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Cracked heads or block? Suggestions for rebuild on a 2001 Vulcan 3.0L Flex?

raven

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Hello, and this is my first forum post, but I've lurked here a long time.

I have a 2001 Ford Ranger XLT 3.0 V6 Flex Fuel automatic model purchased used, was a fleet vehicle that was decently abused before I received it with about 60k miles in late 2002. Since I have owned the truck, I have performed regular maintenance and some repairs. The truck currently has just under 200k on it now.

Problems started about a month ago, thermostat stuck closed, truck overheated rather quickly. In retrospect it would seem the truck overheated much quicker than the gauge indicated. Let the truck cool off, replaced the lost water, go to an auto parts store down the street without overheating, and replaced the thermostat. No problems at all noticed for three weeks.

About a week and a half ago started to get a very intermittent CEL, pulled code indicated Cylinder 3 misfire. The truck was running fine, no audible miss or shake, no loss of power, no smoke.

This Saturday, driving about 80 mph on the highway, experienced a sudden loss of power, transmission downshifted, then the most 'smoke' from under the hood I've ever seen a vehicle create while not on fire. Had to move across 4 crowded lanes of traffic to pull off, which took about a minute and a half due to zero visibility to do safely and not causing or getting into an accident was my first priority. The heat gauge was slow to respond at first but then quickly went almost to the H by the time I was able to stop and shut her off, amazingly right in front of a friends car dealership.

Initial inspection showed the radiator had burst along the seams of the right-side plastic end-caps, spraying all the engine coolant directly into the intake and soaking the air filter and air box.

Purchased a radiator and changed it in the parking lot, refilled coolant, and started it up. Hard start, running with flashing CEL, terrible miss, sounds like a dead cylinder. After about a minute, the exhaust was leaking antifreeze and a few seconds later started billowing thick white smoke that smelled sweet burnt wood. The overflow was boiling aggressively and smelled of exhaust. Shut it down and later on it would not restart (like it was hydro-locked). Dipstick is black with no visible signs of coolant and oil mixing.

Pulled valve covers and intake, the passenger side bank look horrendous with coolant all over the area of cylinder 3. Pulled the head off, have not yet cleaned everything but no visible cracking. The head gasket was examined by myself and two friends and looks perfect. The internal condition of the motor is fair, reddish varnish, but all rods are straight and no other visible damage. Some sludge and carbon but nothing tragic for the miles.

I normally would have done through checks before disassembly, but having had similar happen on other cars I was betting everything on the head gasket having blown - I worked on the thing for about many hours to get to it, so if it was obviously bad I would have reassembled it there in the parking lot and been back on the road by the next morning after the epic effort, unfortunately not so luckly. =(

I will be removing the other head ASAP and taking them to a cylinder head specialty machine shop to get magnaflux tested, they say they can test both for $50. I am hoping at this point the head is bad and the block is not cracked.

While I am at it, is there anything else I should know to ensure a quality repair? Please keep in mind I am working on this car in a parking lot which is 20 miles from my home with limited access to my tools. I have purchased a full FP gasket set, water pump, PCV, thermostat, wires/plugs, air filter, fluids, etc. At this point I'm hoping the heads are bad, as I've found a decent sent for about $400 but will need to be shipped. Also, is there any way to know if the block is cracked at this point? I know it isn't common, but I don't want to throw another $400-$500 at it (that I don't have!), when a new motor from EngineGuy is $1400!

Thank you for suggestions. I have some pictures I can attach later.
 
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raven

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Will update pictures tomorrow. I have use of a 1996 4-banger 5-speed Ranger I'm using to get around right now, and I must say after not driving stick for 16 years, It is a hell of a lot more fun! (And great gas milage).

Pulled the other head and found one valve to be badly recessed into the seat. And that was on the "good" side. I am quite surprised it didn't cause a miss or a CEL on its own! Vulcan 3.0 must be a beast.
 
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raven

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Attached are the promised photos. I am going to try to get heads into the shop on lunch.

Please, suggestions, anyone? What else should I do while I have it torn apart? What other parts should I inspect for damage?

Desperate to get driving again!
 

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buckshotmudder

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I know you don't wanna hear this, but you simply wont know how much damage there is unless you look at the whole engine. Also the temp gauge would be slow to read hot if the engine was way low on coolant. So you may have run it hotter than what the gauge was telling you.
 
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raven

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Got them both out and made the machine shop stop yesterday on my lunch. Found the expected results.

