no start after distributor came apart inside

White-fox

Member
May 8, 2022
8
1
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I'll start this off by saying I have been through the no start checklist here several times and still can't pinpoint the issue.

Here's what happened. I was driving the car and it started misfiring. I've had distributor issues several times in the past so figured the tfi was dying again. But this time it sounded like something metallic hitting, so I pulled off the road and popped the hood. The noise was coming from the distributor. I walked around to turn the car off and it died. Pulled the cap off the distributor and the metal trigger wheel under the rotor was very loose, the screws had backed out and it was hitting the sensor inside, that was the noise I was hearing. This was a duralast gold distributor from autozone. I know those parts are not great but after having issues with several oem distributors leaving me stranded a local mustang shop recommended this and the car had been running great for the past 6 months. I re tightened the screws and tried to start the car but no luck car won't start. It will crank for about 5 seconds then hiccup but that's it. Also, I noticed the tachometer needle was stuck way to the right past 7000 now. So, I thought maybe the sensor inside the distributor got damaged. I had the car towed to my work and pulled the distributor and took it back to autozone since it had a lifetime warranty and exchanged it for another one. Dropped that in and still no start. So, I grabbed my tow dolly and truck after work and brought car home to work on it. Here's what I confirmed

It has good spark from the coil
It has spark at each one of the cylinders
It has 42 psi of fuel pressure at the rail and pump is running
All the injectors are firing I checked them with a noid light
I tried the new autozone distributor and another oem I had at the house that I know works and still no start. And yes, they are timed correctly I double checked that
I tried starting fluid and still nothing
Checked the ignition switch power at the coil and it's working fine

So now I'm thinking did the computer die? I removed the cover and 2 of the 3 capacitors inside were leaking so I replaced all 3 of them and still no fire. I borrowed another A9L computer to try and still the same thing, cranks for 5 or so seconds, hiccups then nothing.

Since everything checked out on the list, I didn't really look into anything on the no spark, no fuel list so maybe I should dig through all that stuff?

I'm not sure what caused the tachometer to die and the needle to stick way to the right when all this happened, but would a faulty tach cause it not to start?

When that wheel inside the distributor came loose, I'm thinking it caused something else to short out, that's why the car died but I can't seem to figure it out. Any thoughts on this?
 
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ChaseRoads

do I need to lube this area?
Oct 29, 2020
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Ok, a couple questions.

What do you mean cranks for 5 seconds, hiccups and stops?

Did you try flipping the dizzy 180 just in case? It’s easy to have it on the wrong stroke.

And yes, I would go threw the crank but no start check list from top to bottom and not skip any steps
 
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CAMTWO1070

Active Member
Dec 17, 2021
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Sometimes what seems to be isnt always what it seems to be.....Have you tried pushing the connector into the TFI module to make sure its bottomed out?

You have no idea the trouble it causes when the plug wont plug all the way in and some force is needed to get that last 1/8" to make the connection good.
 

White-fox

Member
May 8, 2022
8
1
13
Sometimes what seems to be isnt always what it seems to be.....Have you tried pushing the connector into the TFI module to make sure its bottomed out?

You have no idea the trouble it causes when the plug wont plug all the way in and some force is needed to get that last 1/8" to make the connection good.
I tried the new autozone distributor and a known good factory one I had at the house and same result with either one. Car sat for a week since I’ve been frustrated with it. Went out there Saturday morning, hit the key and it fired right up but for only a second then back to the no start again.
 

limp

wrap a little cheese around it and its a done
Oct 4, 2020
2,958
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Will it start with starting fluid?
Be careful with starting fluid
AAKCdO1.jpg
 

White-fox

Member
May 8, 2022
8
1
13
Do you have power to the coil when cranking?
When cranking I have a good spark from the coil and from the distributor to the plugs which is why I’m so confused it won’t start. I’ve been using a remote starter button I made hooked up to the starter solenoid so I can mess with things under the hood while cranking.

What sends the signal to the tachometer in the cluster? When the car died the tach needle went nuts and stuck way to the right.
 

General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
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You have spark at the plugs, it should start with starting fluid,
Start with the basics, pull the plugs, bring the #1 cylinder to top dead center, is the timing pointer at or near 0* on the balancer? Is the rotor pointing at the #1 plug wire?
 

White-fox

Member
May 8, 2022
8
1
13
You have spark at the plugs, it should start with starting fluid,
Start with the basics, pull the plugs, bring the #1 cylinder to top dead center, is the timing pointer at or near 0* on the balancer? Is the rotor pointing at the #1 plug wire?
I pulled the #1 plug when I double checked that the distributor was set correctly, not 180 out. Rotor is pointing at #1 plug wire and timing pointer is close to 0. I’ll go over everything again if I have time tonight. I built the engine in this car about 5 years ago so I’m very familiar with everything just missing something here for some reason.
 
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White-fox

Member
May 8, 2022
8
1
13
Dug into it some more today and found some bad news the gear on the camshaft is chewed up. I was remote cranking the engine while turning the distributor by hand to see if I could get it to fire up. Felt like the distributor was clicking inside. So I pulled the cap off and turned the engine over and the rotor turns but seemed like it was catching on something. Pulled the distributor and looked down inside and the gear on the cam is shot. This engine only has about 5000 miles on it. Only thing I can think was that AutoZone distributor I was running for the past 6 months must have had an iron gear when it was supposed to be steel and it ate it up. I bought the steel gear one but didn't check before I put it in. Don't know if you can even tell a difference visually between the 2. I don't really know but I'll be pulling the motor now to replace the cam and check for any other damage inside. I still cant get the car to start. The distributor did come part inside and the tach on the dash went nuts but maybe that was a result of the chewed up teeth on the cam? I guess I'll replace the cam and verify 1 of the factory distributors I have here is good and go from there.