Engine 2.3L Red Hot Exhaust Manifold?

KingSaturn

Member
Oct 10, 2019
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Washington
So For a couple of weeks now, my car has been stuck in limp mode. It has a very slow acceleration and the last time I drove it anywhere it stalled out. It really can't make it up my hill at anything more than 10-20 MPH. Every weekend I've been frantically fixing possible causes, because she's really my only ride without causing my family a bunch of trouble. First theory I had was that the TPS finally gave out, the last time I had pulled codes the sensor threw one at me. While I had the Throttle Body out I decided I would also clean that out with some throttle body cleaner since the inside of it was disgusting and black. In addition I changed the throttle bodies gaskets just so it wouldn't have any issues in the long run. Wen't for a test drive. Didn't fix the problem. Still stuck in limp mode.

When that didn't work, I crossed it off my list and started doing more research. I bought a code reader to make pulling them easy, and it gave me a code 998 (limp mode), and a 224 (Erratic Ignition Diagnostic Monitor "IDM" input to processor). I know this has to do with the coils but we did some more research and some people were claiming that they changed their spark plugs and it fixed very similar issues. So this last weekend I tried that. I changed the spark plugs and the ignition wires. Went for a test drive. Didn't fix the problem. Still stuck in limp mode, but this time I had a surprise when I got home. The exhaust manifold was glowing red hot like an oven!

Exhaust 2.jpeg
Exhaust.jpeg

At this point we are thinking one of three things have gone bad. Either
A. The timing is bad from when we took the crankshaft bolt off weeks ago to investigate for my oil leak.

B. The O2 sensor is bad.
C. The Cat Converter is bad.

I'm honestly at a loss. Should I have just trusted the codes and replaced the coils and wiring for it? Would it have gone this way anyway because of the timing? Am I even looking at the right possibilities? Any help would be appreciated. I just want to get her back on the road again. Thank you!
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
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The red hot exhaust manifold says lean, could be plugged cats.
does it have a lot of miles? Late timing can cause that too.
i would check the timing belt then pull the exhaust pipe off the manifold and see if it runs better
i will admit to not knowing much about the 4 cylinder engines.
 

junkyardwarrior

Active Member
Jan 10, 2011
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if the timing belt was never removed, and it ran ok prior to removing the lower pulley, there is little likelihood that the belt has an issue. 998 is "usually" throwed when the EEC goes into FMEF (failure mode effects management). FMEF can be triggered by a failed EEC (computer)-but there is no reliable way to test it, so you need to use the process of elimination to eliminate wiring and sensor issues. Also, a failed EEC can be caused by a lot of things, electrical short, electrical surge (lightning can cause it), sometimes hooking up jumper cables backwards, or it can just fry on it's own (circuit board problem). Another way to "test" the EEC is to replace with a known good one.
 
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Rcdgl

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Feb 19, 2018
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I would start with the current codes.

x2 on the potential for a blocked exhaust, try pulling the exhaust to see it that helps. Does the exhaust sound normal?
 
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KingSaturn

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Oct 10, 2019
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The exhaust has always sounded pretty ratty, I figured it had a leak somewhere but maybe the Cat was starting to go the whole time. Also, I recently replaced the coils, and it seems to have gotten rid of my engine light, but she still has super low power. So something else is definitely off. I dropped her off at a trusted shop yesterday, so hopefully they can find the problem and tell me what's up. I just don't have anymore time to troubleshoot myself. Oh, and I'm pretty sure that when the manifold went oven on me it melted something on the heater core, cause now I have a new coolant leak from somewhere between the firewall and the dashboard. The problems are just jumping out at me this month!
 

junkyardwarrior

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Jan 10, 2011
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Well remember that these cars are 25+ years old now. They ARE going to have problems. Sometimes multiples and frequently-as you've found out.
 

KingSaturn

Member
Oct 10, 2019
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Washington
Yeah I expected it to have problems, there have just been a whole lot of other things going down the drain this month. Anyway, I called the dealership on Friday and they said that the crankshaft bolt is "bored out" and that they want to find a new one before we go any further so that it doesn't cause more damage. So I think I found the right bolt on Ebay, same part number and it looks in good enough shape so I got it. I really wish there were more parts for my engine floating around, but the 2.3 seems so illusive (Just another reason to swap the engine at some point ).
 

91TwighlightGT

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The 2.3 is actually pretty common, they were in rangers for many years. Also be advised that the 2.5 L in the Ranger is essentially your 2.3 L with a stroker crank.
 

KingSaturn

Member
Oct 10, 2019
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Washington
So, an update. I took the car to the shop cause I really couldn't figure it out. Turns out, the crankshaft bolts washer had gone missing during the cars 20+ years of life. So, when we put the bolt back on, it quickly dug a second notch into its hub - throwing the timing off about 20 degrees. Apparently that's all it was. She's been back on the road now for about a week and I've had none of the same problems. She's running great now aside from the blown heater core and the computer that's going a bit ca-putz now. at least I'm keeping busy! Thanks for your guys' suggestions.
 
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junkyardwarrior

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Jan 10, 2011
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I've been saying for years that the 2.3 is about gone. People keep saying otherwise, but have you actually tried finding one? They're not everywhere like they used to be. They all went to the scrap metal yards to be sent off to china, melted down, and then re-cast into whatever they want them to be, then sent back to the USA.

When I bought mine, the engine was ok other than the head, but I found a turbo engine from a Merkur and swapped it in. That engine was trashed and I had to find another block to build while I was still driving (and pouring oil into) the "old" one. Took almost 7 months of constant ad placements and looking (digging) around to find one, and it mattered none what year it was to me (large journal or small) because I'd make either one of them work. Then one flew out of nowhere, guy stopped by work with a trailer looking for a buddy bearing cap and I seen some motors on the trailer. He was headed to the scrap yard with 'em, so I went out to look-and he had several 2.3's on it, and one of them was a Turbocoupe engine (long block), which I snatched up. Great shape too. It wasnt' free though, but cheap enough to build.
 
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Noobz347

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That's largely because nobody wants them. They're sitting in garages, holding doors open, giving worms and critters a place to live amongst the weeds and brush, all across America and Australia.

Every couple years someone comes along and builds one, blows it up, and moves along. lol
 

trebor3170

mine usually gets hard with the car on
May 31, 2019
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The 2.3L Ford is, or was, one of the most popular engines used in class "S", 2.5 Liter stock, inboard racing hydroplanes. A little bit of useless trivia for you, but explains where, at least, some of them are.