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Resolved: '89 Ford F150 302 Won't Start HELP!!

Discussion in 'Engine, Transmission/Axle & Driveline/Axle' started by AsphaltCowgirl, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    I have an '89 Ford F150 with a 5.0 V8 (302). Now this truck has had some problems in the past but I've always been able to get her started, this time she's defeating me.

    I have had to replace the distributor cap and rotor every couple of months because my truck would die wherever I was, be it driving down the road or trying to fire her up in a parking lot. Always it was just the Dist Cap and Rotor. This time however it is different.

    I had changed my spark plugs and wires because she was running rough, and boy did that change how she sounded, (she practically purred) but during this I noticed there is oil on 3 of the Sparks. Based on research this tells me piston rings or guides, ok so I need to run her less and get her fixed. So she sat for about a week and when I went to start her on Wednesday she would not start...... But I had driven her a week ago and she'd run like she always does. No indication of new problems.

    So I have changed/replaced/tested:

    Starter (Tested and it was good)
    Battery (it had gone bad, probably from cranking too long)
    Battery Cables (4mths ago)
    Solenoid (4mths ago)
    Ignition Module (on side of Distributor)
    Ice Relay (attached to air filter)
    Engine Relay (also attached to air filter)
    Distributor Cap
    Rotor
    sparks and Wires (checked firing order all right)
    Checked for Spark it has it all the way up to the distributor
    Checked for proper air flow (it was fine)
    Fuel pumps working (Can hear them on key turn and can also smell the gas which is as it has always been) This truck does have dual tanks, but the front tank is never used as it has a hole in it!
    Coil has spark

    I have tried everything I can think of (as you can see) and I am coming up short. Now one thing I do know is that when I pulled the IM off the side of the Dist I messed up the timing, so I have to get that back in order. What is the easiest way to set it back without a timing light? Is there one? What else could it be? I mean I get fuel, spark and power. I'm totally at a loss.:sad:
  2. oldtimer35

    oldtimer35 Active Member

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    I guess you did check fire at the plugs and not just at the coil. Are the injectors firing? Put a test light on the negative side of the injector and have someone spin the motor over, it should flash just like the coil. Do you know how much fuel pressure it has, should be 40 Psi just turning on the key. How far out did you get the distributor? If you just turned it to remove the im and didn't remove it, then just put it back to about 4 oclock position and that should be close enough to run. Have you fouled the plugs trying to start it? Does the check engine light come on when you turn on the key and then go off?
  3. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    Yes checked fire at the plugs, pulled it out touched it to block etc etc.

    I don't have a test light, any other way to tell? (friend checked fire at the coil for me)

    Don't know the exact pressure, do know it's getting some at least. (I'll start looking for a pressure gauge though!)

    Distributor was taken all the way out as I didn't have the deep socket needed to remove the ignition module.

    I will definitely check the plugs didn't really think about it as they are only 3 weeks old. (DOH!)

    And yes the check engine light does come on when you turn the key, then goes off as it should.

    One other thing I did notice, even with the new battery in it it's not showing a full charge It just barely passes the 8 (red). (trickle charger shows it has full charge though) And when I put it in my Ford e150 econoline it shows a midline normal charge (right in the center of the gauge). I put the e150s battery in it (which I know is good as I drive the Van every day) it also shows a low charge, just past the 8. Every other time I've had a fully charged/new battery it has jumped to about 3 marks from the 18.....so this is strange to me. And the battery sounds weak. Bad wiring? Pretty sure it's not the alternator, though I have been known to be wrong on occasion.
  4. oldtimer35

    oldtimer35 Active Member

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    Ok, with the engine on top dead center of compression stroke, the rotor should be pointing to the 1 o'clock position. with the distributor stabbed back into the block, rotate the module to about the 4 o'clock position and it should be close enough to start.
  5. Ashzo77

    Ashzo77 Member

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    something you should look for so you don't have to replace the cap and rotor so often, is a "snow boot" if you go to jonzo77's my cars album in his profile, there are a couple pics of the one on his. it's the rubber thing wrapped around the distributor. being that you have an 89 it should already have one, but if not, crown vics are the easiest place to get them
  6. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    I'd never heard of it. Any idea why it goes through them so often? The only thing I could think of was moisture causing accelerated corrosion. But the biggest problem I've had with this truck is having to crank it a lot to get it to start, so I figured that might also contribute. It's always been a hard start.
  7. Poppy

    Poppy Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    regarding the cap and rotor, my guess is that your wires had high resistance, and now that you replaced them, you porbably won't see a need to replace the cap and rotor so often.

    Follow oldtimer's advice regarding checking your timing, and then see if autozone has a loaner timing light. They do have a list of tools that they will loan out, all you need to do is leave a deposit.

    IF you do get a timing light, in a '89 you need to pull the SPOUT connector when you set the base timing.
    If your timing is signitificantly off, you will have a hard time starting. LOL... I don't think you'll need a snow boot in NM.

    You might pull diagnostic trouble codes. You can do that for free in your driveway.

