Noob, and in trouble a4ld yippie

Discussion in '2.3L (N/A & Turbo) Tech' started by tucsonpred, Dec 4, 2005.


  1. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    Hi all, I'm new to the board but not new to the 2.3 L stangs. I have had a 79 Pace with the great 2.3 carbed turbo, 84 SVO (White) and 85 SVO (Black). Just picked up a smoking deal on a 92 Hatch 2.3 / AT to keep miles off my 2k Lightning. I'm sticking with an auto as my wife can't push a clutch and I'll put 50 miles a day in stop and go traffic so swapping to a T5 is out. I think I have a multitude of issues, probably all tracked back to 1 friggin vac line or something stupid like that.

    Here is what's going on:
    92, a4ld, power everything, was owned by a non-informed girl, I have no real history of the car I trailered it home yesterday ($500 and pretty clean)

    There appears to be a short (I'm guessing this is the alarms faul as the doorlocks only randomly work and it's got a crappy alarm in it, that doesn't work...) I don't know where the short is but it is there. A/C+headlights = about 12 volts while running on the gauge.

    I changed all the plugs, gapped to .44. Changed the PCV, pulled the TB and cleaned it with some $5 spray cleaner, then read the Ford CD where it stated many times "do not clean" sorry it had over 1/4 inch of sludge and was sticking. fully ignoring the yellow sticker on it. I pulled the IAC off and cleaned it as well (the plunger feels really lose unlike my Lightnings). Patched up some busted vacuum lines and put in a new battery.

    Now when I went to get the car the girl said it ran, it hardly ran, the vacuum line that appears to go to the trans pretty much collapsed, played with it a bit and it would stay running, around 1300 rpm. Dropped it in drive and the trans clunked like everything was fine, but give it gas and it revs out. Now the car feels like it has the E brake on when this happens but it's not on. Rev the motor out to about 2500 rpm and it will move. It had a top speed of about 3 miles an hour, Just enough for me to get it on the trailer. I started working on it today and checked the level, about 1/2 qt to a qt low, no biggie. Put in some Mercon V and it started to move, fairly well I might add. I drove it down the block. No leaks, just really poor performance, like quite a bit of missing but I was able to run it through all the gears. I drove down the block with it in drive, then bumped to OD, then stopped, the trans decided to as well. I was right back to 2500 rpm and freewheeling. I added another 1/4 qt of Mercon, it didn't seem to care. I noticed I could get it to move if I revved it up to about 2000 rpm and let it drop, pretty much surging the throttle. Then it started burping smoke, when this happened the trans started working again. I was able to drive it the 1 mile back to the house, which I wasn't looking forward to pushing the car back. I no sooner get to my driveway and it putz out again.

    I mess with it surging the throttle with no luck. Then put it in REV and sat there for about 30 seconds, for fun I turned the a/c on about 2 seconds later Clunk I'm in REv and it works. I put it in Drive I'm back to freewheeling and no forward. Now the car starts revving on it's own to about 1500 rpm. If I key off and start it back up it idles around 600 rpm. As soon as I tap the gas above 1000 rpm it revs up to about 1500 and stays there. So I have pretty much have rev only but even that takes a little work to get working.

    While I'm messsing with the trans issues I tried to rev out the motor. It falls on it's face in park or N. Spittiing and sputtering all the way to the red line. There is a spit right off idle, smooth from 1000 to 2000 rpm then spits all the way to the red line. It takes a good 10 seconds to hit the red line. I put Bosch platinum plugs in it (gapped at 44) and it smoothed out the idle and off idle stumble but it still spits and sputters.

