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Discussion Starter #1
Alright, guys and 2 gals, I need some help!

I'll try to make this as brief as possible.

First the short version:

1998 Escort Sedan, 2.0l SOHC. Driving, car completely stops! Before checking under the hood, I try to start it again. Nothing. Try again. Nothing. I look under the hood. PCV assembly elbow broken. D'oh! Cover one end of hose, try to start, no dice. Cover other end, try again, nothing. Cover both, nothing! Meanwhile, strange buzzing sound coming from around fuse box. Go to parts store, Jerry-rig a working PCV assembly, expecting it to solve my problems, but nope! Take it to Pep Boys, they say it's not a PCV problem, it's a computer problem! I'm skeptical.

1. What's your opinion? Could me continuously trying to start the vehicle have screwed up the computer/ECM (hence the strange buzzing sound, which makes it plausible?) Or is it a different problem?

2. If it is the computer, I can just go to a JY and pull one from the same model, right? Where is the computer located, and how can I take it out?

I really appreciate your guys' (and 2 gals') help on this. Thanks in advance!!


Need more details? Here's the long version:

1998 Escort Sedan, 2.0l SOHC, nothing custom, all stock. Owned it for almost 2 years, purchased from a "family friend" who purchased it from the dealer and had only put 3000 miles on it since.

Aside from the heater and AC not working (which I didn't really need, since I'm in Southern California,) my 'Scort never gave me any problems!

Until now.

I was about 60 miles from home, and I had was headed home when my baby died on me! So I pulled over, hoping that it was just my battery, as it was an old battery, and my battery light would come on intermittently. I tried starting the car a few times, to no avail. It just goes "rnnn rnnn rnnn rnnn" but won't start!

So I popped the hood, and I saw right away that my PCV hose was cracked at the elbow! Having done a fair amount of lurking here, I knew that it's a common problem, but I didn't think that it would keep my car from running!

So I call a buddy of mine, and he meets up with me. We head to Kragen, right around the corner to get the part, but natch, they don't carry it. A couple trips later, and some *ahem* modifications later, we rig a makeshift assembly, just so I can get home.

So I try to start it, while he stares under the hood. No dice. I call another buddy of mine, and he says to cover either or both of the hose ends (the one leading to the manifold, and the other one,) and see if it starts. We try one, then the other, and then both, but no dice! Meanwhile, my buddy is saying that he hears some weird buzzing noise coming from somewhere by the fuse box.

Under normal circumstances, I'd have my uncle look at it, but like I said, I'm 60 miles away from home. So I call yet another friend who has AAA, and she gets my car towed over to Pep Boys. By this time, it's 8:40 pm. I get written up, and I leave to the hotel.

The next day, I get a call from Pep Boys, whereupon they state that my "check engine" light should be on, and it's not, and that I have no spark, and a couple other things, and, therefore, I need a new computer.

I have my doubts, but supposedly they know what they're talking about, and since I don't know a reputable shop in the area, I have no choice but to assume that they're right. The service manager says that he'll call around for prices for a new ECM.

I ask about the PCV, and he says that it has nothing to do with the vehicle not starting! Sounds shady, but I don't have anyone else in the area.

The next day, he tells me that a new computer will cost around $500, and, after labor, about $800!

Needless to say, I get my car towed home by a buddy of mine, and now I need to know a couple of things:

1. What's your opinion? Could me continuously trying to start the vehicle have screwed up the computer/ECM (hence the strange buzzing sound my friend heard, which makes it plausible?) Or is it a different problem?

2. If it is the computer, I can just go to a JY and pull one from the same model, right? Where is the computer located, and how can I take it out?

I really appreciate your guys' (and 2 gals') help on this. Thanks in advance!!
 

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the first thing that comes to my mind is timing belt, and the easiest way to check it is to look under the timing cover and see if the belt is still on, and try to start it while the cover is off/loose so you can see if it turns the cam.
 

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Does it sound strange when you turn it over? Like no compression? I'd be willing to bet on the timing belt too. If not, the computer is underneath the ashtray(cubbie hold in a 98) and the cig lighter outlet. Gotta take the whole console up starting at the back, between the seats, and remove all of it all the way to the cupholders and the cig lighter and cubby. It's under that. Grey box with a huge plug in it with a 10mm bolt holding the plug in it.

