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88 CSX-T - Chugs/hesitates usually when taking off from a dead stop.

3232 Views 68 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  NAJ
13 - MAP Sensor Pneumatic Failure / Sensor Output does not change. 5v is present and the signal line voltage does change as the car is revved, but I can't get good readings because its difficult to get into the wiring with a meter. Is there a better place to meter this out or should I just tee in a connector to make it easier?
15 - No speed/distance sensor signal (Tach and speedo work)
23 - Air charge temperature sensor signal out of range - The car HAS a sensor, but it is not plugged in and I cannot find a plug on the harness
37 - Baro-read solenoid is shorted or open
52 - Oxygen sensor output is rich for too long

Car idles around 1000-1100rpm, but sometimes will randomly shoot up to ~2000rpm while sitting still. The car is running a vacuum block, stock turbo (afaik) with the wastegate going directly to manifold vacuum - boosts to ~5psi. 99% of the vacuum lines are new silicone lines. Fuel pump is a ~1.5 year old walbro 255 that was installed new with a new filter.

Sometimes when I try to accelerate from a low rpm or dead-stop the car will surge/chug/hesitate. Similar to if you were to press and release the gas multiple times consecutively. The RPMS will go up/down/up/down and may eventually "catch" and allow me to accelerate. Above 2000rpm I don't really seem to have issues.

I've found I can reproduce the issue by letting the car idle and waiting for the idle speed to randomly spike to ~2000 rpm. If I try to accelerate at this time the car will usually start hesitating. If I floor the pedal quickly at this time the car nearly stalls. I've noticed that sometimes I can faintly smell /something/ when this happens, but it could just be placebo. I have had the car randomly seem to lose power for 1/10th of a second while driving at normal speeds, but cannot reproduce this issue. It has only happened a few times.

The engine is not original to this car and I don't know if the computer is either. All I know is that the engine is from a LeBaron and is a 2.2 TI - fuel block-off plate is present.

The ground straps from intake to firewall were missing upon receipt. The ground strap that clips onto the passenger mount is corroded like crazy and is in terrible shape.

I don't know if the wiring to the O2 sensor is correct

The wiring to the baro solenoid at one point looks like it melted close to the connector. This is temporarily insulated with tape at the moment to prevent shorting. Voltage still travels over these wires.

Steps taken so far:
Fresh premium gas
Fresh battery
Fixed huge vacuum leak at 3-way vacuum tee coming off of valve cover. Replaced with rubber elbow. There is what appears to be a PCV here, but could just an adapter for the vacuum lines.. - no major change
Fixed wiring issue to O2 sensor - a previous owner had the engine-side pigtail butt-connected, but did not crimp the butt connectors. I installed and crimped new connectors - no major change
Installed temporary ground from right mounting bolt of fuel rail to firewall shield (verified ground is present there) - Car started giving error codes (originally only had codes 11/12)
Installed permanent ground strap from left mounting bolt of fuel rail to firewall - No major change
Verified vacuum lines are in good shape
Ran vacuum source directly to MAP instead of through Baro-solenoid - No major change
Verified 12v present at baro-solenoid harness
Verified 5v at MAP sensor
Verified MAP sensor signal voltage moves as throttle is opened/closed, but could not get good readings due to difficulty of probing the connector
Verified MAP sensor can hold vacuum by placing suction on the vacuum line going to it
Verified TPS resistance readings - from center pin to outside pins I get a smooth transition all the way from throttle fully open to fully closed and the same in reverse

I think that's all!

Any direction is appreciated. I'm not quite sure how the baro-solenoid works and I haven't jumper tested it yet. Will I be able to hear a click if I jump it or will I need to apply vacuum to test the difference between on/off? I also have not tried clearing codes so I will try that ASAP and see if any of the codes clear. I know prior codes disappeared/showed up as I was making changes but immediately cleared. For example - I accidentally started the car without the TPS and a TPS code was stored. It immediately disappeared when I plugged the TPS in and went on a single drive.
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It's the stock one. I removed the tee and gave both the Baro solenoid and the pressure regulator their own vacuum lines from the vacuum block.
I did not even read everything, you said 12"HG at idle stopped there, vacuum at idle needs to be 16"-20"HG. Find the cause of your low engine vacuum and your problem will be solved.
Start by verifying Cam Timing and Ignition Timing.
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3 months later and a quick update. . .

