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Cap n rotor replacement gone wrong 98 protege

I have 98 protege 1.5L the car was running fine I just bought it and wanted to do a basic tune up. I did plug wires cap and rotor. Iv done this several times and never had issues. I matched everything as it was.the first time I fired it up it was running rough and as soon as I would put it into drive it would die so I swapped everything back to the old stuff to see if maybe there was something wrong with the new stuff now it won’t start at all I have NOOOO idea what to do please help this is my only car haha

I’ve damaged a new rotor before during a tune-up by not getting it fully seated during the installation. When that happens it won’t start but it is usually easy to see the rotor is damaged. It’s possible to get the dist cap misaligned with where it is supposed to seat also. There’s usually some little ears that have to match up with where it seats. And not getting the connections from the cap to the spark plugs correctly mapped is another cause of this. Suggest to start w/that. Make sure the number one dist cap position is connected to the number one spark plug, etc.

If that’s correct then you’ll have to check for spark at a spark plug during cranking. Whether you have spark or not will determine what to do next.

Start with basics. Your firing order is 1-3-4-2 , # 1 cylinder is on the passenger side. Your distributor rotates counter clockwise. If your distributor cap is marked for the # 1 terminal,follow the terminals around the cap to the left making the next terminal is connected to #3 cylinder, the#4 ,then #2.

You didn’t by any chance loosen or remove the distributor, did you? Did you plug the coil wire back in the cap?
If it still doesn’t start, the next thing would be to determine top dead center on the compression stroke and remove the cap and see if the rotor is pointing at the # 1 terminal of the cap.


I betting that you just blew T’s mind @oldtimer_11 I cannot improve upon @oldtimer_11 's response… the only thing I will add is that you either need a Service manual or you need to look up how to find TDC, what it means, and why you want to find it, etc… Or you can skip it and try all the possible combinations of every permutation of a 4 cylinder engine ignition wiring… I believe its 4 to the 4th power? Maybe more if we have a coil wire hookup in the middle of the cap… That’s a lot of wire combinations possible…so I’m sure you will look it up. I know guys who did it the hard way, but they are still committed at Shady Acres, still using crayons, still in pajamas…the fellas do seem quite comfy, but alas…

The internet will definitely provide you with the info and procedure in light of having the Service manual. You actually stumbled into a good lesson, it’s not too difficult and it is a good window into the fundamentals of how an engine operates.

Take your time with it and learn…this is some of the good stuff.

There’s one very frustrating failure mode diyer’s sometimes experience — ask me how I know :slight_smile: — where the testing to solve a prior no-start problem floods the engine so much nothing you do afterward will make it start. If that’s the problem the tips of the spark plugs will be wet with gasoline, so pull one of the plugs and check for that. If so, remove all the plugs and let the gasoline in the cylinders evaporate.

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I use to put the plugs in the oven to do that. For some strange reason, my wife didn’t like it.

A toaster oven in the garage is the better tool for that!

Take them out, wipe with a rag, and lay them in the sun for an hour. Easy peasy.

Working on my brother’s Fiat 128 a few decades back, I removed the dist for some reason and then reinstalled it 180 degrees off. I now know that some, not all, distributors have that “feature!”

Take them out, wipe with a rag, and lay them in the sun for an hour. Easy peasy.

You have obliously never lived through a Buffalo winter. We have one suburb that foolishly put in solar street lights in the they had to replace with conventional lighting because they died after 26 days without the sun.

Sun is overrated and bad for the skin.

The problem isn’t getting the gasoline off the plug tips, it is getting it out of the cylinders.

Nothing looks damaged I can only tell the cap is seated correctly. I’m not getting spark at the plug and the rotor is spinning for sure.

I didn’t touch the distributer. The firing order is correct and now not getting spark at plugs…

I appreciate everyone’s input thank you guys. This motor only has 4 wires on the cap nothing in the middle.

I looked at your distributor cap on Rock Auto. It is a strange looking cap there is a molded in part of the cap that goes from the bottom side of the cap to the area where the coil wire would normally go. Is there a wire going to the bottom side of the cap and is it disconnected? I hope someone familiar with Mazdas of this vintage can help. There has to be something connecting the coil to the bottom side of the cap. does the coil plug into the cap or the distributor itself?

Having no spark during cranking is a major clue. Good for you for discovering that. Since it cranks ok, the battery must be ok. Have you checked all the fuses? If not, that’s what to do next. Especially the ones for the ignition circuit. Some may be in the engine compartment, some in the passenger compartment.

You won’t get a spark if the computer thinks the engine isn’t rotating, which is determined by the crank position sensor and the cam position sensor. It’s possible you knocked one of those sensors from its position, and now it is too far from the thing it is supposed to sense. The crank sensor is located near the crank pulley, so you probably didn’t move that one. But the camshaft one is either inside or near the distributor, so maybe you nudged that one out of position or damaged it somehow. There’s probably a fairly simple test to verify whether the camshaft position sensor is working or not, by removing the distributor & probing some test point as you turn the distributor by hand.

You’ve tried removing and re-connecting the electrical plugs that go to the distributor, right?

Have you removed the cap and confirmed that the rotor is turning when the engine is cranked?

Time to look at the coil and connections?

You always have to go back and check your work. Rotor properly installed, making contact with the cap, cap on tight, etc. On my VW way back I had l misplaced an insulating washer and had to call a friend to figure it out. It wouldn’t be the first time though to have to tow the thing to a shop to figure it out, but first go back over everything done to double check coil wires making contact, etc. Sometimes you just give up but learn from it.

Not sure about the Protégé…but some vehicles there’s only on way to install rotor. In fact it screws in.