Servicing Ford 4-Cylinders: Contour, Escort, EXP, Focus, Probe, Ranger & Tempo
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Servicing Ford 4-Cylinders: Contour, Escort, EXP, Focus, Probe, Ranger & Tempo

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Ford has used a variety of four cylinder engines over the years, ranging in displacement from 1.6 to 2.5 liters (see engine application chart on page 22). All of these engines are overhead cam engines, some with a single cam others with dual cams, and all have timing belts that need to be replaced at 60,000 miles (up to 1997) or at 120,000 miles (most 1998 and up). This is especially important on the interference engines to prevent expensive valve damage should the timing belt fail.

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The interference applications include all of the older 1.6L, 1.8L and 1.9L engines in Escort and EXP, the 2.0L and 2.2L engines in Probe, and the 2.0L DOHC engines (VIN 3 and 5) in Focus.

The timing belt replacement procedures on most of these engines is pretty much the same as any other overhead cam engine. On the 2.0L engine in 1998-2000 Contour, Escort ZX2, 2000 Focus, 1998-2000 Mercury Mystique and 1999-2000 Mercury Cougar, you’ll need a special camshaft alignment tool (see Ford TSB 99-25-4 for details on how to adjust the belt tension on these engines).

It’s always a good idea to inspect the water pump when replacing a belt, and to recommend a new pump if the old one shows any sign of leakage or has more than 60,000 to 100,000 miles on it. Replacing the water pump now can save your customer the labor cost of having to replace the pump later should it start to leak.

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Replacing the belt tensioner and idler pulleys with new ones is also a good idea, especially if the engine has more than 100,000 miles on the original pulleys. If the tensioner and/or idler pulley bearings are loose or making noise, these parts must be replaced.

Technical Service Bulletins
While researching service opportunities on these engines, I found a variety of engine-related technical service bulletins listed on the ALLDATA website. We don’t have the space here to reprint them in their entirety, so I will summarize what I found. I would recommend looking up the original TSBs to get the specifics.

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TSB 04-17-4: MIL Lamp On, Lean DTCs – 2000-’02 Escort and Contour
If you find any lean DTCs on one of these vehicles, Ford says the cause may be an engine vacuum leak, possibly around the PCV valve or in the PCV vacuum plumbing. Such a leak may set the following DTCs: P0171, P0174, P1130, P1131, P1150, P1151, P2195 or P2197. The codes may indicate a lean fuel condition or a lack of heated oxygen sensor (HEGO) switching. Ford says not to replace the oxygen sensor, MAF sensor or PCM because the cause may only be a vacuum leak or an incorrect sized PCV valve that flows too much air.

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To check for a possible vacuum leak, use your scan tool to look at long-term fuel trim (LONGFT) and short-term fuel trim (SHRTFT). With the engine warm and idling, add the long-term and short-term fuel trim numbers together. If the total correction is greater than plus 20% at idle, it probably indicates a vacuum leak that is making the fuel mixture run lean. To confirm the leak, rev the engine to 2,500 rpm and hold. Again, note the LONGFT and SHRTFT numbers. Add the numbers together. If the total correction at 2,500 rpm drops 15% or more, it confirms a vacuum leak at idle.

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To find the vacuum leak, try pinching off individual vacuum hoses one by one while watching the SHRTFT number on your scan tool. When the SHRTFT number drops, you’ve found the leak. If no hose leaks are found, the problem may be a leaky intake manifold gasket. Try feeding propane around the gasket. When the SHRTFT correction drops, you’ve found the leak.

TSB 03-15-14: MIL Lamp On, Rough Idle or Stalling – 1998-2003 Escort and Contour
If you find any of the following DTCs — P1380, P1381, P1383 or P0340 — on one of these vehicles, the cause may be:

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  • Variable Camshaft Timing (VCT) control system stuck with a machining chip;

  • VCT hollow oil feed bolt is plugged with debris;

  • A damaged variable camshaft tone ring;

  • Incorrect base engine timing;

  • The flex-plate may be broken (on automatic transmission vehicles only);

  • Excessive crankshaft end play; and/or

  • Mismatched cylinder head.

If DTC P0340 is not present, but P1381 or P1383 codes are, the problem may be the VCT system. A code P1380 would indicate a solenoid malfunction. The diagnostic procedure involves hooking up a scan tool and a 104-pin breakout box, running the engine at 2,500 rpm, and momentarily connecting a jumper wire between PWR GND pin 103 and pin 44 (pin 45 on returnless fuel injected engines) on the breakout box to cycle the VCT system on and off. Repeat this procedure 20 to 30 times to cycle the variable cam timing system. Observe the RCAM or VCTADV pid on the scan tool to see if cam timing changes from -15 to +45 when pin 103 is connected. No change would indicate a fault in the system.

