Hard to start, poor idle - stalls with no accelerator

Tiny
IBROKEMYCAR
  • MEMBER
  • FORD ESCORT
Hi,

Hope you can help. I have a 1992 Ford Escort 1.6 LX (80,000 miles).
Engine was misfiring a bit - especially in the wet, but running OK generally, still I thought I'd mess with it!

I changed the spark plugs and leads, cleaned the distributor cap & sprayed it with WD40 - it does look a bit worn and slight cracks by the screws but looks ok. I also took the cover off the air filter - It is dirty and I definitely need to change the paper element.

The problem is that after my 'repairs', the car doesn't work! It is very hard to start, and coughs and splutters. When I finally do manage to start it, it won't idle without help ie. Me keeping my foot on the accelerator.

I even tried putting the old plugs and leads back on but no change.

Unfortunately I didn't try to start the engine between changing the plugs and leads and removing the air filter - so I don't know which one caused the problem!

Am thinking I might have knocked a lead out of place by accident / created a leak on a vacuum lead.

I also tried taking off the air filter and starting it - it did start a bit easier and idle a little bit - but maybe this was because the engine was a bit warmer?

Please help! It is driving me crazy! How could something have gone wrong?
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Saturday, November 25th, 2006 AT 7:22 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
BAREFOOTBOB88
  • MEMBER
Well I've heard of some people using WD-40 as an electrical contact cleaner but not for high intensity electrical parts. That might be your problem, but if your cap does has cracks in it and your air filter does need changed might as well replace them both. Those parts are expensive. I'd start with that. Sometimes the seal where the cap meets the distributor gets worn and allows moisture into the cap. Might also want to replace the rotar button.
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Saturday, November 25th, 2006 AT 8:31 PM
Tiny
IBROKEMYCAR
  • MEMBER
Bob,

Thanks for the reply. WD40 was to stop moisture getting in. I will replace these parts asap but no moisture would have gotten in. These parts were working in the condition they were in before I changed the plugs and leads yesterday. I don't see why now they're not! Surely it must be something else that I inadvertently broke?

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

Will let you know if a new paper element and distributor cap fixes the problem. I suspect not.
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Sunday, November 26th, 2006 AT 5:04 AM
Tiny
IBROKEMYCAR
  • MEMBER
As an afterthought, I didn't check which HT leads go to which connector on the distributor cap - I just reconnected them all randomly - is this gonna be the problem?

If so, what is the correct firing order?
1992 FORD ESCORT 1.6 LX

And how do I know which cylinder is which?
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Sunday, November 26th, 2006 AT 6:30 AM
Tiny
BRUCE HUNT
  • EXPERT
I would say that you messed up the firing order on the car. I don't car whether WD40 can claim to keep out moisture, nix the idea of using it. Any crack on the distributor cap can allow the spark to jump and this can cause the poor performance, but the not starting of the car is order related. Here is what I think you need.

1, 3, 2, 4 it should be marked with a "1" or a little notch or an arrow or something on the distributor cap.
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Sunday, November 26th, 2006 AT 10:29 AM
Tiny
IBROKEMYCAR
  • MEMBER
Bruce, I'm sure it's been said before. You're a genius!

Thank you so much!

It was the firing sequence.

After the dimple on the distributor cap (going clockwise, sequence was 1, 2, 4, 3.

Cylinder 1 is on the left - closest to the pulley for anyone with the same problem.

Now have new plugs and leads. Engine running nicely, although poor performance now and again - next job new distributor cap, air filter, fuel filter, oil filter.

Thank again!
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Sunday, November 26th, 2006 AT 2:43 PM

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