1990 5.0 Mustang vacuum/emissons issues

Discussion in 'Fox 5.0 Mustang Tech' started by Little Wolf, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. Help! I just purchased my 1990 Mustang 5.0, 5 speed, original "7-Up" convertible and it had been non-operational since 2001. In evaluating this 61 K original miles beauty, the previous owner had done some R&R on the lines that attach to the plenum chamber and I am at a total loss of how to restore the order of those now. :shrug: I am a visual person and I need photo's of the vacuum line routing to the fuel injection plenum chamber and where these lines go to/come from. There is "Tee" fitting under the plenum on the driver's under-side of that chamber; an elbow on the passenger's under-side of that chamber; and an elbow on the rear, near center of the chamber. I see an attachment on the firewall, driver's side. The line from the oil filler spout goes to the throttle body and is a hard metal line with neopreme on either end, so I have that one sorted out. Can any one help me with this problem. I need to get my baby ready for a California smog inspection and no way is she going anywhere like she is. Thanks for anyone who can help.
  2. Diagrams courtesy of Tmoss & Stang&2birds

    Thermactor Air System
    Some review of how it works...

    The Thermactor air pump (smog pump) supplies air to the heads or catalytic converters. This air helps break down the excess HC (hydrocarbons) and CO (carbon monoxide). The air supplied to the catalytic converters helps create the catalytic reaction that changes the HC & CO into CO2 and water vapor. Catalytic converters on 5.0 Mustangs are designed to use the extra air provided by the smog pump. Without the extra air, the catalytic converters will clog and fail.

    The Thermactor air pump draws air from an inlet filter in the front of the pump. The smog pump puts air into the heads when the engine is cold and then into the catalytic converters when it is warm. The Thermactor control valves serve to direct the flow. The first valve, TAB (Thermactor Air Bypass) or AM1 valve) either dumps air to the atmosphere or passes it on to the second valve. The second valve, TAD (Thermactor Air Diverter valve or AM2 valve) directs it to the heads or the catalytic converters. Check valves located after the TAB & TAD solenoids prevent hot exhaust gases from damaging the control valves or pump in case of a backfire. The air serves to help consume any unburned hydrocarbons by supplying extra oxygen to the catalytic process. The computer tells the Thermactor Air System to open the Bypass valve at WOT (wide open throttle) minimizing engine drag. This dumps the pump's output to the atmosphere, and reduces the parasitic drag caused by the smog pump to about 2-4 HP at WOT. The Bypass valve also opens during deceleration to reduce or prevent backfires.

    The computer uses the change in the O2 sensor readings to detect operation of the Thermactor control valves. When the dump valve opens, it reduces the O2 readings in the exhaust system. Then it closes the dump valve and the O2 readings increase. By toggling the dump valve (TAB) and switching the diverter valve (TAD) flow from the back of the heads to the air pipe, the computer tests for the 44/94 codes.


    Computer operation & control for the Thermactor Air System
    Automobile computers use current sink technology. They do not source power to any relay, solenoid or actuator like the IAC, fuel pump relay, or fuel injectors. Instead the computer provides a ground path for the positive battery voltage to get back to the battery negative terminal. That flow of power from positive to negative is what provides the energy to make the IAC, fuel pump relay, or fuel injectors work. No ground provided by the computer, then the actuators and relays don't operate.

    One side of the any relay/actuator/solenoid in the engine compartment will be connected to a red wire that has 12-14 volts anytime the ignition switch is in the run position. The other side will have 12-14 volts when the relay/actuator/solenoid isn't turned on. Once the computer turns on the clamp side, the voltage on the computer side of the wire will drop down to 1 volt or less.

    In order to test the TAD/TAB solenoids, you need to ground the white/red wire on the TAB solenoid or the light green/black wire on the TAD solenoid.

    For 94-95 cars: the colors are different. The White/Red wire (TAB control) is White/Orange (Pin 31 on the PCM). The Green/Black wire (TAD control) should be Brown (pin 34 at the PCM). Thanks to HISSIN50 for this tip.

    To test the computer, you can use a test light across the TAB or TAD wiring connectors and dump the codes. When you dump the codes, the computer does a self test that toggles every relay/actuator/solenoid on and off. When this happens, the test light will flicker.