Drivers-side head (the "good" bank) has some dodgy valves with one seat in rather bad condition and 3 minor cracks near the bolt holes, which they indicated would likely not cause problems unless the head was reinstalled as-is. This side was warped to 0.004" also.

The passenger-side head (the "bad" bank) has a major crack (but not in the cylinder with the issue!), 2 minor cracks, and was warped to 0.006". After a thorough cleaning and visual inspection the machinist also showed me there was a discoloration between the water jacket outlet to the block and the chamber in affected cylinder, which might be an indication of an issue with the gasket in that place I wasn't able to see.

Based on the costs, it makes more sense to get a set of re-manufactured heads for about $400 rather than $250-$275 to get these refurbished.

I will thoroughly clean and inspect the intake for cracks and damage when I can get back to the truck. I guess I will need more gaskets, but I am also going to pull the pan and inspect everything I can from under there and see what I can see.

Any suggestions on things to look at? Should I mess with trying to replace the timing chain or sprockets while I have it torn down this much? Oil pump? Cam synchro?

Wish me luck, I'll keep you all informed. Hopefully I am successful and my experience will help someone else trying to rebuild a motor in a parking lot!
 

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raven

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Sorry for no updates for a long time - almost 4 weekends later but it is all back together and it runs just fine now!

It took about a month because I could only work on it a few hours on the weekends in the evenings until running out of daylight, but I've driven about 100 miles and it runs better than it has in the last ten years. Ended up needing more than just heads and gaskets ... cam synchronizer (had to use a cheap Chinese one until I can get a real Motorcraft/FoMoCo part and switch it, but it only takes about 15 minutes to do), wires, EGR, vacuum lines, other minor things. Have not really gotten the revs very high because I'm going to take it easy while all the parts are still breaking in but idle is smooth as butter.

The dashboard temp sensor seems to be shot but using an OBD2 live data scanner shows the temperature very consistent at 180F once warmed up. Need to fix that. I will be changing the oil before the weekend is out and doing some fine tuning.

The 4-cyc/5-speed manual ranger I was borrowing averaged 24 mpg combined city/highway. My V6/automatic has never gotten more than 18 which I always thought was pathetic. I'm interested to see if I can get it any better now!
 

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Good work :icon_thumby:

The operating temp seems a little low at 180deg, this means more power but lower MPG.
Most Fords use a 192-195deg thermostat to keep operating temp at or above 200deg, this allows for a more efficient fuel/air mix.

There are two temp sensors on most fuel injected engines, a 2-wire sensor for the computer and a 1-wire sender for the dash board gauge.
To test if its the gauge or sending unit that is at fault, remove the 1 wire from the temp sender on the engine, turn key on, gauge should go all the way up or all the way down, now Ground that 1 wire, gauge should reverse it's position.
So if it was all the way up it will go all the way down or visa versa.

If gauge does this then replace the sender or if you used a sealing tape on the threads remove it and reinstall the sender to test, the threads of the sender need a good ground to the engine for the circuit to work.

If gauge doesn't move at all then either the wire is bad(shorted) or the gauge is bad.

The 180deg from the OBDII is from the 2-wire sensor.
 

raven

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I used whatever thermostat the guy a Bennett Auto Supply pulled off the shelf when I told him I needed a thermostat for a 2001 Ford Ranger 3.0 FFV. They did not have a Stant SuperStat or Motorcraft, so it is some generic part. =) The maximum temp according to the scan tool was 186F. For now running a little cool is better than overheating, especially while the gauge is dodgy.

I will check the gauge as you suggest. I eventually need to pull the dash cluster anyway as all the back-lighting on the cluster has burned out other than the oil pressure and battery gauges.

Exhaust did have a funny sulfur smell at first that almost completely gone away, but the O2 sensor readings look good (front sensor swinging voltage noticeably faster than the downstream). I used many different solvents and cleaners during disassembly and reassembly so I'm not worried yet, but will keep an eye on the fuel trim (LTFT on the scan tool I believe?) for the next day or two. Maybe I would need to advance the timing a degree or two?

Thanks for the suggestions!
 

raven

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Temp sensor is actually working correctly, the range of the readings have just shifted down a bit, starts below the cold mark and doesn't get to red in the H mark at the extremes of the gauge range. Not 100% sure why my max temp is 185, probably used the wrong thermostat temp. Either way, I'm not concerned.

