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Ok so I know it doesn't but it feels like this freaking car has less power than my old Saturn. I floor it and it takes an hour to get to 4500 then shift then 4500 then shift. I feel like it takes me a solid 20 seconds to hit 60. I have put a cold air intake on it, I replaced the tp sensor, the iac valve(different problem) the coolant temp sensor and have had the timing put back to 10° (was at 15°). But I swear this car has no power at all it actually can kill my car if I turn the steering wheel too fast at idle and kills my oil pressure just to turn on my a/c at idle with the car in gear. Really what could this be? I did a complete tune up plugs, wires, cap, and rotor less than 1000 miles ago.

So the only diag info I have is the egr is unplugged due to the diaphragm leaking. If I unplug my maf the car dies and I can't get it to start again. If I unplug my o2 sensors it doesn't do a thing... I had it scanned and I have a code for the egr not responding..... Any ideas here? Parts aren't to expensive so I'm open to suggestions... The head gasket tests all passed no exhaust in the rad, no coolant in oil, no oil in coolant, no nox in exhaust... Car is running rich and I'm getting 10-18mpg
 

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Is the "spark out" connector unplugged? If so, the ECU might not be advancing spark.
When i first got my tbird with the 3.8N/A, it was super gutless and wouldn't rev beyond 4K under load. I had no idea why.
Turns out that someone had set the timing to 38degrees and left it there w/ the spark plug pulled out (38 fixed). The car drove fine through two entire lemons races (aka 14 hrs/race x 2 @ 3K-4K RPM load constantly) -- but was dog slow. I figured what happened after the 2nd race, reinserted the sparkout plug and set timing properly, upgraded the top end from 140HP to 215HP, and then blew the engine after 19 laps.

Dog slow = safe :)
-g
 

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What is this "cold air intake" you speak of? I am picturing a shiny intake tube with open filter in some crazy color. The stock setup is already a cold air intake, and is more than adequate.

Have to get the EGR working properly. These cars run best with all factory items working and to factory specs, which it sounds like you are getting farther and farther from. With that gas mileage, something isn't right. Mostly, it's the EGR missing.

Also throw some new o2 sensors on there, and throw the cold air intake in the trash.

Al
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok so the SPOUT connector is plugged in. And the cold air intake is the stock system even in the fender with a pod filter built in instead of a flat paper. Just breathes better I don't use the reusable filters as the oil hurts cars more than helps.

Do you guys really think the o2's are the problem? I believe they are stock. Although I'm tempted to say the one cat I have left is clogged as someone cut the pass cat off so the drivers is the only one left. Is it possible the cat is clogged and causing my loss of power?

I can cut that one off too and replace the o2 at the same time I just want to know if I'd be wasting my time and money.

Please bear in mind I am a certified mechanic I be have a full shop to work by with but I can't take the engine for a rebuild yet as I am not the owner and dropping a rack for a week isn't a great idea. The reason I come here for answers is due to non of my coworkers not myself have seen these mn12's before and this engine is really confusing to diagnose with obd1
 

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I had a 1993 LX 3.8 that I bought brand new. I didn't modify it in any way. It was a decent ride - wasn't SC or Mustang fast by any means but it wasn't a dog like you're talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I had a 1993 LX 3.8 that I bought brand new. I didn't modify it in any way. It was a decent ride - wasn't SC or Mustang fast by any means but it wasn't a dog like you're talking about.
Thank you! This is good info, I thought I was at the peak for this engine stock but man is it disappointing. any ideas on what could be the cause?
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Seafoam it before you replace the o2 sensors.

Clean the TB. Remove it from the car, and clean it and all the EGR passages. The sticker that says not to do this is 22 year old, lol.

Look at the EGR tube. It's unobtainium, so DO Not break it.

It will be full of years of goo. Flush it out until you can blow air thru it with no resistance.

After you do all this, do a compression check, and see what the peak pressure is; add a spoonful of oil to each cylinder and repeat to see how bad your rings are. :)

Transmission: unless it's a manual, change the fluid, drive it and see if it helps or kills it. :)

These cars are getting old, much is worn out.
 

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Its an under powered motor for sure but it shouldn't be stupid slow..I can imagine that almost any newer car would be quicker regardless of motor size.well before my bro got his turbo veloster the NA model was probably the slowest car I was ever in ..but my 92 3.8 cougar coulda at least beat a Saturn . unless it was a sky or red line.
Mine ran crisp and I also did an intake and deleted cats with that flex pipe.lol worked well though..0-60 I would say took like 8 seconds.
 

