Can't get rid of my rough idle. Lifters???? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

Can't get rid of my rough idle. Lifters????

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by ethangsmith, May 24, 2009.

  1. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Ok, so I've replaced the fuel filter, spark plugs, plug wires, PCV valve, some bad vacuum lines, cleaned the fuel injectors, cleaned the throttle body, cleaned the IAC valve, Seafoamed the engine, and checked all my electrical connections and I still have a horrible rough idle. There is no misfire, it's just rough. What concerns me is that I have what sounds like a lifter tap at idle. I say "what sounds like" because I'm not sure that's what it is, but it sure sounds like it. For all of you that say it's a valve seat, it is NOT a valve seat failing. I know what they sound like and it is not that at all. How prone to failure are the lifters or rocker arms in these engines? My 99 has only 86K miles, but something in the engine really taps at idle. Also, when driving, the engine has a weird sound. Almost like a rod or main bearing noise, but for 12K miles, it has not gotten worse. I don't know if maybe it's the lifter causing this odd noise at all. Should I replace the lifters or should I be worried about the oil pump or failed bearings. From what I have been told, the bottom ends and rods in these cars are VERY good and the valvetrain is the weak link. Also, when I rev the engine to about 1200rpms and then let off, all the lifters clatter a bit. Could this be a worn timing belt or oil pump as well? Or just worn out lifters? Any thoughts would be great because this rough idle really sucks.
  2. white-lightning

    white-lightning FEOA Member

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    Put in a bottle of CD2 engine detergent. If the lifters are sticky that should help.
  3. Panameno

    Panameno FEOA Member

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    the best way to check the lifter it's when the car are cool, like in the morning after the whole night off.

    take out the rockers and take out or push the lifters with your finger, if someone have a play then change it, but make sure the oil port of the lifter are at the same side of the oil port of the block, sometimes the lifter only have one port on the side and someboy can put it wrong.

    Remember that the lifter have to keep the oil inside of it, if doesn't, it have a internal leak, change it, about 8 USD (here in mexico).

    Remember even the lifter are brand new it can be wrong, so when you bought them try to take out all the oil inside of it before you put it in the car, and make the same test next morning.

    best regards
  4. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    I had the engine rebuilt with a new head last year after a valve seat drop, and the engine idles smoothly even though there's definite lifter noise on the rebuilt head.

    I asked my mechanic to save the old parts (mostly gaskets) for my inspection. The original intake manifold gaskets showed definite signs of distortion and probable leakage in several spots.

    So, even though you've replaced the most likely source of vacuum leaks (PCV & vac hoses), it would be well worth replacing the intake manifold gaskets (there are two), and while you're at it, cleaning out the EGR valve port of built-up carbon.
  5. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I'm thinking about doing the intake gaskets. How hard are they to do? Also how hard is it to remove the EGR valve and clean it? I suspect that my engine, before I bought the car, dropped a valve seat. The head is very shiny and it appears that someone replaced the thermostat and radiator. Also, all of the bolts on the valve cover and intake have been turned. I wonder if someone rebuilt the head and reused the old lifters and now they clatter. What would make them clatter when I let off the gas? Slack in the valvetrain or a worn timing belt?
  6. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    Hydraulic lifters clatter when they don't remain pumped up with oil. The small gap left between the rocker arm and valve causes the clatter. It sounds awful, but it's likely not the cause of your lousy idle.

    The intake manifold is a typical PITA job as it is on all modern, FI engines in cramped quarters. Remove the throttle body, disconnect the fuel lines, remove the FI rail and injectors, remove the dipstick, disconnect the EGR tube, drain the radiator a little, disconnect the SPI connector, remove about 10 nuts holding the IM on studs, remove the IM and SPI controller and you're done. Ten, fifteen minutes tops <g>.

    The EGR tube is a PITA because the nut holding the EGR tube to the valve is large, tight and difficult to get at. But it, too, is not the cause of your bad idle. It's just a good idea to clean it while you're doing the IM. Use some anti-sieze when re-assembling.

    What do you mean when you say the bolts were "turned"? You mean rounded off?
  7. pextor

    pextor Moderator Staff Member

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    he means you can tell it's been apart before.
  8. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Bingo. What are the symtoms of a failing oil pump?
  9. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Here we are a few months later and the lifter tap has not gone away. I took the valve cover off about a month ago and found that 2 of the lifters were no good. Both were on the #4 cylinder. The rocker arm wiggled around easily and you could push the lifter down real easy. I replaced them with 2 good lifters. The noise never went away. I am probably going to end up taking the car to the garage to have them check oil pressure and volume out of the pump. I have a suspicion that the car has low oil pressure, especially at idle. I think this is also the source of my excessively rough idle.
  10. aidan80

    aidan80 New Member

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    My car still has a rough idle, it idled perfect when i bought it. Left it in to have the A/C replaced and it idles so rough after that I didn't want to drive it. They fixed as much as they could find but was still rough. I found and fixed some vacuum leaks, replaced the IAC, had it checked out time and again for leaks and there are none. It does idle a lot better now but still not smooth.