    I really thing my troubles are vacuum related and I'll be replacing the trans vacuum module tomorrow. I did notice that what ever the piece is on the pass. strut tower with the red and green vac lines running into it sucks in air when I put a vacuum on the system, is this right? and what might that thing do? The trans fluid isn't burnt and it's not leaking out of anywhere except the trans vacuum module. The car is suffering big time from Fords over oiling of the upper intake but I think I got most of that cleaned out. I did totally ignore the yellow warning of "Don't attempt to clean this" so I might have to get a throttle body. If I have to get a tranny I could probably come across a C4 and have a drive shaft made it's not that big of a deal. I'm just hoping I can keep my costs down as so far I have about $600 into it and it's in really good shape. I also noticed the airbag light blinks 5 times then pauses then 5 times the whole time the car is running. I also only threw 1 soft code while I was randomly unplugging vacuum lines while it was running. The plan is to possibly turbo it down the road but I guess I'd be doing a swap for that.

    Any help, pointers and tips are more than helpful as I'm out on a limb so far.

    Thank you, and sorry for the near novel of an intro.

    Erik in Sunny AZ http://www.azsvt.com/gallery
    2000 Lightning
    2003 Predator
    1992 LX
    2005 Scion xA
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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    Sources of vacuum leaks.
    Tranny modulator (also source of smoke and gum as it sucks up your mercron 5)
    Power brake booster
    Speed control servo
    Dump valve on brake pedal
    Air cleaner valve
    EGR valve
    Fuel pressure regulator (on fuel rail)
    Carbon canister
    1 of the things on the pass side is the Canister Purge valve solenoid and the other is the EGR vacuum regulator solenoid.
    You might as well replace the IAC, they're notorious for idle issues (Idle Air Control valve).
    Your tranny sounds cooked, but take it to a tranny shop and they can run a diagnostic on it to check all the pressures. Sounds like the forward clutch is shot.
    #2
  3. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    H/Vac controls are leaking, I can nearly cut it off if I 'adjust' the floor setting.

    I have the modulator but can't find the damn thing on the drivers side of trans so I'm guessing it's on the pass. side. I had the car sitting 1/2 in gravel so I couldn't jack it up safely to change the modulator. Might do it tomorrow.

    It no longer revs way up to 1300 rpm in drive or rev. It now idles around 700 rpm and if I rev it up it will come back down. Rev works everytime but drive just doesn't go still.

    Revving the motor up does a number of odd things. When it's cold It'll rev out fairly well once or twice. After that it'll start sputtering. I revved it to 2000 and held it for about 30 seconds then hammered it. It flopped, took about 5 seconds to rev to 3000 then out to 5000 sputtering pretty bad. I'm going to replace the Hvac controls and continue hunting for that leak. I'm also planning on replacing the dump valve because I don't trust it.
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  4. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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  5. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    I can close the leak in the controller if I mess with the switch to the off or floor setting.

    If I manually put a vacuum on the system I can here this little switch buzzing. The sound of air being sucked through it. Thisisn't the pic of mine obviously but this thing might be leaking. I unplugged it and plugged the red line as there was no Vac on the green but the car didn't run any different.
    [​IMG]
    and I can't seem to use the Ford CD well enough to find out what things are on the car or what they do. My 'thingie' with the 'hat' also seems to have an extension on it. A small 2 inche plug extension I'm guessing from a recall or TSB.

    I have a boost gauge with up to 30 inches of vacuum (or 30 #'s of boost) that I will hook up to the manifold and anywhere else I might be able to to check to see if it is weak. I'll see about picking up a vacuum pump might help in this whole ordeal.
    Thank you for the advise I'll continue running with it. I really want to drive this thing as the 3 minutes drive I did take brought back a ton of memories.
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  6. Pro-Hawk

    Pro-Hawk New Member

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    It's to bad the T5 swap is out but I understand.


    Anyways, that modulator is on the gear box right by the exhaust system on the psg side if memory serves me right. I had a huge isssue with mine once...the damn thing was sucking up trans fulid quiker than I could buy it. It only did it at 70mph but when it did, i fogged out everyone on the road :eek: Also my A4LD never did shift right even after I replaced that Modulator on the gear box. I had to manually shift it my self.
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  7. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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    Make sure you get an adjustable modulator.I don't know if they all are now-a-days. It will allow you to tweak the pressures without having to remove it to swap rods. BTW... a leaking modulator causes pressures to increase because it thinks it has low vacuum. Tends to blow out seals if it's let go too long...
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  8. rd

    rd Founding Member

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    I fixed my a4ld with a $100 trans swap.