    Theory of operation:
    Catalytic converters consist of two different types of catalysts: Reduction and Oxidation.
    The Reduction catalyst is the first converter in a 5.0 Mustang, and the Oxidation converter is the second converter. The Oxidation converter uses the extra air from the smog pump to burn the excess HC. Aftermarket converters that use the smog pump often combine both types of catalysts in one housing.

    Now for the Chemistry...
    "The reduction catalyst is the first stage of the catalytic converter. It uses platinum and rhodium to help reduce the NOx emissions. When an NO or NO2 molecule contacts the catalyst, the catalyst rips the nitrogen atom out of the molecule and holds on to it, freeing the oxygen in the form of O2. The nitrogen atoms bond with other nitrogen atoms that are also stuck to the catalyst, forming N2. For example:

    2NO => N2 + O2 or 2NO2 => N2 + 2O2

    The oxidation catalyst is the second stage of the catalytic converter. It reduces the unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide by burning (oxidizing) them over a platinum and palladium catalyst. This catalyst aids the reaction of the CO and hydrocarbons with the remaining oxygen in the exhaust gas. For example:

    2CO + O2 => 2CO2

    There are two main types of structures used in catalytic converters -- honeycomb and ceramic beads. Most cars today use a honeycomb structure." Quote courtesy of How Stuff Works (HowStuffWorks "Catalysts")

    What happens when there is no extra air from the smog pump...
    As engines age, the quality of tune decreases and wear causes them to burn oil. We have all seem cars that go down the road puffing blue or black smoke from the tailpipe. Oil consumption and poor tune increase the amount of HC the oxidation catalyst has to deal with. The excess HC that the converters cannot oxidize due to lack of extra air becomes a crusty coating inside the honeycomb structure. This effectively reduces the size of the honeycomb passageways and builds up thicker over time and mileage. Continuous usage under such conditions will cause the converter to fail and clog. The extra air provided by the Thermactor Air System (smog pump) is essential for the oxidation process. It oxidizes the added HC from oil consumption and poor tune and keeps the HC levels within acceptable limits.

    Newer catalytic converters do not use the Thermactor Air System (smog pump) because they are designed to work with an improved computer system that runs leaner and cleaner
    They add an extra set of O2 sensors after the catalytic converters to monitor the oxygen and HC levels. Using this additional information, the improved computer system adjusts the air/fuel mixture for cleaner combustion and reduced emissions. If the computer cannot compensate for the added load of emissions due to wear and poor tune, the catalytic converters will eventually fail and clog. The periodic checks (smog inspections) are supposed to help owners keep track of problems and get them repaired.

    Some basic theory to clarify how things work is in order…

    EGR System theory and testing

    The EGR shuts off at Wide Open Throttle (WOT), so it has minimal effect on performance. The addition of exhaust gas drops combustion temperature, increases gas mileage and reduces the tendency of the engine to ping. It can also reduce HC emissions by reducing fuel consumption. The primary result of EGR usage is a reduction in NOx emissions.

    The EGR system has a vacuum source (line from the intake manifold) that goes to the EVR, computer operated electronic vacuum regulator. The EVR is located on the back of the passenger side shock strut tower. The computer uses RPM, Load. and some other factors to tell the EVR to pass vacuum to open the EGR valve. The EGR valve and the passages in the heads and intake manifold route exhaust gas to the EGR spacer (throttle body spacer). The EGR sensor tells the computer how far the EGR valve is open. Then computer adjusts the signal sent to the EVR to hold, increase or decrease the vacuum. The computer adds spark advance to compensate for the recirculated gases and the slower rate they burn at.


    There should be no vacuum at the EGR valve when at idle. If there is, the EVR (electronic vacuum regulator) mounted on the backside of the passenger side wheelwell is suspect. Check the vacuum line plumbing to make sure the previous owner didn’t cross the vacuum lines.