FWIW - the chugging issue has gone away completely prior to any work being performed. The plugs are a bit light and look a little lean, but I get popping on decel as if i'm running rich? Mileage felt very low at some point, but last fill up yielded ~20mpg or so if I tracked properly

I followed this guide: Cam Timing and Belt Tension 84-95 2.2/2.5L

and this video:

Of course while working on the car it started sleeting . . .stopped . . . then started sleeting again. On top of that the sewage pump in the basement decided to flood the closet and spill over into the main room so I spent more time dealing with compared to trying tor resolve the issue. I'm cursed when it comes to trying to work on cars.

Anyways . . . I removed the pump, followed your guide along with that video for reference. Cylinder #1 was placed a TDC. I set the cam timing, tensioned the belt, lined up the lower sprocket mark with the mark on the crank pulley, and rotated the engine around multiple times making sure they lined up the same afterwards.

This is not my picture, but I used this for reference for the cam sprocket. Oval hole slightly offset from second ridge on valve cover. Sprocket tooth above oval hole lined up with second ridge on valve cover which seems to be consistent with the mark in your guide.

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The car started up effortlessly. I teed the vacuum tool into a vacuum line going between the vacuum block . . .and got ~14hg of vacuum and an idle speed above 1k.

I haven't driven the car yet.

Is it possible the vacuum block could be causing a low reading OR that my tool is just no good? Its an OEMTools vacuum tool from Autozone and is brand new.
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Just a quick update. I put cylinder 1 at TDC again and visually checked things again. Also made sure that the rotor in the distributor was at the #1 position when #1 piston was at TDC.

Lower sprocket to cam marks looked ok?:
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I put the upper timing belt cover on and stuck a camera in front of it to get as close to a centered angle as possible. The hole in the sprocket seemed offset slighty to the left of the hole in the timing cover:

I removed the timing belt, turned the cam sprocket clockwise slightly, and reinstalled the belt. I stuck a camera down there again and the hole now looks closer to center:

The car started effortlessly, but now I'm getting 10" hg at idle.

Does this mean I'm likely off by two teeth now and need to go in the opposite direction on the cam? I've read that turning the cam clockwise advances timing so shouldn't that have resulted in higher vacuum, not lower?
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It sounds like your Cam Timing is still off, however, wasn't this a low engine vacuum problem since the beginning?
Low engine vacuum will cause a rich running condition, low vacuum tells the engine controller that there is more air entering the engine, which in this case there actually isn't, so it increases injector pulse width to accommodate the added air which does not exist.

Use this thread to align and set Cam Timing properly.

To summarize...
1)Remove all spark plugs, makes it much easier to rotate the crank.
2)#1 Cylinder at TDC on a compression stroke.
3)To verify you are at true TDC be sure the timing mark on the bell housing is at "0".
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4)Distributor rotor should be pointing at #1 cylinder on the distributor cap, distributor oil pump slot should be parallel to the block when the intermediate shaft alignment mark is aligned with the crank mark.
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5)Cam sprocket alignment slot should be at the centerline of the cylinder head, the head is on an angle so it will not be 12-6.
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6)Be sure you properly set ignition timing when done.
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When all of this is completed, if engine vacuum is still low (below 16" HG) you either have a restricted exhaust or an engine mechanical issue.
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Yes - the issue was a low engine vacuum issue to start.

I couldn't see the mark on the flywheel even after spinning it over a few times, but I did the screwdriver trick to cyl 1. The numbers are on the flywheel right? Or are they on the bellhousing?

I did make sure the distributor rotor was pointing at #1, but did not check the slot by removing the distributor

Cam sprocket alignment - I used the second ridge on the valve cover to line it up using your photo as reference.

I don't have a timing light so I didn't check ignition timing.

I'm going to re-do all of this and will pick up a timing light as well. I go back to work today and have another business trip the 26th-31st. I hope I have a good chunk of days off upon my return so I'll tinker around then.

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1)"I couldn't see the mark on the flywheel even after spinning it over a few times, but I did the screwdriver trick to cyl 1. The numbers are on the flywheel right? Or are they on the bellhousing?"
Yes, the numbers are on the bell housing and the timing mark is on the flywheel/torque converter.
2)"I did make sure the distributor rotor was pointing at #1, but did not check the slot by removing the distributor"
The problem is that if someone replaced the oil pump at one time and did not properly align it then the mark on the intermediate shaft would not be the correct alignment.
Since this is a low engine vacuum issue and the issue is still present after setting cam timing you cannot take anything for granted.

