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Old 06-09-2011, 17:17   #1 (permalink)
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Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

About a month ago I purchased a 97 Thunderbird with a 3.8 liter V6 and 116K miles. After a week of consistently smooth driving I started the car up one morning to find it chugging as I drove. Now, I knew that the temperature gauge was so I assumed the gas gauge was as well. I was running out of gas so I rushed to the station and filled up. It was too late and the damage was done. It didn’t help.

As a matter of fact it progressively got worse chugging throughout it’s range of speed. It would also loose power sometimes unable to go over ten or fifty mph or take a hill. I took it back to the dealership where they replaced the crankshaft sensor, fuel filter, and blew the lines clean. It did better for part of a day and went right back to it. During this time I doctored the tank with seafoam and discovered that it seemed to temporally relieve the car if I turned it off and then back on a few minutes later.

I started to think that maybe the catalytic converter was jammed up because the car almost seemed to be choking for air as I drove it giving it that chugging feel. I took it in and had the three converters replaced with a single. This helped with about seventy-five percent of the issues. Three weeks later and fuel injector and fuel system cleaner with each fill up and I’m still stuck with a lighter chugging that comes and goes daily. It’s an annoyance I’d like to get rid.

I’m not entirely sure what to do next. I'm thinking about replacing the in-line filter again but what else can be causing this? I’d appreciate any and all feedback you guys can give me.

Thomas
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Old 06-09-2011, 21:20   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

Did you talk to the dealership about the problem coming back? Have you checked for any codes? Autozone will for free.
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Old 06-09-2011, 21:43   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

The dealership is pretty much out of it at this point. There was no real warranty so I was lucky to get the previous work done for free. As for any codes: The check engine light hasn't come on even once in the three weeks it's been doing it.

So it's come down to manuals, net, and popular opinion. Anyone with an idea on what might be the cause?
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Old 06-10-2011, 07:43   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

Decided to drive the car to the point I felt the tank was empty. Like last time as the car neared 3/8ths of a tank it began chugging badly. By doing this I hoped to add fuel system cleaner and test the gauge when I filled up. Apparently, my gas gauge isn't off because it only took 10.25 gallons to fill it. The 97 has an 18 gallon tank correct? So with nearly 8 gallons of gas in the car it begins to chug and miss as though it's empty. Could the fuel pump be bad?
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Old 06-10-2011, 19:55   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

The pump usually doesn't matter how much fuel i in the tank unless it's hot outside. The fuel cools the pump and having a low tank often, shortens the life of the pump.

Try running it with the MAF unplugged.

The light doesn't have to be on for codes to be present.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:24   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

Tried running it with the MAF unplugged. While unplugging it caused a horrible chugging it felt nothing like the problems I'd been having. So I don't believe it's the problem. Now, on to the next thing on my checklist. Whatever that may be. lol
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Old 06-15-2011, 18:00   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

How about the codes?
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:53   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

I found out that my cousin started working at a local shop so I took the car in and he ran the codes for free. A code for the oxygen sensor came up multiple times as well as others pointing out that the car was running lean due to this. I'm assuming when the car ran low on gas (if that's what truly happened) and plugged up the converters with gunk it also harmed the sensor. I'm buying a new sensor today and hoping I have no more problems. I'll keep you updated.
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Old 06-17-2011, 11:08   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

I doubt you have a sensor problem. The sensor is doing it's job by telling you it is running
lean. Why is it running lean ? A bad sensor will not make the vehicle run lean. That will
only happen if it is stuck in closed loop and will be fine when the engine comes up to temp.
If stuck in open loop it will run rich all the time.
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Old 06-17-2011, 12:24   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Thunderbird Chugging/Missing While Driving

Then why would it throw an O2 Sensor code? The first thing it showed was that the O2 sensor was failing. Followed by codes saying the car was running lean.
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