    I got both ATSG manuals for the a4ld, and found out that this trans has more design changes than I have ever heard of. However, the only thing that seems to be hard to do when rebuilding is aligning the front pump, as everyone I hear from says you have to have the tool. Other than that, a rebuild seems to be straightforward.

    Some indicate that there are some hardparts that must be changed, even it they are not broke, a couple drums and sprags, I think, to make it live.

    The easiest thing to do would be to swap to used working trans.

    Note that if you swap, you need to get the same year trans, as there are two and three solenoid vbs, etc, that dont cross fit.

    Overall, Ford has kept with this trans up to the current 5 speed sealed version in the Explorers. So there are a lot of upgrades if you want to fix it.
    #8
  9. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    I 'drained' the vacuum line that feeds the modulator on the trans yesterday. (Got about 1/4 qt of ATF out of it) so I knew the modulator was leaking. Replaced it with a new one. The one I pulled out was obviously the exact same one I was replacing it with. Both were adjustable with the allen head. After swapping the modulator I'm still where I was previously but the forward trans feels a hair stonger than before. I still have Rev every time so I'm still moving it around backwards. Now it appears that i have a little bit of bite from 600 rpm to 1100 rpm then it just kind of freewheels again. I still have a few vacuum lines to clean up and to replace the H/vac ccontrols. but it does appear I smoked the forward clutches. I'll probably flatbed it over to my buddies tranny shop and will just fork out the money for a stronger rebuild or a swap. Is it possible to put a c4 on this or is the bellhousing different? I picked up a vacuum pump to track down the leaks in hopes of cleaning up the engine performance and possibly stumbling upon the trans fix.

    I thought the EGR regulator was broke due to the vacuum leak it creates if I try to put a vacuum on it with the car off, it makes a bussing sound. I now have 5 of these ($2 each from the local pull and save place) and they all do the same thing so i don't know if they all are broke or if it's by design.

    On a whim I picked up a TPS as well. However Autozone has 2 listed. $3 difference between the two and no one can tell me which one I really need. So I bought the more expensive one $26 in hopes. It probably does not need to be changed and the car might rev out fine now that it's not choking on trans fluid. I forgot to check that last night, I'll try revving it out tonight to see if the 3000 to red line miss is gone.

    I'm going to call about a rebuild kit for this trans or possibly seek out a already rebuilt jobbie to swap it with. (man this brings back memories, laying under my Mustang with a trans next to the car and one on my chest, think I'll need a jack this time.
    #9
  10. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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    While us more 'senior' guys are so used to the ease and simplicity of the C4 (and being able to rebuild it), keep in mind that you probably have 3.73 gears in the back end and with the C4, you lose your overdrive. Think about what you're going to be using the car for and if you can live with over 3000 rpm at cruising speed on the highway.
    The electronic valve to the EGR is actually called the EGR vacuum regulator valve. It is normally vented to the EGR valve, but should not leak the manifold vacuum that goes to it. The ECU sends a signal to it to close te ventwhen EGR use is required. When the signal stops, it vents to atmosphere to release the valve. Maybe the hoses are on in the wrong direction of flow?
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  11. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    If i apply vacuum to the red (bottom) line either by mouth or by pump with the key off it buzzes and can not pull 1 inch of vacuum. If I try it with the key on it's the same deal. running throws a code either due to lack of vac or the fact I unplugged the line while it was running. Basiclly what I've found is with the key off I can not pull 1 inch of vacuum from the hose from the manifold to the vacuum distro block due to the buzzing/leak from the EGR regulator. I'll try probing the wires to it to see if there is anything switching at any point. The plug that plugs into the regulator with the 2 wires has some kind of extension on it. I am not sure if it is an extension or if it crosses the wires or put resistance on it. I don't see it in the service manual and the tab is busted so I know someone else put that on there, why or what it does I am not sure.. I know if i pull the vacuum line that attaches to the EGR there is a very slight pulse while it is running. The Hoses can not ve reversed from what i can tell as they are hard lined into the regualtor.

