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Old 09-21-2009, 10:03   #1 (permalink)
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1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

I have a 1996 Ford Thunderbird with 160k miles that I just bought. I am losing power while I give it gas. It only happens when I am driving. I lose power and the engine sounds like its bucking. I unplugged the MAFS and its still doing it. The air filter is brand new and I checked the fuel pressure its 29psi although it should be 30psi. I also tried a bottle of lucas and replaced the fuel filter. I also replaced the EVAP control valve. I just bought this car and no previous history on it.

I am also getting a check engine light P0420

I think it maybe the catalytic converter. I took it to a few muffler shops and they said there is no way for them to tell.

How can I be certain its the catalytic converter thats causing me to lose power?


Also can I use a catalytic converter from a 96 Tbird 6cylinder in my 8cylinder car? I notice they are different part numbers but look pretty much the same to me.
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Old 09-21-2009, 13:52   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

A muffler shop should be able to test for a plugged cat. If you have access to a vacuum guage, you connect it to the manifold. There should be about 20" at idle. When you increase the RPM to about 2500 quickly, it should drop to around 10" and go back up to around 18". If it stays down, the exhaust is plugged somewhere.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:53   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

The only way to test a cat properly is to use a 4 gas analyzer. Your shop should know that. You CAN NOT put eight cylinders worth of exhaust through a converter designed
for only 6 cylinders. Gee, i wonder if that is why they have different part numbers.
I'd also want to know why your fuel pressure is so low. You may want to spend a couple
of dollars and have this motor checked out by a shop that actually knows what they are
doing before you spend money you don't need by throwing parts at it you don't need and cause some serious engine damage. Good luck.
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Old 09-26-2009, 16:22   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

A code P0420 may mean that one or more of the following has happened:
  • Leaded fuel was used where unleaded was called for
  • An oxygen sensor is not reading (functioning) properly
  • The engine coolant temperature sensor is not working properly
  • Damaged or leaking exhaust manifold / catalytic converter / exhaust pipe
  • Retarded spark timing
  • The oxygen sensors in front and behind the converter are reporting too similar of readings
Some suggested steps for troubleshooting a P0420 code include:
  • Check for exhaust leaks at the manifold, pipes, catalytic converter. Repair as required.
  • Use a scope to diagnose the oxygen sensor operation (Tip: The oxygen sensor in front of the catalytic converter normally has a fluctuating waveform. The waveform of the sensor behind the converter should be more steady).
  • Inspect the downstream heated oxygen sensor (HO2), replace if necessary
  • Replace the catalytic converter
One thing to note is that many vehicle manufacturers offer a longer warranty on emissions-related parts. So if you have a newer car but it's out of it's bumper-to-bumper warranty, there still may be warranty on this type of problem. Many manufacturers give a five year, unlimited mileage warranty on these items. It's worth checking into.

Information was pulled from OBD-codes.com


Hope this helps

Last edited by JCribb; 09-26-2009 at 16:25. Reason: added more info
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Old 09-26-2009, 18:13   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

Quote:
Originally Posted by umoms View Post
I have a 1996 Ford Thunderbird with 160k miles that I just bought. I am losing power while I give it gas. It only happens when I am driving. I lose power and the engine sounds like its bucking. I unplugged the MAFS and its still doing it. The air filter is brand new and I checked the fuel pressure its 29psi although it should be 30psi. I also tried a bottle of lucas and replaced the fuel filter. I also replaced the EVAP control valve. I just bought this car and no previous history on it.

I am also getting a check engine light P0420

I think it maybe the catalytic converter. I took it to a few muffler shops and they said there is no way for them to tell.

How can I be certain its the catalytic converter thats causing me to lose power?


Also can I use a catalytic converter from a 96 Tbird 6cylinder in my 8cylinder car? I notice they are different part numbers but look pretty much the same to me.
There is a sticky on the main Thunderbird subforum page, Check that for your OBDII codes, as far as the bucking/misfire, have you cleaned your MAF? Never hurts to go ahead and take care of that. It very well may be your cats, but instead of getting one that's gonna cost an arm and a leg, get a High-Flow cat. They sell on Ebay for around 50+ bucks. They are made for 8cyl, but they are pretty much generic. Before someone flames me, be sure you know who and what you're flaming for. I know my stuff as I have rebuilt my 95 bird from the ground up. Also check your o2 sensors, and as expensive as they are, you need to go ahead and buy all of them, get a pivot head wrench, (or just drop the exhaust) Do you have strict emissions rules? If not, gut the cats, and get/build a MIL eliminator. All you need to have to gut them is the proper tools to remove the exhaust from the manifold down, and a piece of re-bar or something of that nature. The rest should be self explanatory. Has your car had problems running lean? (pushing more gas than o2 and fire)? Mine had that problem and it caused a rather annoying and crippling carbon buildup that was oh so much fun to fix.

Keep us updated.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:53   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

I am now getting CEL P0174

I replaced fuel filter, catalytic converters, EGR valve. Whenever I give it gas it studders and loses power. I believe it's fuel related. At times when I start it up it won't start the first time. But if it doesn't start the first time it usually starts up the second time fine. When I replaced the fuel filter it ran fine with no problems for a entire day then the next day it ran bad again. Whenever I give it gas it bucks and loses power. The same thing happened when I ran out of gas completely. It ran fine for a entire day then started acting up again.

I tested the fuel pressure and I was getting 29psi . AllData says it should be at 30psi so its not too bad.

Im thinking it could be the fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator. What do you guys think? Anything else you guys suggest?
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Old 10-07-2009, 08:17   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

Did you check on how plugged the filter was? If it was VERY plugged, there could be a lot of crud in the tank. Also it made the pump work harder and could have worn it out. Did you happen to check fuel volume? the pressure can be good and srill not get enough fuel. The pressure regulator is to maintain around 30PSI, so that must be working.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:07   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

You have fixed your own problem. You said it all." I tested the fuel pressure and it was getting 29 lbs. AllData says it should be 30 lbs. so it not too bad. " WRONG. It is bad.
Minimum pressure is 30 lbs to get the motor to run properly not 29. Your pressure should be closer to 45 lbs. with key on engine off. Did you put a scope on it to check R.P.M. of the pump ? What it the dead head pressure ? There is a G.M. V6 out there that if the
pump pressure is low by one lb. it will not even start. I don't recall which one but i had
one in the shop. Pump came in at 33 lbs. but needed 34 to start. There is also a Ford
ranger out there like that too.
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:39   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

I was wrong earlier.... With the engine on and running I get 29psi...AllData says its suppose to be 39psi.... When I unplug the hose to the fuel pressure regulator it goes to 39psi....

Does that mean theres a vaccum leak? Or could the fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator be bad?
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Old 10-07-2009, 14:45   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 1996 Ford Thunderbird 160k miles losing power when i give it gas

if you had a vacuum leak the pressure at the regulator would be 39 lbs. I'd be looking at
the regulator. Some of those cars had an adjustable regulator. I don't think yours is one
but check anyway. What is the vacuum at your hose to the regulator ? Is the vacuum hose wet inside ? Run your car without the vacuum hose connected and see what happends just make sure you plug the end.
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