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2.0 Zetec - need to check and maybe replace the VCT solenoid

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  • 2.0 Zetec - need to check and maybe replace the VCT solenoid

    Have my 1998 Contour with the 2.0L Zetec. Have recently (2 months ago) replaced the timing belt and tensioner - routine maintenance - been running great ever since.
    Go to start-up this past Saturday AM; and it's difficult to start - sounds like either fuel or spark. No problem, pull the VOM and start checking; battery OK; terminals clean and tight. Check for 12VDC signal to the ignition coil - OK there, check for spark at the plugs - OK there too....hmmm. Know the fuel is OK - over half tank worth. Have new plug wires - within the past month - just drove home from work yesterday - no problems then....hmmm??
    So, plug in the OBD code reader - and I get a code P1383 'Exhaust Timing Over Retarded' and have pulled the TSB 03-15-14 'Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) illuminated-diagnostic troble codes (DTCS) P0340, P1380 or P1383 in Memory.

    How can I check the VCT solenoid for any issues, and if there is a specific test or problem to be aware of? How can I replace the VCT solenoid - I've already pulled the valve cover and upper timing covers for access to the VCT solenoid - how can I remove or test the solenoid for problems? Are there other tests that can be performed first?
    The car is not running at this point, and the TSB describes some tests to perform while the engine is at 2500 RPM.

  • #2
    does it try to fire, as in starts then dies right away or just cranks
    98.5 t-red Zetec mtx
    207,000 and counting
    i love bring my car into class, it give a new "special circumstance" every day.

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    • #3
      It just cranks. Have 12+ VDC supply at the coil and to the VCT solenoid via the solenoid harness and connector, and I've confirmed the coil output at the spark plug is normal - but the engine does not fire / start nor run.
      I know the timing belt is intact - I've pulled the inspection cover to check the belt teeth condition and to observe the cam gears rotation during the start sequence. The tensioner and idle pulleys are OK as well - as stated earlier just last week the car was running beautifully, no problems whatsoever. Fresh oil and filter change (10w30 with FL-2005 filter) - so I'm certain the VCT is not affected by dirty oil.
      I still need to check the VCT solenoid-to-ground condition and confirm the VCT solenoid VDC (voltage drop) at the solenoid terminals. Other than these tests - the next step would be to remove / clean and / or replace the VCT solenoid - there is not much else left. Unless someone has any different ideas?

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      • #4
        Check the cam TIMING again. Timing off will show that code too. The motor will run with the VCT not working and all the way retarded, just not well. Jumped timing will throw it off more than that to not start. The timing can easily jump with no warning, big clue is that you did belt recently, the job just now slipped time. It happens. Mine did same code and was the belt shredded by a bad pulley to throw timing off maybe 3/8".

        You DO hear the fuel pump spin up at key on, right? I've had a pump give up the ghost before just like that too, no warning.

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        • #5
          when we did my timing belt it was off time and it would atleast try to run. i don't think this is jumped time (but i culd be wrong).
          98.5 t-red Zetec mtx
          207,000 and counting
          i love bring my car into class, it give a new "special circumstance" every day.

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          • #6
            2.0 Zetec - need to check and maybe replace the VCT solenoid

            The engine was runnng fine - no problems and no codes - not 24 hours prior to the no-start condition. There is no indication the timing belt is slipped, changed, or damaged in any way - all the belt teeth are intact on the new belt.

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            • #7
              you can still skip a tooth or two without damage to the belt.
              Green on Black '93 SHO 3.0 MTX *SOLD*
              T Red '98 Contour SE (Zetec)
              Off White '01 Saturn LW300

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