98 crank no start | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

98 crank no start

Discussion in 'ZX2 1998-2004 2.0L DOHC' started by ftpiercecracker, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    I recently bought a 98 Zetec with a crank no start problem. Only paid $400 for it so I figured I didn't have much to loose. 150k, interior is near mint, and everything else seems okay.

    Previous owner said his daughter was driving the car to Wal-Mart when it died, completely out of the blue, and hasn't started since. How reliable the daughter's story is is debatable, but it's the only info I have to go on.

    The previous owner replaced the coil, plugs, and wires to no effect.

    My immediate reaction, was to look for a broken timing belt. I checked the entire length and could find nothing wrong. Seemed to have good tention and no teeth were missing. I don't have the timing kit with the proper tools , but if it comes down to.it I will get them.

    I attempted to check for spark and it seemed like I wasn't getting anything, so I replaced the crank sensor. What a massive PITA to get to that was. After that the engine will burp during the first revolution of each key cycle, but nothing afterwards.

    I will be checking my fuel pressure tomorrow. What PSI should be there?

    Also what is the firing order on the coil? I tried to google it, but I got 5 different variations.

    Thanks gentlemen.
  2. 4cylinder

    4cylinder FEOA Member

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    i would look at the timing parts again particularly the lower timing pulley. this could go bad and keep tension for a while before it completely breaks. i mention this because this could cause the car to jump time and keep it from starting/running

    i would also look for signs of overheat. overheated car could break the head gasket the first time and would keep the car from getting compression keeping it from starting.

    these are the two main things i have come across when i pick up a zx2 for so little
  3. pextor

    pextor Moderator Staff Member

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    the timing belt may have skipped a couple teeth, and that would cause a no-start condition. If it has 150K and the belt was never replaced, it's way overdue.
  4. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    what do you mean by lower timing pulley? Are you referring to the crankshaft pulley?

    So you are saying he timing belt can skip teeth and not lose any or show signs of damage?

    There are no obvious signs of overheat like bulging hoses or dried coolant that might have sprayed all over.

    What PSI should I see on my compression tester?

    How bout the fuel pressure and firing order?

    Thanks
  5. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Update: tested fuel pressure. Just turning the key to run, fuel pressure goes up to about 39psi, but it had to be cycled 2-3 times before it got there. Once it reaches peak pressure it immediately tapers off back to zero in a few seconds.

    Upon cranking pressure only gets up to around 20psi, spikes to 30psi when the key is released and then immediately tapers back down to zero.

    We are currently trying to check for spark, but it's proving to be very difficult.
  6. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Update: tested for spark and got nothing. We checked for spark by hooking up a spark tester to each of the coils terminals and clamped the other end direct to battery negative. I also checked for power at the coil. By back probing the electrical connector connected to the coil we found the red w/ green stripe (middle wire) wire has battery power, and the red w/ blue stripe (drivers side) wire is grounded but has a lttle over 7 ohms of resistance. The wire on the passenger side produced nothing and was not grounded.
  7. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Update: Found a way to test the CPS and got a steady 1.2v (AC) while cranking.

    Recap: 1998 Ford Escort Zetec 2.0 140k. crank, no start, no spark.
    New CPS, new spark plugs, new spark plug wires, new ignition coil. Coil has power going to it. Fuel pressure does go up to 39 after several cycles of the key, immediately tapers off. Fuel pressure is at 20 psi while cranking and spikes up to 30 when you relearse the key, then tapers off again.
  8. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Sounds like my problem (I think, if I'm reading you correctly). My engine harness had a broken grounding wire to the coil pack. Patched in a new one and it's been perfect ever since.

    Mine would run on two cylinders occasionally but then it would flood out and not start at all.
  9. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Update: Now cylinders 2 and 3 fire, occasionally, but 4 and 1 are still dead. With the fuel pump fuse pulled it will cough when starting fluid is sprayed down the throttle body, but it does nothing when the fuel pump is allowed to run.

    Signs of life:
    The engine will stutter within the first couple of revolutions with each key cycle, but once it stutters it will do nothing until you cycle the key again.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
  10. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Take a look at that ground wire that gave you 7 ohms of resistance again. Patch in a bypass temporarily and see if she starts up.
  11. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Will do, but can you tell me what each of the three wires in the coil connector are supposed to be? By now I'm pretty sure the middle wire is supposed to be battery positive but I do not know which one is supposed to be ground and then that leaves the third one which I have no idea about.
  12. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    The battery positive stays hot all the time and the other who are ground wires that the CPU switches on and off to fire 1/3 and 2/4 spark plugs.

    In my case, one of those wires was damaged and it wouldn't fire the cylinders it was supposed to fire. EDIT: Found my thread: https://www.feoa.net/threads/i-have-a-problem.84571/

    You shouldn't have noticeable resistance from those ground wires.
  13. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    Might also want to look at the grounds going to the black grounding block on the negative battery cable and any other grounding points to be sure they are all clean/making good contact. Not sure about the ZX2, but I think the standard 3rd generation has some ground connections underneath the battery tray. Doing a compression test couldn't hurt, if it's jumped time you'll likely have some low compression numbers. Also doesn't seem to me that you should be losing fuel pressure soon after trying to start the car. There's a fuel pump control module behind the left (drivers side) panel in the trunk. I don't know much about it but you could probably find out more information about it on the internet. I'm pretty familiar with the standard Escorts of all 3 generations, but not very knowledgeable on the ZX2.
  14. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    That is very strange then, because cylinders 2 and 3 are firing, but 1 and 4 are not.

