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FFCobra Fanatic
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753 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...nothing can go right for them when it comes to getting there car to actually run...and stay running?! I swear, I can't do anything right without something else knocking me back down.

THE SCOOP: My pops took the car out of storage a week ago and brought it to our cabin. It started right up!...drove home fine(about 10 miles), and continued to idle fine. He waited for my mom to come down for a ride. Engine was nice and warm by then. They started out again, got about 2 miles from the cabin...THEN, the engine missed(out of nowhere) and the engine died. He pulled over, waited a second, and tried to start it. It started. He didn't even think about it, he turned right back around. On the way back to the cabin, it died on him again. He started it again on the fly and made it back to the cabin...

TODAY: As I was driving up north, I was thinking that the cause of the problem could be the 6 month old gas(with sta-bil). My buddy and I pulled her out this morning to start the process of draining the old gas. Instead, we decided to just start it and see what happens. She fired up IMMEDIATELY upon pushing the button. Good sign right? We let it get up to operating temp while checking everything, leaks, you know. It sounded and ran great. Shawn, the friend who was with me, is a Toyota mechanic, so I was kinda following his lead on diagnosing. We took it out for a drive. It drove great! Put about 6-7 miles on it and pulled into the gas station to check the tire pressure and such. We let it idle the entire time. No misses or anything, smooth as could be. About 10 minutes later, we pull back out on the road. Not an eighth of a mile and...it misses and dies! Coast off to the side and try to start it. It just turns over but no ignition. Doesn't even sound like it wants to start. GREAT...now what, right? Well, we start with the basics. Check fuel pressure, GOOD. Check spark on random plug...NEGATIVE. No spark. Pull the coil wire from distributor to check spark...no spark. Pull the wire from coil, grabbed onto coil, NO SHOCK! Well...wtf?! Pull out the test light to check leads to coil. ('88 GT wiring)...Check the red wire for voltage, GREAT, got voltage! Check the green wire...NOTHING(even as we turn the car over). Called another mechanic buddy from up there and he said that the green wire is a signal wire from the ignition module. Anyways, I get fed up with it and started beating the coil with a large screwdriver. Shawn turns it over, I notice the connector not on the coil, quickly connect it and...BOOM, IT STARTS! By now the engine was cool again. Started back to the cabin, and she starts missing again. Get back to the cabin and it dies right as we pull up to the garage(engine warm again by now). Put it on the trailer, brought her home and unloaded the car...it started and drove up the drive with not one HINT of a problem. I was sick of it, so I just parked her and shut her down...

SO! Thoughts: Both the coil and the distributor are MSD with about 400 miles total on them both. Pretty much brand new. If the green wire is a signal wire from the TFI module(ignition module) on the distrib., should I of seen any voltage coming across the test light while trying to turn it over? And was it purely coincidence that it started after beating the coil with a screwdriver? I am going to check the resistance of the coil tomorrow with a volt meter to see if it is good or not. If the TFI module is bad, can I use any replacement, or do I need one from MSD? How do I go about checking if the TFI mod is bad? It seems like I need to get the engine really warm before the problem occurs.

It also seems like I just can't get ahead here. The car just doesn't want to run. One problem after another. After I fix one thing, the brand new part I put on it takes a sh*t?! Come ON! *sigh* Are you kidding me?!

Sorry for the long post, just looking for help and wanted to be somewhat thorough on the problem as it so happened. Any comments or questions? Thanks guys!

And THANK YOU Mr. Rogus for picking up your phone, even when you see it's me calling again! Truly appreciated!
 

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Premium Member
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2,919 Posts
There have been many posts on MSD's "new" components.....quality not what it once was. My vote is in your TFI module. Should just be able to go to autozone and get a replacement OE TFI module. Stick with it.....
 

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1st RFM/FFR Legacy Winner
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25,980 Posts
Dustin,
I'm sorry to hear you are having so many problems. I can't offer any help because I'm not up on FI engines. Take it one step at time and you will resolve it. Hate to mention this but I'm putting the painted body on tomorrow. Just a week or so away from completion. Already have 125 miles on the cart. Also, trying to get up to Wauk in August.

Good luck and don't get dicouraged.
Greg
 

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Charter Member
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378 Posts
Might be worth checking or replacing your fuel filter. A dirty fuel filter can produce those symptoms. It's worth a look.

-Matt
 

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Premium Member
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7,237 Posts
classic TFI failure mode! Call Max at 5-Star Ford or get one at your local dealer. The parts store ones are very failure-prone as well. The only ones that appear to last are OEM Ford.

The ONLY time my car as ever left me stranded in almost 60k miles was because of a TFI. Now I carry a spare in my toolbag, along w/ the special thin-wall socket required to remove it.
 

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Senior Member
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6,559 Posts
Sounds like TFI alright. MSD produces complete crap these days. Toss it.
 

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FFCobra Fanatic
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753 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Greg...you had to rubb it in! j/k, great to hear that.

I actually still have the oem distributor. So if I take the stock one off there, it will not conflict with the MSD distributor at all? There was nothing wrong with the stock one, just looks very beat up. I will swap them today. Thanks guys!
 

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FFCobra Fanatic
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5,533 Posts
The stock TFI will be fine on the MSD distributor. If its not the TFI it could be the internal components which can also be changed over to OEM Ford units. HTH

Mike
 

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Premium Member
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18,585 Posts
Dustin,
I was sure when I took your call that you were gonna tell me about how much fun you were having with your car down from the North Woods on salt-free roads!!
Man, no one has worse luck than you.

As I said, TFI was my first guess. I think smacking the coil was a red herring. I think the TFI had cooled enough to start working again.
After I got home (I was out getting a new tire mounted for my riding lawn mower when you called) I did a search on MSD too and, as I thought, lots of complaints.

Did they cheapen their product? Sort of like Black and Decker? Who knows? I still think TFI though.

Good luck buddy. I think I'm gonna see my local Ford dealer and get a TFI to carry on trips, for peace of mind, if nothing else.

d



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Senior Member
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Classic Ignition module problem,When it heats up it goes south till cool again.
 

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Junior Charter Member
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625 Posts
Dustin,
I had a similar problem. I changed the TFI module, same problem. Then I changed the module in the distributor where the TFI plugs in, still not fixed. New coil, still cut off. I double checked all my grounds and traced all the wires for continuity and shorts, even put in a new fuel pump relay. Still would cut off. Finally, I put a new computer in and haven't had a problem since.
 

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Premium Member
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6,413 Posts
This experience re-enforces my belief that the stock Ford ignition components are the way to go...MSD just "ain't" what it used to be....But these sound like classic TFI failure.
 

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Senior Charter Member
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610 Posts
Every MSD box I have had eventually failed. I had a bypass rigged so I could go around the MSD box each time and try to diagnose that first. It was the MSD every time. I was sent a new one after three "repairs" and that one crapped out in less than a year.
 
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