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Old 09-04-2009, 14:20   #1 (permalink)
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1989 Tracer/Escort won't start

For 1989, the Mercury Tracer had the same Mazda 323 engine as the Escort. Here's the deal:
  • Turns over but won't start.
  • New plugs, plug wires, distributor cap and rotor.
  • Getting spark at the distributor main wire, end of the plug wire, and at the plug. The spark is possibly a little weak (?) but it's there.
  • The plugs have gas on them. Not igniting at the right time? Spark not strong enough?
  • The test for the positive side of the coil had passed initially, but now it's failing... According to the Tracer manual's troubleshooting chart, this points to an ignition issue. But if that's true, why was it passing before? Blah...
  • If the key was in the ignition, and the door was open, the ignition buzzer used to stay on constantly. Now it stays on for 5 seconds and stops. For whatever that's worth.
  • The timing belt is intact. Can't speak for the timing.
  • The main fuse is good.
  • I did a basic visual check for shorts. Didn't see anything.
Coils and distributors for this car aren't cheap, so I'd rather not replace anything else without a firm diagnosis.

I've reached the limit of my knowledge. Any help from the experts is greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-04-2009, 16:26   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 1989 Tracer/Escort won't start

Many years ago when I had a Mazda 323 in workshop for non starting , I seem to recollect that the fault was traced to ignition module in distributor . Replacement dist. cured fault . Best I can suggest to help .
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Old 09-07-2009, 19:59   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 1989 Tracer/Escort won't start

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.S.LOGAN View Post
Many years ago when I had a Mazda 323 in workshop for non starting , I seem to recollect that the fault was traced to ignition module in distributor . Replacement dist. cured fault . Best I can suggest to help .



"ignition module in distributor "

OOOhhhh yea Those nasty Little things were quite well know for Malfunctioning ... Located on the side of the Distributor.
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:57   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 1989 Tracer/Escort won't start

I'd take a look at the timing. Remove the timing cover and align the timing mark on the crankshaft at TDC and then check to see if the timing mark on the camshaft is right. These timing belts are very good for shearing teeth and causing the engine to jump time. If the timing is off don't worry about it doing damage to the engine though, because the Escort has a non interference engine. A bad ignition module will usually cause a no spark condition. If the timing is off it will still fire just not at the right time.
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Old 11-20-2009, 14:12   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 1989 Tracer/Escort won't start

I recently replaced the distributor, being careful to install the new one in the same position, but it still wouldn't start. As a test, I rotated the new distributor clockwise and found a spot where it *would* start. Except it ended up being 1/4-3/8" difference compared to where the old distributor was, and since I'm a noob, I don't know if that's a lot. I'm wondering if it can be assumed that the timing marks are no longer lined up on the camshaft and/or timing pullies? And if I take the timing cover off and everything *is* in alignment, then what does that mean?

I should mention that not too long before the no-start issue appeared, I'd taken the timing belt off during a water pump replacement. I reinstalled the old belt instead of putting a new one on because it seemed to be in excellent condition. It was still starting after I had everything back together, so I didn't suspect a timing issue at first. But now I don't know what else it could be.

Sorry if these are stupid questions - I just want to verify that I'm on the right path before I dig back in to it since getting to the pullies is a pain in the a**.
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Old 11-22-2009, 15:04   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 1989 Tracer/Escort won't start

If you have found a spot when rotating the distributor where the car will start it's nearly a certainty that timing is the issue. Check to make sure the timing marks are still aligned and if they are the base timing is right, but the ignition timing is probably off meaning you need to get it where it will start and put a timing light on it and get it adjusted correctly. It's also very easy to get the timing marks off by a tooth when putting the timing belt back on, because the crank will turn when you release the timing belt tensioner to put tension of the timing belt.
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