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Old July 7th, 2011, 01:16 PM   #1
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Default So I've done my best to figure this out on my own, but I'm absolutely stumped...

1997 Ford Ranger, 2.3L I4, manual transmission, 2wd.

Major issues:

Engine bucking and trying to escape at 60mph+
low power all around
miss at idle
stumbles when engaging clutch to start moving (seemed fine every subsequent gear) also bucks and backfires.

Timing belt went out a few thousand ago and these issues have become worse ever since.


I did a bunch of computer tests and other diagnosis tricks and it was advancing my ignition timing between 40-50 degrees! Cylinders 1,2 and 4 had 90psi, and cylinder 3 had 70psi compression. I decided things looked like I did in fact somehow mess up my timing belt job.

I've just returned from re-doing it, went to check torque specs and the keyway was supposed to be vertical afterall! I had spotted a dot the next tooth section over and moved the crank over one tooth so the dot was straight up and down. The timing cover also now says I'm about 20° BTDC.

So I guess I had the cam timing adjusted correctly all along. so what's the deal with the ignition?

Has all new fuel injectors, every thing has been cleaned with the appropriate cleaner.

Just put new plugs in it, speaking of which there was issues with those too.

The #3 cylinder plug was loose and missing the electrode. the catch? The computer didn't care about Cylinder #3 at all, it was hollering about a misfire on cylinder #2! and it's not like it's confused because the firing order is 1-3-4-2 on these engines, freaking 180° apart. This was probably the miss at idle. Though throwing a timing light on the engine showed cylinder 4 cutting out when it stumbled.

I have a strong feeling something else is going on though...

I'm truly at a loss with this engine. I have a ****load of new parts on the truck, even more ready to go in and in the last 5,000 miles the whole thing has gone to hell in a hand basket and I cannot figure out why.

Does anyone know anything I could possibly check? I honestly don't have the money or time to pull the engine "just to check on the internals".

Last edited by Captain Ledd; July 7th, 2011 at 01:20 PM.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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For giggles look at your relay and power distribution center connectors and etc for corrision, even inside the fuse block. Check and clean your sensor and engine grounds?
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Old July 7th, 2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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Sound like an issue i had with my '93.

After weeks of searching, it wasn't getting a good ground under the ignition module, it had a slight amout of buildup.

something to check anyway
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Old July 7th, 2011, 04:02 PM   #4
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I would guess that cyl. With only 70psi is ONE of your biggest problems,seems awful low to me.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 05:00 PM   #5
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did you shoot a little oil in the cylinder that gave you 70Psi? and if so did it come up at all?
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Old July 7th, 2011, 05:17 PM   #6
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as far as the "bucking" goes, (dumb question) have you checked all your engine/tranny mounts?
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Old July 7th, 2011, 06:01 PM   #7
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All those cylinder compression specs seem pretty low, even the 90's
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Old July 7th, 2011, 08:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littletrucker View Post
All those cylinder compression specs seem pretty low, even the 90's
X3, that engine should crank at least 150ish. Might want to try a different gauge to be sure but 90 is waaaaay low
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Old July 7th, 2011, 09:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fsumotorhead View Post
Sound like an issue i had with my '93.

After weeks of searching, it wasn't getting a good ground under the ignition module, it had a slight amout of buildup.

something to check anyway
Will check that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdd1469 View Post
I would guess that cyl. With only 70psi is ONE of your biggest problems,seems awful low to me.
That was cylinder #3, which had the spark plug part way out.

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Originally Posted by Yetti View Post
did you shoot a little oil in the cylinder that gave you 70Psi? and if so did it come up at all?
Squirted no oil in it. I could try that this weekend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madscience View Post
as far as the "bucking" goes, (dumb question) have you checked all your engine/tranny mounts?
Nope, but it's not really a bounce or anything (had an engine mount go on my friends j-10). It's a hard jolt, it'll jerk the truck back and forth and I can hear the rear end clunk (which I have a brand new axle ready to be put together because this one is worn out). I mean it bucks like you let the clutch out too quick and the engine somehow didn't stall.

