'93 Fuel Problem?

I was driving my 2.3L the other day when the engine started bawging out. Then it started running fine again for about 20 seconds and then it just died and would not start again. It will not fire. Today I put a new fuel filter on and it still will not fire. The fuel pump is fairly new and I can still hear it run when I turn the key foward. And YES it does have gas in it. I am completely stumpped. Anyone know what else I need to check. Or, if you think it is not a fuel problem, please let me know what else it could be.
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Ok, I didn't get around to it today. But, someone last night told me that there might be a filter or screen inside the gas tank that could be clogged. Is there any truth to this? Anyway, should I check every plug wire to see if there is spark, or is there a quicker way?
You never mentioned if the check engine light came on when the car started acting up. There may be a clue or two stored in the ECU. A search or a look through the tech article thread may turn up some helpful information regarding pulling codes from the ECU.

Yes there is a strainer sock attached to the bottom of the fuel pump. Don't get too focused on it being a fuel problem until you actually narrow it down to being one. If you're mind is on the fuel system, you stand a chance of missing the real problem.

The easiest wires to check are the ones on the exhaust side of the motor. Start there, with number 1 and if it has spark, it's a fairly safe bet the rest have spark. If you want to check the other side you can. I haven't seen a coil pack have only one bad terminal before (not to say it couldn't happen, I just haven't seen it). If you have no spark, take the module (located on the front of the intake right behind the alternator) and have it tested at an Auto Zone or some place like that.
I would just check the plug that is easiest to pull out. Remember to floor the gas when you're cranking the engine so the injectors don't fire. At this point, if you're not getting spark, the plugs will be wet. If no fuel, then bone dry.

There is a plastic mesh screen that fits on the bottom of the in-tank fuel pump. If your area or favorite gas station has really nasty gas, then I suppose it's possible for it to get clogged. I pulled one out of my 180k '89GT that had just a few specks on it. If your pump was recently replaced, then the screen probably was also.

If you're not getting spark, then a possibility is the TFI module.
No, the check engine light did not come on before it died. I live on a farm so we have our own gas tank here, but the gas that we have been getting is 10% ethanol. That is why I was thinking that maybe it was the fuel filter, because the same thing happened to my dads truck. We replaced the fuel filter on his truck and it ran fine again.

So you're saying my first priority is to check for spark. Then get a code from the ECU and if that does not tell me anything, what would be the next thing you would check?
I checked the plugs today and I DO have spark. My uncle is going to be getting a code reader for me within the next week or so.

What does it mean when the fuel pump is running and I hear something like air going to the engine? It wasn't doing that the other day. We took the hose off of the fuel filter again to see if the pump was pumping and it is, but when I took the hose off, there was alot of pressure and gas squirted everywhere. When we took the hose off to change the filter, there was no pressure, the gas just dribbled out.
Depending on how soon after the fuel pump ran last before you disconnected the line, it's entirely possible for pressure to remain in the system with the pump off.

Okay, so we've got spark and fuel. Question now is do we have enough?

I'm not sure what you mean when you mention "air going to the engine" when the fuel pump is running. Where is this noise coming from specifically? I'm assuming that the engine is not running when this occurs, is that correct?

I'm kinda at a loss here. I can't think of anything off the top of my head that would be keeping you from running. I'd hate to have you running around chasing wild guesses, but at this point unless someone with a higher Ford IQ chimes in, that may be where we're headed.

Let's look at what all there is in the fuel system and rule out things we already know are good or don't matter.

Fuel - got some... 10% ethanol blend
Fuel pump - works, visually verified
Fuel filter - new
Fuel lines - rubber from tank to pump and from pump to filter. hard line from filter to engine compartment, plastic from hard line to rail.
Fuel pump pulse dampener - ?? That's the canister looking thing on the high pressure side plastic line between the hard line and the fuel rail. I don't know the material used inside so I can't tell you if it's ethanol compatible or not.

Fuel rail - it's there, and doesn't leak, that's all that counts.

Fuel pressure regulator - I wonder about the diaphragm inside, If it were to fail, fuel would be present in the vaccum line that attaches to it. Could be ethanol or just plain old age related. Pull the vacuum line off and see if there's fuel there (it shouldn't be)

You know you have fuel pressure at the filter. Let's see if you have it at the rail too. You know where your fuel lines come into the engine compartment on the driver's side towards the back of the inner fender right? There's two lines there, one is the feeder(high pressure) and is the larger of the two, the other is return back to the tank. Disconnect the return line, and point it into a container in a way that you don't get fuel everywhere, and cycle the pump. You should get something if the fuel is making the trip.