When you pick up a timing light I would definitely suggest getting one with an Advance Meter built in, this will also let you verify cam timing with the engine running.
My timing belt loosened up, how/why, IDK, it was hitting the lower cover, I loosened the tensioner with everything still in the car (there is an access hole in the cover) and re tensioned the belt, during the process the intermediate shaft moved without me realizing it, drove home and the car felt really sluggish, the next weekend I checked ignition timing and could not find the mark, if I did not have access to a timing light with an advance meter I never would have found it, timing was 20 degrees retarded, corrected that and with the timing light I verified Cam Timing was dead on.
To verify cam timing using the light, be sure your timing is set to 12 degrees BTDC, now turn the advance meter until the mark is at "0", now shine the light on the cam sprocket and you will see the slot and exactly where it is aligned.
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Thanks! I'll grab the timing light from harbor freight most likely once I'm back from my trip. I work the worst schedule possible for being able to work on cars which is why it took me months to even get back to this thread :(.

So my cam timing can be correct, but I can still have an ignition timing issue that will result in low engine vacuum correct?

I apologize for the rest of this post :x. Incoming dumb/inexperienced:

I'm not sure I understand what I'm checking with the timing light. I know they're simple devices, but I tend to super over-think things. Am I verifying cam timing or ignition timing with the timing light? How do I set my timing to 12 degrees prior to checking with the light? Is this in reference to the cam slot being at 12 degrees with the engine in reference to cyl 1 being at TDC? I've tried to watch videos, but can't really find one that doesn't adopt the attitude of "it just works." I'm going to do some more research when time permits.

My understanding:
1. Cam sprocket at 12 degrees, visually, with piston #1 @ TDC
2. Timing light pointed at inspection plate on transmission with engine at temperature and running
3. Turn advance meter until the mark inside of the transmission appears next to the "0" on the bellhousing - this will tell degrees of advance or retard?
4. Shine light on cam sprocket and see if hole is aligned with centerline of engine?

What next? How do I use the data gathered to make adjustments?
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When you return from your trip and have time...
1)TDC on a compression stroke with timing mark at bellhousing on 0.
2)The cam sprocket should be at 12 o'clock centerline with the cylinder head which is on an angle. (refer to the pics)
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3)The crank and intermediate shaft marks should align.
4)If you are not sure, remove the distributor and see if the oil pump drive slot is paralell to the block.
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5)When all marks are aligned, tension the belt, rotate the crankshaft 2 revolutions clockwise until you are back at TDC on #1 cylinder as outlined in step 1.
6)Start the car, allow to warm to normal operating temp.
7)With the engine running disconnect the plug from the Coolant Temp Sensor, the CEL will illuminate and the cooling fan will cycle on, you are now in "limp in mode" which brings ignition timing to base.
(A Code 22 will be set in memory)
8)Shine the timing light at the timing window and see where the mark is, you want ignition timing to be at 12 degrees BTDC(+/- 2 degrees), you can verify this with the advance meter, as you said, turn the dial until the mark reads 0, the dial on the timing light should read 12 degrees.
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9)Now walk around to the passenger side of the car, with your meter showing 12 degrees shine the timing light at the top of the cam sprocket, the sprocket will look as if it is standing still (due to the strobe light) and you can visibly see if the slot in the sprocket is aligned with the proper spot on the vale cover.
10)If the cam sprocket is not properly aligned you will need to loosen the belt and remove it from the cam sprocket and move the cam forward or back the 1/2 or 1 tooth you are off and then repeat the process as stated above.

Not saying you should, but this was the reason I invested in an Adjustable Cam Sprocket about 15 years ago, so I could adjust the cam without removing the belt if I was a tooth off, made life much easier for me.
You can also use the adjustable sprocket to increase low end performance or increase top end performance by advancing or retarding cam timing 4 degrees
General EffectImproves low-end power and throttle responseImproves power at higher rpm's
Intake Valve Opening EventHappens soonerHappens later
Piston to Valve ClearanceDecreases intake valve clearanceIncreases intake valve clearance
Moving 4° Causes...Peak torque about 200 rpm soonerPeak torque about 200 rpm later
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I will write myself a note to make a short video showing how to check cam timing with the timing light and what you will see, may not be for 2 weeks though.
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Very very much appreciated. Yeah it seems like I was overthinking. I'll try to get to it prior to the two week mark.
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Got the timing light . . . .started taking plugs out and the #1 plug porcelain broke near the terminal - somehow the terminal - and I assume the resistor, spring, and broken piece of porcelain fell into the cylinder.

Any creative ideas? I tried a shop vac taped to a piece of 1/4 fuel hose, but I couldn't really get it into the cylinder. I "Screwed" it into the cylinder as much as I could and go the piston close to TDC with no resistance - no luck.

