Will Not Start - random times, elec sys ckd, no prblm fnd


My 91 Ford Escort LX has a problem in that it won’t start at random times. The battery is new (6 months) and I did a trouble shoot on line that suggested the starter relay, solenoid or the starter itself. I took it to Auto Electric here in town and they found nothing wrong.I push the clutch all the way down, turn the wheel all the way and it still will not start at random and very inconvenient times. Other times it is just fine!?!?

Ant ideas?

Pam Motta


Fords of that era often had the infamous TFI module (Thick Film Ignition) which was well known for that problem. The TFI module is mounted to the side of the distributor with two screws. Some years, these screws required a special, slim, deep-well socket (maybe 7/32?). Other times, the screws were: Philips, or torx, or Allen.
ADDED LATER: I’ve assuming that the engine cranks, cranks, cranks; but, doesn’t start. Is this assumption correct?


Exactly what are the symptoms? Starter completely inoperative, solenoid click or no click when the key turned to START, starter turns very slowly, etc.?


You can easily replace a 91 Escort. Most people don’t want to spend money on a $400 car. It just isn’t worth it unless you do all the repair work yourself.


I will assume you mean that the starter motor is not turning by “Will Not Start”. This is going to be difficult to diagnosis unless the problem is seen. It could be corroded battery connections, an intermittant clutch safety switch, problem with the ignition switch, a starter relay (if this has one), or the starter solenoid itself.

Hope that helps


Some simpler items are ignition switch itself and possibly a bad ground to engine from battery.


Intermittant problems can be hard to find. I interpreted the post the same way Researcher did, that the engine would intermittantlly not turn over at all. I based that on the results of your “on line trouble shoot”.

I also agree with Researcher’s list of possibilities. Let me suggest that you get a multimeter and the next time this happens you check for voltage at the starter with the key turned to the start position (yup, a friend will be necessary). If you have 12VDC, then the starter assembly needs changing. That would include both the starter and solenoid, and at this age you may as well change the whole assembly. If you do not have voltage, start at the starter relay.

Post back with how you make out.