2004 Ford 4.0 Eplorer timing issues | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2004 Ford 4.0 Eplorer timing issues


New Member
June 26, 2015
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 explorer
I have 04 Explorer 135,000 miles and had to replace the heads. I pulled the motor and replaced the heads and timed the engine using the timing mark on the balancer to the crankshaft position pointer and the Ford tools. I did not have to use the tool that holds the balancer in place. It ran fine for about 75 miles and then acted like it ran out of fuel and would start but not run. I pulled the valve covers and check the timing (against the timing mark on the balancer) and it was spot on. I then tried to use the tool to hold the balancer and it would not go on, I had to rotate the engine clockwise about 10 degrees. So here is my question if I line the balance timing mark to the crankshaft position pointer should the tool used to hold the balancer go on correclty without rotating the engine. If not which is the correct one to use to time the motor the mark on the balancer to the crankshaft position pointer or the tool to hold the balancer in place? I also have a new balancer and on both balancers the are 5 tone spots between the wide spot on the tone ring and the timing mark on the balancer.

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timing marks

I don't know about the newer harmonic balancers on your vehicle but on my 2000 there are two timing marks: one is 10 BTDC and the other is TDC.

Note: Crankshaft TDC timing tool 6479 must contact the engine block. This positions the engine at TDC. While observing the timing mark on the damper, turn the crankshaft clockwise to position the number one cylinder at TDC and install crankshaft TDC timing tool 6479.

This will hold the crankshaft in position, and prepare the engine for cam timing.

If you did not use the crankshaft holding tool, how did you keep the crankshaft from rotating when you tightened the left and right camshaft sprocket retaining bolts?

When piston one is at TDC on the compression stroke the timing slots of the camshafts should be below the axes of the camshafts and parallel to the head surface that mates with the valve cover.

If you don't install the precision tensioner, the chain may not be taught because the spring in the hydraulic/spring tensioner is weak. If the chain is not taught the timing can be a couple degrees off but that should not be noticeable while driving.

I had the spark plugs in and it did not move. I checked my balancer and the new balancer and there is only 1 mark on them for the timing. Using that mark my cams are aligned perfectly but the tool for the balancer will not go on. I have to rotate the crank about 10 degrees to get it on. I cannot see the key way on the crank to see where it is. If I rotate the crank to get tool on the the cam are not aligned for TDC. Like I said it ran fine for about 75 miles use the timing mark on the balancer for TDC then it just quit running. I have spark and gas in fact it is flooding the plugs but the plugs are not firing. I have been working on cars for 35 years and this has gotten me very furstrated.

new balancer

Does your new balancer look like the one shown below?

Is the notch identified with the red arrow what you're using for TDC?
The new balancer may not be compatible with the old OTC 6488 tool kit crankshaft holding tool.
I suggest confirming where TDC is. You may be able to remove the cylinder 1 spark plug and use a slender rod to determine when the piston is at TDC. I confirmed my TDC using a homemade manometer.

I used the spark plug adapter from my compression tester. The two plastic fittings and short hose were part of my hand vacuum pump kit. The hose adapter reduces the hose inside diameter to 3/16 inch to increase the sensitivity of the device.
The photo below shows the tube with oil in place on the engine.

Determining the TDC using the oil movement was repeatable within 1 degree and agreed with the crankshaft position sensor pointer/crankshaft damper as well as my crude method using a square and the flat on the bottom of the connecting rod big end. I believe the manometer method is just as accurate as the piston stop method and much more convenient.

Yes both balancers are like the one in the picture. I have a bore scope and verified that the balance mark aligned to crankshaft sensor pointer is TDC. Thanks for your help and I will keep on looking.

I just finished using the tool to hold the balancer in place. The OTC instructions with mine specifically said to rotate the crank "counter-clockwise" after installation to make contact with the block, meaning you do have to go slightly past TDC in order to install the tool.