    Should I use the negative battery terminal to test for ground? Where is the ground for the ECU? I suppose if all else fails I should trace those two wires back to the ECU to make sure they are not broken or damaged. If those two wires are in good condition and the ECU is grounded properly then I suppose there is a good chance the ECU is faulty, yes?
  15. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    I will check/clean all the grounds tomorrow, although I don't recall seeing a black grounding box by the negative battery terminal. I removed the air cleaner and the CCRM was the only thing under it that I could see.

    I have a compression tester, I just have to find it, when I do I will check the compression. What compression should I be getting?
  16. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    The black box I'm speaking of is actually a part of the negative battery cable and has several ground wires going to it, one of which is the ECU ground. It's possible a previous owner did away with the box, bundled the ground wires together and attached them some other way to the negative battery terminal. Some on this forum have done this.

    As far as compression goes it really depends on the condition of your engine, but I'd expect you get numbers in the 175 PSI-up range on all cylinders. If there's very low numbers or wide variations between cylinders I'd suspect valve timing being off. If there are two adjacent cylinders with low compression numbers it's possible it could be a bad head gasket, but I'd check timing before removing the head. Once you get the compression numbers post them here and we'll try to give you an indication of whether there's a problem there or not.

    You say the previous owner replaced the plugs, wires and coil have you checked that the wires were put back on in the correct order? Firing order is 1/3/4/2. http://ricksfreeautorepairadvice.com/ford-2-0-firing-order/

    Although possible I wouldn't be too quick to suspect the ECU, they seldom go bad on these cars.

    I've owned at least one Escort for the past 21 years and currently have 5 of them. Anytime I've had one of them die while going down the road and not restart it's either been a broken timing belt or bad fuel pump. Yours won't start and run on starting fluid so not likely the fuel pump.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  17. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Thanks for providing the excellent info Fordman. There is a small black box attached to the negative battery terminal, but there are no wires going to it.

    I will check compression today and will respond ASAP.

    As far as I have been told/read you cannot check timing unless you have the specialized tools, how true is this? Can I get it close enough by eye to verify that it is in time without the specialized tools?

    Thanks for the link about the firing order. I will make sure I have them accordingly. I tried searching online for it but got several different answers and my Haynes manual has yet another configuration.


    Thanks for the reassurance about the ECU, I must have a bad/broken ground or a broken wire somewhere in the harness.

    I will reply with my findings as soon as humanly possible.

    Thanks,
    FPC.
  18. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    I've never looked at or tried to time a DOHC engine so I can't give you the answer to that question. The 2.0 SOHC engines are easily checked, there's a pointer to align the timing mark on the crank and the cam pulley has an arrow made into it that aligns with a divot in the head, so they are very simple to check/set timing on, but with the additional cam I have no idea how they are set up. Does the engine turn over faster than you'd normally expect? This is usually the case with a bad timing belt because of little or low compression.

    No wires going to the grounding block on the negative cable now has my curiosity going, apparently someone has changed something at some point, it could be their re-engineering is the problem???

    Have you hooked up a code scanner to it to see if there's any codes stored in the ECU?

    Just in case you didn't already know these are non interference engines so even if the timing is off there's no piston/valve clash.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  19. ftpiercecracker

    ftpiercecracker FEOA Member

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    Keep the good info coming Fordman. Unfortunately as far as I have read/seen there are no timing marks to speak of on either the cam or the crank gears. It seems the only way to check/set the timing on a DOHC 2.0 is with the aforementioned special tools. I was just hoping there was a way I could roughly check timing to make sure it wasn't way out without the need for the special tools. This does not appear possible.

    Compression certainly feels adequate enough. Turning the engine by hand is tiring, but not to the extent that it would make you think something is wrong, just that it has good compression.

    I will try and take a picture of the black ground box, maybe I am looking at the wrong thing.

    I have not hooked up a code scanner because I don't have one and I do not know anyone that has one. Since the car is immobile I cannot take it to a mechanic or a parts store where they can scan it for codes either.

    Thanks for the reassurance about the engine being non interference. My brother and I were worried that it might have been an interference.
  20. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    Auto Zone will check codes free of charge, but I know you can't get the car there. You might check with them or other parts stores to see if they have a code reader in their loan a tool program. If so you'd just have to leave a deposit that would be refunded when you return it undamaged. Over the years I've used a few of their tools that for a one time use just wasn't economically smart to buy myself. If the battery has been discharged or removed from the vehicle since the problem began those existing codes would be erased and might not have been reset. If you just wanted a simple code reader that does nothing but give code numbers they can be found on eBay pretty cheap. I think Harbor Freight Tools also has a cheap reader. If the CEL is on there are definitely some codes stored.

    I was also thinking last night after posting that this could be a crank or cam position sensor problem. I'd especially take a look at the crank sensor and wiring since it's possible something was hit on the road that could have flew up and damaged the sensor or wiring harness at the sensor.

    There have also been people here on the forum that have found broken wires in the harness connector going to the coil, so that's another thing to check, visually and maybe get someone to wiggle it while trying to start the car.

    Keep us informed of your findings and we'll try our best to get it going.

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