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95 LX with 244K miles

I welcome comments and advice on this, I’m mostly reporting my experience and plan forward for anyone that is in a similar situation.

Dyno was down last week at the Ford dealership where I’ve gotten my T-bird inspected over the last ten years, so I brought it to the one where I’ve gotten the Fusion I bought there serviced for the last two years. Tried to butter them up by saying that I’ve gotten such good service on my Fusion that I am entrusting them with my T-bird. Well, they failed it for smoke out of the exhaust. Shazbatt! Had just changed the oil and I should have put in the bottle of Bardahls no-smoke I have on the shelf before the test. Desk technician also said the inspector found a cracked something or other in the intake. They offered to do a diagnostic on it, so I scheduled it for a week later. I figured at a minimum I’m interested in their quote to change valve seals. They gave me the test results, I looked at them when I got home.

They marked thermostatic air cleaner system – fail. 95 4.6 doesn’t have one. Last seven Virginia emission inspections done marked it n/a as appropriate. So now I’m wondering if they know what they are doing. Figure if there was a crack in the air intake the fuel trims would be all over the place. Checked them and they were. Hissing coming from the back of the engine. The emission T was loose. Cracked at two ends. Never saw a vacuum line blow out like that. Put that one on new when I cleaned the EGR system two years ago. So I swapped it out with the used one I had on hand.

After I few test drives watching for smoke, I check the fuel trims. All four are 0.0. What?! How can this be? Little later I see the LTFTs are pegged at 25.0. So either the scanner, the PCM or something else is bad. Cleaned the MAF sensor with no change, so swapped the MAF sensor out with one I had on the shelf. Now the fuel trims are more like I expect and under several driving conditions nothing into the twenties. Today I’m not seeing any of the tell-tale smoke upon take-off from extended idling at a traffic light.

Car needs an emission test to renew the registration expiring 2/28/19. Virginia doesn’t exempt for emissions until 25 years old. I can apply in person at the RMV/DMV for a one month extension ($10) during the last month due if longer time for repairs is needed. State allows a one-year exemption after spending over $800 on repairs, but not for smoke.

So I cancelled the diagnostic test, I’ll just bring it in for the free re-test. I can’t see spending money that won’t qualify towards exemption especially where I don’t have confidence in the shop. If it still fails for smoke maybe I’ll replace the original valve seals next month before trying it again. Contingent on good compression check numbers. Before I brought it in I checked the spark plugs and they looked good. Not going to worry about it now. If worse comes to worst maybe I’ll just keep it parked in the driveway until registering it 1/2/20 as a vintage auto with no emission or safety inspection needed. Got plenty of other vehicles I can use in the meantime.

Am I missing something?
 

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First question I have would be what are the fuel trims at now? 25% either way will throw a lean or rich code, but more than about 10% either way is still indicative of a problem.

As for the valve guide seals, don't waste your time. The problem is not just the seals, but the valve guides in the 94/95 heads are too short, which results in them wearing out, and then the movement of the valve wipes out the seals. The bad guides won't show up on a compression check, but they will wipe out a new set of valve seals, probably in less than 10K miles. The real fix for this problem is to swap the heads with ones from a 96-98 NPI engine. You could also fix it with a swap to 99+ PI heads, but that would also require changing the intake manifold to the newer style, which also means changing over the EGR setup, and modifying the wiring and vacuum harnesses, so on a car with 244K miles that you are just trying to get through inspection one more time, that is likely more trouble than it is worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the advice. Double digit fuel trims, no codes. The car is a joy to drive, runs strong. Not so much concerned about valves on the compression check, just that I wouldn't spend the time on rings just to pass emissions. Long list, not too interested in doing much without doing everything.
 

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Woo-hoo, got my registration renewed!

Went to the inspection station for an emission test last Friday. Emission inspector plugged the VIN into his computer and said, "car was produced in November 1994. It qualifies for the 25 year old exemption." Showed me that the on-line system was ready to sell me either a one, two, or three-year renewal. So I renewed on-line for another year as soon as I got home. Got the new registration in the mail today.

Replaced the battery and ignition lock cylinder last month. Last week one of the heater hoses blew out, bypassed the heater core but because of the two different size tubes I don't want to drive it up to temperature. Rockauto source supposed to be delivering that hose tomorrow. Will soon be back to racking up some more points on the odometer toward a quarter of a million!
 

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Woo-hoo, got my registration renewed!

Went to the inspection station for an emission test last Friday. Emission inspector plugged the VIN into his computer and said, "car was produced in November 1994. It qualifies for the 25 year old exemption." Showed me that the on-line system was ready to sell me either a one, two, or three-year renewal. So I renewed on-line for another year as soon as I got home. Got the new registration in the mail today.

Replaced the battery and ignition lock cylinder last month. Last week one of the heater hoses blew out, bypassed the heater core but because of the two different size tubes I don't want to drive it up to temperature. Rockauto source supposed to be delivering that hose tomorrow. Will soon be back to racking up some more points on the odometer toward a quarter of a million!
Great news, JIm. Glad to hear it. In southern Oregon cars are exempt after 21 years. Up in northern Oregon, all cars going back to 1974 production year must pass a pollution test.
 
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