    Diagram courtesy of Tmoss & Stang&2birds. (the diagram says 88 GT, but the EGR part is the same for 86-93 Mustangs)

    The EGR sensor is basically a variable resistor, like the volume control on a radio. One end is 5 volt VREF power from the computer (red/orange wire). One end is computer signal ground (black/white), and the middle wire (brown/lt green) is the signal output from the EGR sensor. It is designed to always have some small voltage output from it anytime the ignition switch is the Run position. That way the computer knows the sensor & the wiring is OK. No voltage on computer pin 27 (brown/lt green wire) and the computer thinks the sensor is bad or the wire is broken and sets code 31. The voltage output can range from approximately .6-.85 volt.

    The EVR regulates vacuum to the EGR valve to maintain the correct amount of vacuum. The solenoid coil should measure 20-70 Ohms resistance. The regulator has a vacuum feed on the bottom which draws from the intake manifold. The other vacuum line is regulated vacuum going to the EGR valve. One side of the EVR electrical circuit is +12 volts anytime the ignition switch is in the run position. The other side of the electrical circuit is the ground path and is controlled by the computer. The computer switches the ground on and off to control the regulator solenoid.

    EGR test procedure courtesy of cjones

    EGR test procedure courtesy of cjones

    to check the EGR valve:
    bring the engine to normal temp.

    connect a vacuum pump to the EGR Valve or see the EGR test jig drawing below. Connnect the test jig or to directly to manifold vacuum.

    Do not connect the EGR test jig to the EVR (Electronic Vacuum Regulator).

    apply 5in vacuum to the valve. Using the test jig, use your finger to vary the vacuum

    if engine stumbled or died then EGR Valve and passage(there is a passageway through the heads and intake) are good.

    if engine did NOT stumble or die then either the EGR Valve is bad and/or the passage is blocked.

    if engine stumbled, connect EGR test jig to the hose coming off of the EGR Valve.
    Use your finger to cap the open port on the vacuum tee.
    snap throttle to 2500 RPM (remember snap the throttle don't hold it there).
    did the vacuum gauge show about 2-5 in vacuum?
    if not the EVR has failed

    EGR test jig

    To test the computer, you can use a test light across the EVR wiring connectors and dump the codes. When you dump the codes, the computer does a self test that toggles every relay/actuator/solenoid on and off. When this happens, the test light will flicker.

    Late Model Restoration has the Ford Racing M-12071-N302 kit with the EGR valve & sensor along with the ACT & ECT sensors for $45. See * * * N/A * * * 86-93 SENSOR KIT, 5.0L EFI, INCLUDES EGR VALVE & SENSOR, COOLANT TEMP SENSOR, & AIR CHARGE TEMP SENSOR MUSTANG for more details

    See the following website for some help from Tmoss (diagram designer) & Stang&2Birds
    (website host) for help on 86-95 5.0 Mustang wiring Mustang FAQ - Engine Information Everyone should bookmark this site.

    Ignition switch wiring

    Fuel, alternator, A/C and ignition wiring

    Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 88-91 5.0 Mass Air Mustangs

    Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 91-93 5.0 Mass Air Mustangs

    Complete computer, actuator & sensor wiring diagram for 94-95 5.0 Mass Air Mustangs

    Vacuum diagram 89-93 Mustangs

    HVAC vacuum diagram

    TFI module differences & pinout

    Fuse box layout
    stang89bidges likes this.
  3. 1990 5.0 Vacuum/Emissions line routing

    To: J. Richker
    Thank you for the exhaustive and very informative technical response to my thread on the routing of the vacuum lines on my 1990 5.0 Mustang fuel injection. I am having a bit of trouble with the schematics/diagrams however in grasping the real time vacuum line routing on the "tee" connection, the "elbow" connection on the underneath side of the plenum chamber and the "elbow" on the rear of that chamber and where exactly on the schematics/diagrams you provided me, are in actuality. It is pretty overwhelming when I look at all of the information and I am not sure I am not more confused than I was before. I am sorry to be so technologically challenged when it comes to these complicated emisson ladden motors, but I am a bit old school and used to a carburetor inducted motor, or if fuel injected, a Hilborn system. If you or someone could and would be so kind as to photograph in real time, an actual 1987 to 1993 5.0 engine and illuminate these lines from origin to destination, it would make more sense and I could then refer to the information you provided so I can get my mind wrapped around all of this and understand the functioning, then it would all be logical and make sense. Right now, it does not. Thank you for your help. I hope you or someone can get the photo's of this application for me so I can square my engine around for inspection. Be well. Regards, Thomas Little Wolf
  4. Nice diagrams.... Good luck :nice:
  5. 1990 5.0 Engine Vacuum line "PHOTOGRAPHS" request

