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Banging my head (and my wallet's getting thinner!)

dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
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City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
This is my book entitled: "I'm about to drive my rig off of a cliff"

There's a very good chance I'm going to miss something in this explanation because I have been working on troubleshooting this issue for months now. It seems that every time one thing is fixed, another thing comes up... but all seem related.

For reference, my 95 is first generation, that is, it has the -AA connectors on everything. It's a 4dr 4x4 V6 XLT.

Note that I've had an issue with my ex not starting for about 3 years (cranks fine but won't start, as if it has no spark/fuel). This has happened intermittently every 6 months or so, but usually I just wiggle some wires under the hood and then it starts right up (sometimes it takes 20 seconds sometimes 10 minutes, but it's always started eventually). Also, sometimes when the car starts it idles extremely rough with battery gauge/lights/accessories fluctuating for about 5 seconds then idles up to 1200 or so, back down to 900 and then seems ok.

A bit of history: I hydrolocked my rig in the Pacific Ocean about (3) years ago, managed to get it started, drove it home (sounding like a gattlin gun), and replaced the engine with a new long block from Ford. Not long after I lost my transmission (speed sensor wire was cut by CarToys installing a navigation unit), so had that replaced (by Ford) with remanufactured one. After that, lost my flywheel (saltwater anyone?), had rear diff rebuilt, driveline replaced, transfer case rebuilt, speed sensors replaced in tranny and transfer case, new fuel pump, new alternator, K&N Intake, new IAC. The IAC finally had me feeling good about my rig (keep in mind that this was about 1 year ago at this point).

Fast forward to recently (about 3 months ago) when I was playing in the snow, climbing hills and such :), I realized my temp gauge would climb all the way to hot at times, then when I let off the gas it would drop back to normal and no more issues. I also (within days) started noticing a hesitation or 'buck/kick' when driving which seemed to be intermittent and at varied speeds (mostly seemed to happen under load, keep in mind that it's a really sudden and 'jerky' buck... felt like a miss). Popped the hood and found #6 plug was arcing on the manifold (melted), so replaced that wire and that plug. Issue persisted, changed thermostat (was not functioning correctly), overheating issues went away, checked core temp sensor with an ohm meter and a lighter (Guy at Napa said it either works or it doesn't), seemed to work fine. Still having the same issues, replaced plugs with NGK double plat plugs (was told older ford engines based on mazda) gapped at .054", replaced all wires with NAPA silicone insulated wires... still the same issues. Took it to a local auto shop and they found coolant leaking into cylinder #6 (coincidence?), so had it towed to Ford where they replaced the head gaskets (under warranty... shhhhh) and gave it back to me.

When I got the car back from ford the 'buck/kick' was gone, but the car felt extremely sluggish but idled OK. New problem: after a cold start, the engine would start normally then after about 5 seconds tach would rap to about 5-6k one time (as if someone stomped on the gas) then drop back down to normal idle (consistently happened on cold starts). At other times it would start but the battery gauge would go wild with lights brightening/dimming erratically (even popped one of my silverstar headlight bulbs... I heard it explode) Took it back to Ford, they had the tech look at it again and gave it back to me saying the problem was fixed. When I got into the car and started it up (in the parking lot at Ford mind you), it did it again (tach rapped up to 4-5k then back down), and continued to do it on subsequent restarts. Convinced that Ford was not 'into' digging my problem (and not wanting to wait another week for a non-fix) I started going nuts and replacing anything I could think of. First, I replaced the #6 plug with another NGK (thought maybe the coolant screwed up the plug?) then REPLACED the MAF and the coil pack. Still no luck.

Back to the small shop that originally diagnosed my head gasket problem, they replaced both O2 sensors before the cat and everything went back to normal... and by normal I mean the car was running better than ever!

For the past couple of weeks I've been having more of the issues I had before with the car not starting (cranks but won't fire, as if it's not getting spark/fuel). I've had a hard-on to replace my alternator for a long time (I hate noises under my hood), so took that apart and noticed abnormal brush wear and ridiculously worn bearings (this thing was new 2 years ago?). Dropped more cash on a NEW alternator from NAPA and installed it... noise went away, but the starting problem persisted (happened again right after I installed the alternator, was hoping it had something to do with the voltage regulator).... grrrrrr.... so back to google/this forum and anywhere else I could get a clue. Dropped by NAPA on my way home and dropped in a new fuel pump relay... went for a day without an issue.

