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Ansgar

Problematic Probe

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Greetings from Finland!

Unfortunately I don't own a Mazda, but at least I do have a KLDE- engine! Last summer my old work horse Opel Vectra retired early, so I bought a 1997 Ford Probe GT to be my next daily driver-hobby-thingy. I find this forum to have plenty of information for me as well since there's plenty of Mazda in my car!

I bought the car dirt cheap, which practically always means you get the car plus some surprises as an extra to go with it. The car had failed the yearly MOT- test, or to be more precise, the test had been aborted during the inspection due to exhaust gases. Report also mentioned couple of other minor faults.
Engine sounded nice though and the car ran just fine when I drove it. It had a coilover kit installed and the kit was also in the papers. As I was going through the car I noticed there was a loose vacuum line hanging in the engine bay. As the asking price was not too high, I decided to give it a shot. I went home, connected the vacuum line, drove the car warm and went to exhaust gas test, which the car passed without a problem.
Then I ordered new headlight assemblies, which I now have as spare parts, because I ended up just servicing the old ones. I used the car as a daily driver for maybe two weeks and during that time I fixed the remaining issues that had been pointed out in the MOT- test. Then it was time to try the test again. Probe managed to pass it even though a tire went flat while waiting for the inspector. With his kind help we managed to swap the spare tire on. This was actually quite hard, because the previous owner had set the car practically as low as it can get. My Probe has the OEM- 16 inch wheels under it and for some reason on one wheel the valve had a cut where it protrudes through the rim. A local tire shop fixed the issue while I was waiting, so luckily it didn't end up being a big deal.
After this the weather got warmer and I started to have heat issues. Problems occurred only on the highway. To make a long story short, it was the same issue I had with my Jeep years ago. Coolant had sort of coagulated into orange sludge and it clogged everything. I did notice coolant wasn't at it's best when I was buying the car and I had already scheduled it to be changed in the near future. However, I didn't notice it being this bad, because on top of the reservoirs coolant was still in liquid form. A thorough cooling system wash and a new radiator was needed to get it up and running again. Then a couple days later sound of a belt slipping started. It was not actually a belt slipping, but a bearing jamming on one of the V-belt tensioners. I then replaced both V-belts and tensioner bearings just to be sure. Some smaller repairs were also done, but the main service was still ahead. I decided to do the cambelt while I was at it. Everything else went smoothly with this service, but I got a wrong free wheel with the kit. It was around 10 mm smaller in diameter than it should be. After I got a replacement part the rest went without problems.
At this point I thought I could just drive for a while and enjoy the car. That was not going to happen. One evening I came home with my kids and the car was working just fine. No weird sounds, no misfire, nothing unusual, so I parked the car for the night. The next day I was planning to take my daughter to her hobby. I tried to start the car, but all it did was cranking. Not even a slightest sign of trying to start. It didn't react to starter fluid either. First it seemed like a no spark- no fuel issue, but later I found out my schraeder- valve has seized on the fuel rail. Lots of useless work done on that nonexistent fuel issue, but it was a lesson learned once again. So now it was a no spark issue. I managed to rule it down to distributor, which I believe is a common problem on these. I ordered a new one and received a box of the right distributor, but inside there was a wrong part. After a lot of hassle I got the correct one. Now the car starts, idles some time and dies with a sputter. If I touch the gas it dies pretty much immediately. Also my tachometer isn't working anymore. Ignition timing is way off and it barely reacts to tuning.

While I have been working with this issue, I noticed that I don't have a CEL- light on my dash. I also noticed that I don't have OBD2- port. If I've understood correctly there should be OBD2- system on this car, being MY 97. There apparently is a place for an OBD2- connector on the right side of the hood lever under the dash, but there's only a slot on the dash trim with two holes for screws. Under the hood I found a diagnostics port. It's a 25 pin connector, which is under a "DIAGNOSIS" marked lid.
I tried to get help from couple of my local Ford dealers, but that ended up being wasted time. Then I asked straight from Ford, but they told me they can't get anything useful out of my VIN, because the car has been imported from Germany.

I found instructions on how to read the codes with a jumper wire between TEN- and GND- pins. Then I had to do some more digging to get past the problem of no CEL- light. I built a LED- contraption that blinks me the codes. Now I don't know what to think about the codes I'm getting. I have reset the ECU five times so far and after starting the car and reading the codes again I have gotten these out of it:
First time: 11-13-14-15
Second time:10-11-10-10-10-11-11-10-11-13-14-15. I don't know what the car was doing at this point.
Third, fourth and fifth time: 11-13-14-15
I have found some sort of explanations for some codes. but there is also a code that, according to all the OBD1- code listings I have found, doesn't even exist:

11 is apparently IAT- sensor, 13 doesn't exist, 14 is barometric sensor inside ECU (new ECU needed) and 15 I guess is about O2- sensor. I tested the IAT- and O2- sensors, both were somewhat within specs, O2- sensor just had to be thoroughly burned before it started to react properly.

If I want to get rid of that code 14, I'm going to need a new ECU. I contacted Ford again and asked if I need to reprogram the new ECU if I manage to find a similar one somewhere. Ford was very helpful and tried to help me, but in the end they could not get me an answer.

If any of you have some ideas or tips, I would be grateful to hear them!

Best regards,
Ansgar

P.S. I didn't install the wheels in this picture!

Probe.jpg

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