Engine 89 Mustang Gt Wont Spark. Wierd Situation Please Help!!!

William Brown

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Ok, A short run down... I bought this 89 GT convertible and no lights worked at all. The harnesses were crazy hacked and spliced and i could not get nothing connected right to fix the issue so I replaced all the harnesses except the dash. Everything now works lights, fuel pump comes on, both coil wires test correct voltage... Now, It started before i replaced the harnesses. Now this is my problem... I have no spark from the distributor to the plugs. I put a test light between the coil and distributor wire and in barely flickers when i let off the key only. Now if i disconnect the distributor and place the coil wire by a ground it sparks like crazy and the test light flashes bright. Now the things i have replaced are: coil, distributor, TFI Ignition module, starter solenoid, starter, 130a alternator with 4 gauge wire upgrade, rear harness, front harness. Please help me figure this out. I want to drive my new Pony!!!!
 
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jrichker

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Cranks OK, but No Start Checklist for Fuel Injected 5.0 Mustangs model years 1986-1995

A word about this checklist before you start: it is arranged in a specific order to put the most likely failure items first. That will save you time, energy and money. Start at the top of the list and work your way down. Jumping around will possibly cause you to miss just what you need to see to find and fix the problem. Don’t skip any steps because the next step depends on the last step working correctly.


Revised 26-Jul-2017 to add fuse link diagram.

All text applies to all models unless stated otherwise.

Note: 94-95 specific changes are in red

1.) Remove push on connector (small red/blue wire) from starter solenoid and turn ignition switch to the Run position. Place car in neutral or Park and set the parking brake. Remove the coil wire from distributor & and hold it 3/8” away from the engine block. Jumper the screw to the big bolt on the starter solenoid that has the battery wire connected to it. You should get a nice fat blue spark.
Most of the items are electrical in nature, so a test light, or even better, a voltmeter, is helpful to be sure they have power to them.

