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Old 08-27-2011, 15:31   #1 (permalink)
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2002 spark plug issues and rough idle

I have a 2002 Ranger, supercab, 4.0 SOHC engine, A/C, Auto trans. with about 94K miles on it. I maintain with regular oil changes. Some time ago, check engine light came one and trouble codes read as P0171 and p0174, which means both banks too lean. Cleaned and checked MAF sensor, but these were fine. Went to a mechanic friend who hooked up this diagnostic computer he has which costs around $30k (can you believe that!) and told me I have a small vacuum leak somewhere. Nothing major, but enough to throw off the computer. He said possibility of the intake gasket between the manifold and the intake plenum, which he explained is a sort of "O" ring. He tried his test which is spraying water on it to find leak. (Hey! He's the mechanic!) Couldn't find leak. I suspect the vacuum booster for the brakes as as it looses it's 'boost' almost immediately upon engine off. Finances have prevented me from replacing it. In the meantime, engine has now developed a rough idle, and will sometimes stall when idling. A recheck of the trouble codes still shows same with lean mixtures on both banks. Auto parts store suggests replacing O2 sensors, but with 2 upstream sensors and 1 downstream (3 sensors total!) price of parts comes to almost $250! I hate to throw parts at it, if I don't need to! I ran some fuel injector cleaner through it, (some of the better stuff, not the 99 cent bottle) and no change. I wanted to change plugs but I can not figure how to reach the plugs on the pass. side esp. #3 with such a small gap between the A/C unit and the engine! I can't even get my hand in there! Is there a trick/method to reach #2 and #3 plugs? And what else could I check? I could call mechanic friend, but he lives quite a long ways away from me, and I haven't seen or spoken to him in too long. I hate to just phone him out of the blue and ask help when I haven't maintained contact with him for so long.
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Old 09-01-2011, 17:37   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 2002 spark plug issues and rough idle

I'd replace the O2 sensors. When one O2 sensor fails, the others will generally follow with the same fate shortly after. I used Bosch on my Taurus and Durango. They're more expensive but in the past they've given me the best dollar to mile ratio over lesser sensors.

Sounds like you can benefit from Seafoam or Amsoil power foam engine cleaner. It's simple and easy to use, runs about $10. It's O2 sensor safe so if you want to try something cheap first, this is the way to go.

To reach the rearward plugs, you may have to remove the wiper cowl area, or use an articulating socket. Just be sure to blow the area with compressed air so no crap falls into the plug holes of course.

You can pull off one of the brake vac lines and check for pressure by putting your finger on the end of the hose. Also, make sure the spark plugs are gapped correctly before installing.

A good way to test for an intake leak is to get a small propane torch, don't light it, just go around the intake with the propane tank and valve on. If the engine surges then you have a leak.
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Old 09-03-2011, 16:47   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 2002 spark plug issues and rough idle

Quote:
Originally Posted by 360ci View Post
I'd replace the O2 sensors. When one O2 sensor fails, the others will generally follow with the same fate shortly after. I used Bosch on my Taurus and Durango. They're more expensive but in the past they've given me the best dollar to mile ratio over lesser sensors.

Sounds like you can benefit from Seafoam or Amsoil power foam engine cleaner. It's simple and easy to use, runs about $10. It's O2 sensor safe so if you want to try something cheap first, this is the way to go.

To reach the rearward plugs, you may have to remove the wiper cowl area, or use an articulating socket. Just be sure to blow the area with compressed air so no crap falls into the plug holes of course.

You can pull off one of the brake vac lines and check for pressure by putting your finger on the end of the hose. Also, make sure the spark plugs are gapped correctly before installing.

A good way to test for an intake leak is to get a small propane torch, don't light it, just go around the intake with the propane tank and valve on. If the engine surges then you have a leak.
I think the articulating socket is out as I can slide my fingers between the A/C and the valve cover and my hand stops at the first knuckle! Seems like too acute angle for the socket, and I'm even afraid to pull off the boot as I may not be able to even get it back on. I may have it a go anyway. One problem is I am a big guy with large hands who always has to find gloves at specialty stores as I never fit the "XLarge" most offer. I may have to enlist a smaller friend to give it a shot. I'll have to look at the wiper cowling, try the propane test and give the engine cleaner a try that you suggested. Thanks a bunch for all your input! Jim
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Old 09-03-2011, 18:57   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 2002 spark plug issues and rough idle

No prob Jim.

My hands are by no means small either - I have similar issues with finding gloves. Not only finding them, but ones that will last repeated use!
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Old 09-03-2011, 21:10   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 2002 spark plug issues and rough idle

An update: I find answers at other forums is to remove the LF tire and unsnap or unbolt the plastic liner. Still requires the use of some extensions and universals to reach, but not impossible. One source even said this made it easier than the drivers side. One recommendation was to replace the wires while I'm at it. That way I don't have to worry about damaging them and it is time anyway. I wanted to get Motorcraft but they are a special order at best for around 65 bucks with shipping, almost $100 from the dealer. I ended up ordering some Autolites wire as they had a 20% off promotion at Advanced Auto, otherwise I would be stuck with Duralast, Omni Spark or some other off brands I don't know.
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Old 10-10-2011, 16:32   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 2002 spark plug issues and rough idle

Hey there, i had the same problem, bad idle, it would idle around 500-700rpm and sounds like miss fire, just changed spark plugs and amazingly its gone away but now another problem there is a ticking sound? sounds almost like Valve tick, anyone know what this could be? all i did was change spark plugs, and yes the spark plugs are the stock ones from Ford and are correct.
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