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Helpful procedure for checking camshaft alignment on 2.0L Contour
Plus: Schematic for Variable Camshaft Timing solenoid

If the VCT system appears to be cycling normally, turn off the engine, then restart it. Use your scan tool to observe the CAMERR or VCTADVERR pid (exhaust cam retard). It should remain at zero as rpm changes, but the RCAM or VCTADV reading (cam position relative to crankshaft) should vary with rpm.

Ford recommends changing the oil and filter as dirty oil or debris in the oil may cause the VCT system to stick.

Note: The VCT system requires a minimum of 50 psi oil pressure on start up for the system to function properly.

If you find a code P0340 and the engine runs rough at idle, or cranks but won’t start, or starts and stalls, the problem may be a broken or damaged flex plate or a bad exhaust camshaft position sensor tone ring.

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TSB 03-15-2: Runs Rough Wet Weather – 2000-’02 Focus
An MIL lamp on with codes P0402 and/or P0403, or an engine that runs rough during wet weather or following a car wash may have a water leak in the cowl seal that allows water to get into the EVR solenoid and DPRE sensor. The cure is to reseal the cowl grill center joint gap with RTV sealer.

Schematic for diagnosing Variable Cam Timing

TSB 03-19-11: Hard Starting and Driveability – 2002-’03 SVT Focus
Ford says a PCM reflash may be needed on these vehicles if you find any of the following complaints:

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  • High idle speed on cold start;

  • Engine flare on gear change;

  • Surge under light load steady state operation (2,000-3,500 rpm, all gears) when warm;

  • Surge under light load steady state operation and acceleration (2,000-3,500 rpm, all gears) when cold;

  • Rough idle;

  • Low rpm or rpm dips;

  • Battery lamp flickers;

  • Hard to start or won’t start;

  • Slow return to idle;

  • Poor performance or acceleration; or

  • Lacks power on initial pull away.

A revised PCM calibration has been developed to improve these conditions. The revised calibration number is 2U7Z-12A650-FYA.

TSB 04-24-10: Engine Vibration at Idle – 2000-’05 Focus
Some of these vehicles may experience an excessive engine vibration at idle, which is most noticeable when the transmission is engaged in reverse. This condition may be caused by small stones, road debris, ice or snow packed or lodged in the rear engine roll restrictor. The cure here is to inspect and clean the rear engine roll restrictor, and to install a service shield, if necessary, to keep debris out of this area.

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TSB 98-23-10: Mass Air Flow Sensor Contamination – 1995-’99 Contour, 1993-’97 Probe, 1992-’94 Tempo, 1991-’99 Escort, 1990-’99 Ranger
Ford says any of these vehicles that exhibit lean driveability symptoms with or without an MIL lamp and/or any DTCs stored in memory may be suffering from a contaminated MAF sensor. The MAF sensor can be contaminated by dirt, oil, silicon, spider webs or potting compound from the sensor itself. When a MAF sensor gets contaminated, it over-estimates air flow at idle (causing the fuel system to go rich), and under-estimates air flow at high air flows (causing the fuel system to go lean). This means long-term fuel trims will learn lean (negative) corrections at idle and learn rich (positive) corrections at higher air flows.

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If the vehicle is driven at wide open throttle (WOT) or high loads, the fuel system normally goes open loop rich to provide maximum power. If the MAF sensor is contaminated, the fuel system will actually be lean because of under-estimated air flow. During open loop fuel operation, the vehicle applies LONGFT corrections that have been learned during closed loop operation. These corrections are often lean corrections learned at lower air flows. This combination of under-estimated air flow and lean fuel trim corrections can result in spark knock/detonation and lack of power concerns at WOT and high loads.

One way to spot this kind of contamination is to note the barometric pressure reading as displayed on your scan tool. Barometric pressure (BARO) is inferred by the PCM software at part throttle and WOT (there is no actual BARO sensor on MAF-equipped vehicles, except for the 3.8L Supercharged engine). At high air flows, a contaminated MAF sensor will under-estimate air flow coming into the engine, hence the PCM infers that the vehicle is operating at a higher altitude. The BARO reading is stored in Keep Alive Memory (KAM) after it is updated. Other indicators are LONGFT and MAF voltage at idle.

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Driveability symptoms that can be caused by a contaminated MAF sensor include lack of power, spark knock (detonation), bucking or jerking, hesitation or surge on acceleration, MIL lamp and the following DTCs: P0171 or P0174 (fuel system lean), P0172 or P0175 (fuel system rich), P1130, P1131, P1132, P1150, P1151 or P1152 (oxygen sensor lack of switching). Use a scan tool to look at the estimated BARO reading, and compare the value to a chart for your elevation (pressure changes with altitude). At sea level, BARO should read about 159 Hz (29.91 in. Hg). By comparison, Denver, CO, at 5,000’ should read about 144 Hz (24.88 in.Hg). Normal learned BARO variability is up to +/- 6 Hz (+/- 2 in. Hg.). If the BARO reading is too low, the MAF sensor may be contaminated.

