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Author Topic: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.  (Read 3153 times)

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Offline mrlightrail

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Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« on: April 20, 2012, 06:20:51 PM »
Acceleration on this car is just plain horrible. loses speed on even the slightest hill, and when I press down on the accelerator, it seems that I get just NO power till the transmission kicks down.

Any ideas?


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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2012, 07:05:00 PM »
How many miles are on the car? When was the last tune-up? When was the fuel filter replaced last? How's the air filter? It's a matter of going completely thru everything to determine the problem. Without specifics it's a guessing game. A compression test will tell you a lot about the engine. It's going to take a little detective work....

Offline fast64ranchero

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2012, 07:06:19 PM »
if it seems to run smooth, but has no power, look at the cam timing along with what has already been said
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Offline dave1987

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2012, 11:04:36 PM »
Brownie's 2.0 is kind of like this, but has been getting a little better as the rings are wearing in (I think the compression is rising with the wear in on the rings and the cylinder walls).
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Offline Srt

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 03:24:22 AM »
is the car equipped with a catalytic convertor?
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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2012, 08:19:35 AM »
auto or 4 spd manual?

Offline earthquake

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2012, 11:46:33 AM »
also try checking the secondary jet for an obstruction.My c wagon was like that when I got it and that is what it turned out to be.
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Offline mrlightrail

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2012, 06:07:53 PM »
Here's what I've done since I first posted.

Changed plugs and wires, changed oil, added additive to help compression. Compression seems fine, engine is a cold blooded beast, but when warm, idles like a kitten.

Auto trans, 2.3 liter engine, car built in 11/75.

One thing I've noticed is that the secondary barrel does not open till almost WOT. Is this normal? The symptoms are like the engine is not getting enough air. When accelerating, or trying to keep speed, I press down on the accelerator, till I get a "rumble" in the engine. When sitting in the yard, and just ramping it up, it acts like it lags, as if there isn't enough air/fuel getting to the engine to ramp up the RPM's fast enough.

Car has 87,900 original miles on it. very clean. I figure the first owner hardly, if ever, took the car to highway speeds.

Cat is still installed in vehicle, will be gone when I do the exhaust in a couple of months. I think the secondary jet issue could be the culprit, as it seems to be a carburetor issue. Any ideas on where I can find a thread with good pics and instructions to troubleshoot this carb?

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2012, 07:15:33 PM »
I'm not up on that style of carb but a number of guys here are. You should have the secondary opening up sooner than wot. Just out of curiosity, have you checked to see how much exhaust is actually coming out of the tail pipe? The cat could be part of your problem...poss ibly plugged. If you find it doesnt seem like much is coming out of the pipe, cut the cat loose and see if the engine runs better.

Offline mrlightrail

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2012, 12:37:29 AM »
Well, the carb needs to be replaced, that's for sure. Pulled the EGR valve off, and it and the carb's holes were solidly plugged up. I then proceeded to tinker with the timing. It's now set at 6 degrees BTDC, and runs a HELL of a lot better. Only issue is now, a slight detonation knock when accelerating. Gonna pull the plugs and set them at .35 and see if that will help some. I set the new ones at .40, and discovered that Ford recommends a range between .32 and .38 on that engine.

The emissions sticker shows the timing to be 20 degrees, but all of the emissions crap is disabled, gone, with the exception of the cat. I don't believe that the car would run decently at 20 degrees anyhoo.

Offline slowride

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2012, 12:08:21 PM »
While this might be considered by some to be a "tuneup in a can", I read up on this and decided to try it in my '74 with 140,000 miles. There's a product called "Kreen" made by the same company that makes "Kroil" penetrant. I added 1/2 pint to the crankcase and have run it for around 400 miles so far. What it does is it dissolves carbon very quickly, so if there is carbon buildup on the oil control rings or compression rings and lands, it will remove it and possibly restore compression or reduce oil consumption.  Since adding it to my crankcase, I have picked up 200 rpm at idle, idle has smoothed out, felt an increase in mid-range power, and had my gas mileage increase 2 mpg. If your engine is clean, you would likely not see much benefit. Many that have used it have examined used oil filters for any evidence of increased wear, but to my knowledge this has not been an issue.
The oil takes on a very dark amber appearance as it works. I'll be doing an early oil change and using the second 1/2 pint to see if it is done cleaning. Typically, oil changes stay clean longer after treatment as the rings seal better. I'm skeptical by nature, but so far I can't attribute the changes to anything else I've done on the engine.
Just my .02....

Offline mrlightrail

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 03:41:19 PM »
Set the timing to 22 degrees BTDC, performance is better than before. Don't think I can do much more till I can get a carb, and get the cat removed.

Offline JohnW

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 12:26:06 AM »
You can probably do a good cleaning and rebuild on the carb instead of buying a new one.

