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Troubleshooting Sudden Engine Problems in a 1991-94 Mercury Capri

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Perrya shares his experience working on his own Mercury Capri.

The 1991-94 Mercury Capri will be a rare car by 2020, 30 years after it was first made. Only 66,000 were made worldwide, and fewer than 40,000 still exist.

When they encounter engine trouble, many Capri owners simply junk a perfectly good car because they are afraid they won't be able to find parts, or because they don't have the service manual. Actually, since the engine is a 1.6L Mazda DOHC which is still found in recent cars, parts are not hard to locate. With some effort you can often keep your Capri going.

The Capri, like any car, does have its idiosyncrasies.

Fuel pump. For instance, the automatic fuel pump will shut down if the car is lightly bumped by another car or a bad pothole. It was a safety issue. People buying the Capri nowadays may have no clue about this issue. When suddenly their car will not run or start, they believe the worst, and sometimes decide to simply junk it. The fix for this issue is simply opening the rear trunk and, on the left side where the spare is, pressing the red button to activate the fuel pump again.

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Ignition. Another cause for a sudden stop is the electronic ignition. If the ignition suddenly fails, the car will not start. It is not a common failure, but if the engine is getting gas and everything seems to OK, consider simply opening the distributor, remove the dust cover and rotor to check the condition. The part is expensive, over $200, but a simple install for most DIY types.

Turbo. Some owners get rid of the XR2 model, the turbo with 132 hp, after the turbo fails because a new turbo runs around $600. The car will not function without it because you will not be able to accelerate. Nevertheless, many XR2s have functioning turbos with well over 140,000K on them, because the turbo is not intrusive. Whenever you are not accelerating rapidly, the turbo is really not active. At steady speeds or slight accelerations, there is no indication a turbo is there.

Timing belt. Some think that having a timing belt break while driving equals a blown engine. In some cars it does, but the Capri simply loses all power and you glide to a stop. The engine will suffer no damage. Put a new belt on and you're good to go!

Loose hose. In the turbo model, should your hoses become disconnected while driving, you will suddenly lose power with a "whoosh" sound, and the car will be hard to start. Most common is the hose that comes off the exhaust near the oxygen sensor, that goes to the inter-cooler area. You might think you have a blown tire, or maybe a belt broke. One could easily think the worse, like the Turbo failed. If the hose becomes disconnected, there is a huge vacuum leak in the engine: that's what causes the "whoosh" sound is what it was. Simply reconnect the hose. The car will start right up.

Radiator. Many Capris now need their radiators replaced because the plastic tops are cracked and leaking. Before you spend $250 for a new radiator from a Capri specialist store, go online and search. I found an OEM metal radiator that is a perfect fit for only $130. Metal is a better material for any radiator.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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