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Changed timing belt now car wont start

A friends car broke down. He has a 1990 ford escort. It would turn over, but would not crank. I took a look at it and the timing belt was off. Replaced it today, and the car is still turning over but not cranking. The timing is set right, its getting gas, and its getting fire. What else could be causing it to turn over but not crank? Any help would be appreciated.

Does it have compression? It appears the engine is an interference engine and that means the valves could be bent from contact with the pistons.

Compression is fine. If the ignition modulator is bad, would it still let the engine have fire?

“Turn over but not crank” is confusing. I take it you mean the engine will crank, but makes no attempt to start? The most likely cause I can come up with is that the camshaft timing is not correct. When you installed the timing belt, did you align the marks on the crankshaft and camshaft pulleys, turn the engine over manually a time or two, and verify the marks were still properly aligned? These steps are vital to getting this job right.

Here goes. I have spent the last two days going over and rechecking everything. The plugs are sparking. The compression is good. Its getting fuel. Timings good. I was messing with the coil and it sounded like it wanted to start but just couldn’t. Any more idea’s? I would be really aprecitiave. Thanks.

With all the efforts to start it, it could be flooded. Press the gas pedal all the way down and try a couple more times. Holding the pedal down tells to computer to shut-off the fuel injectors to clear a flooded engine.

Thanks busted, but its not flooded either. That’s why I’m getting so frustrated. I’m just not seeing what the problem is. The car shut down while the owner was driving it. I’ve flushed the system and used starter fluid to try to get the car to start. Still no luck.

Any more ideas?

How have you confirmed spark?

And my best source on the 1990 Escort lists 3 versions of the 1.9L engine; CFI, PFI and SEFI with MAF. Which are you working on?

My reference shows this having a distributor. Does the rotor point at the spark tower for the #1 plug when the timing is at the mark?

Its a 1.9l single port fuel injection system. I got spark at the plug. I pulled it out and its sparking. The number 1 cylinder is up. The camshaft is at top dead center. And the distrbuter cap is pointing at the number 1 plug.

I’ll shoot from the hip and suggest that you lift the air flow meter off the filter and manually move the flap about 10 degrees while someone attempts to start the engine.

Thanks Rod, tried, it just won’t start. I have tried everything I can think of. I just know its gonna be something simple.

If it is getting fuel, is getting spark, the timing is ok, the comprewsion is good and it turns oover, it must be running. One of these is missing.

Now you see why its getting me so frustrated. I have checked and rechecked everything I can think of with no luck.

I know you checked but sometimes these are tricky. Could the timing be 180’ off?

The distributor is slot driven, therefore the camshaft cannot be 180* out of time.

Let’s look at this logically. The car came to you not running. Something caused it to stop running. You discovered that the timing belt was off. Something either caused the belt to come off and the car stopped running or the belt itself was worn/broken and came off/broke and then the car stopped running. What did the owner say about the original cause? My guess is that you have something misaligned but since you’re so certain that you have checked the timing repeatedly, I would now think that something caused the engine to stop in the first place and the belt came off when the engine stopped suddenly. What does the owner say about the original cause? Rocketman

Are you sure about compression??? You can easily set the timing 180 degrees off.

You might have some luck if you loosen the 2 hold down bolts on the distributor and twist the distributor clockwise as far as it will move, snug the bolts and attempt to start it. If the starter balks and surges move the distributor counter clockwise half the distance back to where it was.

Remove the valve cover, then turn the engine over by hand with a wrench or socket on the crank pulley. As you rotate the engine past the TDC, You will notice that on one pass, both of the valves for the #1 cylinder are slightly open, on the other pass, both are firmly closed. You want to be at TDC right after the intake valve has closed, before the exhaust opens. Then check the distributor to see if the rotor is pointing at the tower for the #1 cylinder.

If it is pointing at another tower, then you got the cam timing off, which in turn will throw off the ignition timing.

One more thing, if you did not rotate the engine two full turns after securing the tensioner and double checking the cam timing, you could be a couple of teeth off and that will make it hard to impossible to start.