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How long did the engine run the last time before pulling the sensor? Every time it starts up the sensor gets a bit sooty, which burns off after a short length of time.

"Ultra-clean Environment", interesting. What exactly is that? Outside, if it's not windy or dusty, cleaning parts in solvent and wiping down with clean paper towels might well be extremely clean. It would be interesting to ask the "Ultra-clean Environment" people details about their personal experiences with overhauling lifters.
Of course cleanliness is important, but ordinary care is probably sufficient.
 

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Had a cold engine spark knock under load on my second gen. I think the heater failed on the oxygen sensor. Cold engine spark knock under load, went away after replacing that sensor. Wasn't sooty or anything that I remember... which would make since if it were running lean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
How long did the engine run the last time before pulling the sensor? Every time it starts up the sensor gets a bit sooty, which burns off after a short length of time.

"Ultra-clean Environment", interesting. What exactly is that? Outside, if it's not windy or dusty, cleaning parts in solvent and wiping down with clean paper towels might well be extremely clean. It would be interesting to ask the "Ultra-clean Environment" people details about their personal experiences with overhauling lifters.
Of course cleanliness is important, but ordinary care is probably sufficient.
The last time? Maybe 5 mins.

The Code 41 was verified in the last week using the new Code reader, but the "check engine" light has been coming on the past 2 weeks. The first time the "check engine" light came on I shut the vehicle down for a minute and then started it back up and the light never came back. The second time it came on I decided to park it until I could figure out what the issue was. As I was searching for the ticking noise the vehicle would run in the garage for 4-5 mins and then I would see the "check engine" light come on. Today the sensor arrived, I replaced it, and after a few test drives no more "check engine" light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Well, I am stumped to the point of not sure what to do next. The car is running quieter after replacing 4 new lifters with 4 old lifters that I cleaned, but not a huge improvement. The 4 new " recently replaced lifters", located at cylinders #3 and #4' were from the same box. The buttons were always "springy" under finger pressure when the rocker arms were removed. The other 4 new lifters, located at cylinders #1 and #2, were always solid under finger pressure. Originally, after replacing all the old lifters and still hearing a ticking noise I went through the following process a few times - check the lifters buttons with finger pressure, run the engine, check the lifters buttons again, clean the lifters, re-install, run the engine... After each check, with the engine idling and using the stethoscope, it seemed noisier at cylinders #3 and #4. That's why I tried going back to the old cleaned- up lifters for those cylinders.

Now I will take a wait-and-see approach. If it doesn't get any worse and no other issues pop-up I will have to live with it. Other than that one morning when it wouldn't start, it has been easy starting ever since. Still don't know what the starting issue was... Got rid of the Code 41. KOEO, KOER, and the cylinder power balance tests all come back as a "pass". No back-firing, no idling issues, no stalling, no metal loose around the exhaust, just an annoying ticking sound when hard accelerating above a certain speed or revving the engine when idling.

I will update this thread if anything materializes.

Until then, thanks for the assistance, it was greatly appreciated.
 

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I would guess that once the rocker arms are removed, all lifters should press down about the same amount - though it may be only half a millimeter. The ones that go further down may have crud on the check-ball that is on the bottom of the 'inner' lifter part, allowing the lifter to depress too easily. These might well be the ones resulting in the clickety click.
But at engine speed when driving on the highway they might still work well enough to have compression in the affected cylinders. And even when doing a compression check the conditions are different from an engine pulling you along the highway; i.e.much slower when the starter is doing the turning.
I agree with joey-twowagons about the pleasure of taking lifters apart out of the engine, to clean them up and de-varnish the surfaces. Then listening to the noisy clatter till the lifters all get filled up again.
Also, since they are hydraulic lifters, why should there be ANY clearance between the top of the lifter and the rocker arm; though with a valve that is fully closed you might be able to wiggle the rocker arm a little where it rests on the lifter top.
I presume you have made sure the rollers on the bottom of each lifter is free to spin, and that the small axle it rides on is not trying to come out sideways. This can damage the lifter bore if it happens. It seems to be pretty rare though. I have replaced one lifter whose axle was no longer tight in place - out of 8 escort heads and 64 lifters that I have worked on.
Carbon build up on the nose of the O2 sensor is normal. And with a 2nd gen I cant imagine there would be any indication/code that would help with diagnosing ticking noises. The OBD-I (aka EEC-4) is not nearly that sophisticated.
 

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Here's a long shot - could the little oil fill hole on the lifters be clogged? I did have one that had a tiny loose nodule of aluminum (presumably from the head casting) clogging that hole.