But I'd tell you to pull the timing belt cover off, or at least crack it open and look in there to see if your belt is broken or something...that's my bet. ;)

Have fun, good luck.
 

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Thanks a lot, and I appreciate it, both of you! Have a happy 4th!

I'm a newb: where under the hood is the timing belt cover located? And so I don't have to ask too many stupid questions: is there a diagram or chart on the internet that serves as a map for under the hood?

Also, I have no spark! I don't know if that has anything to do with the timing belt, but your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, and have a great Independence Day with your loved ones!
 

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Parkman said:
Thanks a lot, and I appreciate it, both of you! Have a happy 4th!

I'm a newb: where under the hood is the timing belt cover located? And so I don't have to ask too many stupid questions: is there a diagram or chart on the internet that serves as a map for under the hood?

Also, I have no spark! I don't know if that has anything to do with the timing belt, but your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, and have a great Independence Day with your loved ones!
On the passenger side of the engine, there should be a black plastic cover on the end of the top of the end of the engine. That's your timing belt cover. The timing belt is driven by the crankshaft at the bottom of the motor, and make sure the camshaft opens the valves at the right time to make the engine run.

If you pull off that cover and the belt is not around the cam gear, then you've tossed your timing belt, and need a new one. The engine is "non-interference", meaning that no matter what position your cam stopped in, there's no chance of the pistons and valves getting together for an ugly and expensive party inside your engine.... Slap a new belt (and tensioner pulley kit) on and you're on your way. With the SOHC engines, this is a good time to replace your water pump, since you've got it uncovered when you change the timing belt, and it runs off of the timing belt, so it's good insurance against having the pump seize and maybe trash your new belt, or start leaking and maybe cook your motor....

For more detailed info, the red "SEARCH" button ought to help you find the how-to.

HTH!

C ya,
Dutch
 

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As for the no spark, I believe the spark timing comes from the cam position sensor in these cars? Correct me if I'm wrong someone, I know it originates in the PCM obviously but doesnt it come from the cam ultimately? If the cam fails to turn, the car wont spark I don't think...with these anyway.

Here's a good way to show ya:


Thats the engine bay under the hood of my old '97 (RIP Tracy), it's got a few things different than your car would, but idea is the same...
To the left of the valve cover (The Red thing that says Split Port Induction 2000), theres a black plastic housing that goes up and down the block, the top of mine has "C.A.R." written on it actually, that's the timing belt cover...hopefully thats some help. And happy 4th to you too.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Awesome!

Yeah, I took a quick link under the hood this morning before the BBQ and I pretty much determined where it was, thanks for confirming my suspicions!

Well, hopefully this is as easy as replacing the timing belt (and water pump?), and I'll be running again. Thanks!!

If not, looks like I'll be back here. Kinda makes me wish I woulda kept my 2G...94, baby, with the spoiler! LOL.
 

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A couple of things that weren't mentioned:

The timing cover doesn't come off easily, but you can pry it back enough to see the belt and cam gear underneath.

The belt can be stripped of a few teeth and still appear to be turning when you crank the engine, even though it's toast.

How many miles on the car? The timing belt usually goes around 120K miles (+/- 10K).

Where's the buzzing sound coming from? If it's from under the air cleaner housing, it might be a bad relay in the CCRM black box below it, but that wouldn't cause the no-spark situation.

It's really, really unlikely you have a bad computer. More likely, the check engine bulb in the dash is no good. An easy check would be to connect a code reader to the plug near the hood release with key on, engine off. You should be able to read codes (or read no codes if there aren't any present). If the computer is indeed toast, you won't get any response to the read codes command.
 

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"The timing cover doesn't come off easily, but you can pry it back enough to see the belt and cam gear underneath."

Yeah, I found that out this morning.

"The belt can be stripped of a few teeth and still appear to be turning when you crank the engine, even though it's toast."

I checked it out, its still good! One less thing, right?

"How many miles on the car? The timing belt usually goes around 120K miles (+/- 10K)."

Funny. I have about 115k. But, like I said, it's still good.

"Where's the buzzing sound coming from? If it's from under the air cleaner housing, it might be a bad relay in the CCRM black box below it, but that wouldn't cause the no-spark situation."

Indeed, it was around the air filter housing.

