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89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor


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Richard.Dibb
Novice

May 17, 2016, 11:12 AM

Post #1 of 17 (1315 views)
89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Hello,

Wondering if someone can help me with my car issue.

1989 Dodge Spirit
2.5 Turbo
152k mi

Bought the car from a dealership in MN in 2011. During late spring, summer and early fall if the car was running long enough, more than 30 mins, the car would tremble and sound like it was on the verge of dying. When giving it gas the problem went away. If I parked for an errand and returned between 20-30 mins later the car would start and run really rough then die. If I returned within 15 mins on those warm, hot days, car would start without an issue. After 40 mins car would start with out issue.

Replaced the distributor in Spring 2012, part from O'Reilly. Issue went away. Car worked fine for another two years and problem returned. Same environment and issue. During winter never have an issue of a hot distributor. Late spring, summer and early fall car would sound like its dying, after driving it for awhile (greater than 30 mins), even when stopped at a stop sign. Again, applying gas and problem goes away.

When the car starts, ran rough and died, I would get the car to start by immediately hitting the gas after starting it. Putting car into gear and driving away the car would run rough, sputtering, after a couple of seconds of running rough car would begin to run normal.

Replaced the distributor again, couple of months ago, and problem remains. Previous two times replacing distributor resolved issue.


Recapping:

Car ran rough after being driven for more than 30 mins. This only happens during warm weather.

Replaced distributor in 2012 problem went away.

Problem returned in 2014 again during warm weather.

Replaced distributor in 2014 problem went away.

Car running rough during warm weather problem returned 2016.

Replaced distributor and problem remains. This is the third time I've replaced the distributor.


Anyone have any thoughts for the cause, why and how to fix this issue?

Thanks!


(This post was edited by Richard.Dibb on May 21, 2016, 11:37 AM)


Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

May 17, 2016, 12:19 PM

Post #2 of 17 (1305 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Contact Replacing Distributor Sign In

Any trouble codes stored in the ECM? If so, what are the numbers?





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

(This post was edited by Discretesignals on May 17, 2016, 12:20 PM)


Richard.Dibb
Novice

May 21, 2016, 10:28 PM

Post #3 of 17 (1252 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Discretesignals, thanks for responding. Apologies for taking so long to post.

Here are the ECM codes

1-2

1-5

5-5

Which I understand to be:

12 - Battery or computer recently disconnected.

15 - No speed/distance sensor signal. My odometer is working really slow. Just over a mile recorded since replacing headlight switch about nine months ago. Speedometer rarely doesn't work. Then within 5 mins of driving speedometer starts working. Happens about once every 6 months.

55 - End of Codes.

Any idea, Discretesignals?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

May 22, 2016, 12:06 AM

Post #4 of 17 (1248 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Was battery disconnected recently? 1989 vehicle from MN? Erratic electrical issues in assorted vehicles but Chrysler products seemed more vulnerable to corrosion under or around battery. IDK, one I found totally soaked ECM in passenger's kick panel so corroded it wouldn't run until replaced if only the plugs and wires and patched to keep more water out.


Just a thought and was an '88 model quite some time ago unusually bad condition all throughout vehicle for one still being used at all,


T



kev2
Veteran
kev2 profile image

May 22, 2016, 2:17 PM

Post #5 of 17 (1220 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

what exactly is failing?
The distributor - housing, shaft, bearings, drive , OR are the ign or sync pick up switches* within the dist failing?






* 2 simple hall effect sensors/switches


(This post was edited by kev2 on May 22, 2016, 3:21 PM)


nickwarner
Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

May 22, 2016, 3:57 PM

Post #6 of 17 (1215 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Considering the vintage of the car and the fact I am right next door in WI, I have two theories.

1. the computer has become self-aware, and is expressing extreme shame for having to be parked where the Vikings are.

2. the large amount of rust this has has also seeped into an electrical connector that relied on a 27 year old piece of rubber to hold back the salt. Ask my 15 year old who exists due to a defective piece of rubber.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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May 22, 2016, 11:37 PM

Post #7 of 17 (1207 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

! They broke the mold when they made you Nick - too funny.