No spark, possible failed items in order of their probability:
A.) MSD, Crane, or other ignition box if present - Bypass it and return to stock configuration if possible. Do this as a temporary measure to eliminate it as a possible problem source.
B.) PIP sensor in distributor. The PIP sensor supplies the timing pulse to trigger the TFI and injectors. A failing PIP sensor will sometimes let the engine start if the SPOUT is removed. See paragraph 5A – Using a noid light will tell if the PIP is working by flashing when the engine is cranking.
C.) TFI module: use a test light to check the TFI module. Place one lead of the test light on the red/green wire on the ignition coil connector and the other lead on the dark green/yellow wire on the ignition coil connector. If the TFI is working properly, the test light will flash when the engine is cranked using the ignition switch.
D.) Coil
E.) No EEC or computer power - EEC or computer relay failure
86-93 models only: EEC relay next to computer - look for 12 volts at the fuel injector red wires.
94-95 models only: EEC or PCM power relay in the constant control relay module. Look for 12 volts at the fuel injector red wires.
Both 86-93 and 94-95 models: No 12 volts with the ignition switch in the run position on the fuel injector red wires. The relay has failed or there is no power coming from the ignition switch. Make sure that there is 12 volts on the red/green wire on the coil before replacing the relay.
F.) No EEC or computer power - fuse or fuse link failure
86-93 models only: Fuse links in wiring harness - look for 12 volts at the fuel injector red wires. All the fuse links live in a bundle up near the starter solenoid. Look for a 20 gauge blue fuse link connected to 2 black/orange 14 gauge wires.
94-95 models only: 20 amp EEC fuse in the engine compartment fuse box. Look for 12 volts at the fuel injector red wires.
G.) Ignition switch - look for 12 volts at the ignition coil red/lt green wire. No 12 volts, blown fuse link or faulty ignition switch. Remove the plastic from around the ignition switch and look for 12 volts on the red/green wire on the ignition switch with it in the Run position. No 12 volts and the ignition switch is faulty. If 12 volts is present in the Run position at the ignition switch but not at the coil, then the fuse or fuse link is blown.
Note: fuses or fuse links blow for a reason. Don’t replace either a fuse or fuse link with one with a larger rating than stock. Doing so invites an electrical fire.
Ignition fuse links may be replaced with an inline fuse holder and 5 amp fuse for troubleshooting purposes.
94-95 models only: Check inside fuse panel for fuse #18 blown – 20 amp [fuse
H.) Missing or loose computer power ground. The computer has its own dedicated power ground that comes off the ground pigtail on the battery ground wire. Due to it's proximity to the battery, it may become corroded by acid fumes from the battery.
In 86-90 model cars, it is a black cylinder about 2 1/2" long by 1" diameter with a black/lt green wire.
In 91-95 model cars it is a black cylinder about 2 1/2" long by 1" diameter with a black/white wire.
You'll find it up next to the starter solenoid where the wire goes into the wiring harness
I.) Computer. Don’t replace the computer just because you don’t understand how it works. Computers seldom fail, it usually is a sensor or wiring problem that causes the problems.
J.) Bad or missing secondary power ground. It is located between the back of the intake manifold and the driver's side firewall. It supplies ground for the alternator, A/C compressor clutch and other electrical accessories such as the gauges.
K.) Engine fires briefly, but dies immediately when the key is released to the Run position. Crank the engine & when it fires off, pull the small push on connector (red/blue wire) off the starter relay (Looks like it is stuck on a screw). Hold the switch in the crank position: if it continues to run there is a problem with either the ignition switch or TFI module. Check for 12 volts at the red/green wire on the coil with the switch in the Run position. Good 12 volts, then replace the TFI.
See the Ignition switch wiring diagram for more information on the ignition wiring fuse link because it is the next thing to be tested. You will need a Multimeter or DVM and know how to use the Ohms function to check continuity between the red/green wire on the ignition coil and the red/green wire on the ignition switch. Make sure that the ignition switch is in the off position when you do the check. You should see less than 1 Ω (Ohm) between the red/green wire on the coil and the red/green wire on the ignition switch. More than 1 Ω means that the fuse link may have blown open and needs to be replaced. If you get 1 Ω or less means the fuse link is OK and the ignition switch is bad.

Wiring Diagrams:

See the following website for some help from Tmoss (diagram designer) & Stang&2Birds (website host) for help on 88-95 wiring Mustang FAQ - Engine Information Everyone should bookmark this site.

Ignition switch wiring
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/IgnitionSwitchWiring.gif

Fuel, alternator, A/C and ignition wiring
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/fuel-alt-links-ign-ac.gif

Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 88-91 Mass Air Mustangs
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/88-91_5.0_EEC_Wiring_Diagram.gif

Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 91-93 Mass Air Mustangs
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/91-93_5.0_EEC_Wiring_Diagram.gif

Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 94-95 Mass Air Mustangs
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/94-95_5.0_EEC_Wiring_Diagram.gif


AutoZone wiring diagrams: You can navigate to the diagrams yourself via Repair Info | AutoZone.com and select the car year, make, model and engine. That will enable you to bring up the wiring diagram for your particular car.

2.) Spark at coil wire, pull #1 plug wire off at the spark plug and check to see spark. No spark, possible failed items in order of their probability: [/b]
A.) Moisture inside distributor – remove cap, dry off & spray with WD40
B.) Distributor cap
C.) Rotor
D.) Spark Plug wires
E.) Coil weak or intermittent - you should see 3/8" fat blue spark with a good coil

3.) Spark at spark plug, but no start.
Next, get a can of starting fluid (ether) from your local auto parts store: costs a $1.30 or so. Then pull the air duct off at the throttle body elbow, open the throttle, and spray the ether in it. Reconnect the air duct and try to start the car. Do not try to start the car without reconnecting the air duct.

Two reasons:
1.) If it backfires, the chance for a serious fire is increased.
2.) On Mass Air cars, the computer needs to measure the MAF flow once the engine starts.
If it starts then, you have a fuel management issue. Continue the checklist with emphasis of fuel related items that follow. If it doesn’t, then it is a computer or timing issue: see Step 4.

