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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wifie drove all over hell and half of California this morning doing errands; stopped for gas, followed by half a dozen starts and stops, idling in traffic, etc. She drove the car for at least an hour following the top-off ( about 3 gallons). The car performed flawlessly, as usual.

She drove up the long hill to our subdivision, down our street and the engine just ceased to run in front of the house. It didn't sputter to a stop, no rough idling, nada, just died.

The starter turns over strongly. All the bells and whistles work fine (head/tail lights, heater fan, etc.). I can hear the fuel pump running (pump was replaced about ten years ago (Motorcraft part).

I have not pulled a spark plug to check for spark.

So, what am I looking for? Is there an 'ignition module' that might have failed abruptly? Fuel injector controller fail? All wires leading to the distributor look solid.

Throw me a bone, please.
 

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I have several escorts, but mine are all 2nd gen lx models, so they dont have the part that I think has failed. Its located adjoining the distributor, and is called a Thin Film Ignition Module.
If you do an ebay search for "TFI module" you can see what they look like. such as. item # 284813418259
..
The can fail about anytime, and may work again once the underhood has cooled down - or not. This pesky part was so much of a headache in the 1980's on Ford products that a class action lawsuit was started, resulting in Ford being directed to replace all of these things in more than 1,000,000 vehicles in California.

Sorry to say I dont know anyway to test one. When my brother-in-law's Ford Taurus quit running, I pulled one from another Ford product at a pick-n-pull. Although they will all mount the same and connect up the same, I suspect they are different as to their advance-vs-rpm curve for a specific vehicle. His Taurus ran fine; with a 5$ junkyard part, versus a $90 new item from O;Reilly's autoparts
The difficulty is that the two mounting bolts are very small, and deeply recessed. They made a special wrench that used to be sold by a dozen sellers on ebay - but that was years ago. Now your vehicle is sort of a rare vintage. I dimly recall that the deep socket was a 7/32" hex, with a little knurled handle. If you had one of these, it was a 5 minute job to unscrew the old one and plug in a new one. You did need to smear a dab of dielelectric grease where it mounts on the side of the motor; to keep it from overheating.
I figured that ford made a selling point of their TFI technology, as they likely owned the patent on the things. No one other than FOMOCO used that technology.
For years I carried the little wrench in my tool box, but lately I dont find it. Its just the sort of thing my grandson would take to play with. Anyway, my youngest escort is a 91LX; with an EDIS and a coil pack, not s TFI module.

There are other reasons an 89 could have quit running, and you may want to look at the innards of the distributor, as to whether the swivel plate still has the tiny ground wire to the base of the inside of the distributor, and whether the rotor has a crack around its base, letting the high voltage short to ground.
Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for that tasty bone Denis. The car is at 'my' local guy's shop; he's worked on it for years, and he's pretty sharp, so I'll pass this info onto him.
 

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2 things came to mind based on your story: first was the TFI module (already covered) and the second is a fuseable link by the starter solenoid.

Last summer, after driving all day with the a/c on, the cooling fan failed. The bad fan drew an overwhelming amount of current and melted the wires from the fan all the way to the link. The problem then became the fact that the ECM relay was on the same circuit. Unfortunately in my case the surge fried the computer. But after I replaced the computer I upgraded to a tempo fan, replaced all of the melted wiring, and isolated the fan circuit and gave it its own fuse.

Even if the fuseable link isn’t your problem (the TFI module is more likely the problem anyway) I’d still recommend upgrading the cooling fan if you can, and give that fan it’s own fuse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just to close the door on this one, it was the TFI module that went south. The 'Scort runs better than it has for a LONG time.

Thanks for the help.

Now, if I can just chase down the #@(&^%! parasitic electrial drain...
 

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Now, if I can just chase down the #@(&^%! parasitic electrial drain...
Years ago I had my right vanity mirror light stay on. The flap was loose enough that it didn't press onto the switch. I taped a nickel to it and it's been fine since.
 

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reading this thread, i looked around on da web. Found this old article on a now extinct class action suit against ford for these TFI bits. 1st gen escorts clearly listed as ones with these failure prone parts.

i had a similar failure on an 89 mazda b2600. 4wd. truck was bit of an odd bird, that. shared its engine wiht same year Mazda MPV and nothing else. the 89 had a mechanical distributor. a 1 year production design changed following year. my mfg shop parts counter guy called the failed thing an igniter. and it was a several hundred $ psrt with no crossover to other engines. so no cheaper alternatives that were a direct match.. swapping it out and the truck ran great again for the rest of its life. 17 years in my hands. guessing it was the same sort of device and same sort of failure.
 
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