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Old 02-11-2008, 04:57 PM   #1
Sylenced1
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96 Ford Contour, car turns over but will not start

Hello all, I am having a bit of car trouble and was hoping to get some advice. My car is a Ford Contour 96 model, with a v4 engine and automatic transmission. The problem I am having as the title states, it will not start. It is a used car that I have owned for 3 years now, and it started at about 96,000 miles. It is currently at 126,000 miles, and over the years has had an oil change every 3,000 miles, and is currently up to date. In this time I have never had a tune up done, meaning no new fuel filter, spark plugs, etc, or had a new timing belt put in.

Basically, when the problem occurred it was suggested to me that I get a new battery, as that had never been changed either. Even tho the lights still functioned, and the car turned over, I replaced the battery. Successfully installed, but to no avail with my current problem. I am coming here for suggestions on what step to take next, as my budget is limited, and I cannot afford to have it towed to an auto shop, and have them do the work. My question would be, with the current information, what step should I take next? I have about 100 dollars to work with, so I am hoping for some insight on what might be the smartest move to make, as I cannot afford to waste too much money with trial and error. Thank you.
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:03 PM   #2
carls47807
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There can be 1 of three things wrong with the car (or more than one of three things).

1. You aren't getting any gas to the engine
2. You aren't getting any spark to the engine
3. You are getting spark and fuel but the timing of the engine is off

I am guessing you do not have a lot of equipment, including a timing light?

To test for the 1st:
Make sure you have gas, of course. When you turn the key on do you hear the electric fuel pump run for nearly a second towards the back of the vehicle? If so you're fuel pump is working. If not maybe you didn't hear it or maybe it isn't working. This can also be tested by finding the schrader valve on the intake manifold, taking the cap off, and carefully disengaging it (like a tire stem) to see if pressurized gas comes out. If the fuel pump isn't working and you aren't getting gas you should obviously do further testing to be sure it isn't an inertia switch or wiring that is bad.

To test for the 2nd:
Pull a plug boot and hook an old spark plug up to it (or remove a spark plug). Hook it up to the boot and put it to ground and see if it fires when cranking the engine. This can also be done with an HEI tester sold at any parts store for about 10 bucks. You plug it into the end of the boot like a spark plug and basically tells you if you are getting strong or weak spark. If you get no spark you obviously need to find out why (could be a number of things including coils, ignition switch, ignition module, crankshaft sensor, i'm not too familiar with contours). These parts are generally not cheap.

To test for the 3rd:
If the fuel pump kicks on, you have gas at the fuel rail, and you have good spark you could be dealing with a broken or loose timing belt (if you have an interference engine you will probably be able to hear this when cranking, interference means the valves are timed to miss the pistons when everything is "timed" right.)

Get started from here and let us know what you find out.

Carl
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Old 02-12-2008, 02:59 PM   #3
Sylenced1
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Thank you very much for the advice, I will see what I can do today and let you know my findings. Appreciate it!
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Old 02-13-2008, 01:09 PM   #4
Sylenced1
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Turns out it was the ignition switch, had a friend help and it is running again. Thanks much, saved me time and money
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:10 PM   #5
carls47807
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Yer Welcome.
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