Clue – listen for the fuel pump to prime when you first turn the ignition switch on. It should run for 2-4 seconds and shut off. To trick the fuel pump into running, find the EEC test connector and jump the connector in the Upper RH corner to ground. The EEC connector is near the wiper motor and LH hood hinge.

attachment.php?attachmentid=68357&stc=1&d=1322348015.gif


If the relay & inertia switch are OK, you will have power to the pump. Check fuel pressure – remove the cap from the Schrader valve behind the alternator and depress the core. Fuel should squirt out, catch it in a rag. Beware of fire hazard when you do this. In a pinch, you can use a tire pressure gauge to measure the fuel pressure. It may not be completely accurate, but you will have some clue as to how much pressure you have. If you have any doubts about having sufficient fuel flow/pressure, rent a fuel pressure test gauge from the auto parts store. That will tell you for sure if you have adequate fuel pressure.


4.) No fuel pressure, possible failed items in order of their probability:
A.) Tripped inertia switch – Coupe & hatch cars hide it under the plastic trim covering the driver's side taillight. Use the voltmeter or test light to make sure you have power to both sides of the switch
B.) Fuel pump power relay – located under the driver’s seat in most stangs built before 92. On 92 and later model cars it is located below the Mass Air Flow meter. Look for 12 volts at the Pink/Black wire on the fuel pump relay.
C.) Clogged fuel filter
D.) Failed fuel pump
E.) 86-90 models only: Blown fuse link in wiring harness. Look for 12 volts at the Orange/Lt Blue wire on the fuel pump relay.
91-93 models only Blown fuse link in wiring harness. Look for 12 volts at the Pink/Black wire on the fuel pump relay.
The fuse links for all model years 86-93 live in the wiring harness near the starter solenoid.



94-95 models only: 20 amp fuel pump fuse in the engine compartment fuse box. Look for 12 volts at the Dark green/yellow wire on the constant control relay module.
F.) Engine seem to load up on fuel and may have black smoke at the tailpipe. Fuel pressure regulator failed. Remove the vacuum line from the regulator and inspect for fuel escaping while the pump is running. If fuel is coming out the vacuum port, the regulator has failed. Check the regulator vacuum line for fuel too. Disconnect it from the engine and blow air though it. If you find gas, the regulator has failed.

5.) Fuel pressure OK, the injectors are not firing.
A.) The PIP sensor in the distributor tells the computer when to fire the injectors. A failing PIP sensor will sometimes let the engine start if the SPOUT is removed.
A noid light available from any auto parts store, is one way to test the injector circuit to see if the injectors are firing. The noid light plugs into the fuel injector harness in place of any easily accessible injector. Plug it in and try to start the engine: it will flash if the injector is firing.

I like to use an old injector with compressed air applied to the injector where the fuel rail would normally connect. I hook the whole thing up, apply compressed air to the injector and stick it in a paper cup of soapy water. When the engine cranks with the ignition switch on, if the injector fires, it makes bubbles. Cheap if you have the stuff laying around, and works good too.
B.) Pull an injector wire connector off and look for 12 volts on the red wire when the ignition switch is on.
C.) No power, then look for problems with the 10 pin connecter (salt & pepper shakers at the rear of the upper manifold).

See the graphic for the 10 pin connector circuit layout.

The injector power pin is the VPWR pin in the black 10 pin connector.


D.) No power and the 10 pin connections are good: look for broken wiring between the orange/black wire on the EEC relay and the red wire for the 10 pin connectors.
E.) TPS voltage exceeds 3.7 volts with the throttle closed. This will shut off the injectors, since the computer uses this strategy to clear a flooded engine. Use a DVM, a pair of safety pins, and probe the black/white and green wires to measure the TPS voltage.
On a 94-95 Mustang, probe the black/white and grey/white wires to measure the TPS voltage.
It should be .5-.1.0 volts with the key on, engine not running. Note that if the black/white wire (signal ground) has a bad connection, you will get some strange readings. Make a second measurement using the battery post as the ground to eliminate any ground problems. If the readings are different by more than 5%, you may have a high resistance condition in the black/white signal ground circuit.

