Engine - Acceleration and Idle Issues - Recently Swapped Known Engine into New Chassis | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

Engine Acceleration and Idle Issues - Recently Swapped Known Engine into New Chassis

Discussion in 'Tech & Repair' started by joe_cooled, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. joe_cooled

    joe_cooled FEOA Member

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    Hello All,

    SUMMARY & BACKGROUND
    Suffering from weaker-than-expected-acceleration and low (rough) idle which is causing a flickering oil light.

    I recently swapped a ‘98 engine (originally paired to a manual trans) into an ‘01 body (now paired with an auto trans). [This question is not model or engine specific]

    The ‘98 engine and trans had operated normally with expected power and operation before the swap.

    After the swap, the engine ran very roughly and died after startup due to 1+ year old fuel which was in the ’01 tank. The fuel was drained and replaced and the engine was able to start and successfully idle without dying.

    SYMPTOMS
    The engine now seems to be severely underpowered upon acceleration and a lower than desired idle which makes the oil light flicker (accompanied by what sounds to be a new lifter tick at idle and low RPMs- fades away at higher RPM).

    When attempting to accelerate to freeway speeds on an incline the trans sometimes drops into the kick-down gear and the engine revs up but does not accelerate as much as you’d expect based on the engine noise being generated and apparent RPMs.

    In addition- the idle is especially rough when A/C is on, to the point that the car will die in some cases if idling in drive with the A/C running.

    Regardless of A/C operation, sometimes the car will not slowly pull itself forward while in drive as one would expect. I am unsure if this is an unrelated problem or a symptom of what I'm experiencing.

    I'd also like to mention that the rough idle, lifter tick, and oil light seem to be less pronounced or nonexistent at startup and while the engine is cold. Perhaps this is because the car is operating in "open loop" fuel maps until it is warmed up. That is just speculation. Hopefully this information is helpful somehow.

    ATTEMPTED FIXES
    I’ve attempted the following to remedy the problem. (In this order)

    1. Checked engine oil level

    2. Checked trans fluid level and color

    3. ½ can Seafoam through vacuum hose off intake, ½ can into gas tank

    4. Manually increased low idle by adding a small nut shim to the throttle rest bolt

    5. Cleaned throttle body

    6. The engine had a CEL code for the crank position sensor after the swap. Replaced crankshaft position sensor (CEL light is now off)

    7. Replaced spark plugs gapped to .054

    PROPOSED FIXES
    Reading on the forum there have been several suggestions made which could help address the issue. I am hoping to receive help to more precisely isolate the likely cause.

    1. Check catalytic converter to see if it is becoming red hot during operation which may indicate it is clogged

    2. Replace fuel filter

    3. Replace spark wires

    4. Clean MAF

    5. Check for vacuum leak

    6. Replace O2 sensor

    ACCELERATION VIDEO
    Below is a link to a video which shows an example of acceleration on a moderate incline. The issue seems to mostly be a lack of power between 20 and 50 MPH. I was applying somewhere around 50% throttle. In this video, the top of the incline is hit at 50 MPH. This was recorded on an off-highway course.

    I would expect that the car should be able to accelerate up an incline to freeway speeds without so much difficulty and without punching the throttle to 100%. The engine had more pep in it's original chassis/trans. Am I expecting too much?

    LINK: https://vimeo.com//220673215

    SPARK PLUG PHOTO
    I've also attached a photo of one of the spark plugs I pulled. They all looked very similar to this. From what I can tell, they were simply old and ready to be changed. Attaching the photo in case anyone can derive any more useful information from their condition.

    QUESTIONS
    Are there any items I should check or change which would take priority first?

    Are there other diagnostic checks I can perform for each of the above suggested steps before I invest the money and time to replace/repair each item?

    What else am I missing?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  2. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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    you can assume that the issue is caused by something in the car. did the removed engine exhibit any of these same symptoms? besides the low power.

    i agree with the possibility of a clogged cat. try driving it at night and see if it starts to glow.

    fuel filter being clogged would typically give you a clean idle and rougher high rpms. worth a shot, probably should be changed due to the old fuel.

    plug wires... could have an affect on your symptoms.. you can test them for resistance, run vehicle at night and look for sparks, or just replace them as a maint item.

    maf could have an affect as well. but 'cleaning' it typically wont render any useful results. due to the operation and how its designed if there is burnt oil or debris on the temp sensor internally it is like trying to clean your oven with only solvent, and no scrubbing.

    oxygen sensors will not affect idle.
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  3. joe_cooled

    joe_cooled FEOA Member

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    Hi, thanks for your response.

    I agree that it would likely be something in the new car, although the newfound low oil pressure at idle/apparent lifter tick has me a bit worried.

    The engine in the car before had a blown engine due to valve seat separation. I swapped this engine into the car because this chassis was much cleaner.

    I will drive the car tonight and check for the glowing cat. Is it something I'd just be able to drive for 10 or 15 minutes and then get down on the ground and look under to see in the dark?

    I agree the fuel filter could be changed as well as the plug wires as they're both relatively cheap.

    If cleaning the MAF isn't likely to help any issues it may have- is it viable to grab one from the junk yard or is that unlikely to work or last long and I should just go to the parts store?

    Thanks for any further advice.
  4. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Maybe the old gas gummed up your injectors. *Glares at corn*
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  5. joe_cooled

    joe_cooled FEOA Member

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    Hi, thanks for your response.

    Is this something that I could address short of replacing the injectors? Is there a test I could perform to confirm is this is a possible culprit?

