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Thread: 3.8 L Cougar idling problem

  1. #11
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    83-87 3.8 V6 = slow turd

    88+ 3.8 V6 = slow, head gasket blowing, turd
    '88 Thunderbird LX: 306, Edelbrock Performer heads, Comp 266HR cam, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, Edelbrock 70mm TB, 76mm C&L MAF, 30lb injectors, 2.5" exhaust, AOD with 2800 PI converter, 8.8 with 3.73 gears, 31 spline Traction-Lok, 31 spline Moser axles, 04 Cobra front arms, Maximum Motorsports extreme duty rear arms, subframes.
    '11 Focus, '12 Mustang 3.7, '17 Accord EX-L V6

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyB View Post
    Highly doubtful. TPS or ISC are my first thoughts, but get the KOEO and KOER codes to give you some better direction.
    What is the ISC? I've replaced the TPS, the fuel filter, the fuel regulator and the fuel injectors. There are no vacuum leaks and the car does retain fuel pressure after being shut off (35 lbs). However, the fuel injectors aren't always firing at idle so the car always stalls unless I pour gas down into the TBI or spray some carburetor cleaner down there (car runs great for a few seconds if I manually feed the TBI gas). Could it be the pick up coil? Or maybe the module on the distributor? Also, we used a paper clip to get engine codes and it indicated the TPS was the problem - but the the new TPS hasn't made any difference. Any advice would be appreciated!

  3. #13
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    My guess is that was a typo for iac, idle air controler.

    If you are loosing spark, it will stop firing the injectors.

    Try unplugging the spout connector. If that makes no difference, then it is time to replace either the pip in the distributor, or the tfi module. I usually swap both, if one fails it seems like the other follows shortly after.

    Edit

    The pip is what tells the computer that the engine is turning over. This signal fires the injectors after being modified by the tfi module. Unplugging the spout might rule out a computer problem, it will put the computer in "limp mode", bypassing all but the necessary sensors to limp the car to a dealership.

    The tps should sit around 1v at idle and reach 3.5v higher then idle voltage to initiate a full sweep. Everytime the computer is powered on, it checks for idle voltage. Anything between about .67-1.19 volts whould be in range, optimally closer to the middle of those numbers. Check for a constant raised signal until it pegs or reaches at least 3.5v higher then idle voltage. Any dead spots or higher then 5v indicates a bad sensor or possible ground wire.
    Quote Originally Posted by jcassity
    I honestly dont think you could exceed the cost of a new car buy installing new *stock* parts everywhere in your coug our tbird. Its just plain impossible. You could revamp the entire drivetrain/engine/suspenstion and still come out ahead.
    Hooligans!
    1988 Crown Vic wagon. 120K California car. Wifes grocery getter. (junked)
    1987 Ford Thunderbird LX. 5.0. s.o., sn-95 t-5 and an f-150 clutch. Driven daily and going strong.
    1986 cougar.
    lilsammywasapunkrocker@yahoo.com

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by midnight cat View Post
    Thanks! BTW, people have told me the stock 3.8L V6 in my 86 Cougar is the worst engine Ford ever made. Even worse than the Chevy 305 V8. However, according to Wikipedia the Ford Essex 3.8 L V6 is a pretty good engine. Do you think the Essex was a bad design from the beginning?
    Compared to Ford's 3.8, the 305 was a Crown Jewell... Other than being a turd(mostly due to emission control/tuning), really no different than any other small block Chevy... Ford's 302/5.0 in same era didn't run much if any better...

    The only real problem with Ford's 3.8 were the heads... Aluminum heads were still in their early stages and Ford didn't allow enough material between the fire rings and some of the oil & coolant passages... So unless one flushed cooling system almost yearly they blew gaskets with regularity(I honestly dunno if that would have saved them)... The sharp 90* transition machined from lower head bolt surface to vertical was prone to cracking in the early heads... To put it this way, in the last 50+ years I've owned close to 200 cars, not one had a Ford 3.8... Yes I've owned a 305 or two even some Chevy & Buick 3.8...