I was able to fish the terminal out with a magnet and a screwdriver, but wasn't able to pull anything out. I tried a shop vac with some 1/4 hose which didn't really fit and wasn't able to pull anything else out. There is definitely something there as there is resistance if you try to turn the engine by hand just as cylinder 1 is reaching TDC.
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^^^ This is what I fished out
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^^^ This is what I assume is still left in the cylinder - I busted another plug with a hammer becuase I suspected there was another part inside

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Size of the piece of porcelain missing.
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Maybe a bore scope to look in and confirm what’s in there, possibly get the cylinder up on compression stroke and use compressed air to blow it out. I would be preparing to pull the head off though, I know it sucks.
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Thanks! I don't have the means to pull the head at the moment so it might end up going to storage. I don't have access to an air compressor right now unfortunately.

How do I tell if I'm on the compression stroke? Won't I need the spark plug to be in so I can feel the resistance from the compression?

I can actually see some of the porcelain pieces with a light and managed to pull a few of the smaller ones out with some tape on the end of an extension. I can see the larger chunk, too, so I'm going to try to pull it out with grease on the end of something. Gonna order a borescope tonight and hope it gets delivered during the daylight tomorrow.
Thanks! I don't have the means to pull the head at the moment so it might end up going to storage. I don't have access to an air compressor right now unfortunately.

How do I tell if I'm on the compression stroke? Won't I need the spark plug to be in so I can feel the resistance from the compression?

I can actually see some of the porcelain pieces with a light and managed to pull a few of the smaller ones out with some tape on the end of an extension. I can see the larger chunk, too, so I'm going to try to pull it out with grease on the end of something. Gonna order a borescope tonight and hope it gets delivered during the daylight tomorrow.
Yes order some Chinese food with chop sticks after your done find the tackiest grease possible and use the chop stick. I like your idea it may just work.(y)
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Do you not have a proper spark plug socket?
If you want to know when your on compression you can pull the valve cover and look at the valves to see if they are closed
Do you not have a proper spark plug socket?
I do.
Last night - The grease got a handful of tiny chunks oout. I saw it pull up a big chunk once, but it fell back in. Managed to get it with a flexible grabber tool. Theres quite a bit more broken off than I originally thought. I'm going to get back at it tomorrow with the grabber tool to see if I can pull more out - there is definitely more stuck inside as I feel a ton of resistance when nearing TDC. Will likely also be ordering a borescope.

I also hook up some silicon vacuum line to a shop vac and got in there as best as I could.

I managed to pull a few more small/medium chunks out this morning and now the resistance is gone - I can spin the engine freely by hand. I have a borescope on the way that should arrive today, but it likely won't be here until 10pm so I may have to continue tomorrow.

I've swiveled stuff around in the cylinder using whatever tools I can fit and can't get the resistance to return. If I get the borescope and can still see tiny fragments - less than 1mm in size - that it would be safe to fill the cylinder with penetrating oil, install plugs 2,3,4 and then turn the key to blow the rest of the debris out?

Pic of the first chunk I pulled out below.
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Ok I got what I think is 99% of the pieces out. Borescope shows nothing sitting on top of the piston or around the edges. I can barely get the thing to look up , but when I do a see something that may or may not be a small piece. I even tried putting a bristle brush in there and spinning it around and also hitting it with the borescope and couldn't get it to budge. I might just send it from here. I shot oil 30 feet in the air trying to flush the cylinder and it ended up on the driveway so I had to spend $200 on hot power washing . . . lol.

Gonna finish up the timing job and take one more peek with the borescope then try to get the damned thing going.

Will report back asap.
Welp. Got the timing set enough to start the car. Sounded really good. Couldn't get the fan to come on, pulled the temp sensor and POP - bye bye orange fusible link. Does anyone know the rating of this link off the top of their head?

I removed the valve cover and found that whoever installed it smashed it to hell and back so . . .I'm in for a fan and a valve cover gasket at the least. Fortunately I have a valve cover in my parts bin. I also have a lot of oil cleanup to do on the car.

I was trying to check the timing mark in the inspection window when the fusible link popped. The weather is nice all week, but snowing on my two off days per usual lmao.
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If the timing is good enough I think I'll piece the thing together as well as I can and run a fused switch to the fan for the time being so I at least don't have to share a vehicle any longer.

When time permits do you mind clarifying on resetting base timing? I understand the process - unplug the temperature sensor, check timing to plus or minus 2 degrees of 12 degrees BTDC, check cam alignment - if OK turn car off, plug sensor in.

What exactly is going on in the background by "Resetting" base timing though? What exactly is the SMEC doing?
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