The alternator was replaced two days ago and since I have noticed a few things (some of which are not new):

Intermittent cold start problems: Same thing with the engine idling extremely rough and voltage gauge up and down lights dimming/brightening for about 10 seconds or so then it seems to mellow out. (this happened today)

Intermittent no start problems: This usually happens after I've driven the car for a while, parked it to get some smokes/dinner etc, then get back in to start it and it will crank but won't start. Usually after about 5 minutes of cranking and wiggling wires under the hood it will start. (this happened today)

Intermittent surging upon start (This one has been happening for about a year): This happens cold or warm, but not all the time. The car will crank and start right up but idle extremely rough for a few seconds then mellow out. If I press the gas a bit it will mellow out much quicker, and if I just ignore it, put it in gear, and go everything seems to calm down (it almost dies, but never has stalled). It's extremely erratic though... not normal. (this happened today)

Intermittent low power at idle (eg stoplight): I'm sure this has to do with the new $200 alternator I bought from NAPA not putting out enough wattage at 900rpm (where my ex likes to idle right now), the battery gauge drops below half and lights dim. As soon as I press the gas all is well. Keep in mind that this isn't consistent, it only happens every now and then, and only at night of course. (this happened last night)

My latest tweak was to replace the stator connector on the alternator wiring (which was loose and the plastic retainer was broken) with a new insulated female rubber connector thing that fits snugly on the alternator male connector for the stator (black+white) (I stripped the wire and added the female connector). I'm talking about the single stator wire, not the one inside of the harness.

To sum it all up for those who don't want to read my 'blog':

New MAF, Alternator, plugs (.054), wires, coil pack, thermostat, head gaskets, both O2 sensors before the cat, fuel filter, injector service, IAC (1 yr ago), fuel pump (+/- 1 year ago)

Checked engine core temp sensor, vacuum pressure, voltage across battery, cleaned IAC, recharged K&N (ran it with my old MAF for a couple days then put the new one back on).

I'm thinking: fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump (again?), faulty ignition switch

The only error code I got was a lean left bank from the O2 sensors, but nothing after they were replaced, and nothing recently (past couple weeks). Cylinder compression test shows #6 cylinder weak but the shop said compression was fine. I also know they tested fuel pressure.

I'm friggen stumped... but I know myself and I won't rest until it's running like a top, so please help me save some money by helping me not buy things that don't make sense, or better yet, if someone knows the answer I'm dying to hear it :splat:

Please post questions and I'll answer ASAP, I'm sooooo tired of wrenching on this particular rig... an sick and tired of sitting in a parking lot cranking my engine, or having it start up sputtering worse than daffy duck. :rolleyes:

Please help :notworthy... I'm about $1200 into this problem already... thanks in advance.

-Dustin
 


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Donner

Explorer Addict
Joined
October 21, 2007
Messages
6,794
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1
City, State
Natomas/Irvine
Year, Model & Trim Level
01 Sp 03 XLT 4x4s, Scion
I can't help you with anything technical, but from a financial perspective: $1,200.00 later and still spending, it's time to look into a $4,000.00-$6,000.00 later model 2nd gen. Unless you have to have this vehicle, you might be better off putting your green into another vehicle... How much do you have invested in this vehicle as far as transferable aftermarket parts?

And welcome :)
 




dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
Reaction score
2
City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
Donner: the 1200 is just recently :) ... I've got about 25k in this rig including the purchase price....

Purchase: 6000

long block: ~2800

tranny: ~3200

+ TONS of other repairs

as far as parts that I can salvage... my nav unit is the only thing I need to save.

The car runs BEAUTIFULLY... idles better than any ex I've had (occasionally)... just need to iron out the starting issues.

I feel like I'm almost there... but of course I felt that way $5k ago :)

There's gotta be a sensor, relay, ground fault... etc....

It's a great rig. I do appreciate the advice though :).

Still tempted to drive it off a cliff hehe

-Dustin
 








Cobraguy

Explorer Addict
Joined
February 22, 2008
Messages
2,520
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16
City, State
Phoenix...Greatest City on Earth
Year, Model & Trim Level
1995 EB & 1999 EB 5.0
You say it's a SOHC motor...is that a misprint or did you swap to that?
 




dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
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2
City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
Pushrod

CobraGuy: No sorry it is a 4.0L Pushrod V6, my bad.
 