OP - He's right though. You can't take out what time in a rust belt did even if car is no longer anywhere near it did it's thing already and shows up usually tons earlier than this but would be lurking forever. Intermittent testing results highly likely over a simple connection. Still suggest you look.


Had troubles with these when they were just 5+ years old never mind now,


T



Richard.Dibb
Novice

May 23, 2016, 12:50 AM

Post #8 of 17 (1205 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Tom, last time battery was disconnected was over a year ago. There is corrosion around the battery terminals. Would that cause the distributor misbehaving and going bad during warm weather and being driven for a great length of time?

kev2, don't specifically know what part of the distributor is failing. Have just replaced the distributor. Had the pick-up attached to the body with the mark indicating not to move the cap. Returned to auto part store for lifetime warranty. Replacing distributor fixed the issue past two times, this time problem remains. Has me thinking something outside the distributor, but what? My troubleshooting goes something like this: If a part is replaced and problem remains, problem is with the system. If part is replaced and problem disappears, problem was part.

nick, wish the computer became that self-aware. Perhaps it'd also tell me what's the issue. Where would this piece of rubber be that protects from salt and other elements?

Tom, little confused. Where should I be looking for this simple connection?

Know I've asked this before. One thing that really perplexes me is constantly replacing the distributor, why is it being replaced so often. What's making it go bad so quickly. Thinking heat has something to do with the issue. Car only has this issue during warm weather and when its been driven for awhile.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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May 23, 2016, 4:26 AM

Post #9 of 17 (1198 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Quote ">>
Tom, little confused. Where should I be looking for this simple connection? <<"


That alone is common to anywhere but if it alone is near too many items that also caught some of that they are all suspect.
Said that the salt and all items electrical especially slowly eats up the greases that were used on most any connection throughout a car as the rubber degrades over time in any location.
Where you pull your hair out is you test something it might show fine when tested one way but is something critical getting proper power and ground while the heavy draw of starter motor is working also. Some test tools all hooked up at the right spots would tell you that and for an '89 probably have to see it read incorrectly unless you could "freeze" frame the problem did happen then look at the results. That or check all exposed first which if this car is resetting things to do so adds to confusion.


Too many tries then it can add flooding engine just more to confuse a diagnosis. Some spark plugs once wet with fuel even months ago may show spark but not fire - it's all in the cards to rule out one by one with your eyes and testing that all is right.


Hope not added problems with a run of defective but checked parts or test equipment is in the cards. Nothing sets you off on a goose chase faster than wrong information from testing.


Out of the blue - does any and or all test devices you do use ONLY use the vehicle's battery for power? That's then primary that the battery itself if attaching to it gets a good connection,


T



kev2
Veteran
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May 23, 2016, 3:22 PM

Post #10 of 17 (1186 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

most likely the HEP (hall effect pickup) is failing, might want to see if you can get a spare to have as they are a week link, ALSO might want to study up on them and then check the voltages on new unit and again when it starts failing to see if you can narrow it down to IGN or SYNC portion of HEP as your turbo has both built into the HEP.
Free is great BUT something is causing the repeat failure and might not be able to get the dist forever...


Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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May 23, 2016, 5:29 PM

Post #11 of 17 (1181 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

I don't see any troubleshooting going on beside retrieving trouble codes. Need to find out what is missing or what goes missing when the problem occurs. I don't understand why throwing distributors into it is the first order of business. You don't even know if the distributor or even the pickup is the culprit.

I'd be kind of wondering about that battery disconnect code going on. Is the engine controller losing its power during the issue? It needs to be troubleshot.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


Richard.Dibb
Novice

May 28, 2016, 2:06 AM

Post #12 of 17 (1144 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Tom, how do I reset the ECM codes? There might be something carrying over and affecting the codes. Resetting the codes and doing ECM again might provide more useful codes.

kev2, isn't the HEP the black cap on top of the distributor where the sits under it? HEP has been with each distributor. How would I narrow down the ING and SYNC?

Discretesignals, original troubleshooting was done in '12. Googled it and found an answer on a car forum, like this one. Provided make/model and distributor was determined to be the issue. Replaced distributor and issue disappeared. Problem returned and replaced again, issue disappeared. Now issue remains. What other component going bad would provide the same problem?


