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2.3L ('83-'97) Intermittent sputtering, low power- solved


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Hey Everyone,

Still working on this issue. My truck’s engine will intermittently sputter and have a lack of power while driving. Some days are worse than others, and occasionally it just runs fine. I suspect some part is starting to go out, possibly I need new fuel injectors. Up to this point, I have put in new: Egr valve, tps, fuel filter, fuel pump, fpr, spark plugs, coil packs, wires, IACV, pcv valve, and I’ve been running fuel injector cleaner through the tank. Also I’ve inspected the MAF sensor and it looks very clean. Any ideas on what it could be? It seems fuel related to me, but I need some other input. Eventually my truck is just gonna be all new parts 😂. Engine light never comes on and I don’t have any codes either.
 


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rusty ol ranger

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RonD

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1989 to 1994 2.3l Ranger with intermittent misfires reads more like ICM(ignition control module), spark issue

These can not be tested regardless of what parts store guy tells you, or anyone else, lol
Well let me refine that, they can be tested to see if they are BAD, but can not be tested to see if they are good

Make sure all 3 screws/bolts are a good ground to the ICM/lower intake
You can remove it, unplug and plug back in its connectors, clean the bolt holes and bolts, for good grounding, then reinstall


If the misfires never happen when engine is cold then that would point more towards ICM as they tend to get more intermittent when they get hot, like coils do

Fuel issues tend to be more regular, happen at specific parameters, and are not intermittent with those parameters, can be easily repeated, and wouldn't care about temp at all
 
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Okay thanks! I’ll try all those things. I’m gonna hold off on getting new injectors and keep running more fuel injector cleaner first. I will keep this thread updated.
 

tomw

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Failing injectors are extremely rare. Loss of power to the injectors would be more likely. There should be 12V on either injector wire with key ON. One side will be grounded when the injector is fired, but it will have the 12V at all the other times. Given new plug wires, I would still measure resistance from end to end. If the measure is infinite, or OL or high, more than 1M per foot, they are very possibly a source of random misfire. I have had new sets that were worse than the ones they were purchased to replace. If you don't measure, you don't know.
I had random misfire and bucking, and then smooth running for some time before I checked. I even pulled all the injectors expecting to find goo caught in the final screen before the pintle valve. They were extremely clean, and I never used any carb/injector/fuel additive since new.
tom
 
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Failing injectors are extremely rare. Loss of power to the injectors would be more likely. There should be 12V on either injector wire with key ON. One side will be grounded when the injector is fired, but it will have the 12V at all the other times. Given new plug wires, I would still measure resistance from end to end. If the measure is infinite, or OL or high, more than 1M per foot, they are very possibly a source of random misfire. I have had new sets that were worse than the ones they were purchased to replace. If you don't measure, you don't know.
I had random misfire and bucking, and then smooth running for some time before I checked. I even pulled all the injectors expecting to find goo caught in the final screen before the pintle valve. They were extremely clean, and I never used any carb/injector/fuel additive since new.
tom
I pulled out the spark plug wires today, and they are all within normal resistance. I will try looking into the fuel injectors next.
 

corerftech

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Not hijacking: I have posted recently after many repairs on a poorly maintained 1990 4Cyl about a stumble at about 1700-1800 rpm dependent on load (uphill grade even slight) and a pop at ignition on (exhaust backfire). I have been through EVERY system...... I believe this engine (#2 used with 100k or more on it) has 300k plus mile injectors sitting on it. My engine runs very well (NOW) but at 17-1800, its stumbles abd can throttle through it. That to me (not a guru!) says AFR is lean. Some of my injecotrs have the paint burned off as the driver side spark plugs were left loose enough to vent combustion products into them.
The only way I could ensure it was fuel (most likely) was to follow "electrical first" as a rule (all basic operational functions present to some degree already).
I had RonD's help with diagnosing a bad ICM (as well as a guide to rough testing with both standard 12v test lights and LED type high impedance). But I had more disorders. There is a guide (easycardiagnostic..... something or other), on ford DIS ICM troubleshooting. It will help you verify the crank/cam trigger, coil outputs, IDM line, power, ground, wire path resistance. I had a bad miss due to ICM failure, a bad coil driver in it, a bad coil as well, wiring faults.... The electrical you can troubleshoot relatively easy and determine a failure or fault, the injectors are going to be more difficult because unless you mitigate the electrical side (ignition, MAF, etc) operation, then all of them show similar driving symptoms to the injectors.

RonD mentioned intermittent vs consistent faults above. I had intermittent in the electrical and sensors, once those resolved, all other faults became as consistent and repeatable as the Sun rising.

Im not sure if its ok to post a link like this, if so I have done so in ignorance and will delete if instructed to.

This GREATLY helped me to determine the performance of the engine triggers, the power, ground and coil driver operation.
I also found a can or two of Electronic Contact Cleaner (my engine bay was infused with OIL in every nook anc cranny), a 12V penetrating test probe (Harbor Freight for like $6) and its LED counterpart from same and a DVM really made it easy to see the faults.

As well resistance checks on the coil towers pretty much pointed the finger at specific faults I could not waste time and money on.

The suggestion is to vet the ignition, ECU, COILS, crank/cam sensor and wiring first. Clean every connector sterile and ensure there are not wiring faults or frays at the connectors. Then look at fuel. That was the directive I was given a few months ago and I found success following it.

If you do end up with an ICM need, Standard Products T series from RA was the cheapest I could find and it performs as it should. Rock Auto killed everyone else for price and delivery speed by a large margin.

I also had the coil DIE due to a cracked/broken heat shiled on exhaust side. Nobody knew it had fallen out of position (maybe they did and didnt fix it). That coil failure was allowing the engine to run and run smooth at times, but when taxed it fell down. I welded the heat shield and reinstalled. It was simple crap that killed my system and assumptions of "needed repairs" by others that created such huge issues.

All to say, vet the electrical (completely) on the ignition before running down other systems (i.e., RonD directive!)
 

jcwhidby

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I struggled with a similar issue on my 1997 Ranger 2.3L for over a year. Replaced many parts similar to you. It finally went away when I did two things (not sure which one fixed it). 1) Replaced MAF sensor (my old one looked good too), and 2) cleaned and torqued battery post to cable connections. I hope this works for you!
 

Popz505

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I struggled with a similar issue on my 1997 Ranger 2.3L for over a year. Replaced many parts similar to you. It finally went away when I did two things (not sure which one fixed it). 1) Replaced MAF sensor (my old one looked good too), and 2) cleaned and torqued battery post to cable connections. I hope this works for you!
I have a 1983 ranger xlt 2.3 I can't get the vacuum diagram for it
 

Popz505

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How do I get an vacuum diagram for 1983 ranger xlt 2.3 4cyl
 

tomw

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POP,
The factory put stickers on the radiator support or on the underside of the hood showing vacuum line routing. If yours is gone, you may be able to find an image searching the interwebs.
From memory, that year had multiple vacuum lines and multiple vacuum switches, depending on the 49-state or CA version of emission controls, you would have different equipment installed.

You may find something here:

 

Popz505

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I have that manual it doesn't show vacuum diagram thanks anyways I have picture on frame missing lots though
 
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So it turns out, when I went in and checked all my spark plug cables, I realized I had the 1 and 2 plugs on the exhaust side switched up. I’ve been driving the truck a lot now after fixing that and it has way more power (no misfiring anymore). I hope at least this helps someone from making the same mistake XD. It’s weird that sometimes it ran fine even with the cables mixed up.
 


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