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Old 03-20-2011
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Excessive vibration, loss of power?

Hello again all, got another one for ya if you don't mind helpin' out a little bit.

So, the other day I started my '88 and it ran great. Drove it maybe two miles to a gas station, shut it off, filled it, and started it back up. As I was pulling out, I noticed I had to give it a bit more gas then usual to keep it from bogging down, and as I continued down the road, I had to give it a lot more gas to get it up to speed. (45 MPH) But, it was an incredibly windy day, and I thought maybe I was just having to fight them.

However, as I entered the interstate, I could not get it up above 55 in overdrive, and when I downshifted to fourth and the RPM's hit about 2500, I noticed a huge amount of vibration all throughout the truck and a very loud knocking, almost grinding noise but couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from. I pulled over and the vibration's did not stop as the engine idled, though the other noise did. Revving the engine, the vibrations subside at around 22-2300 RPM, and there is no noise like there is when it is in gear. Shut the truck off and restarted it, and it seemed to do so very roughly.

Long story short, made it on the backroads to my destination, with the truck continuing this behavior pattern throughout every gear. Looking under the hood, I don't notice anything obvious that's out of place, (though my knowledge of cars in general is very limited) but a day or two later when I started it up, I did hear a differen kind of noise that sounded like it was coming from underneath the chassis of the truck, but I can't quite remember what it sounded like, nor have I been able to get it to repeat this event. I'm at a loss for what the issue could be, and I've already had this thing in the mechanic shop for a new fuel pump and radiator. It would be nice if it was just something small and simple, but either way, I don't feel safe, nor do I feel like it's a good idea for the truck to keep driving it, so any advice on what it could be or what to do about it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.
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Old 03-20-2011
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Bad gas? Clogged fuel filter? Start with a new fuel filter and some fuel treatment... at least that is a cheap option to try. May not be the solution to your problem, but it sure won't hurt.
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Old 03-20-2011
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could be one cylinder stopped working.. check for spark on all cylinders.
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Old 03-20-2011
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id do a tune up and see if that helps...not too expensive and when did a new set of plugs and wires ever hurt
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Old 03-23-2011
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Thanks for the suggestions guys. I just had the fuel filter replaced a little over two weeks ago, so I'm pretty sure that isn't the issue. I decided to give it a bit of a tuneup, plugs wires distrib cap and rotor. Now, I have a bigger problem. As soon as I replaced the cap and rotor, the engine would no longer start. I went ahead and did the wires and plugs anyway, but could not get the thing started. I even put the old cap and rotor back in, still nothing. What could this be?
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Old 03-24-2011
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possibly a bad coil, you could try replacing that, dose the engine at least crank,if does you could have someone crank it and check for spark, and maybe try adjusting the timing too and see if you can get anywere with that.
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Old 03-29-2011
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Pull your distro cap and rotor off and remove the plate you see now and make sure everything is clean. I had this problem with my 87 2.3 could not use 5th at all lost so much power. Something to check.
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Old 05-20-2011
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Wow, time got away from me pretty dang fast.

Well, sorry for the massive delay in response, I've been incredibly busy with moving to a new house, and recently getting a new job. I haven't had any time for my ol' Ranger, it's just been sitting in a corner in my yard. But, here's an update on everything since then.

I ended up handing it over to a mechanic once again, as I could not get it to start. Turns out I had accidentally stripped one of the plugs while putting a new one in. (Twice? Well, that's what they told me) They were able to get it out and put it in correctly, but they said the reason for the original problem was that my timing belt had snapped. (I thought an engine won't run without a timing belt? I don't know a whole lot about engines, but I could have sworn I'd heard this somewhere before) They replaced this, but could not get my #4 cylinder to fire. And they wanted $700 to tear apart the engine and find the issue. And a lot more to fix it, if they could. This is money I do not have, so I had it towed back to my house, and well, there it sits.

I start it up every once in a while, and drive it around the block. Still the same massive vibrations, still the alarming clanking noise at around 2200 RPM that gets louder and faster as the RPM's go up, still zero power. I'm thinking whatever it was that happened, caused some serious damage to the engine. Does any one have a clue whats up here? Any theories would be much appreciated.