"It's really, really unlikely you have a bad computer. More likely, the check engine bulb in the dash is no good. An easy check would be to connect a code reader to the plug near the hood release with key on, engine off. You should be able to read codes (or read no codes if there aren't any present). If the computer is indeed toast, you won't get any response to the read codes command."

I'll see if I have a buddy with an OBDII reader who can help me out with that.

Could me continually trying to start the vehicle have caused the relay to go bad? How about the computer? Any ideas on what could cause "the no-spark situation?" Anyway, I'm going to continue tinkering away under the hood for the rest of the afternoon. Your help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 

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Update

Okay, so...

I pulled off the center console, and pulled this thing out.





This is the computer, right?

Now, I found several ECMs on rockauto.com, but they all come with different calibrations (8-03E, 8-03R, 8-04E, 8-04R.)

Does that matter, and if it does, how do I determine mine? All that's on there are those number on the pics above.

Thanks in advance!
 

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None of the codes really matter. You can use any one from a 98+ sedan or wagon as long as the car it came from has the same transmission as yours. If your's is an auto, get a computer from an auto, if yours is a 5 speed, geet one from a 5 speed. Don't get one from a 97, it won't work. I would grab one from a junk yard before I would get one on ebay. It will probably be cheaper as well, I know the yard I go to is.

As has been said, its vary unlikely for the computer itself to be the problem. Have you verified that the computer is actually getting power? The CCRM buzzing means that one or the relays isn't getting enough power or is dead. I would check your battery terminals and the black box on the negative terminal.
 

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The worst things that can happen by constantly trying to start the engine is:

1. A discharged battery.

2. A burnt out starter.

The only easy ways to blow out the PCM is to jump start the car with the jumper cables reversed, or to install a shorted out alternator (or somehow wire it backwards).

Check the fusible links in the engine compartment to make sure they're all OK, especially the one marked "Ignition".

The easiest way to check the function of the CCRM is to get one from a junkyard having the exact same large letter on the label, e.g., "S". For a 98 Escort, 98 & 99 models should use the same one. With CCRM's, usually it's the A/C relay that fails, the others are pretty durable.

When you say the timing belt checked out ok, I assume you mean you turned the engine over by hand (with a ratchet on the crank pulley bolt) and checked every inch of the belt for missing teeth. It only takes one missing tooth to screw it up completely. And unless you've also checked that the timing marks are correct, the belt could appear to be ok but slipped a tooth. If you've heard a sqeeky pulley sound from the engine on cold mornings recently that goes away when the engine warms up, that's the sound of a failing belt tensioner pulley.

If the belt is good, other possibilities include a bad crankshaft sensor or a bad camshaft sensor. I think the crankhaft sensor triggers the spark, and the camshaft sensor triggers the fuel injectors.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
rbailin said:
The only easy ways to blow out the PCM is to jump start the car with the jumper cables reversed, or to install a shorted out alternator (or somehow wire it backwards).
Okay, did neither. No wonder they kept asking me that question at Pep Boys. ("Are you sure you didn't try to jump the car?" "No, dammit!" LOL)

rbailin said:
Check the fusible links in the engine compartment to make sure they're all OK, especially the one marked "Ignition".

The easiest way to check the function of the CCRM is to get one from a junkyard having the exact same large letter on the label, e.g., "S". For a 98 Escort, 98 & 99 models should use the same one. With CCRM's, usually it's the A/C relay that fails, the others are pretty durable.
Will do.

rbailin said:
When you say the timing belt checked out ok, I assume you mean you turned the engine over by hand (with a ratchet on the crank pulley bolt) and checked every inch of the belt for missing teeth. It only takes one missing tooth to screw it up completely. And unless you've also checked that the timing marks are correct, the belt could appear to be ok but slipped a tooth. If you've heard a sqeeky pulley sound from the engine on cold mornings recently that goes away when the engine warms up, that's the sound of a failing belt tensioner pulley.
Oh, wow, didn't do any of that. Gonna have to try that. And yeah, I was starting to hear that squeaky sound pretty recently. Sounds like you may have diagnosed my problem.

rbailin said:
If the belt is good, other possibilities include a bad crankshaft sensor or a bad camshaft sensor. I think the crankshaft sensor triggers the spark, and the camshaft sensor triggers the fuel injectors.
I'll try the timing belt first and foremost. Thanks!
 
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