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Posted: 1/7/2015 1:15:46 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/19/2015 10:32:32 AM EST by Solace22]
Need some advice from you guys about an automotive issue that rears its ugly head every so often without warning.
Vehicle is a 2004 Ford Escape v6 automatic front wheel drive.
Randomly it will lose power (engine power not electrical power) and is barely driveable. Eventually a code will kick showing a missfire on a random cylinder.
This engine has a coil over each plug. So to troubleshoot we swap a coil to another cylinder and see if the issue follows. Sometimes it does sometimes it does not.
Eventually we track it down to something or it just resolves itself and everything is fine for 6 months or a year or 3 weeks it seems very random.
Its not my vehicle and its been a while since Ive looked at it but I seem to remember excessive surface rust in one of the spark plug locations. Ill have to double check on that.
One thing that always seems to be consistent is this usually occurs when it has rained or is raining. The car could be parked for a weekend and you start it and its misfiring right away.
We just cant help but think water/moisture has to have something to do with it. But how and why?
Ill be working on it in a day or two, cylinder 1 misfire of course its on the back of the motor so ill swap the coil at least to somewhere up front and see what I get ill take some pics if I see excessive rust somewhere.


Update:
Funny timing on things, sunday was supposed to be the "warmest day" we had and it rained ice the whole time I was working on it. On top of that the alternator in my truck died on the way there. Luckily I made it and fixed my truck in no time. On to the Escape...
Rust: there was rust way down in several of the spots where the coils lay. We got some of the grease to put on and it definitely looked like a moisture issue. I swapped the coil from the back to the front and buttoned it back up. The battery had died and we tried unsuccessfully to charge it (have a battery tender mounted in the truck and let it charge while working on it) no go though. Battery replaced. Vehicle runs then dies after a minute or so, still has a miss. No Check engine light yet though, I did see two "pending" codes (not yet trigger CEL but going to) and they were for the o/2's stuck in lean mode I think it was code s2195 and s2197. Which I expected with the misfire. Its my sisters car and I told her not to try and drive it and dont rev it up if it is dieing. I told her to start it in the morning before she goes to class and when she gets back but she doesnt need to let it run long enough to kill the engine but hoping it would trigger the CEL so I could see if our misfire moved to the new cylinder. Any other ideas? I really wish I was better with a multimeter and we would just check the coil but I just dont know enough about them to do it. (its sad too because they "taught" us in college but it was not enough real world use.)
Link Posted: 1/7/2015 4:52:09 PM EST
check all your electrical connections - sounds like a cracked/intermittent connection

symptoms are very similar to what used to happen with a cracked distributor cap

Link Posted: 1/7/2015 6:37:27 PM EST
I believe this vehicle uses a TAC (throttle actuator control) system that uses a electric motor to open and close the throttle plate rather than the old cable style. These Ford TACs often have issues with wires coming loose in the connector. If equipped, check the actuator wiring for loose or damaged wires and if none found...use some dielectric grease to seal the connection and see if symptom reoccurs. YMMV / SWAG.

Is it a 4x4? 'Cause if it is there are a couple other potential issues.
Link Posted: 1/7/2015 7:37:52 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Anarius:
I believe this vehicle uses a TAC (throttle actuator control) system that uses a electric motor to open and close the throttle plate rather than the old cable style. These Ford TACs often have issues with wires coming loose in the connector. If equipped, check the actuator wiring for loose or damaged wires and if none found...use some dielectric grease to seal the connection and see if symptom reoccurs. YMMV / SWAG.

Is it a 4x4? 'Cause if it is there are a couple other potential issues.
View Quote


Ill double check the throttle plate thing, i think it is cable though.
it is front wheel drive.
Link Posted: 1/7/2015 7:39:31 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Whizzinator:
check all your electrical connections - sounds like a cracked/intermittent connection

symptoms are very similar to what used to happen with a cracked distributor cap

View Quote



thats what I thought too. or something just is off enough to slowly kill coils over time.
I cant remember what cylinder it was last time but its #1 this time. Its really cold here and I dont have a garage to work in so if I can catch a warm day im going to try and get over and swap things around and see what I get.
Link Posted: 1/7/2015 7:59:19 PM EST
I am not familiar with that engine but I have experienced similar issues like you mention on multiple other vehicles.

Are the spark plugs recessed into the valve cover(s) and the spark plug boot fits way down inside? Do the spark plugs have brownish stains on them below the boot and above the hex portion of the plug?

If so, I have seen moisture collect there under conditions like you mention. To fix it, first cleaned the area with rags, wd40 and then brake cleaner. I then replaced the plugs with new plugs (use the exact same plugs that would have come in the car originally) and wires. Using a copious amount of dielectric grease on the plugs, boot where is mates to the plug, and up the outer diameter where it fits into the head/valve cover.