    I appreciate the "diagrams" that were supplied by the very knowledgable member to my initial thread, but one dimensional diagrams don't help me as the vacuum line connections under the plenum chamber, on the rear, on the fire wall, don't lend themselves to ready identification on these one-dimensional diagrams. I respectfully request "Real-Time" photographs, if someone could take them of their 1990 5.0 Mustang, and point out what each line and connection is so I can identify them on these one dimensional diagrams and understand their use and function. It does no good to me to show me a one dimensional diagram that does not clearly depict what the lines that come off or go to these tee and elbow conections are, so I can't then know how they function. Maybe I am not making myself clear in this request and I apologize for that if this is the case so I am asking for this to be made simple for me. I have been away from cars for a long time so missed out on the evolution of the computer revolution as it now is. I know points, condensors and carburetors, even Hilborn injector's, but this 5.0 has me confused and stumped. I need someone's help here, so please find a way to get this done. Thanks to the membership for this.
  6. You may or may not get someone to post photos, so the diagrams are pretty much it. I have found that photos aren't as good as you think they might be. The color and contrast of a photo of a dirty engine aren't the best.

    Something to think about: vacuum is vacuum. It does not matter where you source it from on the intake manifold. As long as the hose sizes match, it isn't a big deal. The only vacuum connection on the upper that doesn't like to use one of the multiple vacuum taps is the fuel pressure regulator. It has its own vacuum tap.

    The Thermactor Air & EGR theory tech notes will help if you digest them slowly one at a time. Start with the EGR system, since the vacuum plumbing on it is the simplest.
    Once you have the EGR system connected and working, do the Thermactor Air system ( AKA smog pump).

    Meanwhile, I hope that someone has some good quality photos to help.
  7. These pics may help. These lines are as they came from the factory.

    Right front of engine


    Front underside of intake. The hose on the left goes to the charcoal canister. The hose on the right goes to the T screwed into the underside of the back of the manifold.


    My finger is pointing at the hose going to the charcoal canister showing the routeing.


    The final connection to the charcoal canister.


    Backside driver's side of the manifold showing the firewall mounted vacuum tee.


    Backside if the manifold showing the connection to the fuel pressure regulator.


    Backside passenger side showing the EGR, vacuum distribution fitting and connections to the rear of the manifold.


    I have other pics so if you need something you don't see just give me a shout.
    stang89bidges likes this.
  8. 1990 5.0 Vacuum line thread

    Thanks to all of the members who answered my pleas for help with the photo's. The one from member '90topdown', of the underside of the plenum chamber helps a lot as I now can see the "tee" fitting and that one of the lines does a turn around and connects under the plenum, that helps a lot. The other line that exits out from underneath I will have to identify as to where it goes exactly, as with each of the now only two remaining lines, one to the front and one to the rear as shown on the photo of the underside of the plenum, but this is a huge help and a great start.
    Now, to member 'Marylandstang' who sent me all of the actual photo's, those help a lot as I now have the real time photo's that I need so I can see where the lines the do exit from under the plenum, actually go. The only one that I can see right now that I don't know where it goes, is the PCV valve and line that hooks onto it. The PCV valve has a large vacuum line on it and I don't know where it originates from and "IF" it has another line that goes on the other large side of the PCV valve and where that would go to. I am close and your photo's and JRichker's diagrams and advice will go a long way to helping me when I go back down to my car to work on her and get her ready for smog inspection and final registration so I can start showing my 7-up drop top off! I will be in touch and if I have any further questions, I know I can count on you to help me through this. Thanks to each of you, you've been a great help. Be well! Little Wolf.
  9. Hey Maryland Stang,
    I tried to print the photo's that you sent me and my program/computer will not let me access them that way on this web site. Can you send them in a compressed zip file to me or a jpg file directly? I would appreciate that as I can print them from my Pictures section I believe. My e-mail address is [email protected]. I sure appreciate your help and am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your continued help. Thomas Little Wolf.
  10. You should be able to Right Click on any of the images and a small window will pop up. Then click on Save As and this will save the images on your computer in any directory that you choose. Then go to that directory and print away. :)
  11. Little Wolf, I'm going to answer your questions from your PM here so everybody that needs to can benefit...

