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  #1  
Old 06-28-2017, 11:50 AM
SebastianTH1 SebastianTH1 is offline
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Default 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

Sorry if this has been discussed to death, but I feel like I've read every thread I could find.

I've got a 96 2.3 5 speed, and it has absolutely no power, also only gets 13-15mpg on the highway. 5th is useless unless I'm going down hill, and 4th tops out​ around 65-70 on flat ground. Other than no power, engine runs perfect, no misfires, idles steady around 750 when warm. Engine responds to throttle quickly in neutral, overall, it seems to run just fine, until you try to drive it.

Although, I've noticed that if I start it and immediately start to drive it, it seems to drive normal for around 30 seconds before returning to low power. It does this both from cold start, and hot start.

I've tried
-cam timing, it's spot on, crank at tdc according to timing cover marks, cam triangles lined up, oil pump diamonds lined up, not off a single tooth. When I first checked it, cam and oil pump we're advanced one tooth, redid timing belt and it actually has a little less power now
-ohm ecm temp sensor, 3.1kohm when warm
-confirmed no exhaust restriction
-unplugged O2 sensor, made no difference other than low idle after coming to stop
-unplugged ecm temp sensor, smelled strongly of fuel, had to hold pedal to floor to start engine, engine ran the same
-sparkplug wires are routed correctly
-unplugged each coil one at a time, engine ran worse each time for around 5 seconds then kinda smoothed out
-unplugged maf, engine ran worse, nearly stalled
-unplugged tps, same as maf
-checked everywhere for vacuum leak, found nothing
-new air filter

I reset codes, drove it two days and pulled codes again.

P1443
P1000

I also pulled p0141 p0230 p0231, but the truck currently has no cat until I replace it, and I pulled the fuel pump relay so I could change the fuel filter.

Long term fuel trim was 22.6+ last I checked, short term is usually less than 5+/-. Maf read 0.64 lbm/min at warm idle, didn't think to rev it at the time.

My current suspects are
-maf
-slipped harmonic dampener possible making crank pulley tdc mark off?
-ecm
-i have a new fuel filter I need to install, but I doubt that's it

I plan on testing tps and maf voltage sometime once I fix the exhaust.

I'll add more info as I get it/remember it, and I'll post the solution if I ever figure it out. If anyone has any ideas, I would greatly appreciate it, this is driving me nuts, the slightest incline on the highway reduces me to 50 in third.

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1993 Ford Ranger XL, M5OD-R1 5-speed, 3.0 Vulcan V6, 3.45 open diff, very beat-up, bought for $375.
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  #2  
Old 06-29-2017, 02:00 AM
EaOutlaw1969 EaOutlaw1969 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

If this truck was mine the very first test I would do is a compression test.

I expect to see low compression on all the cylinders if the timing belt is installed incorrectly.

So if you notice low compression, do not worry about it just write down your findings and continue testing.

While you have the spark plugs out verify TDC on compression stroke for number one cylinder. ( if you need help with this just ask )

Once you know for sure number one piston is at TDC on the compression stroke, pull your timing belt cover and verify all the timing marks line up properly.

Make sure to remove the fuel filter, drain it then try to blow through it.

If it looks old or seems clogged replace it with the new one you purchased.

A severely clogged fuel filter can cause a loss of power and a rich condition at idle and a lean condition while driving.

How did you confirm that the trucks exhaust is not restricted ?
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  #3  
Old 06-29-2017, 04:34 AM
tomw0 tomw0 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

My first thoughts for things to check were 1)fuel flow volume 2)air filter and 3)exhaust restriction.
If fuel flow volume was low, the engine would starve for fuel at higher rpms.
If the air filter was plugged, the MAF would note the flow, inform the computer to cut fuel, and the O2 should note there is 'normal' exhaust mix, just less of it.
If it runs normal for 30 seconds after startup, an exhaust restriction could have bled off back pressure which would be low immediately after startup.