That has solved the problems for me on two different motors from two different manufactures with recessed plugs. The moisture collects down in the recess since the boots don't perfectly seal. Cleaning all the moisture out (wd40), all the grease and wd40 (brake clean) and using the dielectric grease helps seal it up.
Link Posted: 1/7/2015 8:32:16 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/7/2015 8:39:03 PM EST by Anarius]
Alright, I looked and it seems the '04 was still on manual throttle control. Ford coils are FAMOUS for being an issue on this car, and it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case. However, you COULD also be dealing with a restricted catalytic converter...Thats gonna be a tough one to diagnose as a DIYer. If you have a vacuum gauge and can get a reading off of it when the problem presents...putting a gauge on it will guarantee the little shit never acts up again.



Link Posted: 1/8/2015 8:32:40 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By PARover:
I am not familiar with that engine but I have experienced similar issues like you mention on multiple other vehicles.

Are the spark plugs recessed into the valve cover(s) and the spark plug boot fits way down inside? Do the spark plugs have brownish stains on them below the boot and above the hex portion of the plug?

If so, I have seen moisture collect there under conditions like you mention. To fix it, first cleaned the area with rags, wd40 and then brake cleaner. I then replaced the plugs with new plugs (use the exact same plugs that would have come in the car originally) and wires. Using a copious amount of dielectric grease on the plugs, boot where is mates to the plug, and up the outer diameter where it fits into the head/valve cover.

That has solved the problems for me on two different motors from two different manufactures with recessed plugs. The moisture collects down in the recess since the boots don't perfectly seal. Cleaning all the moisture out (wd40), all the grease and wd40 (brake clean) and using the dielectric grease helps seal it up.
View Quote



yeah they are recessed in there and the boot goes way down inside and over them. Ill check for brown stains or rust when i work on it. Sunday is the next warmest day im shooting for.
Link Posted: 1/9/2015 7:28:16 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Solace22:



yeah they are recessed in there and the boot goes way down inside and over them. Ill check for brown stains or rust when i work on it. Sunday is the next warmest day im shooting for.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Solace22:
Originally Posted By PARover:
I am not familiar with that engine but I have experienced similar issues like you mention on multiple other vehicles.

Are the spark plugs recessed into the valve cover(s) and the spark plug boot fits way down inside? Do the spark plugs have brownish stains on them below the boot and above the hex portion of the plug?

If so, I have seen moisture collect there under conditions like you mention. To fix it, first cleaned the area with rags, wd40 and then brake cleaner. I then replaced the plugs with new plugs (use the exact same plugs that would have come in the car originally) and wires. Using a copious amount of dielectric grease on the plugs, boot where is mates to the plug, and up the outer diameter where it fits into the head/valve cover.

That has solved the problems for me on two different motors from two different manufactures with recessed plugs. The moisture collects down in the recess since the boots don't perfectly seal. Cleaning all the moisture out (wd40), all the grease and wd40 (brake clean) and using the dielectric grease helps seal it up.



yeah they are recessed in there and the boot goes way down inside and over them. Ill check for brown stains or rust when i work on it. Sunday is the next warmest day im shooting for.
Get some pictures of the plugs if you can. Like I said, getting rid of the current moisture and getting dielectric grease in there to keep it out and prevent arcing down the boot to the plug shell or valve cover sounds like it will do it.

Good luck OP!
Link Posted: 1/14/2015 8:10:20 PM EST
Can't get vehicle to throw misfire code. Any ideas?
Link Posted: 1/14/2015 10:15:54 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/14/2015 10:17:38 PM EST by Anarius]
Well, Ford kinda "cheats" their OBD codes and its really, really hard to get them to set a misfire, especially for one cylinder. I read the update in your post, about it running for 1 minute and shutting down. Is it running VERY poorly? You mentioned the battery was flat dead, so there should be no codes stored, but you got lean b1 codes? Those codes should not be able to set unless the vehicle is in "closed loop", which requires running long enough for the cat to lite off....which is much longer than a minute or two in this weather.

Is it possible you have a large vacuum leak? A PCV hose left loose or cracked? On the V6 you should be removing the plenum to access the rear plugs...bad gasket? The EGR tube can be a real pain in the ass to seal properly as well. Also, on the rear passenger corner you should have the vac lines to and from the EGR control solenoid. A quick and easy way to find a vacuum leak without potentially blowing your face off with carb clean is to listen through a hose as you move one end around potential vacuum leaks. If you have a "mechanics stethoscope" and take the probe off the end it works great.
Link Posted: 1/15/2015 2:31:27 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/15/2015 3:13:05 PM EST by Solace22]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Anarius:
Well, Ford kinda "cheats" their OBD codes and its really, really hard to get them to set a misfire, especially for one cylinder. I read the update in your post, about it running for 1 minute and shutting down. Is it running VERY poorly? You mentioned the battery was flat dead, so there should be no codes stored, but you got lean b1 codes? Those codes should not be able to set unless the vehicle is in "closed loop", which requires running long enough for the cat to lite off....which is much longer than a minute or two in this weather.