    My other rides (that actually do run & drive)

    1969 Fairlane Cobra 428CJ 4-Speed << New 49th Birthday Picture

    1972 Comet GT - 306 C4

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haystack View Post
    My guess is that was a typo for iac, idle air controler.

    If you are loosing spark, it will stop firing the injectors.

    Try unplugging the spout connector. If that makes no difference, then it is time to replace either the pip in the distributor, or the tfi module. I usually swap both, if one fails it seems like the other follows shortly after.

    Edit

    The pip is what tells the computer that the engine is turning over. This signal fires the injectors after being modified by the tfi module. Unplugging the spout might rule out a computer problem, it will put the computer in "limp mode", bypassing all but the necessary sensors to limp the car to a dealership.

    The tps should sit around 1v at idle and reach 3.5v higher then idle voltage to initiate a full sweep. Everytime the computer is powered on, it checks for idle voltage. Anything between about .67-1.19 volts whould be in range, optimally closer to the middle of those numbers. Check for a constant raised signal until it pegs or reaches at least 3.5v higher then idle voltage. Any dead spots or higher then 5v indicates a bad sensor or possible ground wire.
    Haystack, Thanks for the detailed advice. It's greatly appreciated! BTW, what is the PIP?

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurboCoupe50 View Post
    Compared to Ford's 3.8, the 305 was a Crown Jewell... Other than being a turd(mostly due to emission control/tuning), really no different than any other small block Chevy... Ford's 302/5.0 in same era didn't run much if any better...

    The only real problem with Ford's 3.8 were the heads... Aluminum heads were still in their early stages and Ford didn't allow enough material between the fire rings and some of the oil & coolant passages... So unless one flushed cooling system almost yearly they blew gaskets with regularity(I honestly dunno if that would have saved them)... The sharp 90* transition machined from lower head bolt surface to vertical was prone to cracking in the early heads... To put it this way, in the last 50+ years I've owned close to 200 cars, not one had a Ford 3.8... Yes I've owned a 305 or two even some Chevy & Buick 3.8...

    Thanks for the background info on the 3.8L & the Chevy 305. Aren't the 3.8L engines in the 1989 Fords and newer more likely to blow a head gasket than the Fox body Cougars & T-Birds?

  7. #17
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    Pip is the pick up in the distributor. Can't remeber the more common name for it, but its similar to a crank or cam position sensor in a more modern engine. It is under the rotor in the distributor, and you may be better off buying a whole new distributor if you can get one.
    Quote Originally Posted by jcassity
    I honestly dont think you could exceed the cost of a new car buy installing new *stock* parts everywhere in your coug our tbird. Its just plain impossible. You could revamp the entire drivetrain/engine/suspenstion and still come out ahead.
    Hooligans!
    1988 Crown Vic wagon. 120K California car. Wifes grocery getter. (junked)
    1987 Ford Thunderbird LX. 5.0. s.o., sn-95 t-5 and an f-150 clutch. Driven daily and going strong.
    1986 cougar.
    lilsammywasapunkrocker@yahoo.com

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haystack View Post
    Pip is the pick up in the distributor. Can't remeber the more common name for it, but its similar to a crank or cam position sensor in a more modern engine. It is under the rotor in the distributor, and you may be better off buying a whole new distributor if you can get one.
    Thanks for the additional info. I think the distributor is original but there's only 135K miles on it. I am guessing a new distributor will be quite expensive.

  9. #19
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    A brand NEW dist for my '96 F-150 with 5.0 was like $125... My old one has a bad PIP but I was too lazy to change it out... Of course it has remote mounted module, if that's included on new dist you can probably add $40-$50...






    My other rides (that actually do run & drive)

    1969 Fairlane Cobra 428CJ 4-Speed << New 49th Birthday Picture

    1972 Comet GT - 306 C4

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haystack View Post
    Pip is the pick up in the distributor. Can't remeber the more common name for it, but its similar to a crank or cam position sensor in a more modern engine. It is under the rotor in the distributor, and you may be better off buying a whole new distributor if you can get one.
    Is the idle air controller the same as the PIP or the TFI module or is it a separate part? And where is the "spout" I should disconnect? Is it the TFI?

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