Classic Mustang Quits

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Please help my son. Once my son was driving down the freeway and his car stopped. He tried turning the engine over but all it did was crank. It wouldn't turn over. After about one hour, the car started fine. Our mechanic couldn't figure out why it did that.

My son's been driving the car now for two months with no problem. Last night, it did the same thing. He was parked in our driveway and tried to start his car. All it does is crank but it won't turn over. My son is 19 and works, but he earns minimum wage, so taking the car to our mechanic every time is quite costly--especially when he can't find the problem. The car is a '68 Mustang V8 289 engine. New engine, battery, transmission, tune-up, and brakes. Do you have any quick ideas my son and husband can try at home?

Oh, an old car... not too difficult. You see, in order for a car to start, there has to be three things happening. One, the engine needs to be rotating. Two, you need fuel. Three, you need spark.

Assuming that there is nothing wrong internally, cause it does run, I will assume that the crank shaft and the cam shaft are properly timed and run normally.

The next thing is fuel. Make sure that the fuel filter is clear. If there is a problem internal to the carb, that would be hard to diagnose from here.

The last thing you need is spark. If the spark plugs don't fire, then the car wont run. Since it is shutting off, I would suspect something in the distributor or ignition coil as the problem and not a single plug or spark wire. The engine will continue to run even if one cylinder is dead. I believe that car had points style ignition. It may be that the points are in need of replacing. It is basically a little switch that opens and closes to charge the coil. Then, the rotor sends the charge to individual spark plugs inside the distributor. Also, there may be a loose wire that feeds the system. Hit a bump and it may come loose. Then, there is the off chance that the ignition switch is bad. Cutting off all voltage to the ignition.

But my feeling is that your situation is related to the ignition in some way. You will have to do some investigating on your own to pinpoint the problem. The next time the car does not start, remove a spark plug wire from the spark plug, insert a checker plug, and see if the ignition is actually firing or not. My guess is not. Then back track until you find where the problem is.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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