CrazyAlaskan

Well-Known Member
Joined
December 15, 2008
Messages
280
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City, State
Wasilla, Alaska
Year, Model & Trim Level
1994 Explorer Limited 4wd
If its the stock motor (replacement any way) it should be a OHV I believe.
 




dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
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City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
Heck I dunno

It says 4.0L EFI on the top of the engine... I'll have to dig into the motorcraft docs to find out exactly which one

Is there any easy way to tell?
 




2000LXS

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Joined
October 25, 2008
Messages
114
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City, State
RI
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 xlt v8 awd + 00,XLS
It sounds to me like like your battery or cabels have corrosion. your truck has skip when it first start from low voltage.
I say this because when my battery first died my truck would turn over a little slow then run really ruff for 5 min then all would seem ok.
I have also seen cables ready to break off from corrosion and you get random no starts.
 




dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
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City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
The terminals were pretty nasty a few months ago, but I cleaned them with coffee and sprayed the anti-corrosion stuff on them. Since then they haven't been corroded.

Also, when cranking the engine, it doesn't turn over slowly (doesn't sound like the battery is low)

I read 14.2-14.5 volts across the terminals when the engine is running and about 12.8-13 when the car is off.

I do notice the battery gauge dipping below the halfway mark when I'm idling with all my accessories on... should the battery compensate for the lack of wattage from the alternator during this time? Could this be a sign of a bad battery?

Thanks
 




CrazyAlaskan

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Messages
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City, State
Wasilla, Alaska
Year, Model & Trim Level
1994 Explorer Limited 4wd
do you run Fuel injector cleaner once in a while? You may have dirty Injectors. Just a thought. That or have you changed the fuel filter lately?
 




dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
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City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
Yes, in the past two months I've had an injector service, replaced the fuel filter, plus a can of seafoam in the tank.
 




drr73464

New Member
Joined
December 11, 2007
Messages
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City, State
Omah, NE
Year, Model & Trim Level
95 EB
I have the same problem, if it doesn't start immediatly, it won't start for minimum 5 min to 3 hrs. I replaced the fuel pump last winter, replaced the fuel relay last week, wondering about the "crank sensor".
 








fixxxer

Explorer Addict
Joined
September 28, 2006
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City, State
Aurora, Co.
Year, Model & Trim Level
93 XLT 4X4
x2 What TedJ said, especially since you have a known issue with a bad connection where you said you "wiggle some wires" under the hood when you are having trouble starting your Ex. You really need to pinpoint which wire or wires you are having the connection problem with.
 




quickerest

Active Member
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March 30, 2008
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City, State
California/Canada
Year, Model & Trim Level
92 EB/ Bush buggy project
How soon can you get it to have a starting issue? right after you turn it off or do you have to let it sit to get the starting issue?

I have had this problem with another car also turned out to be a connection. Narrow down the wire(s) you have to move. Remember replacing parts often can just add more variables than you already have.

I have learned the hard way that it pays to do the diagnosis yourself. Find the problems then get someone else to fix them.

Good luck
 




dustinjorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2009
Messages
117
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City, State
Seattle, Washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4
For what it's worth... here's what worked for me. Most have told my I'm crazy (before and after I made the fix) but I haven't had a problem starting the vehicle for 6 months now... so probably worth a shot.

There was a light gray plastic housing on the stator connector to the alternator that broke. I didn't think anything of it until I realized that wiggling that particular wire (which was always really loose without the plastic protector) and removing and reseating the fuel pump relay did the trick every time. So I went to shucks and bought a 16 gage female connector, clamped it down with some pliers so it was really tight on the alternator male end and cut and crimped the wire from the factory piece that was left (the one with the gray protector/clamp).

Like I said... 6 months WITHOUT this problem once when it was happening every other day. At this point I'm confident enough to not knock on wood when I say that this fixed my problem (even though every tech I've talked to says I'm crazy). At one point it started happening again, so I checked this particular wire and it turns out the female connector had been 'wiggled' loose again.. clamped it down with some pliers and no problems since. May be worth a shot... I've attached some pics of the connector:

exp1.jpg

exp2.jpg


Hope it helps... ps tedJ you can see some of the corrosion in the pics :)
 




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