The hole is a tiny one on the side of the lifter that allows oil to be sucked in when the lifter is on the base circle of the cam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Just to recap, upon initial discovery of the noise all 8 lifters were replaced. Nonetheless, the noise persisted. After checking for other noise sources and not finding anything I kept going back to the lifters. I checked the new lifters and the four at cylinders #1 and #2 were different from #3 and #4. The difference was the lifter buttons in #1 and #2 were solid to finger pressure where #3 and #4 were not.
Bad new lifters in #3 and #4? I don’t know.
So I experimented and cleaned 4 old lifters to replace the 4 new ( soaked in xylene overnight and then soaked in oil).
Noise still persists but no noticeable performance issues.
So now I reluctantly await the car to give me another clue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Wow - just posted the last reply a few minutes ago and then decided to go on another hunt for possible causes of my engine noise. Found this video and I think I might have found my answer:


That sounds a lot like what I’ve been hearing. Plus my “CHECK COOLANT” light has come on in the past but it hasn’t always been because the level is low, just glitching (sometimes comes on, then goes off minutes later). The other day the coolant indicator light came on and I had to add a little…
A crack between cylinders #3 and #4? That seems to be where the noise leads my stethoscope. I will pay close attention to my coolant level and see how fast it drops.
 

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Haven't stopped in much, and am late to this thread.
I have, however, read the entire thread.

Here are some highlights, from where I sit:

a. Noise does not change characteristics when the serpentine belt is pulled.
b. Noise supposedly goes away when pulling the #1 spark plug wire.
c. Changing to new lifters had no significant effect.
d. From video evidence, noise sounds sort of like lifter(s) when filmed from the top, but...
e. ...When filmed from below, the noise is much louder, and more a knock than a tick.

You know it is absolutely, positively not an accessory noise.
You have good reason to believe it is not a lifter noise (but you keep circling back there).
You know it is louder and of different character when observed from below (and not from the insulated, upper observation point).

Here is my educated opinion, as a former mechanic and well-experienced 2nd gen owner:

The noise is not tickety-tickety-tick, it is knockity-knockity-knock.
Just because it sounds like that [ticking] from above, that does not make it reality. To diagnose, listen to the engine from the loudest, clearest vantage point.

I have personally pulled a gen2 engine that I was SURE had a bearing knock, only to find a cracked flex plate.
If the noise TRULY goes away when pulling the #1 spark plug wire, you have a serious internal issue at that end of the engine,
or the change in load harmonics is masking / mitigating the movement of a cracked flex plate.

Note that a flex plate generally cracks in a rough circle around the footprint of the crank flange,
and usually can't be identified without pulling the engine (or dropping the transaxle).

Sorry I can't provide to you a more upbeat, less severe diagnosis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Haven't stopped in much, and am late to this thread.
I have, however, read the entire thread.

Here are some highlights, from where I sit:

a. Noise does not change characteristics when the serpentine belt is pulled.
b. Noise supposedly goes away when pulling the #1 spark plug wire.
c. Changing to new lifters had no significant effect.
d. From video evidence, noise sounds sort of like lifter(s) when filmed from the top, but...
e. ...When filmed from below, the noise is much louder, and more a knock than a tick.

You know it is absolutely, positively not an accessory noise.
You have good reason to believe it is not a lifter noise (but you keep circling back there).
You know it is louder and of different character when observed from below (and not from the insulated, upper observation point).

Here is my educated opinion, as a former mechanic and well-experienced 2nd gen owner:

The noise is not tickety-tickety-tick, it is knockity-knockity-knock.
Just because it sounds like that [ticking] from above, that does not make it reality. To diagnose, listen to the engine from the loudest, clearest vantage point.

I have personally pulled a gen2 engine that I was SURE had a bearing knock, only to find a cracked flex plate.
If the noise TRULY goes away when pulling the #1 spark plug wire, you have a serious internal issue at that end of the engine,
or the change in load harmonics is masking / mitigating the movement of a cracked flex plate.

Note that a flex plate generally cracks in a rough circle around the footprint of the crank flange,
and usually can't be identified without pulling the engine (or dropping the transaxle).

Sorry I can't provide to you a more upbeat, less severe diagnosis.
Wow - that was an awesome reduction!
Ok, give it to me straight doc, how much longer do you think she has🤕
Seriously though, no other obvious symptoms than noise right now. As the patient’s illness progresses, what will happen next?
And if money were no object (wishful thinking) can I intervene now and salvage what I have or is this a complete rebuild already?
 

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If I had a crystal ball, I would be buying lottery tickets, instead of consulting into my retirement years.
No one knows, not even this interwebz blowhard, how long you have.

If the issue is a broken flex plate, correction of the issue has no difference in cost between pre-emptive and post-failure repair...
...ignoring the cost of a tow and the cost of being stranded in cold weather.

If the issue is a serious internal failure... the car is mechanically totalled.
A free labor DIY repair (used engine or short block swap) may keep the car on the road.
The silver lining is that head gasket or head failures generally put these cars in the bone yard...
...leaving acceptable used short blocks on the market (assuming this IS a lower end knock).

Were it my car, I would drive it [no further than I was willing to walk back from] until it completely failed...
...but where I live, we keep our snow in the mountains, where it belongs.
That approach may not be applicable for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
gen2steve - like the others before you, I appreciate the feedback. My kids drive this car so walking will never be an option. Getting a call at two in the morning to come pick them up is :)
Ok, so until the fat lady starts singing I’m just driving it within city limits and seeing how long it goes.
Whatever happens I will keep you guys updated!
 
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