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My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped #5394004 04/04/20 09:50 PM
Joined: Mar 2020
Posts: 542
IMSA_Racing_Fan Offline OP
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Also be stumped the Firestone service center tech guy. My brother towed me home on a strap today.

This is the story: It was running fine at the time I parked it to R&R the front suspension, steering rack, clutch and flywheel, CV joints, and shifter bushings. I also pulled out the old stereo for replacement.

When I tried to start it fumes were being pumped out the IAC valve tube as if either the spark was early or cam timing changed.
Checked the compression, approx 1: 85 2:115 3:80 4:120 dropped some oil into the low cylinders and the numbers jumped into the 120 psi range.
Pulled the timing covers to double check the cam belt that I replaced last summer, the notches were on the mark.
Replaced the crankshaft position sensor, no start.
Swapped the IAC and ECM with junkyard parts I had, no effect.
Replaced the distributor with a tested unit from eBay, no start.
Towed it to Firestone.
They insisted the plug wires and spark plugs were bad, changed them, no start.
Checked ignition timing with a light, said it was on the money.
Changed the distributor with a new unit, no start.
The service advisor said it was the ECM and they don't do those, take the car back.
Bought a reflashed and tested ECM, put it in, no start.
Towed it home.

Any ideas guys?

Edit:. Also swapped out the TPS, MAP sensor, and tested the diaphragm on the EGR.

Last edited by IMSA_Racing_Fan; 04/04/20 10:03 PM.

2012 Cadillac CTS 3.0
1997 Ford Aspire
1991 Jaguar XJ6
1986 Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394018 04/04/20 10:24 PM
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CT8 Offline
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You changed lots of parts. Spark? Fuel? power to where is should be? disconnected wires ? pinched wires? It ran before? low compression.


2015 F150 2.7
2018 F350 6.2
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394019 04/04/20 10:26 PM
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gman2304 Offline
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Stop the madness! Time for a better beater!

Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394029 04/04/20 10:39 PM
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Number_35 Offline
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Back to basics ... to run, the engine needs:

- spark at the right time,

- the correct air/fuel mixture, and

- compression.

You've got compression - it's not perfect, but is good enough to run.

Do you have spark? If Firestone was able to check the timing, presumably so.

So, are you getting gas? Sometimes in Fords of that era there was a switch that was to cut off the fuel supply in the event of an accident. Sometimes when they fail safe (that is, open, cutting off the fuel supply) - worth checking, and easy to reset. (Yeah, I know, the Aspire is actually a Korean-built Mazda 323, but it might still be equipped with that safety feature.)

Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: Number_35] #5394031 04/04/20 10:44 PM
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IMSA_Racing_Fan Offline OP
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Does have spark, fuel out the rail. Either has no effect. Checking those were my first steps.


2012 Cadillac CTS 3.0
1997 Ford Aspire
1991 Jaguar XJ6
1986 Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394032 04/04/20 10:45 PM
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cronk Offline
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Does the crank position sensor by any chance read off the flywheel?
You said you changed it, maybe clocked wrong or defective?


2008 Ford F350
2008 Kia Spectra
2011 Nissan Quest
1986 Pontiac Trans Am
1940 Ford 9N Tractor
Amsoil lubes and filters!
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394045 04/04/20 11:04 PM
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Vercingetorix Offline
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Fuel pump inertia switch?

Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: cronk] #5394055 04/04/20 11:37 PM
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IMSA_Racing_Fan Offline OP
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Reads off the crank pully.


2012 Cadillac CTS 3.0
1997 Ford Aspire
1991 Jaguar XJ6
1986 Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394085 04/05/20 12:51 AM
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user52165 Offline
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Fuel out the rail - but how much?

Many cars require a specified minimum psi to run.

Fuel pressure test?

FSM for proper diagnosis.

Last edited by user52165; 04/05/20 01:08 AM.
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394086 04/05/20 12:54 AM
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vw7674 Offline
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Firing Order. Gots to be swapped wires.
Check compression at the #1 piston stroke, check that the distributor rotor is pointing at the proper terminal on the cap tower.

Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394169 04/05/20 06:19 AM
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vwmaniaman Offline
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When you changed the clutch did you get a harness caught and pinched between the block and bellhousing. That is my bet here. I have done that myself.


Don't waste your time on a slipshod repair.
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394193 04/05/20 06:49 AM
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atikovi Offline
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Maybe post this in an Aspire specific forum. The car hasn't been around for decades and either nobody here knows much about it or they will bash it like they do any small car here they have never owned just for sake of bashing.

http://aspire.b1.jcink.com/
https://www.fordforum.com/forum/aspire-festiva-fiesta-32/

Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394237 04/05/20 08:08 AM
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AndyB Offline
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Try a little starting fluid in the intake. If it fires you know you have the spark department covered.

Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: IMSA_Racing_Fan] #5394264 04/05/20 08:36 AM
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mk378 Offline
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It's going to be hard to start with compression that low. That should have been your hint not to spend money on it. You could try soaking the rings with a little ATF or other favorite potion.

Good point to check the firing order. Also distributor might be 180 degrees off. That will cause timing light to show it fires right at TDC, but it's the wrong TDC.

Last edited by mk378; 04/05/20 08:40 AM.
Re: My 1997 Ford Aspire 1.3 beater has me stumped [Re: mk378] #5394271 04/05/20 08:41 AM
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atikovi Offline
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Originally Posted by mk378
It's going to be hard to start with compression that low.


I would disagree. Many turbo engines are around 120 psi. The two at 80 are marginal but it should start ok.

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