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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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Discussion Starter #1
Quick question on the wife's ride, she has a 2001 Windstar SE with a 3.8L throwing a P0303 code for cylinder 3 only, no other codes. Did a search here and although I found what the code was about (like I did at AutoZone) I'm wondering about how to take care of this miss in that cylinder.

Would a change of plugs and wires be enough to take care of this? I also heard and read that the EGR tube could have some carbon build-up that may also cause this miss. As it turns out this engine is wedged in there very tightly - the front 3 plugs I can reach somewhat. The rear 3, well I'm not a contortionist and I don't have a hoist but I do have some ramps. I really don't want to take it to the stealership or to anyone else but I may have to.

Anyone run into this before?
 

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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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829 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Update.......

1) Cleaned the MAF - it wasn't dirty at all but I cleaned it anyway.
2) Removed the upper intake plenum, cleaned out the EGR ports and replaced the upper intake manifold "formed" gaskets as well as the 6 smaller individual gaskets. Didn't replace the isolator bolts - just cleaned them really good as well as those greenish plastic "washers" under them. Tightened the upper manifold bolts really good.
3) Cleaned the IAC. Didn't replace the gasket on this one.
4) Changed plugs and wires. What an adventure this was! At least I removed that damned cowling.
5) Replaced the fuel filter.
6) Replaced the Vapor Canister Purge Valve.
7) Replaced the DPFE sensor.

I think I have a mild vacuum leak but I can't tell where, maybe the IAC since I didn't install a new gasket? I sprayed both carb/throttle body cleaner and starter fluid (for the ether) around the intake area and could not tell where a leak is if there really is one. The tip off was that when the throttle is pressed I can hear a "gulping" of air for a split second before the throttle responds.

The original P0303 code is now gone, and I came up with the dreaded P0171 code for system too lean on bank 1. Dunno if I should start messing with 02 sensors or not. The rough idle is still there but behind that I can tell that the van will run better due to the changes I just made. It has 66,100 miles on it.

This thing is driving me nuts. Any thoughts? The MAF is CLEAN!
 

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Johnny Bling Bling
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3,811 Posts
we do these all the time at work. we sell an updated valve cover, single upper intake gasket, intake oring gaskets(bag of 6), isolator bolts(bag of 8), new pcv valve, and pcv elbow(oftern cracked and leaking. we also recommend the updated dpfe if the original aluminum one is in there. hope that helps.
 

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That kit with the valve cover and pcv is not that expensive. It is too bad that they closed the windstar forum. When you cleaned the egr ports inside those little small button like holes you took care of the misfire. So you won't have that problem anymore. I also had the 171 code and they replaced the oxygen sensors in that particular bank. The only problem i had with the van afterwards was the misfire which the mechanic wanted a whole lot of money for. I wound up doing it myself and it was those little egr ports. Hope that helps some. That kit was part of a tsb for those vehicles.
 

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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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829 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys,

The only code I have still is the P0171 for the 02 sensors. As soon as I have some freed up time and cash I'm going to buy a pair of upstream sensors (before the cats) and see what that does.

I also heard of reprograming the computer and possibly that it may be a faulty fuel injector. Don't know about the injector, but if I change the 02 sensors and it still doesn't take care of the problem then I am clueless after that, considering all the stuff I've done so far.

On the passenger side you can smell a strong gasoline odor, like it may "confirm" the lean condition - perhaps the computer is trying to compensate and put more fuel into it? Gas mileage per gallon is down from around 15.4 to around 9.6 per the data center readout.
 

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i would say that those green rubber washers (isolators) should have been replaced. The TSB is useless without good isolators. That's where the vacuum leak originates that prompted the TSB. The valve covers were letting the PCV valve suck oil into the upper intake causing the isolators to swell and leak. Also run your hand along the back of the intake where the two halves of plastic meet and make sure you got those vacuum lines on. The solenoid for the EGR is a common one that's missed. If you find one unplugged, then disregard everything else i said, lol.


PS I worked at a ford dealer for 5 years and probably did about 150 of those damned tsb's, got real good at it though, lol.
 

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When you say upstream sensors, do you mean for both banks? The only oxygen sensors that they replaced on my windstar were the ones in bank one the rear. It is kind of funny how that bank has the problem. I have never heard of any of that in the front bank. As for your misfire if the code is not showing up again you probably took care of it with the clearing of the egr ports. The codes are usually 301,2,3 etc. for the misfires. When they tried to fix my misfire all they did was replace the injector in cylinder 3 code 303. Afterwards i got the code 301 and decided to take a look myself and found out that the only egr port that was clear was number 1. In the old windstar forums one person did the tsb without replacing the isolator bolts as he explained that their only purpose is to isolate the top from the bottom of that part. Let us know what happens. I almost forgot this one important thing these people also recommended removing the plenum and cleaning out these ports every 20 k to prevent the misfire and code from coming back.
 

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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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829 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks guys,

Soon as I'm able to change the front 2 oxygen sensors I'm hoping that that will take care of the light and the rough idle. I didn't change the isolators only because I didn't haven enough funds available to buy the whole set. So I just cleaned then really good with a rag and put them back in.

I made sure each and every vacuum line was put back on. I did this job with the plastic cowling on - I should have taken it off! I did when I changed the wires and plugs.
 

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code P0171, is a lean indicator, not necessaryly a bad H02 sensor. Might also be a cyl. head starting to leak coolant into that cyl., causing the missfire Why did you replace the DPFE sensor? Did you have a EGR code? What does your scan data look like? Remember, you can't fix cars these day's without a scanner, and other diagnostic equip.Oh, and the knowledge part, also. Did you use good 'Motorcraft parts? Tell me you didn't use Autozone junk!...I had a 3.0L , that was giving me a single cyl missfire from tight valve guides. Not too common, though. Did you try disconnecting the EGR valve, and seeing if it reset the code?
 

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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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829 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Hi z1rider - I replaced the DPFE sensor because I started searching other forums on Google and several people had similar problems to mine and they reported success upon changing it. So I did the same with absolutely no change. My new DPFE sensor came from RockAuto and it's genuine Motorcraft.

I didn't disconnect the EGR valve only because I never thought to do so, and I don't even know how to do it!

Funny you mention coolant, I get a pretty strong coolant smell from time to time, around the moment this problem happened. I haven't checked for a low coolant level yet, I will this weekend.

Here's a link to that other forum: http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=4978242#post4978242

I'm still wide open to suggestions, I don't have any idea what to do or try next. This damned van is nice but it's making me angry!

Thanks!
 

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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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829 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Well I'm no further in fixing this. I re-cleaned the MAF, lost the check-engine light but there's no change in the way it runs. I just put in a new PCV valve and still no change. Took it for a quick test drive around the block and I got a couple of backfires up front. Still no light.

It wants to run but something's holding it back.
 

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Listening on 141.850 mHz!
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829 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I finally fixed this!

After doing all the crap I did to it I replaced the coil pack and the miss and rough idle is GONE! It runs like a scared rabbit now.....for a Windstar. CEL light is off and all is well again.
 
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