Troubleshooting Sudden Engine Problems in a 1991-94 Mercury Capri

The 1991-94 Mercury Capri will be a rare car by 2020, when it becomes 30 yrs old since they stopped making it. Having made only 66,000 worldwide, fewer than 40,000 still exist. Many owners simply start junking and parting a perfectly good car because they cannot find the part (since the engine is a 1.6L Mazda DOHC which is still found in recent cars, parts are not hard to locate) or something occurs and they are unable to resolve it because they do not have the service manual.

The Capri, like any car, does have its idiosyncrasies. 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. However, many buyers now buying it have no clue about this and suddenly, their car will not run or start. Naturally, the worse is thought and could lead to a decision to simply junk it. The fix for this is simply opening the rear trunk and on the left side where the spare is, press the red button to activate the fuel pump again.

Another sudden stop is the electronic ignition. If the interior 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 simply install for most DIY types.

The XR2 model is the turbo with 132 hp. Many junk the car 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. Many XR2s have turbos with well over 140,000K, that is 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. The turbo is active when accelerating fast from a stop or passing cars.

Some think that having a timing belt break while driving equals a blown engine. In some cars it is, 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!

With the turbo, you will suddenly lose power and it will be hard to start if your hoses become disconnected while driving. Most common is the hose that comes of the exhaust near the oxygen sensor. The sound will be like a "whoosh" and you might think you have a blown tire, or maybe a belt broke. You will lose power and starting is hard. 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 "whoosh" sound is what it was. Simply reconnect the hose. Car will start right up. This hose goes to the intercooler area.

Many Capri's now need their radiators replaced because the plastic tops are cracked and leaking. Before you spend $250 for a new 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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Comments 27 comments

Nocky 3 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



perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

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.

Earl in Pa 2 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,


perrya profile image

perrya 2 years ago Author

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

john 2 years ago

need a head for 91 xr2 turbo

stanley 2 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.

larry 2 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.

Tim 2 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

perrya profile image

perrya 2 years ago Author

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

Tim 2 years ago

How do i check engine coads

alden 2 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.

perrya profile image

perrya 2 years ago Author

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?

Jima 22 months 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 image

perrya 22 months ago Author

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

sonja 19 months 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 image

perrya 19 months ago Author

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

sonja 19 months ago

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

SimonSolar2C profile image

SimonSolar2C 9 months 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?

perrya profile image

perrya 9 months ago Author

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

SimonSolar2C 9 months ago from Christchurch

Hi perrya

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

perrya profile image

perrya 9 months ago Author

Fuel pump

SimonSolar2C profile image

SimonSolar2C 9 months ago from Christchurch

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

ernest 8 months ago

what causes a 91 mercury capri not to get fire

chris noe 5 days 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

c noe 5 days ago

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

perrya profile image

perrya 5 days ago Author

Maybe engine damage?

c noe 5 days 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

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