A clean way to do this would be with a fuel pressure test gauge on the schrader valve at the fuel rail, but Not everyone has one and if you're rural, getting one might be a PITA.

I'm going to check a few things on my '91 (same basic deal) and see what I come up with. I'm trying to help as best I can, but I don't know everything. I'm hoping someone jumps in here and impresses us both. :)-
did you check your vaccume hoses? if you hear leaking air and the engine dosnt want to run or is running bad. that could be the problem. a hose can look fine on the top but have a small tear or hole on the bottom. check all your hoses for dryrotting and holes.
The last time my car broke down, the mechanic rewired my fuel pump so that it runs constantly when the key is foward, but thats a whole different story. When I said "I hear air going to the engine", it is only after the pump has been running for longer than it usually would. The air is not coming out of a hose, it sounds like it is going into the engine. Trust me, I've had hose problems before. A couple people told me to release the pressure at the fuel rail, so I'll try that first.

Ok, here's the other story from when my car broke down the first time. My fan quit working which caused the engine to overheat and it put a crack in the water pump. So we changed the water pump and computer. After we put the new computer in, the fan worked but the fuel pump would not run, so instead of getting another computer, my neighbor who is a mechanic, wired the pump to run constantly when the key is on. Now my battery will run dead within twelve hours or so, so I have to disconnect the battery every time I let the car sit for long periods of time. Other than that and the transmission needing a new filter, the car ran perfectly fine before all this other stuff happened. I'm thinking about selling it after we get it running again. I am sick of working on it all the time.
I'm not well-versed in 2.3 N/As, but doesnt the fuel pump run all the time anyway? Or do you mean it runs non-stop even with the engine off?

I was also wondering why you changed the ECU after the overheating. Do you still have the original? If the slow drain and fuel pump problem started after the ECU change, I would suspect it more than anything.....even for your current problem.
Yeah, the fuel pump runs non-stop with the engine off. I do not have the original ECU. I bought a new one because that is what the mechanic said to do to get the fan running again. Then when I hooked it up and the fuel pump didn't work, he said it might be a bad ECU, so instead of spending another $200 to get another new one, he just wired it like that. It has been working fine for almost two years, except for having to disconnect the battery all the time.
Your fuel pump runs constantly whether the key is on or not? A professional did this? I don't think I'd ever take anything there again even if he were the only mechanic in town.

This kinda throws everything we've already discussed out the window. I wish you would have mentioned this sooner. At this point, without being able to physically crawl around and look at what's been done, it's impossible for me to sit here and speculate what might be happening.

Sorry dude.
No, the pump does not run with the key off. Yes, he is a professional, and the only certified mechanic at his shop. The only thing he did was splice the wire from the fuel pump to another wire. I haven't taken the car back to him because I can't get the car started. So, my uncle, who is also a mechanic, is going to come to my house and check it out.

Why would that have anything to do with what is happening now? This incident just happend less than a week ago, and the last one happened two years ago. I don't drive it all that much, maybe 1,500 miles a year.
Rideredder said:
I bought a new one because that is what the mechanic said to do to get the fan running again. Then when I hooked it up and the fuel pump didn't work, he said it might be a bad ECU,

Rideredder said:
Why would that have anything to do with what is happening now?

Your "mechanic" had you replace the computer to fix a problem with the electric fan......THEN says you might have a bad ECU.......THEN rigs some wires to make the fuel pump run all the time. You've also had an electrical drain since he worked on the car. Does it sound like he actually did a good job? You don't replace the engine computer to fix the fan. The fan controller is not on the ECU. Also, why would it cost you $200 to have him replace a faulty ECU that he supplied?

At this point, it's anyone's guess what got messed up in the wiring and/or ECU or if it's even the right computer. You said you have fuel, but not if the plugs are wet after cranking. If you have fuel pressure and dry plugs, then your injectors are not opening and that points to a harness fault or ECU failure.
I didn't buy the ECU from him, I bought it from a Ford dealership and they charged me that much for it, but why wouldn't the fan run until I got the new computer? The mechanic that did this is a really good friend of mine, and I am sure he didn't mean to mess it up, and I'll still trust him to check my car again.
Guess what guys. We were all wrong. I was checking for gas and spark again when I noticed I am getting fuel to the spark plugs because I had one plug out but still attached to the wire and I turned the engine over and flames shot out of the plug hole. But, the engine still would not fire. I took the timing belt cover off and guess what, the belt was shreaded. It must have jumped a tooth or two too and that is why it won't run. Now if I can just get the timing right again, I hope that will fix the problem, because really, it only makes sense.