1990 Ford Tempo



September, 6, 2012 AT 9:44 PM

1990 Ford Tempo (4 cylinder)
2.3 L - manual transmission
VIN # 1FABP35XILK234531
Odometer – 245 270 km

Vehicle in trouble Sept. 6, 2012

Please help; I have owned this car since 1992 and have good records of the work done on the car. It is past the point where I want to spend a lot of money on repairs. I have access to a 1990 tempo parts car, if swapping a part could prove useful in determining the problem.

The problem I am experiencing is intermittent and is unpredictable as to when it acts up. I had originally thought that the symptoms are only exhibited when the engine heats up and generally when I am shifting gears or pressing on the gas pedal to speed up. But this does not hold true in all cases.
Basically the symptoms are a sudden loss of power (not a gradual slowing of the vehicle) that feels like the lurching one would experience if one was just learning to drive a standard transmission – ie: jack-rabbiting.
It doesn’t seem to be transmission related when the symptoms show up; as I can see the RPM gauge drop 1000 RPM when I rev the engine in neutral.

Trouble codes that are shown by the computer are;

“0” or (Key On Engine Off ) KOEO codes;
11 - system Ok

“C”(continuous memory) codes;
14 - Ignition profile pickup is eratic
18 - “SPOUT” circuit open
[SPark OUTput from PCM to TFI module(on distributor) is not closing?]

“R”(engine running) codes;
21 - coolant temperature is out of specified range
52 - power steering pressure switch is out of specified range

I have a small coolant leak as I have noticed some dry coolant on the engine (appears under the Air filter and toward the firewall). This probably accounts for the code 21 above. I suspect this is unrelated to the erratic idle (lurching) issue, but I am not a mechanic.

If anyone has experienced these symptoms or knows what this problem probably is, I would appreciate communicating with them.

Chris2009taylor@yahoo. Ca


9 Answers



September, 7, 2012 AT 12:56 AM

This should be looked at by a pro as yo may have shorted wires or any othr esimilar thing like that. You should replace the coolant temp switch if it is getting the correct votage and that ; may help it or if it leaks an dyou are just putting water in it then put antifreeze as that may help. Switches don't like water screws them up readingwise. Check the fuel pressuremake sure your p/s is full of fluid and the correct type. Try clening the throttle plate on both sides with choke cleaner as well as the iac hole.



December, 12, 2012 AT 9:25 PM

1990 Ford Tempo (4 cylinder) Today s date Dec.11, 2012
2.3 L - manual transmission
VIN # 1FABP35XILK234531
Odometer 245 270 km

Vehicle in trouble since Sept. 6, 2012

Thanks for the initial comments.
I can t take it to a pro as that is not a financial option for me. I would be prepared to pay 20 dollars for some advice that allows me to know what the problem is, so that I can fix it myself.
I can reproduce the lurching referred to on September 6 2012. It seems to only occur after about 20 minutes of running (either by driving it or letting it idle). The lurching, once it starts is quite persistant and eventually will lead to a stall unless I use the gas pedal to keep the RPM up while stopped. I thought I had the problem solved when I presumed it must be temperature related. This presumption pointed me to the cooling system and I found that; a) system not holding pressure b) rust colored antifreeze observed though Radiator Cap c) thermostat may not have been working.

I have since; 1) replaced a leaking hose (thermostat to heater hose- toward firewall)
2) replaced thermostat and radiator cap
3) Flushed the system quite a few times with water and also with Prestone super flush (the rusty liquid had gel-ed in the antifreeze reservoir so I thought it important to repeat the flushing)
4) Engine Coolant Temp. (ECT) sensor changed.
5) Replaced the Air charge temperature (ACT) sensor in the intake manifold.

Basically, I have made sure the system is being cooled properly
[ thermostat opens when warmed, and results in the cooling fan turning on (fan switch works). Also the water pump is working as I feel the pump pressure when I hold the upper radiator hose],

Yet the problem persists.

I have redone the Trouble codes test. Two outcomes result; they now show the following; 1) if I perform the test prior to 20 minutes of idling.

