• Welcome Visitor! Please take a few seconds and Register for our forum. Even if you don't want to post, you can still 'Like' and react to posts.

2.3L ('83-'97) Runs funny when warm


Naughtjosh

New Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Central Washington State
Vehicle Year
1986
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
I've got a 1986 Ranger that has been on plow duty for the last 25 years or so. Its a 2.3L, 5-spd, 4x4 with no mods save for straight pipe post cat. It gets semi-regular oil changes and is forced to plow all winter and sit all summer. I'm sure if has a few hundred thousand miles but pretty sure engine still has less than 100K. It was replaced a few years before we took it off the road. A few years ago it started periodically acting like the description below and now it runs like this pretty consistently.

When its cold (cold like has not ran this day) it fires up plows like crazy, sounds good and when you stall it, it fires up and continues o run good until......... Until you shut it off to talk to a neighbor, go pee, get coffee or whatever. Then it starts and runs like you pulled a plug wire off. It's down on power, flutters when you stab the throttle and literally sounds like a plug wire (or two!) are pulled. It will continue to run like this for the rest of the day and the next morning will run perfect. Like clockwork! It does not appear to run rich when it does this. Nice hot rust colored tailpipe inside and out. If you don't turn it off and let it sit for a few mins, It will run perfected all darn day.

So far I've replaced IGN module (located on distributor), pick-up inside distributor (they made that way too hard!), cap, rotor, plugs, wires it has good clean fuel. Every once in a while it blows pieces of the CAT out the tailpipe. CAT internals are also rattling around pretty good in there, sometimes. I've also checked the timing when running good and running bad and seems to be do different. It also appears than once to get get timing close, the computer takes over and does its own thing....

Any ideas would be helpful, thanks.....Z
 


Rock Auto 5% Discount Code: 7FA902352B4C01: April 5th, 2021

scotts90ranger

Well-Known Member
RBV's on Boost
Joined
Feb 28, 2001
Messages
4,887
Reaction score
454
Points
83
Location
Dayton Oregon
Vehicle Year
1990, 1997
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
2.3 (4 Cylinder)
Engine Size
2.3 Turbo
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6
Tire Size
35"
The reason the spark moves around is because the perceived engine load is different, if you had the SPOUT plug out it would lock it in and would likely be the same.

It kinda sounds like either a bad oxygen sensor or a broken catalyst causing issues, if the chunks are broken enough to jam sideways in the outlet it is not going to run good, which could happen intermittently like that.
 

tomw

Well-Known Member
U.S. Military - Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
Messages
1,572
Reaction score
33
Points
48
Location
toenails of foothills NW of Atlanta
Vehicle Year
1985
Make / Model
ford
Engine Type
2.3 (4 Cylinder)
Engine Size
lima bean
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
2WD
My credo
vertical and above ground
Have you set the 'static' timing at 10BTDC? Pull the SPOUT plug and adjust with the engine warmed up and at idle. Turn off, and re-insert the SPOUT plug. If you then watch ignition timing using a timing light, you should see it advance and re- tard as the engine rpms are changed. FWIW.
Two thoughts... Have you checked for EEC-IV codes? Have you checked the MAP sensor? The MAP will diddle with the fuel mix based on its interpretation of engine load. If it 'glitches', it could just go to a fixed setting that is incorrect. You have a sensor that is heat sensitive, and either glitches when hot, and resets to 'good' when cooled off, or you have a bum connection somewhere that is connecting cold, and loses connection when hot. I think.
If you have watched/checked and are not losing fire to the spark plugs, then the problem is likely in the fuel supply. If the ECT/ACT (coolant/air) temp sensors are flaky, the mix will be 'off'. There are not that many sensors left... EGR being one, but it should set a code if it doesn't move as desired. It could be sticky or gummed when hot, and move 'mo bettah' when it has cooled off.
tom
 

Naughtjosh

New Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Central Washington State
Vehicle Year
1986
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
Same deal today. Fired up plow this morning and it ran perfect. Plowed snow yada yada loved it. Turned it off and right back on, running great. Parked it in the shop and let it sit for a few mins then Bam! Stutter steeping and running poorly as described. Today I learned I had not been timing it properly. I didn't really get the SPOUT thing as my manual barely mentions it. Manual seems to cover too many ignition systems to give it the time of day. In fact, directions under the hood are better than manual. Not sure they even called it SPOUT under the hood either? On this forum everyone talks it about it like its yesterday's news, lol. I found the spout connector, removed it and set the timing to 10 BTDC. Its happier timed correctly but issue still remains. Bit the bullet and pulled the cat out. All that was left in the cat was a fist sized ball of catalyst that bounces around in there then gets wedged in the outlet periodically. Sometimes sideways, sometimes not. That issue has been resolved and my welding skills get worse and worse as time marches on. Fixing the CAT was also not a solution. There is no Check engine light on or anything so I didn't even think to check for a code. I'll google how to do that next. I might also replace the O2 sensor just because, Current sensor says, "Ford" right on it so I'm sure its the original....
 

RonD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
17,718
Reaction score
2,652
Points
113
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
Pop the hood and open it, next time it will sit for a few minutes then restart before closing the hood, and see if issue is still there

Just thinking something is getting "heat soaked" when engine fan is off, which is usually ignition module, but thats new, but new just means NEVER tested now-a-days

Yes, replace O2 sensor, every 125k miles or 10-12 years you need a new one

And next step would be to pull out the Computer and have a look at its "insides"
 

scotts90ranger

Well-Known Member
RBV's on Boost
Joined
Feb 28, 2001
Messages
4,887
Reaction score
454
Points
83
Location
Dayton Oregon
Vehicle Year
1990, 1997
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
2.3 (4 Cylinder)
Engine Size
2.3 Turbo
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6
Tire Size
35"
That's the other thing, capacitors have a finite unknown life, learned an expensive lesson at work for that last week...
 

Naughtjosh

New Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Central Washington State
Vehicle Year
1986
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
I replaced the o2 sensor and still the same. It is like clockwork. Runs great all freaking day if you plow that long. Under abuse, under easy usage whatever. Turn it off for 5 mins and restart and its a turd for the rest of the day. Its so strange to me that the problem is that specific & reliable and also a mystery. Not too much can get heat soaked while off. There is a thermistor-looking temperature sensor on the intake (Any data on what that should read at different temperatures?), that might stay cold while running and then get hot when off? The coil and radio inference cap are under the hood but opposite the exhaust. I can't see them getting too hot. I think I unhooked the capacitor just to see if it make a difference and it did not. It runs exactly the same with my old ignition parts as it did with the new ones so I think both are good. Any more ideas?.....Thanks
 


Top