    On a really good note draining the crap out of the vacuum system and replacing the A/T modulator has now allowed the motor to rev to redline without missing. If does smell really rich when running but it revs out smooth, not really fast (I don't know how fast the n/a's rev as this is my first n/a 2.3) but it no longer spits and sputters while the rpms climb.

    I am curious as weather I can hook up my vacuum pump to the a/t modulator and apply vacuum to see if the trans will grab, I might try this tonight. When it stopped moving the last time it didn't feel like anything burned or slipped just stopped.
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  12. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    Ran across the $30 ODB1 scanner in another thread so i picked one up and ran / tried to run a few tests.

    KOEO Passed with 111

    KOER Timing test failed

    KOER gave a 538 (Not enough timing change) When it runs the timing up to 20 degrees there is all of about 200 rpm difference. I'm not sure where to begin with this one but I noticed after about 10 minutes of the car idling in the driveway something clicked, then the idle dropped about 200 to 400 rpm's and smoothed out (Dropped from 1100 ro 650). I could nail the throttle and the engine just wrapped right out. Sadly the forward gears are still not working, but when the engine idles down like this there is more force from the car when I tap the gas.

    I can't seem to get the cyl load test to run due to the timing not adjusting electroniclly. I don't have a test light but am going to try to get one in the next week. Sadly if I don't get this on the road by Wednesday next week it won't be driven until mid January next year.

    I haven't tried the vacuum pump to the a/t modulator as it was only dark enough for me to use my Razr as a flash light to try to grab codes from the scanner.

    Oddly my wife keeps bugging me to get it fixed so she can drive it, she fully hated the idea of getting it, now she wants to cruise it.
    #12
  13. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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    Just another idea...
    Is the 'SPOUT' jumper installed or is it missing?
    It's a little 1/2"x3/4" plug (black or gray) that goes into a holder in the ignition wiring going to the TFI module on the distributor. If it's missing, the computer won't know to adjust the timing.
    On the modulator, remember that it's LOW vacuum that increases the pressures.
    #13
  14. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    Interesting turn of events today as my wife was feeling sick and I don't have any money for modding the Lightning I continued putting on the stuff I've bought for the LX in hopes of getting it road worthy. I just got back from a 15 minute drive, I'm pretty happy right now.

    I got home and finally got to replace the vacuum lines I've been meaning to. The Auto trans line, which I knew was toast and the cruise vacuum line. Now before I hoocked everything up I figured I'd try the vacuum pump on the trans line. Oddly there was no change in the tranny behavior at 15inches or 6 inches in rev or drive. So I hooked it up to the egr feed and hooked the trans line up to the distro block, basiclly just to check my vacuum and see if anything wierd was going on. Started the car and got about 17inches of vacuum, it kinda bounced between 15 and 17 slowly, ok this is probably close to right, I didn't bother checking the service cd. I revved the car out a few times and noticed the vacuum drops to zero for about a 1/4 second then recovers. I have no idea if this is right either. No real biggie, I was kinda down I was in the same place I had been for the last 2 weeks.

    I hooked the egr regulator back up (one of the ones I bought) and tried to figure out a way to see if I'm getting a loss of vacuum with that regulator hooked up. I couldn't find a T so I gave up on that idea. Hooked the vacuum for the trans up and hopped back in the car, fired it up. Idles up to 1200 then down to about 650 as my truck does, ok I'm satisfied. Dropped it in R, clunked pretty hard. Dropped it in N, I could feel it let go. Dropped it in O, I felt it try to bite then start revving up, within 1/2 second of hitting O I dropped it to Drive, felt it bite again. OK that's a new one to me. 2,1 nothing, just a slight bite from O to D. Put it back in D and tapped the gas. Holy &^% the thing moved, with the E brake on and my foot on the brake I got movement. I'm getting excited now. E brake off, and we rool off the driveway, under power at that. Yippie I'm going to roll down the street a ways. I drive around the neighborhood, it seems fine, shifts a little early but I did just put in the modulator so I expected that. Motor seems to have an ok amount of power but my Scion is still twice as fast so something is still kinda goofy. I drove around for a bit, trying to wrapp it out with little to no luck due to it shifting at 3700 to 4k.

