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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just got an '87 Sentra with an E series engine (168,000 miles on it) that I'm having problems with. The immediate problme is, it won't start. I was told it's the carburetor, but here's the brief history:

To start with, there was a major leak coming from the water pump. All the water water would leak as as soon as I filled the radiator, and would spurt and gush out upon starting the engine; one time I even saw water shoot up and out from inside the timing cover. I just replaced the water pump. There's still a bit of a leak--some water/coolant still trickles out when I start the engine--but it's nowhere near as bad as before. The problem now is, it won't start. Right after fixing the water pump last night, it started fine and I was able to drive it around a few miles. But this morning, it wouldn't start.

When I first found out about the water pump, it was from a mechanic I'd taken it to for a diagnostic; when I picked the car up from him, it wouldn't start either. I'd turn the key and the engine would keep chugging and chugging but wouldn't "catch" and start. So the mechanic came over, raised the hood and took off the cover to the air filter, had me turn the ignition, and while I was doing that, he sprayed some stuff around the air filter. Then it started.

Right now it's doing the exact same thing, it chugs and chugs but won't start. So I biked to the mechanic to ask what they did to help me get it started that time and what the issue was, and he said it's the carburetor. But before considering buying a new carburetor, I'm trying to find out how to check first to see if it might just need cleaning, adjusting a loose connection or something simple & minor like that. Aside from changing the water pump, I don't have any mechanical experience. I've just got some tools and a Chilton manual, but they don't show a diagram and I can't find one online so I don't even know where to locate the carburetor or what it looks like! I just don't know if the not starting has anything to do with the water pump issue, or if it's totally separate and unrelated. Any advice that anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated!

P.S. Oh yeah, also before giving me trouble starting, I was driving one day and ran out of gas (which is how I found out about the apparently faulty fuel gauge), so I don't know if that could be a factor here...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
oh this keeps getting more and more interesting. Guess I won't be going back to the same mechanic if they didn't know that!
 

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it could be either, quick way to tell..........does it have 1 or 2 wing nuts on air breather?
if 1, its a carb, if 2 its a throttle body.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmmm, where's the air breather, and how do I identify it? Is this at the mouth of the air filter? I only remember seeing one wingnut on top of the cover that houses the air filter...is this what you mean?
 

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If it runs after it eventually starts, I doubt the entire carb will need replacing!
It could be sucking air in somehwere its not supposed to.
Common places are around the base of the carb, where the gasket goes.
Also between the top and bottom halves of the carb.

Dont just take the mechanics word for granted, do some checks.

First good test to do is to check if the plugs are firing!?

Then check if you are getting fuel to the carb.
With the ignition switch off, pump the throttle and smell if theres fuel.

Also a good check is to ensure your ignition and valve timing is correct.

Let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi, ok thanks for the info. The only thing is, I don't know what the carburetor looks like or where to locate it. How do I find it and recognize it? Did you read sonicgundam's response "it should be an E16i, which is a TBI unit. not carbureted". Is it possible that there's no carburetor?

Is there a way to test the spark plugs?

As for ignition & valve timing...that sounds complicated and way beyond my scope of abilities. So I'm praying it's something else, something simple!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
oh yeah, I'm guessing that the carb. would be located near the air filter, so I opened up the cover for it and looked around, and there was a strong smell of gasoline so I'm guessing it is getting fuel?
 

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If you took off the air breather and it only had one wingnut, you have a carb.
And yes the carb is located under the air breather. Best way to test spark plugs, is to get the car running and pull one spark plug wire off at a time and see if it makes the car run any different with the wire off. If you pull one off and it dont make a difference then you know that somethings wrong.
 
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