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Old 12-04-2011, 20:19   #1 (permalink)
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Failure to start (Ford Escort ZX2 2000)

Hello, we have a Ford Escort ZX2 2000, we've over time had more and more various symptoms emerge, but none of which stopped the car from being able to get from point A to point B until now. Recently the car has had issues accelerating and almost stalls when coming to a stop. A month or two after it has completely died (Turns but won't start). We have a 2nd ZX2 which has a manual transmission, and so far it has 15k more miles (135k vs 120k) and far less issues, matter in fact it runs perfectly.

Symptoms:
-Loud sound coming from near the center of the firewall under the hood, could be the fuel injection electronics, the sound is like a high pitch electrical buzz and lasts a couple seconds longer than the fuel pump pressurizing (The sound also persists while turning the engine), it may be touching or near the air intake for the engine, we decoupled the intake right near/over the engine and the sound comes from within it fairly strongly, covering it with our hand deadens it roughly 50%
-Engine will not start, turns but does not start
-The engine does not sound correct when turning over, the sound tends to stay higher for a few more turns rather than the standard noise of switching between high and low equally
-The engine *may* be turning over faster than normal, hard to tell
-The check engine light (CEL) is NOT lit

Symptoms that may be related (All experienced before it died):
-The CEL was intermittently on in the past, usually on for long durations, we had codes checked and had nothing all too conclusive. We eventually narrowed it down and changed the speed sensor on the transmission which resolved the issue and we passed emissions (Of which the light was preventing us from doing). Later, the CEL came on again, with codes which did not help resolve the light. The CEL stayed off before the car died.
-Trouble upshifting, the transmission shifts aggressively (It revs high, it shifts hard)
-The transmission appears to sometimes not shift into overdrive, despite being in the correct drive mode
-The engine at times seems fuel deprives, specially when going up hill, it will barely gain speed, sometimes even lose speed despite the pedal being on the floor
-The engine has the above symptom regularly even on level surfaces when going 40 mph or higher
-Rough idling, the entire car shakes despite the rpm being at an acceptable 750~1000 (This may be normal, we have another ZX2 with a manual transmission and it also idles like this)
-The engine, when slowing down with no manual throttle, sometimes almost stalls if braking too abruptly, but doesn't and after sitting for a couple seconds revs back to normal idle revs
-The solenoid on the... shifter? (Is that the correct term?) died, so we have to manually push down the lock release to shift out of park
-A lot of the car's electronics appear to have been fried before we got it; the interior lights won't work, the drivers door does not let the computer/circuit know it's open (For key in ignition or headlights chime for example), the stereo speakers are all dead (Or stereo is not outputting and volume, but the stereo powers on and responds properly), part of the fan blower is blown (We just changed it too! I believe it was a resistor of some sort, not the actual relay)

Tests:
-The fuel pump is making the regular sound as it pressurizes before turning the engine
-We've pulled the fuel injection fuse, which stops the high pitched noise and fuel pump from pressurizing
-We've pulled another fuel-related fuse, but the high pitched noise persists
-We've disconnected the fuel pump under the seat, which prevents it from pressurizing but the loud noise under the hood persists
-We've tested the spark plugs, and ignition system, by connecting another spark plug outside the engine, grounding it, and seeing if it sparks while we turn the engine (But we haven't tested its strength with a meter)
-The starter is fine, it turns the serpentine belt and engine as it should
-We've opened a cap on the engine and verified the timing belt is intact and rotates the cams when turning the engine
-The CEL lights up during the initial diagnostics period like it always has, and goes off after like it should

What we haven't tested yet (But probably should):
-Immediately turning the engine without pressurizing it first
-The integrity of the PCM, although if it has failed we should have the CEL on with bad codes being returned, correct?
-The fuel line pressure
-The battery voltage/charge (Although the battery warning light does not turn on, and engine seemingly turns normally in strength)
-Resetting the fuel cutoff switch (Improbably the problem tho, the fuel pump makes its normal pressurizing noise which indicates it's putting fuel, or attempting to, in the line)
-Piston compression

Any ideas on what could be causing this? I understand we should test the things listed above, but anything else? The car isn't at home, and the drive is a good 20 minutes, so we can't test as freely as we'd like. We'd rather not tow it if possible.
I'll edit the post with more information as I think of it.

Tl;dr version: There is none, read it all or don't help.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:56   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Failure to start (Ford Escort ZX2 2000)

Going by where you say the noise is coming from , it's not the MAF (mass air flow sensor ) .At that mileage and year the cambelt should have been replaced , are you sure it hasn't jumped ?
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:25   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Failure to start (Ford Escort ZX2 2000)

We recently ran a ODBII scanner on it, and got 2 codes.
One was a timing belt over-retarded, the other was a bad cam position sensor. We replaced the sensor, but it still won't start. The CEL is on, but we don't have the scanner available to check the codes after replacement yet. We did replace the serpentine belt ourselves, but the timing belt may or may not have been replaced before we got it. We turned it over for a bit and it didn't appear to skip at all, of course it may have only skipped once and that'd be all it takes.
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Old 12-06-2011, 13:12   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Failure to start (Ford Escort ZX2 2000)

Have you checked the timing belt set up ? You cant tell by turning it over if it's o.k . If it's over retarded it will be flat , running like s*** .
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Old 12-06-2011, 14:31   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Failure to start (Ford Escort ZX2 2000)

The buzzing sounds like it's coming from the CCRM (constant control relay module). It's located underneath the air intake tube and houses the relays for the a/c, cooling fan, fuel pump, EEC, etc, it's a sealed black box. The buzzing may be caused by a poor electrical connection. I'd suggest checking all the ground wires going to the black grounding block on the negative battery terminal to be sure they are clean and tight. A couple years ago I was assisting someone else over the internet with the same issue you are having now (no start, buzzing CCRM) on a ZX-2. The way he finally resolved the problem was by removing and replacing the fuel pump fuse several times consecutively. Apparently he either had a bad/dirty connection or this reset something. Since the CCRM houses the relays for the fuel pump and EEC and that's where it sounds like the buzzing is coming from I'd start by checking for bad grounds or poor/dirty electrical connections.

The good thing if you have a timing problem is that you have a non interference engine so there won't be damage from the pistons hitting the valves.
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