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There is something else that can cause a loss of compression that does not involve a mechanical failure. Your cylinders can actually lose compression due to too much fuel getting into the cylinder; this is referred to as flooding. This washes the oil away from the cylinder walls, so the piston rings can’t seal. When you try to start an engine with this condition, it spins very fast and doesn't sound normal at all. It sounds like it has no compression. A quick way to confirm this is to remove the spark plugs. If they're wet with fuel, you might have a flooded engine. A flooded engine has no compression, hence the no-start. Remove the spark plugs and leave them out to dry.

Once you’ve done that or once you install new plugs, you need to start the engine in a special way called “clear flood mode”. On a fuel-injected engine, if you depress the gas pedal, usually past 80%, the fuel system goes into what's called clear-flood mode. During this time, the computer shuts off the fuel injectors so no more fuel is delivered while you crank the engine; hence, you can clear the flood. I usually jump in, mash the gas to the floor and start cranking. Don't crank for too long at a time, because you can burn up a starter doing this.

After a few cranks, you might notice the engine trying to start. Keep cranking till it does. Once it starts, there will likely be a big cloud of smoke and a lot of fumes, so be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. Probably the most common cause of this failure is short tripping, meaning driving a short distance and shutting the engine off. This does not allow for a full warm-up and fools the fuel injection system when you go to restart it later. It adds too much fuel, and thus you get the flooded condition. This happens a lot on Hondas. I can't tell you how many times a car gets towed into the shop only for me to crank it in clear-flood mode for a bit and fire up. This really freaks tow-truck drivers out BTW

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