6.) Spark & fuel pressure OK.
A.) Failed IAB or improperly set base idle (no airflow to start engine). Press the throttle ¼ way down and try to start the car. See the "Surging Idle Checklist for help with all your idle/stall problems.
B.) Failed computer (not very likely)
C.) Engine ignition or cam timing off: only likely if the engine has been worked on recently. If you removed the distributor, there is a good probability that you installed it 180 degrees out of time.
D.) Firing order off: HO & 351 use a different firing order from the non HO engines.
HO & 351W 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8
Non HO 1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8
E.) No start when hot - Press the throttle to the floor & try starting it, if you get this far. If it starts, replace the ECT.
F. ) Engine that has had the heads off or valves adjusted. Do a compression test to make sure the valves are not adjusted too tight. You should have a minimum of 90 PSI on a cold engine.
 

William Brown

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Nov 19, 2017
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Thank you. I have been thru this list already. Replaced everything it said to replace. The only thing i havent replaced is the ECC. It says more than likely it wouldnt be the issue. Im gonna buy a new ignition switch and see if that might be the issue. I have 2 if them but maybe they are both bad. Or im thinking, would doing the 4 gauge upgrade for the alternator have anything to do with it? Because i know the plug for the stock alterator has 2 orange and black and a white with black stripe on it. But per the instructions it said to not cut the wires to just leave the plug alone and only use the 3 wire small plug?
 

jrichker

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The plan is to test, observe and then diagnose, not to throw parts and money at a problem in hope of accidently hitting the right thing. If you follow the checklist explicitly, you will find the problem.

Do you have voltage at the coil with the ignition switch in the Run position: yes or no?
 

William Brown

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Yes.12 volts at the primary. And shows the tos is good when testing from primary to secondary. The only time theres no power thru the coil is when its connected to the distributor
 

jrichker

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SN Certified Technician
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How the TFI ignition works in 86-93 model Mustangs:

Revised 2 June 2017 to add canned air cooling test

Tools needed: DVM, noid light, safety pin.

Theory of operation:
The TFI ignition in 86-93 Mustangs has 4 main components: the ignition switch, the coil, the TFI module and the PIP sensor inside the distributor.

The ignition switch gets power from the two yellow wires that are supplied power by a fuse link located in the wiring harness that connects to the starter solenoid.

Diagram courtesy of Tmoss & Stang&2birds


I.) The coil is mounted on the driver’s side strut tower on most EFI Mustangs. It gets power from a red/green wire and a brown/pink wire from the ignition switch. That wire from the ignition switch feeds a 20 gauge blue fuse link that connects to the red/green wire. The fuse link protects the wiring and the ignition switch, since the fuse link for the two yellow power supply wires has a much higher current rating. Without the smaller fuse link protecting the smaller wiring used in the ignition circuit, a short there would cause the red/green wire to overheat and burn up.

II.) The TFI module is mounted on the side of the distributor and supplies the ground for the coil. Every automotive power supply circuit uses the ground as the return path to carry power back to the negative side of the battery. The TFI switches the tan/yellow wire coming from the coil to ground. It gets power from the red/green wire when the ignition switch is in the Run position. The red/lt blue wire supplies a signal to turn on more power (dwell time) when the engine is cranking. The increased dwell can cause excessive current draw if the red/blue wire remains energized when the ignition switch is in the Run position. The trigger signal comes from the PIP sensor when cranking and the computer when the engine is running. The SPOUT jumper plug enables computer controlled spark advance. When the SPOUT is removed, spark advance is locked at the setting determined by the mechanical position of the distributor.

