My daughter owns a 1999 Ford Contour 2.0L DOHC, 100,000 miles. She called the other day and said the engine was running rough and the Check Engine Light was on. Then she called the day after and said the engine was making a noise. I look at it and determined the timing belt or one of the timing components was making the noise. I replaced the timing belt the next day. The old belt was coming apart and the lower idler pulley was literally in pieces. I installed it by the book with camshaft alignment tool and with the notch on the harmonic balancer located at the pointer. I also double checked that the #1 pistion was TDC by using a wire inserted into the #1 cylinder.
It started back up fine but still idled rough and would stall when coming to a stop. I had Advance Auto Parts read the codes. They said "Manufacture Ignition, Engine Misfire & Camshaft Position Sensor. I replaced the sensor and put in a new set of plugs. Still same problem. I disconnected the sensor and the idle smoothed out. However, after diving for a while it died and would not restart. After about 20 minutes of sitting, it restarted. I reconnected the camshaft position sensor thinking that was why it died and would not restart.
I spoke with a mechanic friend. He said the old timing belt may have jumped a notch causing the original rough idle and I may have installed the new belt one notch off. Is this possible? Like I said before, I installed the new belt by the book.
I had Advance reset the codes after I did this work and they said everything was clear now. It still idled rough and after 20 minutes the Check Engine Light came back on.
Any ideas on what else could be causing this rough idle & stalling problem.
Thanks for the reply JorG. I'm old school and don't know as much as I need to about the last decade of cars & engines. You say ignition module. I'm assuming that is separate from what they call a coil pack.
I'm building a 1949 Ford F1 Pickup streetrod. All it needs is gas, spark & timing.
I just did some research. I know where it is and what it does. Expensive part just to go out and buy hoping it fixes the problem. Can the problem be pin pointed at a garage with more advanced equipment than a OCD code reader?
Well....it looks like my mechanic friend was right. He put his diagnostic tester, a much more advance version of what the autoparts stores use, on the car and it threw the following codes:
P1381 Cam Timing Advance Is Excessive
P1383 Cam Timing Advance Is Excessive
It's showing both camshafts to be off. I believe the camshafts are in sync with each other, it's the crankshaft that is a notch off. As I mentioned earlier, I installed the new belt per instructions. I got these instructions from Auto Zone's repair info listed on their webpage. Their instructions state to use the notch on the harmonic balancer and line it up with the pointer on the block. I have attached the diagram listed on their site. By using this method it put my keyway at approx. the 11:00 o'clock position. I now know the keyway needs to line up with the engine centerline putting it just a hair off of the 12:00 o'clock position because the engine sits in the engine bay at a slight angle.
So....when the idler pulley went as my daughter was driving, it allowed the belt to jump one notch causing the original rough idle & check engine light. I will redo the installation on Saturday and replace the water pump while I'm at it since you have to remove the timing belt to replace the water pump. I don't want the water pump to go out in the middle of winter. What a way to put a car together! I will do a final post after all this is done.
Well....I tore the car back down and re-installed the timing belt. Motor stills runs rough but is not throwing a "Camshaft Timing Advance Is Excessive" code anymore. It is throwing a "Camshaft Position Sensor Circuit" code however.
I dropped the car off at a auto repair shop this morning. He told me that off the top of his head it sounded like a 'camshaft advance actuator' going bad and could get quite expensive to replace. I never heard of this device before.
The shop has told me the car needs a new camshaft actuator solenoid, camshaft actutator, camshaft sprocket. He said the parts were about $600.00. My total bill will be $1,094.36. I'm having problems deciding whether a 10 year old car is worth it. The car will have these parts as new along with a new timing kit, water pump, master brake cylinder and a new battery when all is done. My thinking is......my daughter should have a reliable car when all is said and done.
The cause of the P1383 will make the car run (very) bad. The VCT solenoid is on the exhaust camshaft. It controls the cam timing. I have replaced about a half dozen of these for this code. The valve cover, front cover and timing belt have to be removed for access. Once accessed the exhaust cam sprocket, sprocket bolt and VCT solenoid can be replaced. I highly recommend changing the oil and filter at this time. In fact, if the vehicle has not had an oil change in a long time and/or the oil looks very bad, this can be the root cause. Be sure to double check the timing belt and ALL idler pulleys while in there. I have see the pulleys come apart in as little as 20K miles.
It is not a cheap repair. I worked at a L/M dealer and the final repair bill was $1300 in 2004. Seems to me there was a bulletin on this from Ford but I do not have that info.
The bad news is that it will eventually happen again. Especially the part about the timing belt idler pulleys as explained in the link. If you plan on keeping the care for a few years (five max) then it may be worth it. This is the most expensive job on these cars except for a trans or engine replacement or major body damage.
Thanks for the post fixitnowlt. Is there a flaw in the VTC system or design?
Obviously it is not a superior system as far as longevity. This car has always had regular maintenance at recommended intervals. Is the VTC supposed to enhance performance. I have seen other make cars with 4 cylinders that did not use this type of advance/retard timing setup.
Also is it possible that just the solenoid is bad. I am having a hard time understanding why so many items have to be replaced.
Or is it like the senario, if you have to have your rotors turned, replace the bearings while your at it?
Last edited by patioman; 07-30-2009 at 13:16.
The AutoGuide.com network consists of the largest network of enthusiast-owned enthusiast-operated automotive communities.
AutoGuide.com provides the latest car reviews, auto show coverage, new car prices, and automotive news. The AutoGuide network operates more than 100 automotive forums where our users consult peers for shopping information and advice, and share opinions as a community.