    I'm driving around in Drive and noticed that in drive at 45 mph it's pulling over 2000 rpms so I figure what the heck we'll try Overdrive. Bad idea. As soo as I slip it into O, it acts as if I put it in neutral. So I'm at the light, trans is dead again. I have to shut the car off. Start it back up. Move it from P or N to D without giving it the chance to trigger the overdrive or I have to do it all over again. When I put it in Overdrive the car revs up to about 1300 rpm and will hold 1300 to 1200, unless I put it in rev, then it will drop to about 950 and hold there. If I shut the car off and start it again my rpm range is correct.

    So I have a simi functional tranny right now. It transfers what little power I have right now from a dead stop up to about 65. At about 60/65 it falls on it's face even though the motor is over 3200 rpm. So I tried many times using the cheap little ODB1 scanner from Checker to force the car to CYL check mode with no luck. However when I try the car feels rougher than normal, then after about 4 minutes the engine nearly dies. Drops to about 300 rpm and stumbles bad, then revs up to about 1300 then down to 1000 and will hold there. At that point I think the test has pretty much failed, if it even started.

    So I got the bright idea to change the fuel filter... bleed off the line pressure, ok no problem. A screw driver and a push and nothing out of the valve, a drop or 2 of gas and a bubble, that's it. My lightning has 255 lph pumps when you release the pressure you know it, like cracking open a beer. This was nothing, so I figure the filter is probably good and clogged. (Now one little thing I have not mentioned before is the fuel pumpin the LX sounds like a 90,000 rpm dremel when you touch the brake pedal and about a 60,000 rpm demel when the car is running and not touching the brake) My guess is this thing is about to go. It's louder than I can make the stock stereo. I changed the filter. Oddly the only gas that came out of the fuel lines was the gas back from the injectors. hardly anything at all came out of the tank line. I tried looking for any info on priming the system but found nothing so I KOEO and flipped the hazards because I remember seeing something about that. Hopped up to the motor and tapped the line release valve. Gas came out, not spraying out but running, not a trickle, but not a ton either. Hopped in and took it for a run again, only in drive again. I was able to rev out the car, and it feels peppier but not 105 hp peppy, about 65 hp peppy, the feeling an SVO owner gets when they blow a IC hose off and all 8:1 compression is attempting to move the car.

    On a side note I had gone to the junkyard to find an ashtray lid for the one I was missing in the center console.. when I went to put in the one I had gotten it would not go into place, I was getting ****ed. After I removed the old one I realized I didn't need the one I went and bought, it was just pushed under the ashtray.

    So I think my fuel pump is on it's way out. Something is up either with the gear selection lever being out of adjustment, or something internal to the trans specificlly with the OD selection, not specificlly with the drive gear it's self but I have no idea as I can never get it into OD even from a roll. I have not put the new TPS on ($30 I could put toword the fuel pump) if it's even needed. The code I was getting when running the timing test was due to me not reading the book and going WOT when it gave a code 10. I got no codes after that. I'll see if I can find a fuel pressure gauge to test the rail with, and am still looking for a non-leaking HVAC control unit with A/c. The SPOUT jumper is installed. After changing the fuel filter it feels like I got about 15 hp back (totally guessing but it was more noticable than a CAI on your normal car). I'm pricing out a pump right now and hope I don't have to drop the tank as I have a 3/4 tank of gas in it. :)
    #14
  15. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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    I don't remember you saying that you checked the timing. If you did, I apologize for the repetition, but if you didn't, make sure you set it with the SPOUT jumper REMOVED, and reinstall it when done. Sounds like you're gonna need some tranny work. I like my 2.3 with the T5.