III.) The PIP sensor is in the bottom of the distributor under the shutter wheel. It is a Hall effect magnetic sensor that senses a change in the magnetic field when one of the slots in the shutter wheel uncovers the sensor. Then it supplies a pulse that triggers the TFI module to provide a ground to the ignition coil. A bad PIP will often set code 14 in the computer and cause hot start problems. Replacing the PIP sensor requires removal of the distributor and pressing the gear off the distributor shaft to expose the sensor. For most people, a remanufactured distributor ($55-$75) is the solution, since they may not have access to a press.

IV.) Troubleshooting the ignition system – no spark or weak spark. All the tests are done with the ignition switch in the Run position unless specified otherwise. A safety pin may be used to probe the wiring connectors from the back side.
1.) Check for 12 volts at the yellow wires on the ignition switch. No 12 volts and the fuse link near the starter solenoid has open circuited.
2.) Check for 12 volts on the red/green and brown/pink wires coming out of the ignition switch. No 12 volts, replace the ignition switch.
3.) Check for 12 volts at the ignition coil. No 12 volts and the blue 20 gauge fuse link has open circuited.
4.) Check for 12 volts at the red/green wire on the TFI module. No 12 volts and you have wiring problems.
5.) Remove the small red/blue wire from the starter solenoid (looks like it is stuck on a screw). This is a safety measure to keep the engine from turning while you are making measurements. Have a helper turn the ignition switch to Start and look for 12 volts on the red/lt blue wire on the TFI module. No 12 volts and you will have starting problems, but push starting the car will work OK. No 12 volts, replace the ignition switch. Be sure to reconnect the red/blue wire to the starter when you finish.
6.) Check the red/blue wire to make sure that it has less than 8 volts when the ignition switch is in the Run position.
7.) A noid light available from any auto parts store, is one way to test the PIP pulse. The computer uses the PIP signal to trigger the fuel injectors. The noid light plugs into the fuel injector harness in place of any easily accessible injector. Plug it in and it will flash if the PIP is working. No flash from the noid light and the PIP is suspect. To confirm the PIP is being the source of the non flashing noid light, look for 12 volts on the red injector wiring. Good 12 volts and no flashing noid light means the PIP has failed.
8.) Remove the SPOUT plug from the harness and try to start the engine. If it starts, replace the PIP. This is a common no start condition when the engine is hot.
9.) The TFI module is a go/no go item when you have a no spark/weak spark condition on a cold engine. It either works or it doesn’t.
The TFI failure mode on a running car is usually a high speed miss on a warm engine. Many auto parts stores will test your TFI module for free. Bring along a hair dryer to get it hot while testing it and run several test cycles, since it often gets weak when it heats up.
Spraying the TFI module with “canned air” used to dust computer keyboards while the engine is hot and misfiring is one way to check the TFI. Turn the can upside down and spray away; this will cool the TFI of quickly. If it stops missing, the TFI is the likely suspect.

The coil is somewhat more difficult to pinpoint as a problem. A good coil will make a nice fat blue spark 3/8”-1/2” long. The problem is that one person’s perception of a fat blue spark looks like may not be accurate enough to spot a weak coil. The coil is cheap enough ($13-$16) that having a known good working spare might be a good idea.

diagram courtesy of Tmoss & Stang&2Birds






See the following website for some help from Tmoss (diagram designer) & Stang&2Birds (website host) for help on 88-95 wiring http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/ Everyone should bookmark this site.

Ignition switch wiring
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/IgnitionSwitchWiring.gif

Fuel, alternator, A/C and ignition wiring
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/fuel-alt-links-ign-ac.gif

Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 88-91 Mass Air Mustangs
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/88-91_5.0_EEC_Wiring_Diagram.gif

Vacuum diagram 89-93 Mustangs
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/mustangFoxFordVacuumDiagram.jpg

HVAC vacuum diagram
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/Mustang_AC_heat_vacuum_controls.gif

TFI module differences & pinout
http://www.veryuseful.com/mustang/tech/engine/images/TFI_5.0_comparison.gif
 

William Brown

New Member
Nov 19, 2017
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Thank you for this help article. Im gonna study up on it to better understand the components of the ignition system. Ill keep you updated! Thanks again for trying to help me out. Hope it helps me find the issue!