Maybe I should start a new thread for this one, since I'm sure this has been talked about over and over and over, but somehow I'm still confused about the cam synchronizer! I'm not going to mess with it further until I get a "real" Ford/Motorcraft synchro to replace the Chinese Dorman branded one I'm using now.

Currently I get no check engine light, but the scanner does read a P1309 code when doing a full clear, key-on engine off diag, followed by crank to start followed by the key on engine on test. I have driven the truck 100 miles since the rebuild now and have averaged 19 mpg on 89 octane gas, which seems a little low but better than it was before the rebuild! The engine actually runs so smoothly now that you would not know its running if the radio is on, so it can't be that far off, starts almost immediately with no cranking time.

I was reading the proper ECM timing 'relearn' procedure is to clear ECM then drive 40mph-60mph-40mph after running diagnostics without touching the break pedal. This is impossible in heavy South Florida traffic here as I can't even hit 45 on the way to work. =) I'll try to get on the highway at 3am or something one night since there is no street without stop lights long enough to do that training anywhere here ... hope I don't get pulled over for going too slowly (enforced minimum speed is 45 mph).

Question time!

Am I correct to understand that when P1309 is stored, the fuel injection system is gang-firing rather than running properly timed sequentially?

If that is the case, and if my math is correct, with proper sequential injector firing I would be getting about 22 mpg?

What is the definitive cam synchronization method? I used 10° ATDC of the compression stroke and installed the synchro with the tool to hold the sensor in position, but now I've seen 26° ATDC mentioned as well! How do I get this perfect?
 
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raven

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Just a followup, everything is tuned properly now and working perfectly, and the cam synchronizer is touchy to get perfect and the worst thing about the Ford 3.0!
 

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Hey Raven, I know this is a kinda old thread but I joined TheRangerStation just to say You Da Man! You did a heck of a job for a parking lot rebuild. I think I would have broke down cryin with my tools at home and me stuck on the road. Anyway Congrats on your rebuild and I hope you get a bunch of miles out of it.

plain
 

raven

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Thanks man! The Ranger is a truck worth saving! Not to mention I don't really have the money for a new truck. I still worry about all the parts I didn't get to inspect, and I am sure the bottom-end is weakened or at least had some lifespan shortened due to the ordeal, but I am not racing my daily-driver :)

One day a 302 swap will be done once I have another vehicle to drive, but I have 4k miles on the rebuild so far so good. I have plenty of time save up and find that nice full-size Bronco I've always wanted now and once that is done the Ranger will get more love and attention.

Ranger is still leaking oil everywhere it could leak from (rear main, front, pan, and timing gaskets, loses about 1 qt of oil every 3k miles) so when it comes time to pull the engine out (can't see another way to change the pan gasket) I can drop in a V8 (and new transmission, rear axle, etc). Or at least that is my dream :)

For now, I am confident the Vulcan has at least another 150k of life left.

Thank you for the encouragement!
 
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OldRanger2

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Raven, old post but thanks for the thread dealing with your Ranger, it's the way it should be done.

Did you figure out the P1309? I did some reading on it and whenever there was a list of possible causes "incorrect cam position sensor" was the most often repeated one.

Anyway good luck with it...
 

raven

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I did. It was just installed incorrectly. It might still but imperfect but runs fine without CEL. That thing is horrible, honestly. If I had recorded the original installation position and orientation of it, and not had to rotate the engine by hand a whole bunch of times with the heads off, it would have been straightforward.

I feel like I should still be getting more power than am I am, but the advance #'s, LTFT, STFF, temps, etc all are in acceptable ranges. Fuel injectors were reused so they might be in questionable shape.

And not to change the subject, but a hilarious side story. I went with a friend to buy a 1999 F-350 regular cab 6-speed 7.3L PowerStroke with 220K, some leaks, and some engine issues but I think it would be Injector or HPOP related and that work included in the price he got it for, but .... The guy who owned NEVER used the ebrake, always just parked in gear. Well, we tested the brake, the pedal broke, then the release handle :) wewps! I had to cut the cable underneath at the linkage! It turned out that Ford had a recall on the ebrake assembly back in 2004 because it is known to fail. Anyway, it was embarrassing. I want a powerstroke now to park next to the Ranger.

Hopefully I won't have to do bottom end work on the Ranger anytime soon but I now have about 4,200 miles on the rebuild and it runs great. Still consumes or leaks out about 3/4 a quart in 3k miles, but that has been constant for the last 5+ years. I still plan to never get rid of it.
 
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