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Old 05-22-2011, 05:52 PM   #1
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Unhappy '87 Ranger STX, No spark, ive tried just about everything. HELP!

So heres the story, about 3 months ago i drove 2 hours away to look at this 87 ranger stx with the 2.9l v6, when i got there the truck fired right up and seemed to run fine except it idled at about 2000-2200rpm. i figured it would be an easy fix and the truck was cheap so i went ahead and bought it. so 2 hours driving back on the freeway the truck seemed to suck down gas a little quickly and seemed to lack power. the guy i bought it from said he replaced a lot of stuff including spark plug wires, cap and rotor, and starter solenoid. so towards the end of the drive i got off of the freeway and for the first time the whole drive i let off the gas and the truck just died, i started it back up and it idled at 500rpm and seemed to drive fine. over the next week i drove it around into town a couple times and it started to just randomly die while i was driving, i wouldnt even have to let off the gas it would just cut out and die, it did it a few times one day and started to take longer for it to start but it would still fire up after all. i took it home and replaced the idle control valve and throttle position sensor trying to fix the idling problem and hopefully cure the dying as well. neither of those things made a bit of difference to it. after that i let it sit in the driveway for about 4 or 5 days, i came out to start it and the battery was dead, so i charged up the battery and tried to start it and nothing, it just wouldnt fire for anything. so i started going through things one at a time, i took the spark plug out, stuck the wire on it and held it to a piece of metal to ground it out and turned it over and no spark. so knowing that the tfi module is a likely problem but i didnt have the ford tool to take it off so i took the coil in to get tested and figured if it was good then it had to be the tfi. the coil tested good like i thought and i bought a tfi module and the tool and came home. i took off the tfi and when i was putting the new one back in i realized that one of the screws that hold it on had been stripped out and wouldnt tighten up. but even so with the one screw holding it it seems to make good contact and hold up tight against the distributor. after all of this it still didnt have any spark. so in hope that maybe the guy that tested the coil missed something or just didnt know what he was doing(very likely when going to costless auto parts) i went out and bought a coil and put that in, still no spark at the spark plugs. so i got a test light and hooked it up right at the coil to see if it was producing spark, it is and turns the light on on my test light so im assuming its good. im at a dead end here, not sure what it could be. maybe the tfi module i got from costless is bad? or do i need to find a way to tighten up the one screw on the tfi? i put a zip tie around it to hold it firmly against the distributor but like i said it seemed like it was plenty tight against it as it was. the spark plugs look old as well but i dont see how that could stop spark completely? Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give me, im just a little tired of dumping hundreds of dollars into a truck i only paid $750 for, if i wanted to i could probably just sell it and buy another but id like to keep this one. Thanks again and i hope someone can help me out!
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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Also i dont know if this will have any effect on grounding my truck out but i dont have any tires or wheels on it right now and its just sitting on some wood blocks and jack stands. Thanks
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:25 PM   #3
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check that the small ground from the battery did not get disconnected.

If not getting spark, pull KOEO and CM codes. This will verify that the computer is turning on, and also give you a little more insight as to what the problem could be. Check for power at the coil, too. Problem could be that the ECC isn't even turning on, would recommend starting there at the top of the food chain.
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:58 PM   #4
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I second pyschopete. check your grounds, each and every single one is critical....trust me. do like he said, and there is also the hall effect sensor in the distributor that is rare to fail, but that said its happened to me before.. it triggers spark with the tfi. The TFI actually connects into it.
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:40 PM   #5
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Are you certain that this is even a spark related issue? I ask because it sounds like you have spark at the coil. Try putting the timing light on all of your spark plug wires to see if they all flash (maybe you were not getting a good ground or something with your spark test). If your not getting anything from your distributor then either it's bad (hall effect sensor like the other guy mentioned) or maybe even something is up with the distributor cap/rotor (maybe something is cracked or not on properly). You might be able to grab a distributor from a junkyard pretty cheap if it's bad (I think that they're north of $100 from the autoparts store). Like I said, double check your spark output. It would suck if you're throwing all these parts at it and it's a fuel, sensor, or ECU related issue. Here's the link to pull the codes without a scanner: http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/OBD_I.html. I just use a little jumper wire with 3/16" blade terminal connectors on the ends and count the check engine light flashes. You're going to get a bunch of possibly unrelated temperature codes since you can't start it (vehicle is supposed to be warmed up when doing the test), but just disregard those for now. Let us know what you come up with before you throw anymore parts at it.
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:59 AM   #6
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I cleaned my connectors one day and the coil plug in looked new inside...put it back together and wouldn't fire at all. I had messed with other connections at the same time so I called a friend who does mobile diagnostics and he put the computer on in...all he did was jiggle the connector to the coil...fired right up. The plug in was bad. I'm not saying that's your problem but try moving the coil plug-in around. I found one at Car Quest I think it was for like $12.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:52 AM   #7
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Did you ever get a chance to pull any codes yet man? I didn't think of it before, but to me your symptoms almost sound like you had a dying MAP sensor and it finally kicked the bucket. Hopefully the computer will spit out something useful. But with these trucks being so old, it could be so many other things such as wiring and grounding issues like others are mentioning.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:40 PM   #8
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Sorry i dont have a lot of time to work on the truck lately. but i followed the directions on the testing page you guys gave me and i hooked everything up like you said too and all it did when i had the test light hooked up was turn the positive light on on the tester and it stayed on wether the key was on or off.. did i do something wrong or is this a sign that ive got a bad ecu? and ya the map sensor was something i was thinking about too but how would that affect the spark? i could see it having something to do with the idling problem but not the no spark issure. thanks guys
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
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Here ill give you guys something encouraging to read for a change, let me know when it expires and ill grab the new one when its up.


http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/cto/2402495056.html
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Old 05-28-2011, 10:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinestar View Post
Here ill give you guys something encouraging to read for a change, let me know when it expires and ill grab the new one when its up.


http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/cto/2402495056.html
What's that, something you're looking to get instead?

The reason why I even brought up the MAP is because I was because I was doubting your ignition test a little with the way you were grounding it out and everything as per the post of mine before that one (it can be hard enough getting a good ground). Did you do it in a dark area too so you could really see the spark? There is the possibility that your TFI is defective or maybe your hall effect sensor inside your distributor (but I think that even when those go bad you still have spark, but the timing is all messed up -someone else needs to chime in on that one because I've never had a hall effect sensor go bad on me). Any, all of this is a moot point anyway if your certain that you did the ECU test correctly (you should at least get some confirmation flashes) so it seems as it was indeed the culprit. Just double check the pin-outs you used for the test and also try to do it the check engine light way instead of the test light method. If you're going to try to unload this truck, you're going to have a hard time sell it as a vehicle that doesn't start and run.
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