    Thank you
  6. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

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    Ahhhh, don't open the can of worms that is adjusting the throttle stop!
    The IAC (almost impossible to test, sorry) is the only part you should "throw" at it.
    You probably caused a vacuum leak or left something unplugged or got dirt on the maf. There's an off chance the egr valve is stuck open or the dpfe needs cleaned, that has similar symptoms, but swapping the tran wouldn't cause it.

    I don't know if 3g's have the sneaky little evap hose under the throttle body, but it could be snapped off during a trans swap. Is the pcv snug in the plastic tube thingy?

    I'm not trying to be a dick, it's probably something accidental from the swap in my mind lol
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  7. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    He swapped the motor not the transmission.

    But yeah it's possible to have missed a vacuum line or something.
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  8. joe_cooled

    joe_cooled FEOA Member

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    Thank you for your responses.

    I'm going to check the cat for a glow and will report back. I believe it is behind a heat shield and may try to remove the down pipe to see if that makes a difference.

    Is it really possible that something as subtle as a single vacuum hose could really have such a pronounced effect on the car? I suppose it'd be throwing the fuel mixture off- but wouldn't I expect that to throw a code?

    If anyone could point me in the direction of the best resource for a vacuum line diagram so I could know where to check- I'd appreciate it.

    Thanks again for your help.
  9. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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    unlikely, it should have cleared its self by now.


    also, the iac only controls fast idle. has nothing to do with curb idle speed.

    its possible. but a lean code could take a while to trip. it would probably be to small for it to notice, the pcm will compensate with fuel trims. typically with a vac leak the idle speed will be higher.

    if you can see the cat at all, you should be able to see it 'glow' reguardless after driving. if it is indeed clogged it shouldnt take long of a drive to show up.

    Attached Files:

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  10. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Based on that logic, carbs would never need cleaned. And yet corn kills them all the time. Same can be true for injectors.

    Ethanol is evil when it's left to sit.
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  11. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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    that's true. but carb bowls are vented to air allowing them to gum up quicker. it is possible the nozzles could have some gum on them, can try some BG44k if you can find it
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  12. joe_cooled

    joe_cooled FEOA Member

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    Thanks for your responses.

    Since I last posted I have checked under the car 2 nights in a row after driving home from work which requires freeway and surface street driving for about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to do any other work on the car.

    I parked in a pitch-dark parking lot and looked under the car from the front and both sides. I wasn't able to see anything that even remotely looked like glowing along the exhaust.

    I'd also like to note that there have been two separate occurrences where the throttle has appeared to have lost all power upon making a sharp turn. This has happened on both left and right turns.

    I push anywhere from lightly to full throttle just after the turn and there is no response. The car doesn't die, but it doesn't go anywhere, either.

    Could this help narrow down the list of potential causes or is this a symptom of something else?

    Thank you again for your help.
  13. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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    i would start with a throttle position sensor. its located on the throttle body opposite from the throttle cable.
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  14. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

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    The right turn issue is slosh. You're probably just low on gas, that's like the 5 miles to empty for me. Edit: looks like it happens on left turns also, sorry bout that.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
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  15. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    The PCV system on the 98 is different than on the 01. I assume you had to keep the 98 version (PCV valve in front driver's corner of the engine or inline with the hose back to the intake manifold), but you would also have to use the 98 air intake hose from the air filter housing to the throttle body to plug in the check valve and 90° elbow from the valve cover. If you didn't use a check valve, that's the source of your big vacuum leak. Also, you have to run a hose with check valve from the nipple below the PCV valve to the lower air cleaner housing.
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  16. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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  17. joe_cooled

    joe_cooled FEOA Member

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    Thanks for your continued responses, everyone.
    I'll check this out. I found this how-to online and it seems like a legitimate way to test the sensor. Depending on the results perhaps I'll grab one from the junkyard and see if that makes a difference.

    http://troubleshootmyvehicle.com/ford/1.9L-2.0L/how-to-test-the-tp-sensor-1

    Thanks for this insight. I popped open the hood and took a look at the hoses connecting to the air intake, valve cover, and the rest of the PCV system.

    I don't recall using a check valve- in all honesty, I'm not sure exactly what that would look like on this system. I've recorded a video I took under the hood last night. Does anything here look "off" to you? I also attached a photo. Link below.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bx0uPMkKSDu8UFBOYTJUZ0FHR1k

    Thanks for this! I noticed that the thread also mentioned a loss of power on an incline- which is definitely one of the symptoms. Although, the car does still have a difficult time getting up to speed even on a flat surface street.

    Thank you again for your help, everyone.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  18. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    Everything in the video for the PCV system seems to be fine, and your intake hose is from the 98. You actually have a PCV valve that's labelled "PCV Valve"! The check valve is the black plastic thing at the end of the 90° rubber hose just below the PCV valve. It allows air to flow only towards the valve cover. If it allows significant air to flow towards the intake hose, you will have a leak (it's never a perfect seal when it gets old). Unplug it from the intake hose and blow and suck on it to test (yes, it's a dirty business we have here). The other end of that hose should be pushed all the way onto the valve cover nipple.

    Make sure the hose clamp at the throttle body is snug and the hose is fully pushed on. Make sure the little vacuum hose is attached to the bottom of the throttle body and goes toward the firewall without rotting and breaking.

    If you have a scanner with data readout, are there any active or pending codes? If you look at the data as you're driving, do any of the numbers seem out of whack, like very high or low fuel trims, or running in open loop instead of closed loop after about 30 seconds, or intake temps or coolant temps way above or below normal.
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