If the ignition timing was off, I'd expect lack of power at low rpms, and then a 'wake up' at higher rpms, or the other way around, good power low, but lacking at high rpms.
Restricted fuel flow covers all bets, I think.
tom
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  #4  
Old 06-29-2017, 07:22 AM
SebastianTH1 SebastianTH1 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

As of now, I'm waiting for cat/pipe to come in so I can continue testing it.

I disconnected the exhaust before the cat and muffler to verify it wasn't a clogged exhaust. My exhaust was kinda rusty, and whoever last worked on it decided it would be better as one piece from manifold to tailpipe, so I'm replacing it while it's apart.

The fuel system is one thing I haven't gotten around to testing yet. I assumed if the engine were getting too much, or too little fuel, it would throw a code. I'm going to change out the fuel filter, and also test fuel pressure, volume, and whether or not it holds pressure when I shut it off.


The truck has a new air filter, so I don't believe the intake is restricted. Although, there were some acorns in the filter housing when I replaced it. I'll have to double check that the plastic assembly between the filter and the beginning of the intake aren't clogged with some squirrel nest thing.

I'm leaning towards it being more of an electrical/sensor type issue. The main reason being that it runs damn near perfect for the first 30 seconds after being started, whether it's a cold motor, or I just shut it off and immediately restarted it. Although, perhaps that's because the fuel pump primes everytime it starts, and the pressure built up during priming is what makes it run decent.

I'll try to figure a little more out. Does anyone know if there are PDF shop manuals available? Also, what all sensors feed the computer info before the engine warms up?

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  #5  
Old 07-01-2017, 02:20 AM
EaOutlaw1969 EaOutlaw1969 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

Again you need to run a compression test, or at least you need to double check the timing belt.

When installing a timing belt on these motors, it is easy to get it off a tooth or two.

I am 99-100 percent sure you will find the timing belt is not installed correctly.

The timing belt alone may not be the only problem your having yet I am sure you need to double check it.

When installing the timing belt you have to align the crank to TDC as you did and get the oil pump timing mark aligned which you did.

Then the cam gear needs to be rotated one tooth or so clockwise past the mark the belt gets installed then the cam gets rotated counterclockwise to align the marks.

With slight tension being applied to the cam bolt then you release the belt tensioner setting the proper tension on the timing belt.

Once you are happy with all the timing marks you lock down the tensioner.

If you did not do this I guarantee you, the timing marks are off.
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2017, 07:48 AM
Grumpa Grumpa is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

P1443 is what my truck had when I got it. Did some research on it. Fixed the situation and truck ran totally different. Fuel trims within specs, mpg went up etc. I think you should make sure you can resolve any DTC's first then if necessary, do further testing if the situation isn't resolved. Definitely recheck the cam timing as suggested! Very important!
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1995 Ranger XLT 3.0L OBDII
Trans: A4LD (E) 2WD
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Up to 225,500 miles
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  #7  
Old 07-01-2017, 08:02 AM
LargeR LargeR is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

hey, your first post indicates long term fuel trim is lean by 22%, start by looking there. Check that you have adequate fuel pressure and keep the gauge on it while driving. If that checks out look for unmetered air getting into the system. A faulty evap system could cause a lean condition so fix the cel while you're at it. Good luck

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'99 Ex-Ranger 2wd XLT 5.0, Explorer V8 and auto transmission swap, floor shifter from Nissan Altima Parts, aluminum radiator & electric fan, OBX headers, 3" custom exhaust, explorer roof rack, 2006 mirrors, cut front 60/40 seat to buckets, 4 in lift spindles up front and shackles in back
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  #8  
Old 07-20-2017, 12:44 PM
SebastianTH1 SebastianTH1 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

I finally got the parts to fix the exhaust, so I figured I'd post a small update.

I replaced the front O2 sensor along with the exhaust, it was throwing a heat circuit code. I also replaced the fuel filter.

So there are a few developments that contradict my first post.

