Troubleshooting Sudden Engine Problems in a 1991-94 Mercury Capri

Updated on April 14, 2018

The 1991-94 Mercury Capri will be a rare car by 2020, thirty 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.

1993 Mercury Capri
1993 Mercury Capri | Source

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.

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, rotor, to check the condition. The part is expensive, over $200, but a simple install for most DIY types.

Turbo. Someowners 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 is, 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 intercooler 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. 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.

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    • profile image

      gary gilbertson 

      2 months ago

      My mileage went from 30 miles per gallon to 15....I suspect the heat sensor...but I can not find its location...any help?

    • profile image

      c noe 

      20 months ago

      4 other people are saying the ignition control module but its to much I was just hoping to hear something else thank you thou

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      20 months ago

      Maybe engine damage?

    • profile image

      c noe 

      20 months ago

      your fuels pump don't come on until you crank the car

    • profile image

      chris noe 

      20 months ago

      My 91 mercury capri stalled at a stop sign it was my timing belt I fixed it and it still wont start. Its getting fuel and spark

    • profile image

      ernest 

      2 years ago

      what causes a 91 mercury capri not to get fire

    • SimonSolar2C profile image

      Simon 

      2 years ago from Christchurch

      Okay thanks. So I understand there is a relay - is there a fuse somewhere?

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      2 years ago

      Fuel pump

    • SimonSolar2C profile image

      Simon 

      2 years ago from Christchurch

      Hi perrya

      Yes I checked that button thanks. What's an FP?

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      2 years ago

      There is an emergency shutoff for the fuel pump when the car is bumped. A safety feature. The restart button is in the rear trunk cargo area, maybe that was triggered or the FP is bad?

    • SimonSolar2C profile image

      Simon 

      2 years ago from Christchurch

      I have a 91 Capri convertible. Originally Turbo but now refitted with 2nd hand non turbo Mazda 323 engine.

      It was running then stalled and won't start. There's spark but no fuel coming through. It would still be an electric fuel system right? So it should pump fuel out the loosened pipe with the ignition on, right?

      Seems weird the fuel pump would suddenly stop. Anything else I can check before getting under the seat?

    • profile image

      sonja 

      3 years ago

      No because it is jerking so hard. Thanks for the response.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      3 years ago

      Are you able to get into 3rd and 4th? Maybe something with the turbo. Not sure.

    • profile image

      sonja 

      3 years ago

      I got in my car yesterday (5 speed). I started to accelerate out of first and it started losing power and jerking. Regain power and start jerking again. I shifted into 2nd and it continued to do the same thing. Any ideas?

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      3 years ago

      Have you changed the spark plugs and wires? is idle steady when running? Check the alternator?

    • profile image

      Jima 

      3 years ago

      My 94 capri will turn over but not start. It did this a few days ago and we replaced the solenoid. I drove it back and forth to work one day and today I dropped my daughter off at school and it died.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      3 years ago

      Maybe electrical related to the ignition switch in the column. They are known to have gone bad. You might have caused this when it died and turning it off and on. Starter went bad? Solenoid switch?

    • profile image

      alden 

      3 years ago

      I have a 1994 Capri that would run fine for 30 min or so but then die when trying to accelerate. While coasting, I could turn off the ignition and then back on again and the car would run again. Often, I'd have to repeat turning the car on then off again to finally clear the problem. Now it has died completely and will not even start.

    • profile image

      Tim 

      3 years ago

      How do i check engine coads

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      3 years ago

      This is hard to diagnose but seems to be fuel related-fuel pump, fuel line, idle setting.

    • profile image

      Tim 

      3 years ago

      Car starts runs good for few seconds then eather dies or Drops real low at idal and chugs . As soon as i hit gas pedal it dies

    • profile image

      larry 

      4 years ago

      I have a 1991 Capri. When starting off in 1st gear, car jerks as though misfiring. However after reaching 4th gear, car starts to run smoothly. No problems at high speeds, just starting off.

    • profile image

      stanley 

      4 years ago

      i believe there is one in one of the cars in a salvage yard i go to if you still haven't found one i will be glad to ck if you wish.

    • profile image

      john 

      4 years ago

      need a head for 91 xr2 turbo

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      4 years ago

      I am also positive you can but an after market turbo for it for around $600, remember, the engine is a Mazda when searching.

    • profile image

      Earl in Pa 

      4 years ago

      I bought my 1991 Mercury Capri XR2 new.. The part I am in need of it the turbo charger. I have a spare car I use parts off of, but the turbo in it is also in need of non-repairable body parts. Was wonder if anyone has converted to one that is available on the market and if they would be willing to share that info?

      Not ready to give up,

      Earl

      ekeck@pa.net

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      4 years ago

      Maybe the fuel injector regulator. My thinking is that if it is hot the regulator may close and not allow the fuel to reach the injectors.

    • profile image

      Nocky 

      4 years ago

      I have an Australian version Capri by ford, 1989 Turbo, it starts fine until hot, when I have driven it and turn it off it won't start until next morning when it fire first time, I have changed the coil and still the same, has plenty of fuel coming through also, any idea's

      Cheers

      Paul

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