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1997 Explorer

allmyEXes

Elite Explorer
Joined
February 6, 2016
Messages
2,463
Reaction score
1,571
City, State
No. Alabama USA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 Blue Ex 4.0 SOHC
Callsign
KAGG 3611 (CB)
In my 1997 5.0 powered Mountaineer, after replacing the bulbs in my instrument cluster, I had a check engine light on. I cleared it with a scan tool and after a few seconds the check engine light came on. The code was PO340, camshaft position sensor. It seemed to run ok but I looked at it and it appeared to be the original with 250,000 on the truck. After unplugging the harness from it I see that it is the 3 wire design. After removing the coil packs and bracket out of the way I opened the top of it and this is what I saw.
camsync01.jpg

camsync02.jpg



Through this process I was asking questions and sharing my pictures with the members of the forum, several veteran members gave me advice. Here is what several had to say:
410Fortune-"you need to look at your cam sensor, it may be toast if it fails you can lose oil pressure "

Mbrooks420-"My guess is the plastic gets brittle, and the magnet comes of first, and gets jammed in. When I took mine apart the rotor shaft was still tight, and there was no real play in anything."

I don’t think this sensor is imperative, I drove for many months with a broken sensor.

Turdle-"I use a 1/4" long extension with a swivel ( u joint) on the end, 5.5mm socket . Using this you can remove the sensor cap without disturbing the coil packs. The sensor cap screws have a retainer washer inside to prevent them from falling out. Once they are loosened enough, disconnect the plug and remove the cap. It might benefit from cleaning, or, at least you'll be able to see the metal synch flag and look for damage. I would not drive far with a 340 code, this could cause more serious internal damage. "

koda2000-"I used a 5mm combo wrench to remove my cam position sensor. Once you crack the screws loose you can easily unscrew them with your fingers w/out touching/removing any other parts. "Replace it with a motorcraft unit. The cheaper ones aren't worth it, from all the reviews here on the forum. You can find the proper cam positioning tool for it online, and I know Rock Auto has it listed."

gmanpaint:"I just did this same inspection the other day, so I know your pains, in reaching it. I'm half blind, & my big mits can't fit in there at all. Taking the coil pack bracket off and moved back far enough to get clear access was a better choice for me as well. "

Turdle-"Your 97 will take 1 of 2 possible configuration of sensor. 97 was a transitional year, some have internal egr and some have external. If yours is an external egr type egr engine, a 98 sensor might work. 99 up are different again. Also, if you can see the metal flag inside, you can take a picture of it's orientation. Using this as a guide and without disturbing engine position, you can drop the "new" unit in making sure the flag position is the same as in the picture. If the synch unit is even one tooth off it will be very apparent, so, you might not need the alignment tool."

gmanpaint-"I'm curious to how these things break. Vibrations over time, then a crack, leading to self destruct? "

allmyEXes-"Some of the deterioration could be contributed to vibration. Maybe some damage from expansion and contraction from heating and cooling"

koda2000-"The purpose of the cam position sensor (CPS) is strictly for fuel injector timing. As said, it has nothing to do with firing the spark plugs and your engine will run (albeit poorly) w/out the CPS. The major ill effect that will occur w/out the CPS (or with one installed incorrectly) is that you may burn pistons due to excess heat in the combustion chamber.
Some here have experience problems with re-manufactured and Dorman cam synchronizers, due to the roll pin being too small and breaking. For that reason, new Motorcraft cam synchronizers are recommended."
410Fortune-"the bearings inside the body get old and allow too much play (wobble) then the rotating flag contacts the sensor and its over......... "

"me" That afternoon I was unable to purchase a new replacement part locally. At the last hour in a JY 30 minutes away I found what I assume is an original Motorcraft unit. I opened it up and everything looked good on the inside. I retrieved it, paid, returned to the Shop and installed it exactly in the same position as the old part. I had used a Sharpie and made a mark on the intake manifold and the body of the CPS and also marked where the flag was aligned in relation to the body of the CPS. I must have it aligned correctly because 1st, the cam gear and the hole in the gear and the oil pump drive rod meshed perfectly with no resistance and when the engine is running it performs well and no longer sets a PO340 code. Back to the install and gear, I wonder how many of these CPSs have been installed by being forced in to the block (possibly even with a hammer) and unknowingly crack the drive gear on the bottom of the CPS ? I bet it has happened eventually causing it to break in to two pieces ultimately causing an catastrophic failure because the oil pump is no longer being driven. I know from the advice that I have been given that a similar scenario could occur from using "substandard" reproduction units that could fail because of cheap metal and questionable machining, and a Motorcraft unit is "HIGHLY" recommended. The same evening after getting the truck going again I ordered a new CPS online and received it 3 days later. I will be taking a chance with my replacement A-1 Cardone Select part that I purchased. But I have heard good things about A-1 Cardone. Stay away from Dorman and Motorcraft is recommended.
camsync4.JPG
camsync5.JPG
camsync7.JPG

Thanks for the info and interest.
 



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you need to look at your cam sensor, it may be toast
if it fails you can lose oil pressure
 












I use a 1/4" long extension with a swivel ( u joint) on the end, 5.5mm socket . Using this you can remove the sensor cap without disturbing the coil packs. The sensor cap screws have a retainer washer inside to prevent them from falling out. Once they are loosened enough, disconnect the plug and remove the cap. It might benefit from cleaning, or, at least you'll be able to see the metal synch flag and look for damage.

I would not drive far with a 340 code, this could cause more serious internal damage.
 






I used a 5mm combo wrench to remove my cam position sensor. Once you crack the screws loose you can easily unscrew them with your fingers w/out touching/removing any other parts.
 