While this might be considered by some to be a "tuneup in a can", I read up on this and decided to try it in my '74 with 140,000 miles. There's a product called "Kreen" made by the same company that makes "Kroil" penetrant. I added 1/2 pint to the crankcase and have run it for around 400 miles so far. What it does is it dissolves carbon very quickly, so if there is carbon buildup on the oil control rings or compression rings and lands, it will remove it and possibly restore compression or reduce oil consumption.  Since adding it to my crankcase, I have picked up 200 rpm at idle, idle has smoothed out, felt an increase in mid-range power, and had my gas mileage increase 2 mpg. If your engine is clean, you would likely not see much benefit. Many that have used it have examined used oil filters for any evidence of increased wear, but to my knowledge this has not been an issue.
The oil takes on a very dark amber appearance as it works. I'll be doing an early oil change and using the second 1/2 pint to see if it is done cleaning. Typically, oil changes stay clean longer after treatment as the rings seal better. I'm skeptical by nature, but so far I can't attribute the changes to anything else I've done on the engine.
Just my .02....

I would be very careful with any of these treatments. They're known to knock borderline gaskets (including head gaskets) loose, and increase blow-by on worn out rings. With a high mileage engine, sometimes that sludge is what's keeping it from leaking horribly.
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Offline Srt

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 03:38:44 AM »
Set the timing to 22 degrees BTDC, performance is better than before. Don't think I can do much more till I can get a carb, and get the cat removed.

that seems to be a whole bunch of initial timing that you have dialed in.  i'm not familiar at all with 2.3 motors but, is this figure any where near normal?
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Offline JohnW

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2012, 09:20:23 AM »

that seems to be a whole bunch of initial timing that you have dialed in.  i'm not familiar at all with 2.3 motors but, is this figure any where near normal?
Yes it is. Normal is 20 degrees before TDC. I think I have mine set to around 23, they like to be run advanced a little extra.
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Offline pintosopher

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2012, 09:45:28 AM »
Been watching this thread.. Are we talking about total advance or just Idle rpm advance?  With full advance it shouldn't go higher than 25 to 30 degrees on a stock motor.
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Offline fastfred

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2012, 08:54:04 PM »
My info is that there was a big difference between the 1976 and later ignition timing settings.  6 degrees BTDC@700rpm for manual transmission cars 1976 and later 2.3 4 cylinders.
For automatic cars 1976 and later 2.3 motor is 20 degrees BTDC. @550rpm. A big difference but I have it here in Chiltons book.   Idle speed is 850 for manual and 750 rpm for automatics.
Thats what it says.   Advance your ignition until it pings then retard it. I found out that my motor is a 1977 and timed it as above.  Goes better but doesn't idle as smooth when I had it at 6 degrees BTDC.
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Offline mrlightrail

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2012, 03:49:06 PM »
With timing at 22 degrees, engine has regained it's performance. Need to change cap n rotor to complete job. Now, I think my solonoid is going out. have to turn the key multiple times before starter engages..Heari ng a click each time I do it, though. It's a 17 dollar part, so I'm gonna swap it out. Got a friendly warning from the HP about my windshield. Need to replace it, but I won't go DIY. 350 for the windshield uninstalled, but am going to get quotes to see if I can get the installed price down to there.

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Offline slowride

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Re: Diagnosing a gutless 2.3 engine.
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2012, 11:34:32 AM »

that seems to be a whole bunch of initial timing that you have dialed in.  i'm not familiar at all with 2.3 motors but, is this figure any where near normal?
You can probably do a good cleaning and rebuild on the carb instead of buying a new one.

I would be very careful with any of these treatments. They're known to knock borderline gaskets (including head gaskets) loose, and increase blow-by on worn out rings. With a high mileage engine, sometimes that sludge is what's keeping it from leaking horribly.
I've never heard of oil treatments that "knock borderline gaskets", especially on a 2.3. The beauty of having someone ELSE take the risk of trying something new is if it fails, nobody else's engine is damaged. I've used similar products for decades at dealerships (remember GM top engine treatment as an approved warranty "fix" for carbon knock on the quad 4?) and though there may be the possibility of increasing oil consumption by cleaning the rings, odds are if your oil control rings are THAT gunked up, you already have a consumption problem. In my case, I have regained some compression without increasing oil consumption on an engine with 140,000 miles. I can feel a bit more power (it is a 2.3 after all), and may get better mileage if I could keep my foot out of it. If someone's engine is marginal and has been neglected, they really have 2 courses..... try it, or drive it in the ground. Ultimately, if the treatment "harms" the engine or it's driven in the ground, it'll require a rebuild anyhow. If the treatment helps (as it has with my engine), it will delay a rebuild with the added benefit of a bit more power. Nothing ventured, nothing gained......


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