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2.3L ('83-'97) 94 ranger, reading cold and rough idle

CoolMick

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Howdy, I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t know that much about mechanic work but am really enjoying learning and trying to figure things out.

I’ve had my ranger for a little over a year, 4 cylinder 2.3 L manual with 130,000 miles.
It’s always started rough and have to slam the gas peddle most of the time to get it going, has a little white smoke out the tailpipe. It’s got a rough idle at times and have to rev the engine to keep it going at stoplights every now and then. Sluggish acceleration and not much power especially on the highway. Runs rich.
I also can’t get the engine up to temp, just put a 192 thermostat in and it’s still reading cold. I know the gauge is working because the heater core was clogged and was reading normal before I flushed it.

Here’s a list of things that I’ve replaced myself or had a mechanic diagnose and fix that may or may not be helpful to know:
fuel pump, fuel injectors, fuel filter, spark plugs, temp sending unit, ICM, exhaust manifold, timing belt, water pump, maybe a handful of small things that I’m forgetting.

I hope someone may have some suggestions and thank you in advance!!
 


Mightyfordranger

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Welcome to the ranger station.

Sounds like it's still over fueling some how. Maybe a fuel pressure regulator issue. Check the vac line running to it and make sure it's connected and doesn't have any tares or holes.

As far as the cold reading temp gauge there's prolly an air bubble in the system had that happen when i took out that coolant re direct valve in he heater hoses. I burped the system heat and gauge came right back.

Start there and let us know what ya find.
 

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The temp sensor for the gauge is on the drivers side of the engine, above the oil filter, more or less. If coolant is 'low' there or there's a bubble THERE, the engine will definitely be overheating soon if not already. That is so low in the system that you would have to be real low on coolant for that to occur.
More likely the thermostat is not sitting properly in the housing. Most have a rubber gasket that sits against a machined surface kind of deep in the housing. They have two 'legs' that must be bent to keep the stat square and sitting correctly, with some 'feet' that are adjusted to sit in a groove around the gasket side of the housing. The legs should be pushed out against the inner surface of the housing to keep the stat in place.
If the stat is not seated, you will feel the upper hose warming as you run a cold engine for a while. It should stay cool until all of a sudden, the stat opens, and the coolant, now hot, flows to the radiator. If it warms as the engine warms, the stat is allowing coolant to leak past and that's likely the problem.
tom
 

CoolMick

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Welcome to the ranger station.

Sounds like it's still over fueling some how. Maybe a fuel pressure regulator issue. Check the vac line running to it and make sure it's connected and doesn't have any tares or holes.

As far as the cold reading temp gauge there's prolly an air bubble in the system had that happen when i took out that coolant re direct valve in he heater hoses. I burped the system heat and gauge came right back.

Start there and let us know what ya find.
Havent gotten a chance to check out the fuel pressure regulator yet, been a busy week but tomorrow will have time to mess with this.
I did burp the cooling system yesterday though. I was watching the the coolant in the radiator as it was warming up and it was bubbling the whole time while the engine was cold, spewing white smoke from the tailpipe. Wondering now if my head gasket is blown. Coolant in the overflow is lookin a little dark and smells off like there may be oil in it. Bummer.
 

Mightyfordranger

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Havent gotten a chance to check out the fuel pressure regulator yet, been a busy week but tomorrow will have time to mess with this.
I did burp the cooling system yesterday though. I was watching the the coolant in the radiator as it was warming up and it was bubbling the whole time while the engine was cold, spewing white smoke from the tailpipe. Wondering now if my head gasket is blown. Coolant in the overflow is lookin a little dark and smells off like there may be oil in it. Bummer.
Yeah I didn't quite wanna say that just yet lol but you maybe right. You can do a pressure test of your cooling system with a tool you can rent from the auto parts store. Bring it up to the pressure your cap is rated for and it should hold it for awhile. If it drops off after less than a minute or two then ya got probs. Also check your oil if it's milky then probs.
 

CoolMick

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Yeah I didn't quite wanna say that just yet lol but you maybe right. You can do a pressure test of your cooling system with a tool you can rent from the auto parts store. Bring it up to the pressure your cap is rated for and it should hold it for awhile. If it drops off after less than a minute or two then ya got probs. Also check your oil if it's milky then probs.
well, on my way home a couple nights ago my temp gauge started reading on the middle to higher side of normal, while still blowing cold air, so I knew something funny was going on aside from the clogged heater core. Got home and looked under the hood to see coolant had sprayed from the radiator cap and the overflow was nearly to the brim. Cant be a great sign, right? Lol. This was the same day I burped the cooling system.
I checked the oil this morning and it is surprisingly not milky.
 

