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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 1.9 has gradually developed a condition were I must crank the starter for at least 10 to 15 seconds or more to get it to catch, sometimes will try to catch and then stall. Eventually it always starts, runs strong, and idles pretty well. Waiting a while to allow the fuel pump to pressurize the fuel rail in case there is a hung up check valve in the line does not seem to help. Problem more noticeable when engine is cold, ambient air temp doesn't seem to matter, was doing it in very cold weather this past winter, but now that its warm, same condition.

Fuel filter replaced a while back, but not that long ago.

Cold start injector problem?

For most of its life, engine started very quicly with minimal cranking. Starter seems to be a little tired now, maybe not cranking as fast as in the past. Good battery and wiring.

Any thoughts?

Chris, Stonington, CT

94 Escort 1.9 5 Speed 172K
98 Volvo V70XC 160+K
 

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How long has it been since the car had a tune-up amd the timing checked? It could be the timing belt has sheered off a tooth or two and the timing isn't exactly right or could be needing new plugs and/or wires.
 

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It sounds like a good time to check you fuel pressure. A failing fuel pump will do just as you describe. As mentioned a good tune up including air filter, plugs , wires, ect will also go a long way.

One other thought...your air temp sensor could be suspect as if it is out of spec, it won't be sending the correct signal to the ECU no matter what the ambient temps are. :?
 

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I agree with the advice you have gotten already. You can learn a lot from having a fuel pressure gauge connected to the Schrader valve on the fuel rail. I -think- it should read about 30 psi at an idle, and about 36-40 after the ignition has been cycled on but the engine not started. The pressure should not drop down quickly either. That is, its normal for it to hold pressure for hours.

And; I wonder what happens if the coolant temp. sensor ages enough to be 'out of range' of the values the PCM expects. Also the Throttle position switch, and the mass air flow sensor.
Have you pulled the spark plugs to check their color and gap? They should be a very light brown, or closer to white.

A vacuum leak might also cause the symptoms. There is a rubber 90 degree item connecting the PCV tube into the top of the throttle body. They can begin to leak from old age.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I now think this problem is actually related to the ignition on contact in the ignition switch.

Engine won't start easily if I keep the key twisted way into the start position. If I just get it over the point where the starter kicks in, the engine catches and starts quickly.
 

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Mine does that from time to time... Will just keep cranking and cranking. I release they key and then try again and it starts right up!

I'm 95% sure I'll need an ignition switch before too long.

Two things to check.. if the check engine light doesn't come on (key on, engine off) when it won't start, then it's most likely going to be a bad ignition switch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
After getting sidetracked by thinking the problem was in the igniition switch because it would frequently start right up if I just gave it a series of short cranks, problem got progressively worse. Actually had to break out the starting ether at least once. Problem seemed worse on a cold engine (even in this mild July weather), and when it has been wet or rainy.

Finally had time to replace the plugs and wires today. After seeing the condition of the plugs, was amazed the car even ran, let alone started! No. 4 plug electrode and insulator was completely gone. Other plugs all had chunks of the electrode insulator missing, and electrode eroded to halfway down inside the insulator. These were Bosch platinums with less than about 40K on them, as far as I can remember. Car currently has 175K miles on it.

No indication of fouling - just HUGE electrode gaps due to wear....considering how bad the plugs were, the car after the balky start, seemed to idle OK and had what seemed to be OK power and normal gas mileage. I guess a robust HV solid state ignition system can tolerate a lot of poor plug conditions.

Replaced with Bosch Platinum Plus 2s, and Bosch wires. Engine now starts INSTANTLY on cranking and idles much smoother - had an intermittent miss for a while on the bad plugs that I thought might have been a small vacuum leak. Power seems better too, will see about mileage.....

Lesson learned - don't go over 40K without a plug change or at least a check!

I have tended to procrastinate plug changes on this car because of the PITA in getting access to the No. 1 plug because of the position of the alternator. However, slacking off the serpentine belt at the tensioner, getting it off the alternator, and removing the alternator's upper bracket bolt allows you to roll the alternator forward on its lower (pivot) bolt enough to get reasonable access to the plug. Be prepared (with new wire set) for the possibility that the No. 1 plug cable will get broken on pulling it out fvrom this hard to reach location.
 

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The condition you are describing the plugs being in sounds like you may have some detonation going on, I'd have the timing checked to see if that could be part of your problem. Any platinum plug should last 100K miles with no problem. I've personally ran several sets of Bosch platinums 100-125K miles and they were still good when I removed them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'll be watching for detonation issues - never had heard any evidence such as pinging on acceleration. I was surprised at the condition of the plugs - like you said, thought that platinum plugs last a long time....

Engine is really running great now with the new plugs.
 
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