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Note: The BARO reading is only updated when the vehicle is at high throttle openings. To make sure the BARO reading has updated, test drive the vehicle and do three or four heavy sustained accelerations.

Next, look at LONGFT at idle, in Neutral, A/C off and engine warm (LONGFT1). If LONGFT is more negative than -12%, the fuel system has learned lean corrections, which may be due to the MAF sensor over-estimating air flow at idle.

Also, look at the MAF voltage at idle, in Neutral and A/C off. If the observed MAF voltage reading is 30% greater than the nominal MAF voltage listed in the reference chart for the vehicle (or greater than 1.1 volts as a rule of thumb), the MAF sensor is over-estimating air flow at idle.

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If at least two of the previous conditions are true, disconnect the MAF sensor connector. This puts the vehicle into Failure Mode and Effects Management (FMEM). In FMEM mode, air flow is inferred by using rpm and throttle position instead of reading the MAF sensor. (In addition, the BARO value is reset to a base/unlearned value). If the lean driveability symptoms go away, the MAF sensor is probably contaminated and should be replaced. If the lean driveability symptoms do not go away, the problem is something else (such as dirty fuel injectors, vacuum leak, etc.).

Note: Ford has begun to standardize the dipstick markings for checking oil levels on late-model vehicles. For more information on how to avoid overfilling Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, refer to page 50 of this issue.

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Coolant FAQ — What does Ford say?

October 2005 — Ford Motor Company released recently a dealer/distributor FAQ communication to address the concerns over using “universal” coolants. Below is the verbatim from the communication.

Some companies market a “Universal” coolant claiming that their product can be used for all vehicle applications. What is Ford’s position on the use of “Universal” coolants in Ford vehicles?
Ford does not have performance data for the multitude of engine coolants available in the aftermarket and therefore cannot recommend the use of any coolant except those approved by Ford Motor Company.

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Due to the complexity of cooling systems, no one coolant has been proven to work in all vehicles. “Universal” coolants generally do not contain silicates and nitrites, both of which are required for Ford vehicles equipped with Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant.

Thus, these “universal” coolants generally do not meet Ford’s coolant specification WSS-M97B51-A1.

Ford vehicles equipped with Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant, meeting Ford specification ESE-M97B44-A, require silicates and, in the case of diesel engines, the use of Motorcraft Diesel Cooling System Additive, VC-8, which contains nitrites. Thus, these “universal” coolants may not be suitable for use in vehicles originally equipped with Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant.

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Based on blind laboratory ASTM testing performed in duplicate, two leading “universal” coolants currently in the marketplace did not meet the extended D2809 requirements of Ford’s Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant specification, WSS-M97B51-A1.

The “universal” coolants may not be compatible with Ford’s recommended supplemental coolant additive, Motorcraft Diesel Cooling System Additive, VC-8.

Use of non-approved “universal” coolants may lead to eventual engine damage or failure. Problems caused by use of non-approved “universal” coolant may not arise immediately, but may occur over longer periods of time due to additive compatibility issues.

Although the Ford New Vehicle Limited Warranty is not automatically voided upon the use of a non-approved coolant in Ford vehicles, if such use results in damage to the vehicle or its components, the cost of repairing the damage (and related damage) would not be covered by the Ford New Vehicle Limited Warranty.

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What may be some of the consequences of using the wrong coolant?
Reduced corrosion protection of cooling system components, incompatibility with engine gasket materials, corrosive attack of aluminum components, cylinder wall cavitation and engine block damage in diesel engines and potential water pump issues.

What are the primary coolant types Ford recommends for use in its vehicles?

  • Yellow-colored Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant, meeting Ford specification WSS-M97B51-A1

  • Green-colored Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant, meeting Ford specification ESE-M97B44-A

  • Orange-colored Motorcraft Specialty Orange Engine Coolant, meeting Ford specification WSS-M97B44-D

What is the interchangeability of Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant and Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant? Can Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant be used to top off a vehicle equipped with Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant? Can Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant be used in vehicles equipped with Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant?
Ford does not recommend mixing coolants. Green-colored Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant should not be used in vehicles except those originally equipped with it.

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However, based on the results of backward compatibility testing, certain vehicles originally equipped with Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant can be serviced using the yellow-colored Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant as long as the following conditions are met:

  1. If the green-colored engine coolant is thoroughly flushed out of the cooling system and then the system is filled with yellow-colored engine coolant, the service maintenance (change-out) intervals of the yellow-colored engine coolant can be followed.

  2. If the green-colored engine coolant is not completely flushed out of the cooling system (e.g., yellow-colored engine coolant is used to top off the system), then the service maintenance (change-out) intervals of the green-colored engine coolant must be followed.

  3. All pre-1999 vehicles, as well as all model years of Mercury Villager, must be serviced with the green-colored engine coolant.

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