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1989 Mercury Tracer (Mazda 323) weak spark

  #1  
Old 05-17-2014, 10:21 PM
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Default 1989 Mercury Tracer (Mazda 323) weak spark

So I've got some spark, but it's really orange and wimpy looking, and while I've already determined I don't have any fuel, I was shocked to find out that the car won't even sputter with starting fluid. The car has been running just fine for months, with the occasional issue that it will stop getting fuel and there's a button on an 'inertial sensor' in the hatch that I would press and it would immediately start again. But then last weekend I went to start the car, it started, but was running rough, and as soon as I pressed the gas pedal, it died. The button didn't do anything, and when I got it towed home, I figured I would try starting it with starting fluid, and that didn't do anything at all. Not even a cough.

I put new plugs and a new cap and rotor on it, but it's still not doing anything. Though I do need to a do a boost start just to make sure it's not the battery charge, but I'm hoping that someone can give me the specs (and a how to!) on how to test the distributor to make sure it's in spec. I love Mazdas but I also have a 1990 Miata that won't start, I'm getting frustrated! Haha

Thanks in advance!
 
  #2  
Old 05-18-2014, 08:24 AM
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Ignition coil(s)!?
Spark plug wires!
 
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Old 05-27-2014, 06:53 PM
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Spark plug wires are fine, they were tested. It COULD be the ignition coil, but I still haven't found a way to test it and I don't want to just throw parts at it, that's been a surefire way to lose money in the past.

I talked to a mechanic and he said that starting fluid isn't a great way to check if a car will run as it can easily flood it, and I should concentrate on getting fuel since that's what it's supposed to run on. I'm not really sure about the starting fluid, as I know I've started the car on starting fluid before when it couldn't get fuel. But I decided to go ahead and address the apparent fuel issue.

Checking the fuel pump, I found out that it doesn't prime when you click the key to on, but it does pump when clicked to start and the motor is turning over. Does this car not prime the fuel system, or is something else going on here? Fuel pump relay? How can I test it? I really need to find a factory service manual for this car...
 
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ernesto Peterson View Post
Spark plug wires are fine, they were tested. It COULD be the ignition coil, but I still haven't found a way to test it and I don't want to just throw parts at it, that's been a surefire way to lose money in the past.

I talked to a mechanic and he said that starting fluid isn't a great way to check if a car will run as it can easily flood it, and I should concentrate on getting fuel since that's what it's supposed to run on. I'm not really sure about the starting fluid, as I know I've started the car on starting fluid before when it couldn't get fuel. But I decided to go ahead and address the apparent fuel issue.

Checking the fuel pump, I found out that it doesn't prime when you click the key to on, but it does pump when clicked to start and the motor is turning over. Does this car not prime the fuel system, or is something else going on here? Fuel pump relay? How can I test it? I really need to find a factory service manual for this car...
Doubt it's throwing away money on a 1989 car! Price of a new coil may be cheaper than a diagnostic charge!
Fuel is just as important, though!
Good luck.
 
  #5  
Old 05-27-2014, 09:13 PM
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Ernesto:
I think you need a Haynes manual or a Chilton's. You local public library may have one of these or they may have a subscription to a data service. I bet you can buy it on Ebay or Amazon or ABE.
Once you know the specifications you can begin a proper diagnosis.

meanwhile you may read the unofficial user's guide to the protege and do some cleaning jobs....https://www.mazdaforum.com/forum/maz...%E9g%E9-31136/

By the way using starter fluid will lead to loss of compression because it thins out the oil.
 
  #6  
Old 11-17-2014, 06:53 PM
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Hey guys! Been a looooong time! I had a long period of time where I couldn't work on the car, and then ended up taking it to a mechanic to get diagnosed, and well, I feel terrible, because it turns out...

UseYourNoggin! Correct from the very beginning! Needed a new ignition coil. $10 part off Amazon, little bit of shipping, and bam. Works great (and it should, going through all this I've done a new timing belt, spark plugs, fuel pump, and both fuel filters).

EDIT: Oh yeah, also replaced a vacuum hose.

Now it's idling high (2k RPMs) and getting terrible gas mileage as well as a few other ****ling issues, so I've still got some work ahead of me. Now it's cold though and I don't have a garage, so a pain to work on. Hopefully garage soon!
 

Last edited by Ernesto Peterson; 11-17-2014 at 06:54 PM. Reason: Added
  #7  
Old 11-17-2014, 10:48 PM
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Yea, ignition coils are actually a maintenance item. They start out new putting out 40K volts. Over time they degrade and put out less and less voltage. All the while the vehicle still runs but is not burning all the fuel. This degrades the catalytic converters,which are expensive to replace. It is best to replace them every 100K miles. From your description it could easily need a fuel pressure regulator. Not generally a maintenance item but i have seen a lot of those go bad on that model. Which makes it a maintenance item in my book as it destroys the fuel pump over time. A vacuum leak can cause a high idle,a sticking IAC valve (bypass control valve ) can too and is fairly common. That model does have an idle adjustment screw on it. Have you tried adjusting it?
 
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