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My 1997 SE has been a great car for 4 years I've owned it, and now has just under 160K miles. Last week I was driving along and it just died, no warning, no CEL or other warning lights. It has been hard to start recently before that (I suspected leaking fuel check valve), but ran fine once started. It had a code of P0340 so I replaced the camshaft position sensor. Still no start, but fired briefly, and no code now. After online research (here and elsewhere) I replaced the crankshaft position sensor. BTW, best way to do that is remove the passenger front tire and splash guard and do it from below. A pain, but doable, probably easy with a lift. Still no start, but backfired once through the intake, and still no codes. Acts like timing is off, but nothing is changed that I can find. Timing belt is intact and not loose. It did not misfire or run rough the day it died, so timing was OK at that point, I think. Any ideas?
 

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Could be an electronic engine control module, or something similar. A solid state component that controls engine activity. Inside a solid state device, such as a Microcontroller, there are hundreds of circuits which all need to work. I don't have an electrical diagram for your car, maybe someone else does, that can suggest which control module could be suspect.
 

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Could be an electronic engine control module, or something similar. A solid state component that controls engine activity. Inside a solid state device, such as a Microcontroller, there are hundreds of circuits which all need to work. I don't have an electrical diagram for your car, maybe someone else does, that can suggest which control module could be suspect.
Maybe, but I'm not sure where to start to rule that out. Since it fires at least a little, I think most components are OK.
 

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timing belt probably has missing teeth. can you see any of the valve train with the oil cap off? get someone to crank the key and look down to see if the cam is actually spinning. might have to pull the timing belt cover. po340 doesnt necessarily mean that the sensor is bad, its means there is something up with the cam position. which could be that the belt has stripped out and the cam is not spinning. that is the hard thing about just replacing parts based off of a code.
 

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Remove the gas cap, put your ear to the filler neck. Have a helper turn the key to the Ignition on position (but don't crank). Do you hear the fuel pump run?
 

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timing belt probably has missing teeth. can you see any of the valve train with the oil cap off? get someone to crank the key and look down to see if the cam is actually spinning. might have to pull the timing belt cover. po340 doesnt necessarily mean that the sensor is bad, its means there is something up with the cam position. which could be that the belt has stripped out and the cam is not spinning. that is the hard thing about just replacing parts based off of a code.
^ Most likely culprit. Make sure you get that harmonic balancer bolt to full torque spec or the crankshaft key will carve-up the harmonic balancer... or worse, the crankshaft takes the damage. ECU reads timing off that harmonic balancer a.k.a. crankshaft damper. A *tiny* bit of red thread-locker adhesive is recommended.
 

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Remove the gas cap, put your ear to the filler neck. Have a helper turn the key to the Ignition on position (but don't crank). Do you hear the fuel pump run?
that would be my next direction. the po340 cam circuit code and suddenly died while driving points more toward a timing belt or failed tensioner causing teeth to slip or strip. i have a hyundai santa fe here in the shop now that the tensioner bolt walked out (OEM part) and the belt jumped, bent valves.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the tips. I'm inclined to agree that it's the timing belt. The weather went to heck today so it will be a few days before I can look into it. Thanks again!
 

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I had a similar issue on my 97 wagon.
It turned out I had a vacuum hose that had dry rotted.
Might be worth the check!
Best of luck
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, here in southern Colorado it's been a snowy winter, and my Escort has been snowed in. Now that it is accessible, I'm starting from scratch. Since I could hear the fuel pump run when the key i8s on, I have not really considered that to be the problem. Today, however I turned the key on, and the pump ran, but when I checked pressure at the Schrader valve on the fuel rail, I got no fuel or pressure at all. I know, I should have done that long ago! Anything else I should check before replacing the pump? As always, thanks for your help!
 