    Pull Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) From your onboard computer.
    Your engine and transmission are computer controlled.
    The computer uses sensors to tell it a number of different things and it controls actuators that push or pull mechanical levers (kinda). If one or more sensors aren't working properly, the computer goes "blind" and doesn't know what to do. If the computer can "see" but one of the actuators is broken and therefore can't follow the commands of the computer; the engine won't run correctly. The computer is preprogrammed with set values for each of its sensors, and each of its actuators. It will run a self check of all systems, like the space shuttle; it will compare its set value(s) to the value(s) it recieves from its sensors, and actuators. If any sensor or acutator is out of the "normal" range the computer will generate a "code." It will generate some codes on the fly, and others will be stored while you are driving. There is a simple method to "pull codes" out of the computer for one to use for diagnostic purposes.
    Earlier versions of On Board Diagnostics OBD 1983-1995 can flash the error code to the dash board and can be pulled in one's driveway without any special tools.
    Later versions of On Board Diagnostics OBDII some 1995, and pretty much all 1996 and newer, require one to use a code reader or scanner tool.
    Some auto parts stores will scan your engine codes for FREE, you may want to call around. Some will scan OBDII but not the older (prior to 1996) OBD systems.
    SO here you go...
    How to scan FORD on board Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) in your driveway
    HowtoPull Codes 1983-1995 Broncos, Mustang, F series Trucks, Econolines, 302, 351 and more
  8. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    regarding the cap and rotor, my guess is that your wires had high resistance, and now that you replaced them, you porbably won't see a need to replace the cap and rotor so often.

    Hopefully you're right on that, it's annoying to have to wait for someone to bring me Dist Caps and Rotors broke down where ever I happen to be lol

    Follow oldtimer's advice regarding checking your timing, and then see if autozone has a loaner timing light. They do have a list of tools that they will loan out, all you need to do is leave a deposit.

    I didn't know they'd loan offsite, I hope they do here!!

    You might pull diagnostic trouble codes. You can do that for free in your driveway.

    Unfortunately it requires me to be able to start the truck to pull codes, but I will file that away for whenever I figure out why it's NOT starting LOL!!!
  9. Dominick

    Dominick Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    If you are wearing out caps and rotor a lot.
    Check your distributor shaft for play.
    Bushings could be worn out causing it to wobble.
    It should show uneven wear on the dist contacts.
    Just a thought.
  10. Poppy

    Poppy Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    Pulling codes is a three part test, the first two parts are done without the engine running.

    You can get the KOEO and constand memory codes.

    Dom... great thought.

    Ashphalt, if you could give a little more info on why the cap and rotor were changed, that might be helpful.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2010
  11. Pletchaj

    Pletchaj Member

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    had the same problem ... MAP sensor was out, next too fan housing, above has a wire connector and a vacum line attached to it, i would give it a try, take the number off and go to a junk yard and match with another truck, just a though,
  12. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    For some reason after a while the truck will die, whether you're driving it down the road or just trying to start it up after parking somewhere. Not sure what's causing it I just know that when it happens if I change the Dist Cap and Rotor it runs just fine. Possibly caused from having to crank too long to get it started? The contacts always have a lot of corrosion to them, I can sometimes take steel wool to the rotor contact to get it to work a bit longer, but always have to replace it after a while. It was like that when I bought it 1 1/2yrs ago. Any ideas? I did look at the Dist earlier although not closely, but I didn't notice any uneven wear on the bushings. I will be taking a very close look at it tomorrow when the guy stops by to help me reset the timing...( I just can't get to it right now as I'm 7mths pregnant, my belly gets in the way LOL)
  13. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    If resetting the timing doesn't solve the problem then I will definitely look to that next. I'm guessing it's expensive if you don't get it at the junk yard?
  14. Poppy

    Poppy Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    The PCM should throw a code for a bad MAP.

    There are two types of MAPs. One can be checked with a digital volt meter, the other requires a tach.
    I don't have a tach, and that's what mine required, so I don't recall the method of checking the one that can be checked with a digital volt meter.
  15. Pletchaj

    Pletchaj Member

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    The PCM should ... BUT ... mine truck did not and that is what the problem was ... so dont always trust the pcm ...

    socone there cheap at junk yard not at the store bought mine for $2.00 at the yard and it was like 40 at the store, call around ...
  16. Ashzo77

    Ashzo77 Member

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    they're usually cheap at the junkyards, and you can pull it from pretty much anything as long as you have the correct plug for it. jonzo picked up a couple for his 89 Crown vic from dodge ram's, econolines, GMC full size vans...
  17. Ashzo77

    Ashzo77 Member

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    the boot was ford's solution to a moisture problem caused by having the distributor in the front...
  18. Dominick

    Dominick Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    Unless you want to put the boot on it that would be OK.
    But they went to a vented dist cap to correct that problem.
    We just normally tossed them:(
  19. AsphaltCowgirl

    AsphaltCowgirl New Member

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    Well the guy is on his way to help me reset my timing, ya'll cross your fingers for me that I solved the problem and she'll start after this....If she doesn't I'll be back to pick ya'lls brains some more :wink5: Either way thanks for all the tips so far, and just maybe I'll get her runnin' again!!
  20. lincolndriver

    lincolndriver New Member

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    i know im getting a little late on this but you mentioned you pulled the dist out. Did you mark the relationship of the rotor? When you replaced the dist, chances are that you are out one tooth. rarely thoes distributers go back in the way they come out. You may have made a unconsious adjustment, putting the dist one tooth out to get it to fit completely down. When you pull the dist, the oil pump driveshaft turns one partial turn making it impossible to replace the dist in the correct position. the way I do it is to put the dist, one tooth advanced then tap the starter and the dist will fall into place. On some models you canset the dist back in at that one tooth advance and compensate by turning the dist to achieve correct timing, but you dont have enough room to advance that far. thats why you couldnt get to the modulator bolts without taking the dist completely out.
    hope this helps.

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