-does not run fine for first thirty seconds, not sure if it was a placebo or maybe it actually did this before
-i messed with the gas ventilation Purge valve stuff(I put everything back) and the truck has no codes after resetting the computer and driving for a few miles, although I expect that to change
-unplugged maf while idling, no change until I revved it, it revved up very slowly, smoothly with no misfires. Did the same after I plugged it back in. Still no power with maf unplugged. Haven't turned it off and back on again to see if it continues to do it.

I did get a chance to test maf voltage
*1.05-1.15 idle(600 rpm according to gauge)
*1.5ish at 1500
*1.9ish at 2500

One thing I noticed, the front coil is routed to the intake spark plugs, which I read are the plugs that fire on the exhaust stroke and therefore don't effect power. However, when I unplug the front coil pack, it sounds like its misfiring like crazy.

At the moment, I still need/plan to check fuel pressure, and pull the crank pulley bolt to check that the keyway isn't damaged or some shit.

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  #9  
Old 07-21-2017, 09:14 AM
tomw0 tomw0 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

Rather than pull the crank pulley, roll the crankshaft to TDC indicated on the belt cover marks. Pull the #1 spark plug, look. You should see a piston, on either FIRE or EXHAUST.
If you can, roll the pulley back and forth while watching, or use a probe (screwdriver or piece of wooden dowel) to see the piston crown movement. See if TDC lines up with the actual 'felt' TDC. If that's good, the cam sprocket should be visible through the aperture behind the upper radiator hose. Should be a triangle on the edge, and a 'mark' or 'pointer' (vintage dependent) indicating the cam is in time... I do not know if there is an access point/pointer for the aux shaft, if you have one. {Over time, the cam position sensor moved}
If you had a fuel pressure or volume problem, the computer will do all it can to increase fuel flow, thus the FUEL TRIMS. They are, from memory, high. It is trying to flow more fuel. Why doesn't it get too rich? Cuz the pressure or flow volume are not what is expected, maybe??? That's where I'd look. Could be a pump, could be the tiny screens in the injectors, could be a filter, could be voltage, and ground and ..... But if you check pressure and flow, you can rule out that chunk of the system. Newer vehicles have sensors that report(though they can be rong too) 'actual' pressure in the fuel line.
Low power is one sign of fuel delivery/volume/pressure problems. Misfire could also result if individual squirters were 'less than perfect', I figure. I have a somewhat similar problem, misfire, chug chug chug, off idle. Was very intermittent, so I thought water in the gas. Finally changed the filter(in canister, spozta last For Ever), and it got worse. Still chasing, and have changed my TFI(ignition module), so on to coil/plug wires/injectors/fuel pressure/etc etc etc to find my problem. Ugh. At least now it will mis-behave all the time once I push down on the gas pedal, so it is something I should be able to find. Before, it was very intermittent, and NOT noticeable driving down the highway, and now it doesn't WANT to drive down the highway without 'nursing' the gas pedal. TPS? What a mess of things that can go wrong.
tom
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  #10  
Old 08-25-2017, 06:56 AM
SebastianTH1 SebastianTH1 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

Just want to update, it's finally fixed. I had initially checked the crank pulley keyway by pulling the pulley bolt and looking at the front of the keyway with the pulley at tdc, I did not pull the pulley off at the time. I checked a few more odds and ends, but when I ran out of things to check, I broke down and called a local mechanic.

He checked a few things, and eventually pulled the pulley off, that's when he found the damage to the keyway slot on the back of the pulley. He replaced the pulley, and now it runs like a champ.

I guess with the keyway not lining up correctly, it retarded the ignition timing by quite a bit.

Definitely something I should have been able to catch, especially if I had tried to find tdc with the spark plugs holes like you guys mentioned, but I'll just consider the bill to be a fine for being a dipshit.

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  #11  
Old 08-26-2017, 02:20 AM
EaOutlaw1969 EaOutlaw1969 is offline
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Default Re: 96 2.3 runs perfect, except extremely low power

The compression test would have shown you the timing belt was off. I wish you would have just run the test.

But at least you got it going again
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