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2.3L ('83-'97) Bucking under load, no power, poor MPG


BrHotte

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Cstarbard, one other symptom my truck has that I forgot about is when hot it kicks back on the starter and starts hard. Was wondering if your truck does the same?
RonD. Do you think there might be some kind of timing issue. Given the issues with the lower rpm acceleration skip/buck/miss, also with cstarbard suggesting his timing remains flat throughout ecceleration.
 


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cstarbard

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Cstarbard, one other symptom my truck has that I forgot about is when hot it kicks back on the starter and starts hard. Was wondering if your truck does the same?
RonD. Do you think there might be some kind of timing issue. Given the issues with the lower rpm acceleration skip/buck/miss, also with cstarbard suggesting his timing remains flat throughout ecceleration.

Hey BR what do you mean exactly about the starter? I'm not sure I understand.

I have 10 days off from work so I'm going to take the timing cover off and have a look. I'll report back with my findings
 

BrHotte

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Hey BR what do you mean exactly about the starter? I'm not sure I understand.

I have 10 days off from work so I'm going to take the timing cover off and have a look. I'll report back with my findings
Starting the engine cold everything sounds good and the motor tuns over fast and fine. When the engine is all warmed up and I shut it off, (like to pump gas) when I start it back up it turns over like it is out of time. turns over 3 or 4 times, hesitates for just a second and repeats a couple of times before finally starting. Definitely starts a lot better cold than hot.

Enjoy your time off work.
 

RonD

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No, that reads like the regular(87 octane) gas is pre-igniting during compression stroke on hot engine, so it ignites when piston is still on its way up so slows or stops the rotation of crank/starter
Could be some carbon build up in the cylinders, might try a can of seafoam in the gas tank

Can also be starter motor itself but doesn't read as much that way, starter motor can get "heat soaked" when warmed up engine is shut off, no air circulation and its usually between hot block and even hotter exhaust
So it cranks slower in general, I guess it could stop and go, its possible

Spark timing is also possible but not probable, you could get a timing light and check it
 

PanteraGT5S

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Cstarbard, one other symptom my truck has that I forgot about is when hot it kicks back on the starter and starts hard. Was wondering if your truck does the same?
RonD. Do you think there might be some kind of timing issue. Given the issues with the lower rpm acceleration skip/buck/miss, also with cstarbard suggesting his timing remains flat throughout ecceleration.

Given you've swapped out the plugs and don't mention a misfire (plugs=power, timing=miss) It could be a timing issue. Not an easy fix anymore. Too much crap in between. Start at the crank trigger and trace that all the way back to the ECU. Sucks but that's where you start and end.
 

cstarbard

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Hey everyone,

Sorry I disappeared for a while, life got real busy. BrHotte, I do not have the specific starting issue you describe. However, if I stall my truck it cranks abnormally long before starting and is sputtery at first- but that happens ONLY if I stall it. If I shut it off normally and restart (like at the gas station), it starts right up fine. Another thing I should probably try to figure out, lol.

I have an update. For kicks, I reached in through the wheel well and unplugged and re-connected my camshaft position sensor a few times (what a pain to get to, especially with big hands. Jeez.)

What do you know, 90% of my problem is gone now. Once I get some electronics cleaner and di-electric grease, I'll clean and lube that connector properly. But for now the jerking and bucking is completely gone. Not lacking power so badly anymore now either. The truck still doesn't run perfectly... when listening to the exhaust drone at a constant rpm (for example, while cruising 50-55), it sounds like it misses occasionally. But whatever misfire is left isn't enough to cause jerking or really any noticeable drop in performance, except maybe that the truck is lacking a tiny bit of pep that it used to have.
 

cstarbard

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Well guys, I'm back.

So, like the last post said... unplugging and replugging the cam position sensor a few times made a huge difference. It was all good and fine for over a month but yesterday the truck was back to bucking the same way as ever, with the same force.

This leads me to think that either the camshaft sensor is going bad or its connector has some issues. Can anyone tell me how I would go about testing the sensor and the connector? I would like to test and confirm which part, or both, might be the problem before replacing either one.
 

RonD

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Your crank and cam sensors both generate their own AC voltage, 0.5vAC to about 7vAC depending on RPM
0.5vAC when cranking engine over(just FYI, VSS speed sensors are the same)
The voltage is not what is used by the computer, its the Sine Wave, up and down voltage change that happens with AC Voltage as it shifts polarity(alternates)

Reason I mention it is because ALTERNATORS work by generating AC volts that is then converted to DC volts which the vehicle uses
If there is an issue with this conversion to DC, some AC Voltage can leak into the electric system, this can/does cause issues with PCM reading the AC voltage sensors, like the cam sensor

Google: how to test an alternator for ac ripple

Its not hard to test for, and once it comes back as "not the problem" you can move on, but IF.........it is the problem, you can end up chasing your tail around looking at sensor issues
 

cstarbard

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Your crank and cam sensors both generate their own AC voltage, 0.5vAC to about 7vAC depending on RPM
0.5vAC when cranking engine over(just FYI, VSS speed sensors are the same)
The voltage is not what is used by the computer, its the Sine Wave, up and down voltage change that happens with AC Voltage as it shifts polarity(alternates)

Reason I mention it is because ALTERNATORS work by generating AC volts that is then converted to DC volts which the vehicle uses
If there is an issue with this conversion to DC, some AC Voltage can leak into the electric system, this can/does cause issues with PCM reading the AC voltage sensors, like the cam sensor

Google: how to test an alternator for ac ripple

Its not hard to test for, and once it comes back as "not the problem" you can move on, but IF.........it is the problem, you can end up chasing your tail around looking at sensor issues

As always Ron you are an invaluable wealth of information.

I will look into this. I think I have a spare new alternator somewhere too...

I also recently got a P0125 code. Do you think that's related in any way? It was like -10 deg F the day I got that P0125 so I wondered if that could have something to do with it. I had replaced both the ECT and thermostat around 2 years, am i correct in believing those could be likely causes for a P0125? I would have thought it would be premature for either one to fail
 

RonD

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Not usual to get that code on the 4cyl engines in COLD weather, they just don't generate alot of heat so can keep dropping below, I think its a 170deg threshold, when its cold out
Many put some card board in front of rad to keep engine bay warmer
 

cstarbard

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Not usual to get that code on the 4cyl engines in COLD weather, they just don't generate alot of heat so can keep dropping below, I think its a 170deg threshold, when its cold out
Many put some card board in front of rad to keep engine bay warmer
I had heard this before, glad to have you reinforce it.

I'll be curious if it goes away now that its warming up outside.
 

RonD

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Yes, it should
 

Paulos

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I'm not too familiar with this particular engine, but it sounds like similar problems I had with bucking in my '87 Ranger with the 2.9L. When it was cold, it wasn't too bad. As soon as it warmed up, bucking, poor performance, and gas guzzling. I threw all kinds of parts and time at it. In the end, was the injectors.
 

cstarbard

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Thanks Paulos. I have tested the injectors crudely in the truck by unplugging them one at a time while running, and verified proper power going to each. I will be looking into them more thoroughly at some point.

As an update:

RonD, I tested for AC ripple with a digital multimeter and that does not seem to be the problem.

I have another worsening problem. At startup, while idling, the idle surges up and down over and over. Does not happen always, but happens very often.

What do you make of this? Could it be further evidence that the cam sensor is suspect, or is it probably unrelated?
 

cstarbard

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I have already checked vacuum and vacuum lines several times as well and I can't find any evidence of vacuum leaks.
 


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