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intermittent no start

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1999 ranger 4 cyl.
every few days this problem happens, never can tell when it's going to, doesn't matter if the engine is cold or hot, doesn't matter if it has been driven somewhere already or not.

cranks over like normal, motor starts like normal for a split second but immediately conks out and dies. then it's like no spark, I can keep cranking, anywhere from a few minutes to half hour, and all of a sudden starts working. runs and drives normal till it happens again.

rented a cheesy OBD-II tester from auto zone to keep on hand for when it happens so I can hook it up and check error codes.

next time it conked out, I left the key in the on position, hooked up the OBD-II, no error codes.

removed key, reinserted key, cranked it over, still no error codes.

continued trying until it finally started, turned engine off, put key in on position, no error codes.

I don't know if this cheesy reader is capable of reading stored error codes, I don't know if the truck's computer even stores error codes.


this started about a month ago when I took it in to change the timing belt, spark plugs, and MAF. they had to take off the alternator/power steering/ac for the belt, and take off the intake manifold to get to the spark plugs, so in all there was a lot of wiring they had to mess with, something could have got damaged.

any ideas on how to figure out what's not functioning when this happens?
 
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Earl43P

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Put a spark plug on one of the plug wires and verify spark when it won't start. Lay the plug on metal,, crank it over, observe spark. If sparking, check fuel pressure at the fuel rail.
 

trail B2

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What I would try to do first is clean all the motor plugs with electronic cleaner by that I mean where the components plug together.Inspect them, cover them with dialectric grease and put back together you might have a intermittent open in one of those plugs they took apart to do the repairs, cheap easy place to start.
 

martin

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sounds fuel pump related.
 
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I have one of those spark kilovolt testers, I'll take it with me and hook it up to test for spark next time it won't start.

it's a simple plastic piece with a long screw in it, apparently you see how far you can unscrew it before a spark doesn't jump across, goes from 2 KV (screwed in) to 50 KV (screwed out, 1.5" gap) always wondered what that thing was until I looked at it.

correct me if I'm wrong, but a 4 cyl ranger should have a spark at least 35 KV? so if I screw it in to 10 KV I should have a nice big fat 1/4" spark I can see from behind the steering wheel.

I think I'll try to troubleshoot before I clean up all the electrical contacts, those hooker-on things get broke too easy, don't want to mess with them if I don't have to.

I didn't check the fuel pump yet. I do hear it come on like always. I'll wait to see if I get spark first before I do something like check fuel pump pressure.
 
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it was the fuel pump.

fyi, instead of checking for spark, first thing the mechanic did was stick a ball point pen into this tire valve looking thing sticking up in front of the intake manifold, he could tell whether the fuel line had gas, and if it was pressurized. (it wasn't) I guess it was some kind of pressure relief valve.

just so you know. you can do a quick check on the fuel pump. that's how he did it.
 
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modelageek

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I am glad you got it fixed that valve is called a shrader valve. It is where you can test for fuel pressure. you might of had a bad fuel pressure regulator but I believe in your truck the regulator and pump are all one piece in the tank ........ not a cheap repair
 

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