88 dies when spout is plugged in


Feb 23, 2013
My '88 5.0 died about two months ago. I managed to get it into a parking lot. It would fire, then run for a few seconds and shut off again. I waited until it cooled down, pulled the spout connector and the car started up and I drove it home. I finally got around to messing with it this weekend. It already had a new Ford cap, rotor, plugs and wires. I replaced the PIP, TFI module and coil with all Standard brand parts (not their cheap budget line).

I started the car with the spout removed and set the timing. Seconds after I put the spout back in, it died and wouldn't restart. I pulled the spout back out and it started right up. Which direction should I look at from here?
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That ECU needs to be sent to ecuexchange or atleast the cover removed and checked.
Short or damaged wire in TFI harness?
Since I have the computer unplugged, I'll check the wire from pin 56 out to the TFI module for opens or shorts tonight.

I wish I did have access to a spare ECU but no such luck.

What's weird is when the car died months ago the timing was set at 14 degrees. It would refire for a second and then die right away. That's how I managed to limp it into a parking lot.
After I installed the new PIP,TFI and coil, I started it up with the spout out and set the timing to the factory 10 degrees. Installing the spout would kill the engine dead immediately.
I reset it to 14 (spout out), plugged in the spout and the engine ran for 3-5 seconds before dying. I kept thinking about a spun balancer but mine looks fine and doesn't wobble plus that still wouldn't explain why the car died months back to begin with.
If you are questioning the balancer simply put the motor up in TDC the mechanical way. Bring the #1 cylinder up on the compression stroke, use a small screw driver such that you can feel the top of the piston, as the piston is coming up in the bore you will feel it stop and this is TDC. Take a look at where the pointed is vs. the marks on the crank pulley and that will tell you.
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Checked the harness. TFI wire to pin 56 on the ECU is good. No opens or shorts to ground. Put everything back together, started car without spout and set timing at 10 again. THIS time, when I plugged in the spout, the engine did NOT die immediately. It ran happily for about 5 minutes and then randomly died. Checked for spark-No spark. Pulled spout back out, No spark either. So now looking at intermittent no-spark issue.

BTW, other than a Cobra intake put on about 8 years ago, the car is equipped with a stock speed density motor.
Yes, I checked that early on.

I had a thought about the EEC power relay, since I had to "disturb" it, moving it out of the way the drop the computer out, thinking I might have bumped something in an inadvertent "wiggle" test. I just pulled the connector out and found a good bit of green corrosion at the base of one of the terminals. It looks to be coming out of the relay itself. I'll grab one tomorrow at the parts store to try out.
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Ok, got the new EEC power today finally and installed it. No luck. Fired up with the spout connector in and ran about 45 seconds and then shut down very suddenly. No spark. I'm not sure if I'm losing fuel as well, but definitely no spark. I removed the spout connector and the car fired right up again and idled fine. Turned the car off, reinstalled the spout connector and the car fired up and then abruptly shut off within 45 seconds again.

So we have the problem with an original Ford coil/PIP/TFI module and we have the problem with Standard brand coil/PIP/TFI. The computer looks pristine inside and the wiring between the TFI and computer checks out. The EEC power relay looked corroded and was thus replaced and the computer ground looks good. So where to next? Any other sensors the computer looks at that could cause an engine to die suddenly?

Ignition switch problems shouldn't be affected by the spout connector being in or out.

I hate to give up, but a carb is looking tempting at this point.
Alright, new turn of events. Went to turn the car around in the driveway with the spout connector out so it would run. About a minute later it died and wouldn't re-start. When I cycled the key and cranked, I did hear the fuel pump prime up. After failing to re-start, I let it sit for minute or two and re-tried. It fired up and ran for another minute before dying again. So now the problem is beyond spout in or out.
Generally when the switch fails you get nothing or it loses connection intermittently while running.. A zip tie around a failing one where the housing is separating from tne plastic will last a good bit in my experience until you can replace it. You said the car primes the pump. Is the fuel pump priming for a few seconds and shutting off or it running the whole time the spout is in with the key in the prime position. I just had a mass air ecu fail where the prime wouldn't cycle every time and just kept running, caused a not start condition when it did that, spare ecu swapped in and its running again, haven't had a chance to crack it open and see what failed yet though.
The fuel primes for a few seconds as normal.

I pulled the column cover off for a quick look. Its the original Ford switch. The plastic part is a bit loose on the metal housing. Someone has been in here before. One of the plastic clips that holds the ignition switch connector on is snapped off, though the plug was fully plugged in. I'll probably throw a switch in it just as a matter of course due to the age.

What's funny is way back over a year ago, I noticed the slightest of misses at random times running down the road. My wife couldn't detect it and you couldn't really feel it, but I could hear the motor miss or drop out for a split second every once in a while.
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Run a zip tie or two around it if it's at all loose until you can get one, but generally they won't even crank when the switch fails..... I had a local dealer do one under the open recall a few years back.. No issue it was just open under that vin when I was picking parts so I had them do it... They swapped it with one of the old stock recalled ones.. Didn't even last a week before it fell apart, had zip ties holding it together until a new one came in.