Mystery squeak and vacuum leak


MSTWNTD

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My friend's ranger has been squeaking (seems to be from the back part of the engine) for a while. It really only happens when you lightly accelerate on the freeway (without downshifting, just lugging the engine), and it's quite faint. The heavier the load, (turning the wheel, ac, etc.) the louder the squeak. It kind of pulses and as soon as I let off the accelerator it goes away. We already replaced the belt, idler pulley, and tensioner (however, I have read about de-glazing the pulleys, not sure how to do it or if it is even a consideration for the solution). We also replaced the camshaft synchronizer because IT was squeaking extremely loudly on a cold start and it even caused the car to surge, stall out, and every warning light on the dashboard to light up. It was replaced today by our local trusty mechanic because no matter how we tried, we could not get the new one to line up like the old one was removed (it would not slot down onto the oil pump shaft even though the body and notch lined up). Finally, the fuel trims are about +6% on both banks and I think this is causing the light surging and random misfire below 1500 rpm. I also believe that this combination of issues is causing the transmission to wait a long time to shift and kinda stumble into the next gear. I know this is a lot to ask but I have been after these fixes for a year to no avail. Any input or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
 


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RonD

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What year is your friends Ranger?

+6 on STFT is not out of line

Whats LTFT show?
If its at +10 or so then thats +16 STFT, so yes could be vacuum leak OR low fuel pressure

Squeak from rear of 3.0l Vulcan engine would be the Cam sensor synchro, so should be gone now

3.0l Vulcan is a high RPM engine, best torque/power is above 3,300RPMs, so it should shift at higher RPMs than other engines that have best power at 2,500rpms
 

MSTWNTD

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What year is your friends Ranger?

+6 on STFT is not out of line

Whats LTFT show?
If its at +10 or so then thats +16 STFT, so yes could be vacuum leak OR low fuel pressure

Squeak from rear of 3.0l Vulcan engine would be the Cam sensor synchro, so should be gone now

3.0l Vulcan is a high RPM engine, best torque/power is above 3,300RPMs, so it should shift at higher RPMs than other engines that have best power at 2,500rpms
It's an 01 3.0 2wd. It's about 3 percent short term and around 7 long term. It keeps jumping around +/- 3 at idle and the engine shakes quite a bit, with a slight random miss. We already replaced the cam synchro and it's still squeaking. I'm less concerned about the high-rpm shifts and more concerned about how it shifts, it shifts quickly (not necessarily a bad thing) and does so pretty roughly. Transmission fluid is at the correct level and bright red. Sorry for the spotty information and poor explanation. I'm new to car forums and I never explain stuff well to begin with, so putting it into words on screen is even worse.
 

MSTWNTD

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What year is your friends Ranger?

+6 on STFT is not out of line

Whats LTFT show?
If its at +10 or so then thats +16 STFT, so yes could be vacuum leak OR low fuel pressure

Squeak from rear of 3.0l Vulcan engine would be the Cam sensor synchro, so should be gone now

3.0l Vulcan is a high RPM engine, best torque/power is above 3,300RPMs, so it should shift at higher RPMs than other engines that have best power at 2,500rpms
In addition to the fuel trims being sightly high, it reads about 5 in/hg low on a cold start while the engine is surging, but as the engine starts to settle the vacuum gradually increases to 22
 

RonD

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After engine is fully warmed up and idling, unplug the 2 wire connector on IAC Valve, it will close and idle RPMs should drop to 500 or so, engine may even stall, either is GOOD, it means no vacuum leaks
If RPMs do not drop there is a leak somewhere

One thing people forget about is PCV Valve, it is a controlled vacuum leak, but when its dirty it can cause odd idle or running issues, and vacuum fluctuations with it
It should be changed every 2 years or so
 

MSTWNTD

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After engine is fully warmed up and idling, unplug the 2 wire connector on IAC Valve, it will close and idle RPMs should drop to 500 or so, engine may even stall, either is GOOD, it means no vacuum leaks
If RPMs do not drop there is a leak somewhere

