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'98 Escort ZX2 2.0 DOHC, 170,000 mi, No Start

The car stopped while driving and will not restart. Was running just fine up to then. So far, I have verified fuel pressure (40 psi steady while ing), visually observed a blue spark with one plug grounded against the engine (the plug was wet with gas), and visually inspected the timing belt. The belt appears OK and tight. The engine will normally and does not sound as if compression is low. It will not fire at all.

According to Alldata description, the PCM fires the coils based on input from the shaft position sensor. Can this sensor fail in a mode that will allow spark to occur, but at the wrong time? Is there an easy test with this sensor. Will it set a code? I can probably check codes tomorrow and will report. Any suggestions for now?

Are your fuel injectors getting a signal? Will the car run on a priming product?

the OP said (the plug was wet with gas), so maybe they are on all the time.

Thanks, that’s an interesting possibility. I’ll check that out tomorrow.

To clear a flooded engine is the same technique with a fuel injected engine as it was with a carbureted engine: hold the gas pedal to the floor as you crank the engine. As (if) the engine starts, ease up on the gas pedal. You could, also, pull the fuel injector fuses and crank to clear.

Holding the gas pedal to the floor didn’t help. The engine will turn over but only very occasionally will a cylinder fire. By now, I’ve observed all 4 plugs firing by grounding against the motor. Plugs 1 and 2 have a strong yellow white spark and plugs 3 and 4 have somewhat less strong yellow white sparks. Compression tests shows normal (160,165,165,170). Scan shows NO codes. Fuel pressure holds steady at 40 psi, which I believe to be normal, although Alldata and Haynes numbers don’t agree. Is it likely that a weak spark would keep a cylinder from firing at all like this? What does a weak spark look like? Should I replace the coil module for a start?

I’m almost ready to start throwing parts at it. I’ve been driving my ‘76 El Camino for a few days and miss the ol’ ZX2.

The spark plugs may be so fouled with fuel, or deposits, that that condition could be throwing off any tests. Change the spark plugs and have another go with the flooded-engine start, and the no-fuel start (using Starting Fluid).
I’m also thinking timing may be off, or the timing belt gone to lunch.
According to, your DOHC engine is NOT subject to engine damage when the timing belt breaks.

The plugs are brand new and look just fine except wet with gas. The timing belt controls only the valve timing, I think. The compression test indicates to me that the timing belt is OK. As I understand it, the PCM controls ignition timing based on input from the shaft position sensor. I don’t have any way to check ignition timing right now, but it looked as if the plugs were firing on time when I was observing them. They fired as the pistons approached TDC.

I still wonder if the base engine timing is off. To check it, you would align the crankshaft pulley timing mark with the 0 degrees mark. Then pull the valve cover, or camshaft pulley cover, and see if both the intake and exhaust valve clearances are at about 0.010 inch on #1 cylinder, indicating both valves are closed on top dead center, compression, or, if the camshaft pulley marks align with their index marks.

Now, ignition timing check is a more difficult matter on an engine which only cranks. Anyone?

I have the same car. Same year with exact symptoms. How did you fix it?

i would change the ignition coil a yellow spark is a week spark they should be blue…just had that problem with father in laws car (ford contour 2.0L dohc)

fordX4 posted last on 01/16/09. We ask people to come back when they have a resolution to their problem, but, as you see, fordX4 hasn’t posted back in two months.
Make a new post with your particular problem. Sometimes, problems aren’t as identical as one, at first, supposed. Try it.