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Old 10-29-2009, 20:22   #1 (permalink)
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A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it.

!996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8 150,000 miles.

Ok, so about 8 months ago, the Check Engine light would illuminate and stay on until we got the code cleared (more on this later). Now, it's begun flashing at any given moment in neighborhood driving, or sometimes (very rarely) on the highway.

When the Check engine light is flashing, I can physically feel something wrong with the car. It's puttering and running pretty rough. That will only happen for about 30-60 secs, then it will recover. I can also put the car in neutral and rev the engine to recover it. Most times accelerating after a recovery is very sketchy. The gas pedal is pushed almost to the floor, but the car just won't get up and go.

We've taken it to AutoZone, Advanced Auto, and Tire Kingdom and their computers all have read the same thing, Misfires on Cylinder 1 and very rarely 4. There was also a new one "idle speed sensor" today on the first check.

I have replaced what seems like EVERYTHING to do with the ignition system. Plugs, Wires, Coil. Had the Fuel injection cleaned and the induction system (such as air plenum) cleaned. None of this has worked. It still flashes then goes on solid.

The Charging system light was on for a short time, I cleaned the battery contacts and it seemed to go away. We have had the alternator and battery tested more 3 than times, they both show fine under load.

I MADE SURE to gap EACH spark plug to .044 like the Ford Dealership told me when I purchased the plugs.

I did inspect everything that I could think of with the ignition system. The wires that go into the coil, the ignition wires and carefully looked at each plug as I was gapping it.

This was also the second set of plugs I have put on in less than 2 months.

The ABS light goes on at highway speeds.

That's about it.. I am not throwing any more money at this problem until I know exact what it is, or the car dies.

So, please throw me a bone, I need to figure this out, for my own knowledge and pride. I can't let this problem get the best of me. :)

PS....
If there was a wire bad to power the ignition coil, I would expect there to be more cylinders misfiring. But, it's ALWAYS 1 SOMETIMES 4.

Also, there is a distinct smell of gasoline once I leave the car from driving it from time to time.

EDIT: I was thinking about taking the intake plenum off to see if there is some gunk around the EGR ports. Maybe that is a problem or a gasket is cracked.. Either way, it's nice and cheap to do, if not free :)
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:00   #2 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

Unfortunately new doesn't always mean it is good. If the plug wires are long enough, swap two out and see if the misfire changes to the other cylinder. If so, the wire is bad.
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:54   #3 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

The misfires were happening on the same two cylinders before the wire and plug change.
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Old 10-30-2009, 16:06   #4 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

New information: There has still been misfires inconsistantly. A computer has diagnosed same misfires. This time the computer had more diagnotics.. A Good computer, if you might say so..

45,000 misfires. No joke.

What is going on?
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Old 10-30-2009, 19:55   #5 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

Havve you checked fuel injector with a noid light? Would have to be checked while it's misfiring.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:56   #6 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

How can I do that? It only happens aroung 35-45 miles per hour on acceleration.

Really thinking about pulling the injector and seeing if the misfire happens on another cylinder. Especially because of that rich gas smell eminating from the car after the engine is shut off.

If the EGR ports are low in flow, would it ALWAYS cause a code, sometimes, or possibly never?
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:30   #7 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

Another thing.. It is very hard to start in the mornings.
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Old 10-31-2009, 14:20   #8 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

Have you checked the fuel pressure and volume? What is the vacuum reading at idle? What are all the codes you've gotten so far after all the work you've done?
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Old 11-01-2009, 05:59   #9 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

The codes I have gotten are a misfire on 1 and 4 and an idle speed sensor. That is all. I don't have a vacuum tester. Is the vacuum test the same thing as a compression test?

I'll rent a vacuum testing tool to do this today.

EDIT: A lot of people that I have talked to are saying that the camshaft position sensor or the teeth on the camshaft might be worn.. I mean, the sensor might be "going bad" but if there was a missing tooth on the camshaft it would be misfiring all the time. I am pretty sure if the sensor was going bad, it would be throwing it's own code.
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Old 11-01-2009, 13:38   #10 (permalink)
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Re: A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it

I don't think it's a tooth problem. A sensor can give a false reading and still not set a code. What are the code numbers you're getting? A vacuum gauge tests for vacuum leaks and other problems. Read this for information. Reading a vacuum gauge | Motor | Find Articles at BNET
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