One thing people forget about is PCV Valve, it is a controlled vacuum leak, but when its dirty it can cause odd idle or running issues, and vacuum fluctuations with it
It should be changed every 2 years or so
Thanks! I will try the iac test tomorrow. I cleaned the valve when my friend first bought the truck a little more than a year ago. The PCV valve was replaced about a month ago. Something to note, there is a vacuum hose going from the left valve cover to the intake hose that keeps popping out. I wrapped electrical tape around it for a tighter fit but it still makes its way out every now and again. If the iac test results show that there is a vacuum leak, are there any spots to check that commonly fail or are easy to pass up? Right now, my money is on intake gaskets because a propane test did not change the idle no matter where I pointed it. Also, he seems to be losing coolant very slowly.
 

RonD

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The hose that keeps popping out is called PCV Breather or Vent hose, and it shouldn't "pop out" that would mean there is positive pressure in valve cover or air hose, neither of which should happen.
So I would check that new PCV Valve, something ain't right

How many miles on this engine?
And does it seem to use/burn oil?
Was the old PCV valve clogged with oil?

Coolant loss wouldn't effect engine operation unless it was head gasket/cracked head issue and you have 0 symptoms of that, probably just a small leak at a hot spot so never drips to the ground
 

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Thanks again for the insight. The hose usually pops out overnight when the car isn't driven. It seems like the hose isn't quite long enough and it's so loose when I plug it back in that you can see it working its way out within a few seconds (when the car isn't running). I think it's just dry rotted. I'll look for a replacement. The PCV valve looks fine upon visual inspection and doesn't sound stuck when I shake it. The engine has 95k miles. It leaks a quart of oil every few thousand miles because the rear main seal is shot. (Planning on replacing it later). The old one PCV valve didn't seem bad but we still replaced it because of age.
 

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if it is still squeaking at the back of the motor I would pull that cam synchronizer out and check it. be sure to mark where the vein is so you put it exactly how it came out. Just because it is new doesn't mean it is good. Did you get a motorcraft cam synchro or an off brand? if it is off brand I would get a motorcraft one. People have had bad luck with the off brand ones and when dealing with something as serious as oil pressure I would get the better of the two. if you are getting a squeak from the front (belts) then I would get a small bottle of baby powder and just give it a little puff onto the belts while engine is running and that will "dry" up the belts and stop the squeak. I have a small leak in a coolant fitting and it would drip onto the belt causing a once in a while squeak.
 

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if it is still squeaking at the back of the motor I would pull that cam synchronizer out and check it. be sure to mark where the vein is so you put it exactly how it came out. Just because it is new doesn't mean it is good. Did you get a motorcraft cam synchro or an off brand? if it is off brand I would get a motorcraft one. People have had bad luck with the off brand ones and when dealing with something as serious as oil pressure I would get the better of the two. if you are getting a squeak from the front (belts) then I would get a small bottle of baby powder and just give it a little puff onto the belts while engine is running and that will "dry" up the belts and stop the squeak. I have a small leak in a coolant fitting and it would drip onto the belt causing a once in a while squeak.
Thanks! The brand of the synchronizer was Spectra Premium. It was replaced by a local shop for $96 in labor. We gave up trying to install it after multiple failed attempts to get everything lined up like the old one (it lined up but would not slide all the way down, I'm guessing it wasn't lining up with the oil pump shaft). Since we weren't able to get it installed, I don't want to take it apart again. I'll try the baby powder trick, but I'm not sure how it will work since the noise only happens when the car is at highway speeds. Do you think the company would refund parts and labor if we can get the shop to verify if the OEM part fixes the squeak? Another note is we ordered it from RockAuto
 

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Only way to get your money back these days are with receipts and the product.. Most auto parts like that would probably charge a "re-stocking" fee or 80% credit back.
 


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