But, there is another issue on my mine. Even if it could even be fixed (And hey, a simple solution would still be nice ) I could just find a used engine with probably a lot less miles on it than this one has, for around the same cost. And even at that, this truck has other issues. It sounds like some bearings need to be replaced, the transmission whines a lot, (which signals to me that it is probably at the end of its life, though most old Rangers I've been around whine the same way), the power steering fluid needs to be topped up every couple of days... is this truck worth dumping any more money into? I've spent almost two times more then I originally paid for the truck in repairs alone, not including whatever this issue will set me back. I'm just wondering if it's time to cut my losses, sell this thing for scrap and get something newer and more reliable? Again, thanks for your time and any answers are of much help. Thank you.
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Old 05-20-2011
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any truck is worth the money if you want it to be, but the 2.3 is a non-interference engine, which means the engine is designed so that when the timing belt goes there is enough clearance between the pistons and valves that they don't hit, and i'm pretty sure and engine without a timing belt wouldn't run since that is what turn the cam shaft, to open up the proper valves at the right strokes, now for cylinder 4 not firing, take it out and see if its wet with gas, if so, and if you didn't do so already, then replace wires, and if it still continues replace the distributor cap and rotor, over time the lead wire's contact with the rotor get worn up to the plastic as well as the plug contacts get worn away, as well as the contacts corroding create a green powder looking substance that when wet doesn't conduct electricity, if the plug is not wet after you run it, then its an intake problem, though i don't think there is any way to clog up the intake ports / valve that bad. i had a similar issue with my 3.0, i did plugs then everything went down hill, found out that when you do plugs you need to do it all in a distributed vehicle since the cap had about the same life as the plugs, long story short, replaced cap and rotor, runs great.
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Old 05-20-2011
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Thanks for the reply. That was the first thing I tried, plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Didn't make a difference. However, I will look at the plug, though like you said, It doesn't quite seem possible those things could clog enough to make the cylinder not fire, but I'll try and give it a shot after work today. If not, I'll try and not let it be two more months before anything gets done.
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Old 05-22-2011
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yeah sorry about that, i didn't bother to re-read the rest of the thread, hope you can get it all squared
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Old 05-31-2011
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OK, so, update: Today, I pulled the plug of the cylinder that is supposedly not firing (though I've also had a friend look at it, and he told me it sounds like two aren't firing, but what do friends know, right?) after running the engine for about 5 minutes. The bottom was completely dry, and it appears there's some kind of scorching or something? Perhaps this is normal, but I don't recall my old plugs looking this bad. Apologies for the horrible phone pictures.



Tomorrow, (and I actually mean tomorrow this time) I will check the ignition coil, and will report back on that as well.

To all of you, thank you so very much for your patience, time and effort.
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Old 06-01-2011
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yeah and make sure the wires are definitely good, if you didn't reuse/get new hangers its possible that the wires insulation get melted though and is shorting via the exhaust manifold, its hard to tell with the pics but the plugs don't look too bad, they are not clogged up with carbon / the white stuff i'm pretty sure comes from ethanol. if none of the plugs had gas on them after you ran it, then the spark is not the issue, i don't remember if you said they were wet or not if they are not wet the is and injection issue
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  #14  
Old 06-01-2011
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Just an idea..if the plug was not firing properly and the gas was not being burned of properly, it could have infiltrated your catalytic converter...I had this happen to me and the symptoms were like what you are talking about...
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Old 06-01-2011
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huh, that is a good idea, i never would of thought about that.
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Old 06-03-2011
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I only pulled that one plug, come to think of it actually. Probably would have been a good idea to do both, huh? Well, when I have some more free time on my hands, I will check the other three.

I tried to check the ignition coil, but the two screws holding the plate down over it will not budge, no matter how hard I try. :/ I'll be trying some different methods and tools to try and get them off, but so far it isn't looking good.

The plugs, wires, cap and rotor are brand new, changed them all after this whole issue started happening, and they didnt make a difference so I'm pretty sure they aren't the issue.

The cat. converter idea sounds like a good one, I'll definitely keep that in mind and ask about it with my mechanic.
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  #17  
Old 06-06-2011
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yeah i woulod check out the cat, those damn things can cause all sorts of problems
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