The CEL will also flash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by littletrucker View Post
All those cylinder compression specs seem pretty low, even the 90's
That was my thought too, which makes me suspect there is some degree of mechanical damage, BUT the truck ran and drove up to the point of me taking it apart to check the timing, so i'd like to track down the other issue(s) first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frdboy View Post
X3, that engine should crank at least 150ish. Might want to try a different gauge to be sure but 90 is waaaaay low
I've had the other gage idea suggested before. I also thought it odd that if it was wear or damage that all 3 be exactly 90psi across the board.

Edit: oh, and the truck has just over 200,000 miles on it. And we've been really good about oil changes and it's had engine flush every change since it was new, or really since we got it with 9,000 miles on it (early return lease).

Last edited by Captain Ledd; July 7th, 2011 at 09:55 PM.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 10:00 PM   #10
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How did it run before the timing belt went.

Sounds like the belt was off a few teeth and the valves contacted the pistons.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 10:02 PM   #11
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How did it run before the timing belt went.

Sounds like the belt was off a few teeth and the valves contacted the pistons.
Ran fine.

From everything I've read,heard and seen says the Ford Lima/Pinto series engines are non-interference.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 07:17 AM   #12
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those engines aren't interference.

I've owned two rangers with 2.3 engines, both had around 200k on the clock, neither engine had much if any compression and still ran smooth.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 07:35 AM   #13
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Could it be 180 deg off on the cam timing?
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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:27 AM   #14
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Could it be 180 deg off on the cam timing?
Highly, highly doubt it. It was enough of a pain to get to the thing in the first place, I checked it like 6 times before putting it back together, even had a second set of eyes. This is round 2 of dis-assembly and those marks are dead on. All the diamonds line up on both the cam and oil pump and until I messed with the crank (thinking it was the dot supposed to be vertical), the keyway was dead vertical and 90° from the oil pan surface.

I'm building a leakdown tester this weekend, hopefully that'll tell me my compression story.

But I'm going to put it all back together and run it while I diagnose the electrical/sensor/ignition-timing issue, because it was still a running driving truck until I tore it apart to check on things again.

Last edited by Captain Ledd; July 8th, 2011 at 10:03 AM.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:49 AM   #15
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Buddy just redid his 22re after hydrolocking it and ran into a similar issue. It ended up just being a ground he missed during reassembly. On a 2.3 I did as a teenager I pinched a wire in the intake causing a huge drivability problem.
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Old July 15th, 2011, 11:44 AM   #16
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Well, I may have things figured out... kinda.

So poking around turning things around, I noticed that there were no less than THREE alignment marks on EACH of the camshaft and oil pump gears. I found the diamond on the camshaft gear, but it still took me several minutes to make out the diamond on the oil pump gear. And yeah, that's what the oil pump gear (and consequently camshaft position sensor) needs to be lined up at. In addition to to all of this, there's a 'dot" on the crankshaft gear that apparently also points to something.

Camshaft sprocket is lined up triangle to triangle

Oil Pump sprocket is lined up diamond to diamond

Crankshaft is keyway up.

I have to wonder if this is explains the MULTITUDE of "my 2.3L has a miss after changing timing belt" that I found while searching the problem, and why no amount of parts seems to fix the problem. Why the hell wouldn't ONE mark do the job?

The crankshaft and the camshaft were in sync from the start, so apparently my oil pump f-up has caused some degree of damage. I can hear some air hissing around the oil fill tube and when I stick my finger over the dipstick hole and tap, the hissing follows the tapping. Rings... great... So much for trying to keep such good care of the engine over the years...

Still have yet to check the oil packs. Though this will likely help things a lot having things actually correct. After all Cylinder #4 was actually killing the timing light when it stumbled. Maybe the added stress of trying to correct itself tweaked the coil pack.

So hopefully when I don't have to clock in at work so much I can get this thing back together and see how long it lasts.

Argh. :annoyed:

Last edited by Captain Ledd; July 15th, 2011 at 11:48 AM.
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Old July 15th, 2011, 11:56 AM   #17
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This won't help, but, commonly there are more than one set of marks on various engine pieces, lots of time the factory assembly and service tools vary in how they function, thus different marks for different ways to assemble.
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