Real common problem with a real easy solution. Crankshaft position sensors and camshaft position sensors often fail on any brand of car by becoming heat-sensitive, then they work again after cooling down for about an hour. On this engine and its 2.2L counterpart, the ignition pick-up assembly is the sensor in question. It sits under the rotor in the distributor. This photo shows what it looks like.
This job can be done by a competent do-it-yourselfer in about five minutes with just a #2 Philips screwdriver. The hardest part of the job is removing the two screws. The heads get rusty, and the screws become tight in the distributor housing. Use a good-quality screwdriver that fits snugly into the screw head.
There's a tall black plastic shield not shown in these drawings. A lot of people threw them away, but they have an important purpose. That is to keep water off the distributor cap and spark plug wires when you're driving in rain. Once the two screws are removed, the distributor cap is just lifted up and to the side, then the sensor can be lifted up and off.
This failure was common enough that many people carried spare sensors in the glove box. It can be replaced on the side of the road if you have to. I wouldn't worry about the last step, "setting the timing". Any slight change due to the new part is going to be very insignificant.
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Monday, August 9th, 2021 AT 5:14 PM