranks the engine but the engine does not start.

The issue causing the engine to not start usually boils down to one of the following:

  • The engine is not receiving fuel.
  • The engine is not receiving spark.
  • The engine has a compression problem.

So if you turn the key and the starter motor DOES NOT crank the engine (commonly referred to as a no-crank condition), then this tutorial will not help you. You'll need a tutorial on how to test the starter motor and you can find it here:

Engine No-Start Condition Basics

As I mentioned earlier, what will usually keep the engine from starting is 1 of 3 things:

  • The engine is not getting fuel.
  • The engine is not getting spark.
  • The engine has cylinder compression problems.

This means that with one of the following 4 basic tests, we can get to the bottom of the engine's no-start problem:

  • Ignition System Test.
  • Fuel System Test.
  • Engine Compression Test.
  • Blown Head Gasket Test.

In the following pages you'll find a basic testing guide so that you can find out what's behind your Chevrolet Lumina or Monte Carlo's no-start problem.

Are PASS-Key System Problems Covered By This Tutorial?

PASS-Key system problems are not covered by that tutorial. Why? Because the PASS-Key system is designed to disable the starter motor (and the fuel injectors) unless a key with a specific electrical resistance is used in the steering column ignition switch.

This type of problem falls under the category of a no-crank problem and this tutorial only covers a cranks but does not start problem.

The following tutorial covers the PASS-Key System:

What Tools Do I Need?

To find out what's behind your Chevy Lumina or Monte Carlo's not start problem, you're gonna' need a few specialized tools. Don't worry, these tools will not break the bank and most of them you can borrow (for a deposit) from your local auto parts store.

Here's a basic list of what you'll need:

  • Spark tester.
  • Fuel pressure tester.
  • Engine compression tester.
  • Multimeter.

For the spark tests of the ignition system, I'm gonna' suggest that you use an HEI Spark Tester.

This tester is the most accurate tester on the market and isn't expensive. You can find out more about it (and where to buy it) here: HEI Spark Tester.

This section also shows you were you can buy the HEI Spark Tester and a fuel pressure test gauge: Where To Buy An HEI Spark Tester And A Fuel Pressure Gauge.

You'll notice that I didn't include a scan tool in the list. But if you have one, I can tell you that it'll come in handy. Why? Because some of the components that cause a no-start condition can leave a specific trouble code (when they fail).

In this tutorial, I haven't included it (a scan tool) in any of the suggested tests because they can be done without one.

Let's turn the page and get testing.