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Old 10-08-2003, 18:27   #1 (permalink)
MikeM54
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frown Octane ping

I've got a 2002 Ranger XLT with the V6 (bought it new) and, from the very beginning, the engine knocks when going up a steep hill or upon heavy acceleration. (The dealer likes to call it 'octane ping'.)

The dealer has re-programmed the engine computer three times, the last time being the latest version of the software. The engine did run better but the knocking was still there.

Can't FORD write a program that will let this engine run properly on regular gas? I've tried using 89 octane and that didn't help either. I was thinking about installing an aftermarket mass airflow sensor. However, they are fairly expensive and I'm not sure it will fix the problem but I've heard it might...

Any suggestions? The owner's manual says the engine will knock occasionally and not to worry about it (and to run it only on regular gas). Is that good advice?
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Old 10-08-2003, 21:19   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

Pre-ignition, aka knock or "ping" is very hard on the rods and main bearings and can actually cause premature wear if the problem isn't fixed. Knock is caused by the air/fuel mixture igniting before the piston reaches top dead center. The flame front slams against the top of the piston as it moves up the cylinder causing the audible knock you hear. Knock is sometimes caused by carbon buildup, using fuel with a lower octane rating than required, as well as incorrect ignition timing.

Incidentally, the octane rating of gasoline is simply defined as its ability to resist knock. The higher the octane rating of the fuel, the slower it burns. The slower the fuel burns, the less likely it is that knock will occur. There is a common misconception that running a higher octane fuel in your car will give you more power but that is incorrect. Just run a fuel with an octane rating just high enough to prevent preignition. Otherwise, you're just blowing your money out the tail pipe.

An aftermarket MAF sensor will help to prevent detonation by ensuring the air/fuel mixture is not too lean but it will NOT prevent knock. Knock and detonation are two completely different problems and knock is not affected by the amount of air/fuel entering the cylinder.

If I remember corectly, the new Rangers are a distributorless system.....which would prevent you from retarding the timing slightly to get rid of the knock. I would think the knock sensor would retard the timing when audible knock is present but it doesn't seem to be doing its job. To get rid of the problem temporarily, run higher octane gas and keep pestering the dealer until they fix the problem. They don't care if it wears out prematurely as long as it does so after the warranty is up, so they will not be in any rush to fix the problem.

LOL, sorry for the mini-rant!!
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Old 10-08-2003, 22:28   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

'92BigBronco:

Thanks for taking the time for such a complete reply... I certainly appreciate it. I am (slowly) starting to get the picture. This problem has been an ongoing irritant in an otherwise positive experience. I'm tired of getting pissed off at my truck...

MikeM54
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Old 10-08-2003, 22:53   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

if you cannot come up with a solution there are a few things you can do to help stop detonation problems.

1. you could always run higher octane fuel (that gets expensive)
2. you can try cooler heat range spark plugs.
3. you can also lower the operating temp of the engine by replacing the therm with a cooler one which will cause the fuel mixture to richen slightly.
any of these might help but are not garanteed to stop detonation.

other things that maybe ford can change are to program for less timing advance or less initial timing.

my opinion on this is the timing is set to high in an attempt to get the best fuel economy and the trade off is when you put alot of load on the engine it is simply firing to soon but on the highway with little or no load the engine responds well by showing alot better fuel economy.
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Old 10-08-2003, 23:58   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

351, detonation and "ping" are two completely different things. Detonation occurs when the air/fuel ratio is too lean. The lean mixture actually causes an explosion rather than a smooth burn of the fuel/air mixture on the power stroke. Detonation can cause serious damage (i.e. holes in pistons, etc.) in a matter of seconds but "pinging" cannot.

Using a lower heat range spark plug, will have no effect on the knock problem. The conditions that caused the engine to knock will still be present regardless....

Knock aka pre-ignition is just that "pre-ignition." It takes place before the spark plug ever fires so a spark plug change would have no effect. Sometimes it's caused by carbon buildup in the cylinder, by using a fuel with a lower octane rating than that required, incorrect ignition timing, as well as by compression ignition alone.

When the air is compressed in the cylinder, it heats up. (PV=RT) If the octane rating of the fuel is not high enough, it will auto ignite before the spark plug ever fires. Obviously, if the fuel ignites before it should, it will be burning as the piston is moving towards TDC which is what causes the knock.

However as you said, using a thermostat with a lower temp rating would help by lowering the operating temperature of the engine as well as the air entering the cylinder thus reducing the likelihood of the autoignition temperature being reached which could get rid of the "pinging" problem but I personally wouldn't recommend it. The engine needs the higher temps to approach more complete combustion to lower emissions and increase efficiency and the computer is programmed for the specific temp range of the stock thermostat.

If Ford can't (or won't) reprogram the PCM for a little less advance, get yourself a handheld programmer and do it yourself.

End engineering psycho babble..... :-)
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Old 10-09-2003, 13:45   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

Once again, thanks to all. This is the most (and most intelligent) information I've ever gotten on this subject... Is is possible that the dealer is unable or unwilling to retard the timing? (After all, he's already had three chances to do it.)

Any idea where I can get a handheld programmer? The catalogs I've looked at have them for other trucks and models but not for the RANGER...
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Old 10-09-2003, 22:05   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

you are right so i cant help you out.
all i see is programmers for v8 models, nothing for rangers.
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Old 11-01-2003, 13:17   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

I think Diablo Motorsports has one that is coming out soon. I will have to contact them on monday to make sure, but if anyone would have them they would.
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Old 11-15-2003, 06:05   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Octane ping

I've heard of people putting in an MSD box and it helped but I'm not sure if that would work on the newer distributorless system. A cooler t-stat might help but I wouldn't go lower than 180 or that can cause other problems unless you run a chip also. Remember too that a cooler t-stat only opens quicker but won't necessarily lower the max normal operating temp of the engine. My old '99 Ranger 3.0 pinged all the time on the summer mix of gas we get, after numerous trips to the dealer it would be okay for a while then start pinging again so I ended up just putting 89 in it. My new '02 Ranger 4.0 is not so bad, it can run on 87 year-round. BTW, a lot of chips call for premium gas since they advance the timing.
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