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The few, inexpensive things I did to bring some power back 96 lx

New plugs (iridium, gapped to .54 I believe)
Wires
Coil Pack
Clean MAF
Ditch the air intake silencer
K and N Filter
Clean TB
Seafoam in the fuel, I dont really trust the intake version with the tube you put in
Good oil changed every 3-5k
Trans flush and new filter
Radiator flush
New tires

98k and running strong
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Alright. So the plugs are double platinum, the tb has been cleaned, I have used seafoam, mmo, and three vacuum based cleaners. The egr I haven't messed with aside from unplugging and plugging the vacuum tube. The car has one cat on the driver side manifold. The pass has been removed and replaced with flexpipe. I have to do valve cover gaskets so I'll be pulling the intake and replacing those gaskets while I'm there.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Also is the filter on these a maintenance item? The fluid was flushed when I did my tune up. And it may be a trans problem it feels like I get a huge boost of power shifting gears, then back to none untill shifting again. Also the pan gasket is leaking mildly... On another note how on Earth do you do the oil pan gasket on this car. I'd like to do the gasket and my rod bearings at the same time, the crank seal is leaking too but that is a bear.
 

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Also is the filter on these a maintenance item? The fluid was flushed when I did my tune up. And it may be a trans problem it feels like I get a huge boost of power shifting gears, then back to none untill shifting again. Also the pan gasket is leaking mildly... On another note how on Earth do you do the oil pan gasket on this car. I'd like to do the gasket and my rod bearings at the same time, the crank seal is leaking too but that is a bear.
"is the filter on these a maintenance item?"
- Which filter? Generally filters are maintenance items but some are easier to access than others (oil filter is easier than ATF filter, for example).
- ATF filter is doable from underneath the car.

Given the position of the kmember, i can't imagine you'd have very much success swapping out the oil pan gasket let alone the rod bearings while the engine is still inside the car). .. and if you pull it, I'm not sure why you'd put it back in. You aren't going to get that much more performance out of the 3.8L singleport and any cash spent will leave you feeling disappointed.
Speaking from experience: whatever you do, do NOT do a splitport heads/intake swap without pulling the engine and checking the bearing clearances. You do NOT want to spend the money on the top end without confirming that the bottom end is robust enough to take the abuse.
http://forums.tccoa.com/9-engine-3-8l-4-2l/141039-s4gunns-3-8l-single-port-splitport-diy.html

Personally, I would NOT drop any more money into the 3.8L. Not even the valve cover gaskets. I'd drive it until it blew up and then I'd look for another engine.

If you insist on trying to "build it up", consider shopping for a 4.2L from a Ford F150 as a donor... or a Mustang 3.8L splitport...
Then tear THAT engine down and rebuild it. When it's ready, swap that into your car.


PS. Simple test to see if your cats are clogged. Check the temps before and after the cats.

This tool can be had for <$14 on eBay
Temperature Gun Non-contact Infrared IR Laser Digital Thermometer FDA Approved | eBay
 

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So I caught you only have one catalytic converter, and it is plugged up?

Get rid of it!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wow great info! I will be checking the cat tomorrow. Also the donor engine from an f150 is a good idea that way I can replace all the bearings, gaskets, rings, and not have to drop the car for weeks at a time.
Also I was talking about the trans filter and if it was meant for regular maintenance. After some research I found it is paper and due every 30k so it being the original at 150k isn't good and I will be replacing that on wed.
 

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So I caught you only have one catalytic converter, and it is plugged up?

Get rid of it!
Ha yeah I will it seems like a good plan of action since it wasn't treated well in life. But after that it is a straight pipe with a resonator so it may get louder.
 

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Wow great info! I will be checking the cat tomorrow. Also the donor engine from an f150 is a good idea that way I can replace all the bearings, gaskets, rings, and not have to drop the car for weeks at a time.
Also I was talking about the trans filter and if it was meant for regular maintenance. After some research I found it is paper and due every 30k so it being the original at 150k isn't good and I will be replacing that on wed.
Dont forget to drain the torque convertor (accessible from the bottom of the bell housing)

A 97-04 4.2L V6 F150/E150 is what you want to aim for. They have a return style fuel system which matches our car so you can reuse the F150 fuel rail.
97-98 F150s had some problems so a 99-04 donor would be best: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Essex_V6_engine_(Canadian)

-g
 
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