    Attached Files:

    #15
  16. rd

    rd Founding Member

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    Sounds like tranny time. When I bought my 89, in either D or OD, it would shift 1-2-3 and the converter clutch would lock. It never shifted to OD. If you let off the gas, it would unlock the converter clutch and freewheel, and the engine would drop back to idle going down the road. Drove that way for a couple weeks just fine.

    You could drop the pan and make sure the solenoids are working. The solenoids prevent the trans from going into od or tc lockup until they activate. Sort of opposite from what you would think.
    #16
  17. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    Guess who has a working trans, well sorta.
    I have OD. Just must drive the car to about 45 then I can 'bump' it into OD. Providing I don't go more than 1/2 way into the pedal I can drive in OD just fine after bumping from a roll. Now if I get more than 1/2 way into the pedal it pretty much unlocks the trans and revs to the red line with no friction. I'm guessing unlocking the TQ converter when this happens. If I let off and let the rpm's come back to about 1600 it'll pick up where it left off when it 'unlocked' I had the car up to 85 last night and put about 50 miles on it. Gotta love back roads. Now the trans is downshifting when I let off the gas. I wasn't feeling this before. Also now after the 50 miles it grips right off the line, not slipping up to about 1500. If I drive in OD I must put it back into D in order to take off from a light or anything under 40 mph that requires a bit of pedal. I think I'm going to drive it to my tranny guy and see what he comes up with. Right before I came home lastnight with the 50 miles now on it when it kicked down to 1st when slowing down the whole car shuddered pretty hard. I'm not sure where it sits now but it does drive. Can you tell I'm a QA engineer?
    #17
  18. markwsoil

    markwsoil New Member

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    Unfortunately, the A4ld was used in a lot of Fords, and is a weak sister piece of crap. I got a rebuilt one for my '89 'vert from Roadmasters Transmission in Schaumburg, IL (they're 10 minutes from my house, and offer a two year warranty and the best price I found on an A4ld). They also offer some heavy duty upgrades that drive the price by about another $150. I got the upgraded trans with the intention of putting in a turbo motor, but don't know if I really ever will or not. That was my solution.

    The only complaint I have about the trans is that it jerks pretty bad going into R. Other than that, it seems to work just fine. Also, you have to have a professional installer put it in (flush the lines, cooler, etc.) or the warranty is no good.
    #18
  19. tucsonpred

    tucsonpred New Member

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    I added another 50 miles to the ODO yesterday. It appears I have a Christine car (Stephen King readers will know what I'm talking about) After about 20 miles last night going through some 'mountain roads' forcing the trans to work to get up hills, it started downshifting nicely. No more stumble until the motor nearly died when I was slowing down and the trans was downshifting. Right now I can't get it to kick down in D but can get it to kick out of OD if i get partially into it. I think a lot of it has to do with the shift points in the trans right now. It shift between 2500 and 3000 at max. Very randomly i can get it nearly to the red line but haven't seen the Yellow yet with it in drive or OD. I think something is stuck and the Vacuum Modulator i put in needs adjustment. The paper i got with it makes no sence so I'm trying to gauge how much adjustment 'works' on the car. If I should adjust it in or out. 1 turn, 1/4 turn, 1/2 turn or what. It's the modulator from Autozone, pretty standard equiment. I also am going to do a fuild change but the trans says 3 qt's, does that include the torque converter? I want to get it all out and put in 1 qt of Lucas but might have to limit that to 1/2 qt if the 3 qt capasity is including the converter. I can take it to a trans shop to have the fuild changed but would perfer to do it myself if there is any other way aside from dropping the trans pan.
    #19
  20. JB66

    JB66 New Member

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    Adjusting it OUT increases the pressures.
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