How To Diagnose An Engine No-Start Problem (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 2.3L Ford Ranger And Mazda B2300)

Quite a few components, if they fail, can cause the engine not to start in your 2.3L Ford Ranger.

Thankfully, it's not difficult to figure out why the engine won't start and in this tutorial, I'll help you identify the cause of the engine no-start problem.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  • 2.3L Ford Ranger: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993,1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.
  • 2.3L Mazda B2300: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.

Difference Between A No-Start And A No-Crank Condition

Before we get started, I want to point out that an engine no-start problem is different from an engine no-crank problem.

Here's the difference:

  • In an engine no-start problem, you turn the key to start the engine, and the engine cranks but does not start.
  • In a no-crank problem, you turn the key to start the engine, but nothing happens since the starter motor does not come out to play.

If your 2.3L Ford Ranger or Mazda B2300 is experiencing a no-crank problem, your troubleshooting should start with the starter motor.

Engine No-Start Diagnostic Basics

An engine needs three things to start. They are:

  1. Air.
  2. Fuel.
  3. Spark.

If the engine in your 2.3L Ford Ranger is not starting, one of the following reasons is behind the issue:

  • The engine isn't getting any fuel.
  • The engine isn't receiving spark.
  • The engine isn't producing any compression (this is the 'air' part).

This also means that we can perform a few basic tests to find out what's causing the engine not to start:

  • An ignition system test (spark test).
  • A fuel system test (fuel pressure test).
  • A broken timing belt test.
  • An engine compression test.
  • A blown head gasket test.

The following sections will describe the step-by-step procedure I use to troubleshoot an engine no-start problem.

What Tools Do I Need?

You'll need a few basic tools to get to the bottom of what's causing the engine not to start.

These tools are:

  • A spark tester.
  • A fuel pressure tester.
  • An engine compression tester.
  • A multimeter.
  • A code reader.

For the ignition system spark tests, I'm going to recommend that you use an HEI spark tester.

This is the most accurate spark tester that you can buy, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. You can find out more about it and where to buy it here: HEI Spark Tester.

Although I didn't include a scan tool in the list, having one is a plus. But you don't need one to follow any of the suggested tests in this tutorial.

STEP 1: Testing The Ignition System For Spark

Testing For Spark At The Spark Plug Wires. How To Diagnose An Engine No-Start Problem (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 2.3L Ford Ranger And Mazda B2300)

I'm going to recommend that you start your engine no-start diagnostic with making sure that the exhaust manifold side spark plugs are getting spark.

To check for spark, you'll need to check each spark plug wire for spark with a spark tester while a helper cranks the engine.

NOTE: To get the most accurate test result, you need to check for spark with a dedicated spark tester.

The following comprehensive tutorial will help you test the ignition system:

The ignition system is NOT causing the no-start problem if:

  • Spark is present at all four exhaust manifold side spark plug wires.

With all four exhaust side spark plug wires delivering spark to the cylinders (spark plugs), you can conclude that the ignition system is NOT causing the engine no-start problem.

You can also conclude that:

  • The crankshaft position (CKP) sensor is good.
  • The ignition control module (ICM) is good (if equipped).
  • The ignition coil pack is good.

Since the ignition system is creating and feeding spark to the engine cylinders, the next test steps are to test the fuel pump's pressure. Go to: STEP 2: Testing The Fuel Pump's Pressure.

The ignition system IS THE CAUSE of the no-start problem if:

  • The four exhaust manifold spark plug wires ARE NOT sparking.

The components that can cause this no-spark problem are:

  • A bad crankshaft position (CKP) sensor.
  • A bad ignition control module (ICM) -if equipped.
  • In some rare cases, a bad ignition coil pack.

Ford Vehicles:

  • Ranger 2.3L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Mazda Vehicles:

  • B2300 2.3L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997