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2001 Ex - almost fixed - need ideas

AlexDinNY

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January 30, 2009
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City, State
Long Island, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
'01 XLT 4WD
First some history and info. 2001 Explorer XLT 4WD. 4.0 V6 SOHC 156K miles on it. Regular oil changes (as recent as last month). Some suspension work on the front end about 4 years ago and transmission service (filter and fluid) about 2 years ago. Nothing but the occasional bottle of fuel injector cleaner otherwise.
*UPDATE* Forgot to mention about 2 years ago the thermostat went bad and it was overheating and had a lack of power. Had the coolant flushed and filled and the therm replaced and it was back to normal.

About a year and a half ago CEL comes on. Take it to a shop and they pull the code - something about an evap sensor (don't remember exactly) so they remove and re-close the gas cap - clear the CEL and all is well.

Cut to about a year ago. Given the cold NJ winters I go out to start the truck and let it warm up before work. I notice it dies while I am inside. It dies even sooner if I have the heater on as well.

About 2 months ago the check fuel cap light comes on. I loosen and re-seat the fuel cap. Light goes out shortly thereafter.

A few weeks ago I notice the idle when its warm is really low to the point where if I have it running with the heat on it stalls out.

So I grab a can of TB cleaner and detach the air inlet hose, spray the TB, open the butterfly and spray some more top and bottom. Seriously disgusting blackish/brownish liquid comes out. I get in there with a paper towel and wipe it all out (all paper towel is accounted for after - nothing came off an got into the intake manifold). Take a can of air and blow it dry before I re-attach the air inlet to the TB. All this is done with the engine off. Starts up - seems to drive better and the idle feels better and doesn't stall as easily but still does sometimes. Runs fine for about a week.

Cut to last week. Car starts in the morning - I let it run a minute so I can move it and shut it off. I come back about 4 hours later. No start. Cranks but won't kick over. Take the battery to Sears, checks out fine.

Tow it to a garage where I can get to work. New plugs, new wires (which happen to be original (which the mechanic already lectured me about) - badly worn plugs almost no electrode left on a few). Starts up with alot of cranking. Starts easier at wide open throttle but won't stay running at idle. Pull the IAC and douse it with contact cleaner but the crud won't budge. Take off the TB and clean it thoroughly with TB cleaner. Get both sides of it crud free and also clean the plastic piece between the TB and the manifold. Put it all back together and try and start it again. Starts (with plenty of effort) and sputters badly. Notice a hissing sound under heavy throttle coming from the back of the engine near the firewall. Dies at idle as expected. Try to restart it and it backfires a few times (enough to partially suck the air filter into the airbox) and I leave it for the mechanic to look at this morning.

A friend who is a mechanic comes over - starts up and runs fine (cold). He hooks up a code scanner / reader (some fancy red snap-on rig with a thumb dial and a Y and N button). After it warms up while hooked to the scanner it dies out a few times when the idle drops too low. Runs a few tests and its coming back with bank 1 and 2 rich/lean conditions.

Runs a few more tests and grabs the TB cleaner. Starts sprayin it on the intake manifold. Hits a few spots near the back and the idle changes. He says the engine is notorious for manifold gasket leaks. Says to do the manifold gaskets and replace the IAC. Swaps in a new fuel filter (I bought one thinking it might be a fuel issue) and wishes me luck with the gasket job (he got called away for a paying job lol).

Unhook the neg battery cable and I get to work. Disconnect all the vac hoses and electrical connectors to the upper intake manifold and undo the 8 torx screws to remove it. Unbolt the 12 bolts for the lower piece of plastic that's bolted to the block. Gaskets look OK but the inlet tubes on this lower piece are seriously cruddy. A few shots of TB cleaner and a serious wiping with a rag to get most of the crud off. Dry it thoroughly and install new gaskets (6 on the bottom and 2 (in groups of 3) on the top. Bolt down the lower part. Bolt down the upper, reconnect the connectors and vac hoses and say a prayer.

Starts up every time now but still idles very rough (around 500 rpm) but doesn't die out again as easily until its warmed up. Take it for a test drive and it almost stalls at a stop sign and has no power whatsoever. Sputters while I am driving and if I let off the gas it runs rough.

Waiting for new IAC to come in the mail but thinking that's not going to solve it.

All the vac hoses and elbows seemed OK - checked them when the upper intake was off. Saw another thread that suggested the metal tube the goes up into the manifold might be rusted through - going to check that tomorrow.

Any other ideas??

Sorry for the monster post but I wanted to give as much detail as possible to answer as many questions about what I've already tried.

Thanks in advance for all your help :)

*UPDATE* Forgot to mention when its really cold until the truck warms up I get a lovely alternator whistle/whine that changes pitch with the throttle (started a few years ago - haven't been able to test that with the new plugs and wires though)
 
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my98nnj

Explorer Addict
Joined
September 27, 2008
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City, State
Boonton, New Jersey
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 XLT
Did you buddy with the Snap-On scanner check the MAF sensor signal?
You can see the output in real time (under load) with that scanner.
Another thing I would check is the EGR, also make sure the cats aren't clogged.
 
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AlexDinNY

New Member
Joined
January 30, 2009
Messages
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City, State
Long Island, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
'01 XLT 4WD
He was kinda rushed - like I said he had to go to another job - I'll ask him if he ran that test - I suspect he did. I'll check the egr valve and hoses :)
 
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AlexDinNY

New Member
Joined
January 30, 2009
Messages
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City, State
Long Island, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
'01 XLT 4WD
Had the manifold off and inspected it for cracks and didn't see any - replaced the gaskets yesterday. Mechanic mentioned something about a smoke machine test. Any idea what that does?
 
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AlexDinNY

New Member
Joined
January 30, 2009
Messages
9
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0
City, State
Long Island, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
'01 XLT 4WD
Problem solved - nothing like not paying attention and swapping 2 plug wires by accident. The plugs from the swapped wires needed to be pulled and cleaned and put back in. Since the wires where swapped to the proper locations it runs like a champ.

Seems the original problem was the leaky manifold, a fuel filter overdue to be replaced and plugs with 156K miles on them (I'll post pics if anyone wants a good laugh). Hope to squeeze another 100K out of this puppy before I have to junk it. With regular maintenance I think its completely possible.

Admins - please close this thread - problem solved :)
 
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