Replace it with a motorcraft unit. The cheaper ones aren't worth it, from all the reviews here on the forum. You can find the proper cam positioning tool for it online, and I know Rock Auto has it listed.

I just did this same inspection the other day, so I know your pains, in reaching it. I'm half blind, & my big mits can't fit in there at all. Taking the coil pack bracket off and moved back far enough to get clear access was a better choice for me as well.
 






Your 97 will take 1 of 2 possible configuration of sensor. 97 was a transitional year, some have internal egr and some have external. If yours is an external egr type egr engine, a 98 sensor might work.

99 up are different again.

also, if you can see the metal flag inside, you can take a picture of it's orientation. Using this as a guide and without disturbing engine position, you can drop the "new" unit in making sure the flag position is the same as in the picture. If the synch unit is even one tooth off it will be very apparent, so, you might not need the alignment tool.
 






Alright. It was a long day with multiple things going on. After unsuccessfully finding new parts locally, I stepped on the junk yard (really it is a scrap yard where people bring everything including vehicles) at 4:05. The owner said "We close at 4:50". I had 45 minutes to find and retrieve the part that I needed. The first one that I came across was a '99. It was the two wire type and it wouldn't come out of the block anyway. By this time I had 15 minutes to find another and get the part. After searching through hundreds of cars I spotted a dark red '97-'98 Explorer 5.0. I walked up on it hood up and I thought that the engine was gone. But no, someone had stripped the "P" heads off of it. The cam synchronizer looked good. I opened it, it wasn't destroyed and took about 1 minute if that to retrieve it. I noticed the drivers side exhaust header had been cut off and I turned around and it was laying in the dirt. I took it and the CPS up to the office and payed $15- for it and $10 for the left side header (that will be for my V-8 in the '91 4x4 project). Hopefully the Explorer will still be at the junkyard Tuesday and I can get the RH one. They crush shtuff quick around there.
After test driving the check engine light came on. I used the scan tool and it is showing PO401, something with emissions or EGR, at least no PO340. We are driving it to PC Beach early tomorrow 375 miles one way, around 1000 for the complete trip.
Thanks for all the help and advice earlier Ya'll !
We will take some pictures...
 






Pictures of old cam synchronizer
camsync01.jpg

Shaft flag or gate? not really sure what it should be called. I noticed an F8 (1998) part number on the lower intake manifold
camsync02.jpg
Inside of electronic "pickup" Destroyed. I don't see how it was even working
 












Some of the deterioration could be contributed to vibration. Maybe some to expansion and contraction. The junkyard part held up for the 888 mile trip. Last Thursday night after dealing with this situation at the last minute, I ordered (online) a A-1 Cardone unit and when we got home this evening at 7:20 p.m. Central time, a box was sitting on the hood of the 1994 Ex with the new part in it. RA promised it by the 30th. It's not Motorcraft but I am going to swap it in soon to test its durability in our very variable climate.
 






Florida Pictures
gulf01.jpg

Looking south across the Gulf of Mexico from Panama City Beach
michandbry.jpg

# 2 Stepson and my #6 Grandchild
brysonali.jpg

# 5 Grandchild holding down a Florida Gator
brysonsand.jpg

#5 Grandchild buried in the sand at "his" request
 






.
 






I'm curious to how these things break. Vibrations over time, then a crack, leading to self destruct?
My guess is the plastic gets brittle, and the magnet comes of first, and gets jammed in. When I took mine apart the rotor shaft was still tight, and there was no real play in anything.

I don’t think this sensor is imperative, I drove for many months with a broken sensor.
 






I'm assuming since there is just one gate and not 8 trigger points like the simple Duraspark, Each time the flag passes the sensor it fires the firing order sequence programed in the PCM. And then the faster the cam sequencer spins, the PCM speeds up all the "fuel and fire" functions ? On my damaged one, I can imagine a glob of busted magnet attached to the flag passing the sensor was the only way it was working.
Thanks for all the INFO in my time of Automotive crisis that helped us make it to Florida and back. I learned a lot in the process and have developed a lot of faith in "Mo the5.0" with 250,000 plus miles on 'em.
 






Your motor was just running on a guesstimate of where it knew it could safely fire. The motor doesn’t need this sensor to run, it’s not like a distributor cap in that manner. If you entirely remove or unplug the sensor, the motor will still run.
 






I'm assuming since there is just one gate and not 8 trigger points like the simple Duraspark, Each time the flag passes the sensor it fires the firing order sequence programed in the PCM. And then the faster the cam sequencer spins, the PCM speeds up all the "fuel and fire" functions ? On my damaged one, I can imagine a glob of busted magnet attached to the flag passing the sensor was the only way it was working.
Thanks for all the INFO in my time of Automotive crisis that helped us make it to Florida and back. I learned a lot in the process and have developed a lot of faith in "Mo the5.0" with 250,000 plus miles on 'em.

No, the purpose of the cam position sensor (CPS) is strictly for fuel injector timing. As said, it has nothing to do with firing the spark plugs and your engine will run (albeit poorly) w/out the CPS. The major ill effect that will occur w/out the CPS (or with one installed incorrectly) is that you may burn pistons due to excess heat in the combustion chamber.

Some here have experience problems with re-manufactured and Dorman cam synchronizers, due to the roll pin being too small and breaking. For that reason, new Motorcraft cam synchronizers are recommended.
 






OK. I was overlooking the fact that there is a crankshaft position sensor communicating with the PCM
 






the bearings inside the body get old and allow too much play (wobble) then the rotating flag contacts the sensor and its over.........
 



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Someone mentioned that the roll pin holding the cam gear on the aftermarket units might shear. Do I need to get a FoMoCo roll pin from my dealer and change it out before I install my A-1 Cardone select Cam Synchronizer ?
 






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