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88 ranger, can't find problem, please help


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I have been chatting with user Mark_88 and he has been very helpful but he suggested I also put a summary of the problems I am still having here on this forum so here it is. A problem I was initially having lead to a no start problem. The no start problem is resolved but the initial problem is still present. 88 ranger, 4 cylinder, 2.3 liter, manual.

Things I have done(before no start issue):
New spark plugs
New spark plug wires
New distributor cap
New lock cylinder(unrelated,keys were stolen, I had to drill out the old lock cylinder since I didn't have keys to unlock and change part, essentially stealing my own truck)

Months later I started having issues cranking, I cant remember but I feel like it might have started after using fuel cleaner, it would take many attempts to crank and stay on, would idle for a second than die many times before staying on,then would only go about 15mph for the first 10 or so minutes(making me late to work many times), and sputter and die while driving, then out of nowhere while driving the problem clears up and the truck accelerates properly, engine sputtering clears up and all is well. This is sporadic and sometimes it starts up and drives fine first try.Always seems to be the first time driving of the day, to work, sometimes fine and sometimes not.Seems to be a possible correlation with how long in between drives (possible this could be an alternator issue? I am very much a novice at all this, but If I have electronic fuel injection, could a problem with the alternator be triggering a problem with fuel injection causing all of this?The battery always seems to be fine though)

This lead to a no crank issue,probably from all the excessive starting. I jumped the gun a bit and just started throwing parts at an undiagnosed problem but hey, I'm learning. After no start issue I have:

New starter
New starter solenoid
New ignition switch
Cleaned up battery terminal connections

Don't know which of these was the fix because like I said I just kept stupidly throwing parts at it, but hey, it starts and I learned a lesson.

I am currently driving it everyday but the initial problem is still there, taking long to crank, not driving like it should, sputtering and driving extremely slow til the engine warms up. Since then I have:
Taken it to auto zone because I was going to rent a fuel pressure gauge,which was $150 to rent so the guy just let me use it while I was there, hooked it up to the schrader valve and tested, while idle it was reading around 38 but then would drop to around 30 while giving gas. After first test I checked connection to schrader valve and gas was escaping so I tightened the connection and tried again but with the same results, I couldn't tell if gas was still escaping or was just there from previous test,so I don't know if the readings are useful at all.Since then all I have done was replace the fuel filter because it was cheap and fairly easy and I figured it couldn't hurt.

Any help would be greatly appreciated
 


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Mark_88

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Just to let everyone know...I sent Sean a PM with suggestions to check the wiring harness for burn spots as well as possible TFI issues, and maybe a clogged cat...as well as possible fuel flow issues like fuel pressure...but the problem is sporadic...sounds like the same problem with the 96 that hazrail had...
 

4.0B2

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Similar to the issue I had with the B2 at one point and it ended up being bad wiring/pigtail at the frame rail pump. The pump wasn't getting a full 12 volts at times

Cat could cause similar issues also.
 

4.0B2

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Unbolt the cats and see what happens
 

tomw

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If this:
"I am currently driving it everyday but the initial problem is still there, taking long to crank, not driving like it should, sputtering and driving extremely slow til the engine warms up."

is the current summary of symptoms, then I'd suggest checking the ECT & ACT, check the ignition timing. I would also check the ohms on the plug wires. They should not be 'open', and 1k resistance per foot(I THINK) is acceptable. The timing must be set with the jumper removed, engine hot & at idle.
IF you get the wrong TFI, it can make the engine run different, and the timing set at 10BTDC will make it gutless. Different in that is feels as if it is working hard just idling. I swapped in an old one while testing that I thought was good. It may have been from a Taurus 4, or a Sable Vulcan, but it was different & gutless when set at 10BTDC.
Have you checked the fuel pump delivered volume? If the pump was on its way out, it may produce the pressure, but fail to deliver the expected amount of fuel. Using the diverter valve on the gauge for 10-30 seconds to capture fuel for measurement and calculation will indicate whether it is delivering.
If you have long crank times, check your 'at rest' fuel pressure, or try switching the ignition ON, wait, then OFF, then ON -wait, pausing, for 3-5 times. The pump should run and pressurize a system that has lost pressure over time.
The plug wires, if faulty, can act as if the engine is trying to shut down a few cylinders at a time, and then run fine. No idea of the circumstance that makes them 'work' and then 'fail' so intermittently, but it is annoying.
tom
 


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