Mightyfordranger

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well, on my way home a couple nights ago my temp gauge started reading on the middle to higher side of normal, while still blowing cold air, so I knew something funny was going on aside from the clogged heater core. Got home and looked under the hood to see coolant had sprayed from the radiator cap and the overflow was nearly to the brim. Cant be a great sign, right? Lol. This was the same day I burped the cooling system.
I checked the oil this morning and it is surprisingly not milky.
Hhhmmm. I'd try the pressure tester and where I burped my system was at the heater hoses. Like very carefully loosen a clamp so ya don't make a mess and burn Ya self.. those clamps should be the bent sheet metal kind not the worm gear kind. All I did was open em a tad and wait for a tiny piss of coolant than let em close back up.

But if it's doing all of that filling the coolant res/overflow the. There's likely bigger problems. Have you been keeping track of coolant level prior to this?
 

CoolMick

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Hhhmmm. I'd try the pressure tester and where I burped my system was at the heater hoses. Like very carefully loosen a clamp so ya don't make a mess and burn Ya self.. those clamps should be the bent sheet metal kind not the worm gear kind. All I did was open em a tad and wait for a tiny piss of coolant than let em close back up.

But if it's doing all of that filling the coolant res/overflow the. There's likely bigger problems. Have you been keeping track of coolant level prior to this?
I see. I had to look up how to do it and the article I read said to just take the radiator cap off so I did it that way. Maybe I’ll try at the heater hoses.

Prior to this I had to add coolant every few days due to a faulty water pump. A mechanic diagnosed the water pump, as well as cracked exhaust manifold and timing belt I had him replace the exhaust manifold and timing belt, did the water pump myself about a month ago. He also told me the radiator cap that was on there wasn’t holding enough pressure and that I needed a 195 thermostat to get the temp up, because before all of this the gauge was barely reading past cold.

After I did my water pump the coolant level was good. Then about a week ago I got a new cap and thermostat, all they had at the auto parts store was a 192 so I just went with that. Replaced the thermostat, the old one was also a 192 but the gasket between the housing and engine was pretty toasted. Put the new cap on that same day.

When I did the water pump, the heater hose going from water pump to heater core was crusty on the inside. I got a new one but it didn’t fit right and also wasn’t quite long enough. Seems to be a common occurrence with trying to get new hoses, the same thing happened when I tried to get a new fuel filler hose and had to Frankenstein it together with hose clamps. So I cleaned out the old one as best I could and threw it back on.

When I did the thermostat I also flushed the heater core/cooling system and looked at the old heater hose again and it looked really clean. Wondering if debris from the hose and old gasket are still in the system and getting stuck with coolant actually flowing from the water pump now, plus more pressure from the new cap is causing all this. Also wondering if the head gasket has always been busted but got by since I was always having to add new coolant with the old water pump, plus old cap not holding pressure.

That’s all speculation, at the end of the day I don’t really know what I’m talking about lol. I just do a lot of research. Sorry for the novel, but that’s the whole story (aside from the fuel issue, that’s a whole other story).
 

Mightyfordranger

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This is odd. I do a lot of research myself. But I'm not quite sure what's going on I'm not there with the truck ya know. But you can try the pressure test see if it holds. But you said the coolant is getting discolored and smells like oil and gas somewhat. That sounds to me like head gasket or cracked cooling jacket allowing cylinder pressure to enter the cooling system.

Did you install the thermostat properly as tom stated above? it's easy to get it backwards etc.
 

Mightyfordranger

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I'll make a video and post it on youtube talking about what I mean exactly. Then post link here.
But what your thinking is that you'ev always had a headgasket issue but because of the worn rad cap the proper pressure was never allowed to build. Also you were never able to track any real coolant consumption due to a leaking water pump. So you were never able to see just how bad off it may have been?

Then once you replaced the rad cap, thermostat, and water pump it was able to build proper pressure..

But the other day it got hot and pushed all the coolant into the res.

Now it smokes white on cold startup correct? But once warm it clears up?
 

Mightyfordranger

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@RonD what do you think
 

CoolMick

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I'll make a video and post it on youtube talking about what I mean exactly. Then post link here.
But what your thinking is that you'ev always had a headgasket issue but because of the worn rad cap the proper pressure was never allowed to build. Also you were never able to track any real coolant consumption due to a leaking water pump. So you were never able to see just how bad off it may have been?

Then once you replaced the rad cap, thermostat, and water pump it was able to build proper pressure..

But the other day it got hot and pushed all the coolant into the res.

Now it smokes white on cold startup correct? But once warm it clears up?
A video would be awesome. And yes, exactly to a T.
And yes again, white smoke on cold startup. If it sits there and idles it will keep smoking. Once I get going it clears up.

and yes I believe I put the thermostat in correctly but I was thinking about taking the housing apart again to do another flush without the thermostat, I will make sure then.
 

CoolMick

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57233

i know the housing doesn’t look great but I did happen to snap a picture of the thermostat before I put it all back together
 

Mightyfordranger

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View attachment 57233
i know the housing doesn’t look great but I did happen to snap a picture of the thermostat before I put it all back together
Welp doesn't even look like ya could put it in backwards been awhile since I changed mine. Alright then. Solves that.
 

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