0 or (Key On Engine Off ) KOEO codes; 11 - system Ok

C (continuous memory) codes; 14 - Ignition profile pickup is eratic

R (engine running) codes; 11 - system Ok

If I perform the test after 20 minutes of idling,
the Trouble codes show the following; 0 or (Key On Engine Off ) KOEO codes; 11 - system Ok

C (continuous memory) codes; 14 - Ignition profile pickup is eratic

R (engine running) codes; Either the code below would be indicated (if engine didn t stall)
13 - Ignition profile pickup is eratic
and RPM would fluctuate between 1800 and 500 RPM.


if engine stalled, the following code would be indicated
77 - Goose test not performed

If anyone has experienced these symptoms or knows what this problem probably is, I would appreciate communicating with them.
Any information would be helpful.
The frustrating part is that the car works perfectly for the first fifteen (or so) minutes.

Thanks in advance,




December, 12, 2012 AT 9:36 PM

You keep gettin gthe ignition being eratic. I think most auto parts stores can check the ignition module for you or the relucktor is bad or cracked in dist. Also check for loose connections to dist/module and arcing on spark plug wires. Other than tehse suggestion I haven't any more to give you.



December, 13, 2012 AT 9:10 PM

Thanks for replying,
The ignition module was changed 25,000 miles ago - so that is probably not it. Most shops have a minimum shop charge of 1/2 hour (120/hour) so that may not be an option for me.

What is a - relucktor - (is bad or cracked in dist.)?
I could change the distributor if I knew that is the problem - Why would it work for the first 20 minutes? Is there a way of doing a simple test to see if the distributor is the issue?

I checked for loose connections to dist/module and arcing on spark plug wires already. Also the IAC and TPS are not the problem.

I have another tempo; same year to exchange parts to trouble shoot providing it isn't to hard to get at.
Any ideas about the questions above hmac300?

Thanks again,




December, 14, 2012 AT 11:12 PM

Take your ignition odule to an auto parts store and see I f they can check it alot can. Also if yo have apickup coil in dist test fo resistance and move wires, if resitance high it may fail after 20 minutes or replace the dist from teh other tempo an dsee if it cures it if it does you've found your problem. If not it lies eitehr with pcm or connection issue at pcm.



December, 15, 2012 AT 11:53 PM

Thanks again, hmac300

it is not the coil as I've changed that now with no result.

I can also exchange the ignition module/ or test it myself with a voltmeter, but this seems unlikely as it was changed not too long ago.

Could this possibly be a timing chain/belt issue? Or would that create the problem as soon as I start the car (ie: temperature shouldn't make chain fail)

If this is a possibility, is there a simple test to check the chain?




December, 16, 2012 AT 4:29 PM

From what I am understanding you are losing electrical power that is why it is stopping. As I said check teh resistance of the pick up coil in the dist not the coil for spark. Also check your reluctor in dist for cracks, when it cold it is tight byut when it iswarmed up it loosenes and effets yoru spark. I have no further suggestions for this.



December, 18, 2012 AT 8:31 PM

Dec. 18-2012

FORD Tempos do not have RELUCTORS, the current is induced by a HALL SENSOR which can not be seen in the distributor from the top.

Presumably if I exchange the Distributor, with the one from the tempo that works this should test both the Ignition module (which is attached to dist. Base) and the HALL SENSOR which affects my spark.

1) Correct?

But you didn t comment on
2) If you think this could be a timing chain/belt issue?

these are my last 2) comments without a donation.

Chris . Appreciate the time.



December, 18, 2012 AT 8:49 PM

1. Yes and no it'not atiming belt/chain sissue because the car still runs. If it were a belt chain issue it wouldn't run or run very poorly all the time. Hall effect switches are very hard to diagnose as the problem and even with test equiptment so chanign it out would be your best option, if the problem goes away then it's eitehr the switch or module. Or connection. Also you have a very old car-22yrs and try to keep up with newer electronics and remember stuff from old cars. In a state where I am normally a car as old as yours woldn't be on the road or very very few of them

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