Is it possible you have a large vacuum leak? A PCV hose left loose or cracked? On the V6 you should be removing the plenum to access the rear plugs...bad gasket? The EGR tube can be a real pain in the ass to seal properly as well. Also, on the rear passenger corner you should have the vac lines to and from the EGR control solenoid. A quick and easy way to find a vacuum leak without potentially blowing your face off with carb clean is to listen through a hose as you move one end around potential vacuum leaks. If you have a "mechanics stethoscope" and take the probe off the end it works great.
View Quote


Was down there today, had her buy a new coil, luckily they are 60$ now instead of 120$. Threw it on where the suspect coil was and no change. It ran rough and will eventually die.
It threw two codes, which were the pending ones from before, p2195 and p2197.
per engine-codes.com possible causes are:
Possible causes
- Faulty Front Heated Oxygen Sensor Bank 1
- Front Heated Oxygen Sensor Bank 1 harness is open or shorted
- Front Heated Oxygen Sensor Bank 1 circuit poor electrical connection
- Inappropriate fuel pressure
- Faulty fuel injectors
- Intake air leaks may be faulty
- Vacuums leaks

I will probably start with the fuel part of this and check the plugs, especially on cylinder 1 where the CEL showed the misfire was originally.

ill double check for any vacuum leaks, but they are doubtful. This is the 3rd or 4th time we have been down this road with this vehicle.

im concerned the cats are clogged up at this point killing the engine with backed up exhaust, thoughts?

found a thread online and a guy replaced nearly everything on the car. Turns out wiring harness was backwards. something ill have to check.
Link Posted: 1/15/2015 5:02:59 PM EST
A clogged catalyst CAN cause your issue, the easiest way to check is with a vacuum gauge. But with the engine running so poorly, the readings will be inaccurate no matter the condition of the cats. You can remove the pre-catalyst 02 sensors to relieve back pressure if you want to, just make sure you reroute any wiring or hoses that could be damaged by blasts of hot air. It will be pretty loud, FWIW.

If you raise the vehicle off of idle, what happens? If its clogged cats it will usually run worse (or stall). If it is a vacuum leak, it will usually run better. What happens if you run it with the MAF (Mass air sensor) unplugged? It may take a few tries to start with it unplugged, or it may stall if you unplug it while running, but does it run better once you get it running with no MAF? A senile mass air flow sensor will not generally set a code as long as its still reading. It could be "lying" to the PCM, indicating less air than is actually entering the engine. That will also cause the 02 codes, as the PCM will always believe the MAF readings over the 02 readings.

I doubt its a fuel pressure issue, as Ford will usually set a code for that, and their fuel pumps on those return less systems last dang near forever (never say never though) but a fuel quality issue may be a potential cause.
Link Posted: 1/15/2015 8:52:27 PM EST
higher rpms seem fine and you cant tell there is a misfire. we havent revved it much though for fear of killing/clogged cats.
Link Posted: 1/16/2015 8:11:38 PM EST
If the cats were clogged you would now know. Double /triple / quadruple check for a vac leak. Any difference with the MAF unplugged?
Link Posted: 1/18/2015 11:52:30 AM EST
Check the color of the oil and the coolant. I had similar symtoms when I had a gasket leak. You might see milky oil (water in it) or gunk in the coolant (oil).

My car killed two O2 sensors and had all kinds of not so easy to diagnose power problems and never once threw a code about it.

Get one of those cheap readers that talks to a computer or phone and watch the computer output in real time. That might shed some light on the situation.
Link Posted: 1/19/2015 10:32:12 AM EST
UPDATE:
issue resolved, vehicle is driveable again.
We forgot to plug a hose into the side of the intake plenum, once i plugged it in everything was fine. So the issue originally was the coil. Im going to seal off these coils when warmer weather gets here. Thanks for all the input and follow ups.
Ill remember if miss is at idle only its usually a vacuum leak.
Link Posted: 1/19/2015 9:34:19 PM EST
Good news!

Remember Dielectric grease is your friend.
Link Posted: 1/19/2015 9:40:48 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/19/2015 9:41:01 PM EST by Anarius]
Good! Now change the oil to get all the crap that got into it out.
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