    I've all but given up on finding out whats causing the rough idle. At the point I'll just put up with it till I sell the thing. No point putting more money than the stupid car is worth into fixing something that's near impossible to find.

    I've hunted all over the internet trying to find the rough idle ghost and I've read posts, stories and blogs where people have spent a small fortune trying to fix this issue only to never actually get it right. I think something is badly wrong with these cars for so many to do this and what ever it is it's lost on most trying to find it.
  11. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Well, unfortunately, the garage found the source of my rough idle. That lifter tick I was talking about- yea, it wasn't a lifter tick at all. It was my #3 piston bouncing up and down on the end of the connecting rod because the wrist pin failed. So now the car is in the shop getting the engine torn apart and the wrist pin replaced. With any luck, this was the source of my rough idle as well. Can't wait to get it back and take it out for a spin!!
  12. aidan80

    aidan80 New Member

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    I hope that fixes it, it'd be nice to see the rough idle killed off on at least one of these cars!

    Good luck!
  13. Sammie

    Sammie New Member

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    You mentioned ..."Also, when driving, the engine has a weird sound".

    I'm curious if this is the same as with my car......I have a '99 SE. Does the engine roar constantly....when driving....getting louder the faster you drive???
  14. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Wasn't really a roar. It was more of a hollow knock sound on acceleration. Shoulda known it was a piston. The car did run roughly through the whole rpm range though and at high rpm almost had a roar to it because of how bad it vibrated. Can't wait to get it back and have a smooth, quiet running engine!!
  15. Sammie

    Sammie New Member

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    Hmmmm....I don't have the knocking......just the constant loud roar of the engine and lots of vibration at highway speed.....idle is normal but the engine still vibrates roughly while idling....luckily you have a good mechanic!
  16. skaterbro

    skaterbro New Member

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    Ethan, hope they get it fixed right. Good to see you didn't just give up on it.

    Sammie, replace your drivebelt with a Goodyear Gatorback. At 25 bucks it's an easy part to replace and cheap insurance.
  17. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Well, the 99 sedan is back. Here is what happend and where the engine stands now:

    -The head was damaged in several ways. There were damaged valve seats, valve guides, and combustion chambers. The head was totally rebuilt.
    -The pistons all had bad bearings. One piston had cracked rings. All pistons and rods were checked for proper dimensions, re-ringed, and new rod bearings installed.
    -From the loose bearings and cracked ring, the cylinder bores are damaged. The shop removed the ridge at the top of the cylinder bores and cleaned the bores up but did not re-bore it because it would have cost more than what the car is worth.
    -The engine still knocks at idle, but no longer has bearing noise. It also runs smoother and has a lot more power. There is nothing but replacing the block or re-boring and rebuilding that will get rid of the knock. It is fine to drive and run and will last a long time the way it is. All it is is the pistons clacking in the bores a small amount due to the wear.
  18. Dave94LX

    Dave94LX FEOA Donator

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    glad to hear you have it back. It's amazing that it had an issue like that with such low milage. I've owned a handful of Escorts over the years, and never had issues like that. Worst I ever had was a blown tranny... and I bought the car from Pextor knowing it was bad. Best $50 I spent in a long time!
  19. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I think the previous owner may not have been doing oil changes or something. The amount of damage that is done to that engine is more like it would have 300,000 miles on it or something. I am the second owner of the car (verified by the title) so whoever had it before me must have whipped the crap out of it before selling it. What is odd is that the body and everything else on it are in awesome shape. Go figure. I just don't have much luck with Escorts. My first wagon had TONS of issues, my 99 has a bad engine, and my 94 has lots of little gremlins. Once I get some money back in my bank account, I'm probably going to be going out and looking at other Escorts (there's a low mileage 02 fleet sedan over in Ephrata) to see if I can at least replace the 94 wagon. But I do still want to replace the belt on it before I try to sell it. I don't like selling cars that have problems.
  20. pextor

    pextor Moderator Staff Member

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    I didn't see the sedan at Allan's last time I went past, unless he was driving it himself.

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