1987 2.3L. Another no start... but this thread is different: I've done all the tests!


4RingCircus

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Well, it comes to this... My truck won't start. Yes, I'm a rookie, but I read a lot. And this truck has me stumped. Time for help from the forum:

Truck Summary: 1987 2.3 Lima engine. Yes, its old... but runs great. About 187K miles. Truck was running fine. I parked at the office, worked all day. When my day was done, I went out to the truck, and she fired right up as always. I drove 1 block to the first stop light. And while idling at the light, suddenly the truck died. And not a sputter then die~ this was instant death: as if I had turned the key and shut it off. Every time I've tried to start it since, it cranks over and over and over.... but never even gives a hint of starting. On to what I've tested.
  • Spark
    • pulled the first plug and hooked up a tester. Nice bright spark flashing exactly like I would expect it to.
  • Fuel
    • my fuel pump cutoff relay stopped working a long time ago. I've removed the relay and hooked up a kill switch, which has worked flawlessly for years.
    • 1987 had 2 pumps. The high pressure mounted on the rail turns on as usual when I turn the key. I can't hear anything from the low pressure inside the tank.... so I guess it could be the low pressure pump...Except... see the next bullet.
    • I sprayed starting fluid directly into the intake manifold. Once again, the engine cranks over and over and over.... not even a hint of starting.
    • I pulled the plug off injector 1 and hooked up an engine light. It flashes exactly like it should, so at least the electrical controlling the injectors is working.
    • I pushed the fuel rail shrader valve and gas squirted out.... but no I didn't hook up a gauge and test the actual pressure.
  • Mechanical
    • The timing belt looks brand new. No surprise, it was replaced less than 5000 miles ago.
    • Hooked up a compression tester, the good kind that threads into the plug hole. I've never used one before, and from what I've read, the engine is supposed to be up to operating temp, and obviously my truck is cold. I'm curious how much that would change the results. All cylinders are low, and cylinder 3 is strangely at 90 while the others are at 60.
      • cylinder 1: 60lbs
      • cylinder 2: 60lbs
      • cylinder 3: 90lbs
      • cylinder 4: 60lbs
    • But... come on. How could a major mechanical failure happen while idling at a stop light???
So... lets hear from the experts. Thanks guys!~ Dave
 


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RonD

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Welcome to TRS :)

Good testing (y)

Your Timing belt has slipped, and yes it can just happen, often they just break, and same symptom, it just dies while driving it
Worse case is that the crank gear sheared off the woodruf key, but same work required to get at the timing belt

Your compression should be above 150psi in all cylinders in a 2.3l Lima engine

And you don't have to do compression test warm, I prefer cold test results

You need compression above 120psi to get gasoline to vaporize enough for a spark plug to ignite it, and thats on a warm day, lol
Surprised the Ether(starting fluid) didn't ignite but it also needs a bit of heat/compression to be ignited by a spark
 
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rusty ol ranger

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What ron said
 

4RingCircus

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Welcome to TRS :)

Good testing (y)

Your Timing belt has slipped, and yes it can just happen, often they just break, and same symptom, it just dies while driving it
Worse case is that the crank gear sheared off the woodruf key, but same work required to get at the timing belt

Your compression should be above 150psi in all cylinders in a 2.3l Lima engine

And you don't have to do compression test warm, I prefer cold test results

You need compression above 120psi to get gasoline to vaporize enough for a spark plug to ignite it, and thats on a warm day, lol
Surprised the Ether(starting fluid) didn't ignite but it also needs a bit of heat/compression to be ignited by a spark
Thank you Ron! Oh man, if that is the issue I'd be so happy. I'll begin exploring that rabbit hole.
 

4RingCircus

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Thanks Ron D and Rusty Ol Ranger, you were correct... however... :confused:.... It ran great for a total of 2 minutes and jumped again. What could be causing this? I will say, I heard a loud tick or knock, sounded kinda lick a valve? Also, once I got everything pulled apart and the crank at top dead center, the cam pulley was off several notches; not just one. Probably closer to 5 or 10. Thoughts?
 

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Either the belt is worn or the tensioner needs to be replaced...
 

4RingCircus

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Forgot to mention, I replaced the tensioner pulley over the weekend... but not the spring. I'll try that next.
 

4RingCircus

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OK, last night, I took the timing cover off again. To my surprise, the cam and crank were properly aligned on their respective timing marks. Put it back together and it started! Lol, I'm not sure why it died the night before, but I wish I had tried a little harder to get it started.

Either way, the Ron D and Rusty Ol Ranger correctly diagnosed the original problem: Timing belt jumped a few notches. Problem solved. Thanks guys!
 

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