I do like the idea of troubleshooting further. Instead of looking at and focusing on the distributor, let's look at this a different way.

Issue: car runs rough during warm weather

Symptom: car seems like its choking.

Current fix: let car cool down or push gas pedal and issue goes away.

Troubleshooting will be useful because I'll learn more about the car and knowing the actual problem. Plus it'll be helpful for others in the future. During my time working with HVAC equipment I learned 'round the bases troubleshooting.' What is the first component to check with this issue, then second, third and so on til the last component? Don't want to skip around or miss something because won't help while troubleshooting.


(This post was edited by Richard.Dibb on May 28, 2016, 2:21 AM)


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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May 28, 2016, 3:02 AM

Post #13 of 17 (1139 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Reset would just be disconnect battery negative best and sounds silly but while disconnected turn on lights for a while which should suck any remaining juice out of the car. Then you are starting fresh with no codes except one that would say it's communicating.


This vintage of "computer" diagnostics was limited at best when these weren't so old so OLD is now on my mind and the history you have now of a fix with all those distributors now not working to fix it.


It doesn't like heat and seems like (your description) like it's choking as in too much fuel for a warmer engine. Fine as if you are pushing gas pedal to floor you shut down fuel if these things still work as originally intended.


I'm just stuck with little faith in codes for the era. Rust belt where I am the Mopars were first with plain electrical odd connections being the cause of so many issues at 4-5-6 years old never mind now.


Things that adjust for temperature are at a glance all sensors that plug in near thermostat for engine operation sent to a device thru too many misrouted wires for what they'll be exposed to IMO which was 99% of the troubles when they weren't old for me personally.
Just retainers that hold wiring away from hot or wet situations would allow them fail, burn off insulation and ground out on something. Just unplugging and plugging back in connections to this stuff alone was a temporary fix and gave you a good chance to SEE the corrosion. Twisting on the spade of connectors just a little, lube with electric grease would fix most. Burnt or cut wires fix as seen.


Said, I worry about tests showing properly at this point and lots just me but would try like all get out to rule out erratic electrical connections so at least you can begin to think any info is credible or it touching one fixes it go back and clean that one up,


T



Richard.Dibb
Novice

Jun 15, 2016, 12:21 AM

Post #14 of 17 (1096 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Tom, thanks for the advice.

Did exactly as you said. Codes are now 12 and 55. Which I understand are disconnected battery and end of codes.

Any suggestion where next to troubleshoot this problem?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jun 15, 2016, 12:34 AM

Post #15 of 17 (1092 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Start fresh again now: Is it running at all?
Will it even crank engine or not?


Been enough time battery would be dead so where are we?


T



Richard.Dibb
Novice

Jun 29, 2016, 12:03 AM

Post #16 of 17 (1062 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

Tom, really appreciate all the help.

Car is running. Engine will crank.

Suggestion where to start first when a car is running rough?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jun 29, 2016, 12:58 AM

Post #17 of 17 (1059 views)
Re: 89 Spirit Constantly Replacing Distributor Sign In

"Where to begin when an engine (this old now especially) is anything really. Vacuum leaks all ruled out. Electrical secondary parts meaning high voltage items. Spark plugs on back all the way to coil(s) as required - checking with even spraying water making it worse or perhaps better.


Pull plugs - they tell a story. They are the last thing and only things that make spark where needed. No tricky plugs with claims of anything more than OE ones would have been even for 1989. No multi ground electrode games IMO just extra places to fail.


Plug wires - anywhere oily or neat excessive heat. Anywhere or time known they've been abused. These items do not like being handled or especially dropped. Even finger prints in the wrong places with greasy hands can start a problem for later.


Grounding one cylinder or canceling them one at a time can help locate which one. This done without causing harm in just doing that. If you so much as leave a plug wire hanging off of a spark plug the voltage will seek out the next best way to ground and can cause harm - even high voltage sparks inside distributors you seem to have a repeat issue with.


All things right not really different than a newer engine at all. If need be compression testing and anything to do with valve timing too,


T







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