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  #1  
Old 12-20-2013, 09:56 AM
onetriphudson onetriphudson is offline
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Default 97 new plugs Misfiring/Sputter in 4th and 5th gear

Recently I bought a 1997 Ranger 2.3 with 208K miles on it. It has been driving great but recently the check engine light said I had a #2 misfire.

I picked up some plugs (autolite) and wires (bosch) and everything seemed to go well until the next day coming home from work. There is a steep hill and going up in fourth, with gas pedal fully depressed the engine would chug/stutter/miss. I found it would do this in fifth gear against a slight grade too. At idle, it would maybe sound like it was not running smooth but hard to tell as I couldnít be sure what it sounded like before. Maybe it was bad plugs, plugs not connected properly, wires bad, dist pack not working? I am not getting a check engine light though.

I pulled all the plugs to make sure they are clean and gapped properly. Then I tested the cables to be sure they were all working properly by swapping them or testing for resistance. I could find no clues until I got to the distributor pack. When I unplugged the driverís side distributor, leaving only the passenger side distributor delivering spark, the engine ran like crap and started to make an occasional bang sound somewhere in the exhaust (catalytic converter?). When I plugged the driverís side distributor back in and unplugged the passenger side, there was no noticeable change in the engine RPM. This lead me to think that the driverís side was fine, and there was a problem with spark being delivered to the passenger side, but which ones?

To test this idea I began unplugging individual plug wires at the distributor packs. First the driverís side #1 unplugged, noticeable drop in RPM. Then driverís side #2, noticeable drop in RPM. Then driverís side #3, no change and #4, no change in RPM. Comparing this new information to what I had learned unplugging the entire distributor, it favored the idea that the problem was on the passenger side and to prove this I simultaneously unplugged the same cords on both the driverís side and passenger side.

Unplugged both #1 plugs, noticeable drop in RPM Ė when passenger side was plugged in solo, no improvement. When drivers side plugged solo in the RPM increased. Proving passenger side was not firing.
Unplugged both #2 plugs, noticeable drop in RPM Ė when passenger side was plugged in solo, no improvement. When drivers side plugged in solo the RPM increased. Proving passenger side was not firing.
Unplugged both #3 plugs, noticeable drop in RPM Ė when passenger side was plugged in solo, the RPM increased. When drivers side plugged in solo the RPM increased. Proving both sides were firing.
Unplugged both #4 plugs, noticeable drop in RPM Ė when passenger side was plugged in solo, the RPM increased. When drivers side plugged in solo the RPM increased. Proving both sides were firing.

Now Iím ready to replace the distributor packs at $60 each just to check this off my list and see if it solves the problem. Originally I thought I had done something wrong, squeezing plugs and wires into such small spaces behind the intake manifold. This has been a real fiasco trying to work on this engine for the first time, but I will not give up until I get this little 2.3L running right.

All ideas and feedback are greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 12-20-2013, 11:56 AM
Mike In Bama Mike In Bama is offline
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Default

Put your wallet away just yet.


Pull your #2 plugs. In some really good light, inspect the ceramics closely. A lot of people on here have accidentally cracked the ceramic while installing the plug. It doesn't take a massive crack, usually it's an almost invisible hairline crack.

Looking is free.
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  #3  
Old 12-20-2013, 01:59 PM
onetriphudson onetriphudson is offline
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Default Re: 97 new plugs Misfiring/Sputter in 4th and 5th gear

Mike thank you for the quick reply. I went out to my truck today at lunch and exchanged the passenger side coil pack wire connections for #1 and #2. That fixed my problem, although I am quite sure that matched the original wire connection, it is running much smoother now.

In the future I will look closely at the plugs too. What should have been a quick simple job turned into a big headaches and I could've done without being shocked a couple times too while figuring this out!
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distributor, misfire, spark plug, wire

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