    The PVC valve fits into a rubber grommet and that fits into this large hole located at the very rear of the lower manifold.


    From there the hose goes to the rear tee located on the rear bottom of the plenum.


    From there it goes towards the front of the plenum.


    And then it connects on the right hand side here.

    stang89bidges likes this.
  12. Much thanks to Marylandstang

    Your help on this issue has been immeasurable. I have printed down all of the photo's and when I go down home to work on my Mustang, these will no doubt, make the difference so I can get this worked out and the emissions system back to where it should be so she can pass the smog test out here. That will be the first step in getting her well on her way to a full massaging and resto. I will keep you updated and send photo's when she is moving along better. Again, your help has made the difference in my understanding where these lines should route. This information will not just help me, but many others, no doubt, who confront this same problem. Be well and my best regards to you and your loved ones. Thomas Little Wolf
  13. Not a problem and I'm glad it helped you out. :nice:
  14. Mission Accomplished!

    Hey Maryland Stang,
    Thanks for all of your awesome help in providing me the direction I needed to successfully re-connect the vacuum lines on my 1990 5.0 H.O. Mustang. I was able to finally get down to my 7-up rag and got all of the vacuum lines properly connected and flew under the radar to a Smog Check garage and she passed with flying colors, well under all of California's stringent standards. It was a thrill to drive her the distance to the garage as I only have a "Non-Operation" permit on her and DMV was of no help. They were some hour drive away and wanted me to give them a specific day for the test or needed service so they could provide me with a "one-day pass"... . I was not sure of being able to coordinate the smog station and DMV so I connected with the shop and had a Cherokee brother follow me in his truck and I took the back roads, as much as possible, and got there with no incidents. She has some creaks and rattles under the front end, I suspect struts, but otherwise, she is a great drive. I am now ready to register her so I can get to the next phase of her restoration and clean-up in anticipation of the paint. I will be tearing into the doors to address the door handles and locks and service the power windows, then the convertible top mechanics before I venture into suspension/shock-struts, brakes and sorting out the disconnected wiring I've found, including no horn. I've got a new convertible top, rear window and moulded carpet and am looking for a cheaper source for the OEM style replacement white leather seat covers and someone who can freshen up the door panels, arm rests and console. If you or anyone else has any sources for these areas, please shoot those to me as I am looking for struts, seat covers in the OEM style, white leather, front and back, someone who can do the door panels, arm rests and console. I've got the paint handled so these are my areas of concern.
    Again, thank you and to JRichker, 90TopDown and all of the other members who weighed in on this request as you all share in the success of this story. I look forward to hearing from you all again and send you my best. Be well always.

    In the Spirit,

    Thomas Little Wolf
    [email protected]
    member of StangNet
  15. Wow

    Thank you all who posted on this thread. It saved my bacon. My car is running better than it has since we bought it. Thanks again for all the pics, links and info. Gonna go tear it up a bit, just for kicks.
  16. Joe always gives excellent and useful information. I have the 7-up car too, had 41 and 91 codes, so installed new 02 sensors and now have a 45 and 46 codes, which points to Thermactor air test failures. But I don't really understand what these mean or how to remedy them. I see that these read off the oxygen sensors, so this probably explains why they didn't come up before putting the O2 sensors in.
    What should I check for. I also have a code 15 and know what that is.
    When I cold start the engine dies and then second start it will idle but a little rough. I cleaned the IAC, but now I am wondering if there is an connection between the new codes and code 15??
  17. One thing I forgot to mention about the Thermactor, is that the bottom 3/4" hose had been lying on the header and burned a hole in the hose, so I replaced it (just a couple of days ago) but had to put in an L-shaped rather than crooked, so it wouldn't touch the headers. I don't know if this could cause the problem but thought I should mention it.
  18. Wow! no consistency. I warmed it up thoroughly and now the 45 and 46 codes are not there but the 41 code has returned. does this mean I just destroyed a new oxygen sensor!!?? By the way, it runs like crap until it is really warmed up. Cold start die--next I guess I change out the IAC. The TBS checks out fine.