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My '94 'Scort had no pressure when the pump was off too. Didn't affect it's ability to crank and start though. Still held good pressure when running. Only thing that was wrong was a back-flow check valve. So the pump would shutoff and the fuel in the line would simply run back into the tank. The '97 uses a different fuel system, but with the '94 there was a way to keep it running while one measured pressure. (basically you could short the relay via diagnostic harness) If there is a way to test the pump (not just a backflow valve) with the '97, one of the others will likely know.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the tips. I decided that the timing belt ought to be replaced no matter what, so once the new parts arrived I dove into that. The timing belt had all the teeth around the crankshaft sheared off, which made me concerned that the valve train was locked up, freezing the belt in place while the crankshaft rotated, causing the belt teeth to be sheared off. I rotated the cam shaft manually, which was more difficult than I expected at first and resulted in some fluid shooting out of #1 and #3 cylinders (and onto the ground; looks like oil but not sure, no more is coming out) as I rotated the cam shaft. The valve train now rotates more easily than at first, but still seems harder to turn than I expected. It feels like I'm compressing some springs and then they release. Is all that normal? If I rotate the crankshaft to TDC will the camshaft be aligned when the mark on it's sprocket is in the correct position? Thanks again!
 

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That makes perfect sense actually. T-belts are often the factor in hard/no starts for old 'scorts. Fortunately the 1.9L and 2.0L engines are non-interference. So no damage to pistons or valvetrain as a result of belt slip or break. Just line up all the marks... no worries.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks. I think the oil is from when I tried to start the car previously: The started turned the crankshaft, which pumped oil up to the cam area, which flowed through whichever valves were open and into the cylinders. I've kept rotating the crankshaft by hand, and eventually no more oil came out of the spark plug holes. Coolant and oil look OK so I don't have blown head gasket, which was my fear. I'll put it all back together and see what happens.
 

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Oil coming out of the spark plug holes? You'd need a large amount of oil in the cylinder for that to happen... I think. The valve stem seals prevent any significant amount oil from entering there. The oil control rings on the piston prevent any significant amount of oil from entering via cylinder sidewalls. The oil ports are on the outer parameter of the block/head so I don't think an H-Gasket failure scenario is really feasible. What I suspect may have happened, is someone spilled oil into the spark plug wells; perhaps prior to you removing the spark plugs. Leaky valve cover gasket could in theory result with that. I suspect the cylinder heads have only coolant surrounding the cylinders, reducing the possibility that a cracked head would allow lots of oil in.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Success! Well, mostly. I put everything back together today and, with a little coaxing, she fired up and sounds good at 1000 rpm and above. However, The spark plugs looked like crap, so I'm not surprised that it doesn't want to idle. She's also putting out a fair amount of white smoke, which I believe means coolant getting into one or more cylinders. The radiator is low, but not empty. I checked the oil and coolant and there is no sign of contamination. So I'm back to considering the possibility of a head gasket leak. Could this have contributed to the timing belt failing? What are the odds that a coolant system sealant or head gasket repair fluid will work? I'm so glad to have you folks as a resource! Thanks!
 

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Coolant is really good at cleaning up cylinders; which includes spark plugs. If you had oil in the cylinders it may take a few minutes to burn it all off. Just to be sure, check for external coolant leaks as it's possible to have more than one issue. Many bi-metal engine designs were unfortunately prone to head-gasket failures; with advanced miles. Yes, enough coolant in the cylinder could, cause the head to crack as liquid doesn't much compress and would be slow to vaporize. Carried inertia from the crank seizing on compressing a liquid could theoretically stress the timing belt as the head wants to keep rotating on that inertia. But it it's that weak it probably would've failed with some spirited driving anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The engine starts and runs, but not well. It idles rough then dies if I don't keep revs above 1500 rpm, and the engine speed "searches". I ran it for about 10 minutes today and none of that changed when the car got fully warmed up. I'm thinking maybe the head gasket failing and belt failing were not necessarily related, just happened at about the same time. There was not enough fluid in the cylinders to cause the valve train to lock. At any rate, the biggest issue now seems to be the head gasket. I'll try a headgasket repair product and see what happens. Nothing to lose at this point. Anybody want to buy a parts car?
 
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