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2000 3.8l Oil Pressure issue

2821 Views 9 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Denbar
I have a 2000 Mustang with the 3.8l V6 with around 150k on it. When I parked it, it seemed to be periodically losing oil pressure. I first assumed that it may be the sending unit until the lifters started rattling really bad and the engine started smoking. It would smoke fairly bad when it was first started, very similar to bad valve seals. The smoking, like the oil pressure is not consistent. The last several times I have started the engine the oil pressure was good, according to the factory gauge, no rattling up top, and no smoke. Also the camshaft synchronizer had just started making a squeaking sound that was also intermittent. So, other than needing a new camshaft synchronizer, I’m thinking maybe the screen in the oil pan is clogged? Any ideas? Also does anyone know it the motor can be jacked up and the oil pan removed without pulling the engine? Any help you could provide would be great!
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I recall reading a article of a guy taking out the k-member and using a engine support to jack up the engine enough to get the oil pan off....either way its a lot of work...I hate to say but at this point you should think about rebuilding it or buying a remanufactured engine....You could have worn rings and valves guides and seals which will get worse over time anyways....The v6 in my 97 mustang has over 200 k on it and even though it does not smoke yet I am considering a total rebuild next spring if time and money the way I think there is a youtube video on pulling the pan but I am unsure....Good luck!!
Thanks for your comment TerryProTech!
Yes, I have removed my pan with the engine still in contact. Not the easiest thing to do. I had to unbolt my rack n pinion and pull it towards the front of the car, remove the transmission, and was able to remove the bolts and pan. I don't remember if I hooked up my cherry picker or not.. I have the same year as yours.

My car also had that rattling sound before, same symptoms you have. I replaced the cam synchro and sensor along with all my lifters and the noise went away. I had some pinging noises after that so I switched over to 91 octane and the noises went away completely.
There was more damage done than I thought tho..about 4 months later, a knock was at my door with 2 spun rod bearings.. I ended up rebuilding my engine last month.
Thanks for your response vsixxer24! It sounds like it would be about as easy just to go ahead and pull the engine? Of course the 5 speed tranny in it is not too bad to drop. I guess you had to remove it to slide the oil pan back?

I was lucky when mine lost oil pressure; it did it pulling out of the yard so I was able to shut it down quick. I’m probably going to put a mechanical oil pressure gauge on it before I get too involved in how I am going to proceed. Hopefully I won’t run into any knocking down the road. I have considered rebuilding it, but just really don’t want to spend the money. I guess it all depends on the oil test.

I’m just tired of seeing it sit in the yard and would like to get it fixed… my F150 is killing me on gas. It has pretty much doubled my gas bill to and from work.

Thanks again for our reply, you have certainly given me something to think about.
I think it is easier to pull the engine, you have a lot more room to work with when its out of the car. Less headache and debris falling on you. I dropped the trans so the rear of the pan could clear, had to tilt it back a ways.

Yea no problem! Have any other quesitons, send me PM. Good luck
Well I finally got around to putting the mechanical pressure gauge in. After unsuccessfully trying to get a ½ male ORB x ¼ female NPT fitting, I did it the old fashioned way and put a Tee behind the sending unit. Not too bad, but it did make me wonder what the Ford engineers were thinking.

The results that I got were really good! When I first started it (outside temp high 40’s) it had 80 psi. After running for about a minute, it dropped slightly to 75 psi. This was from idle up to 2500 rpm’s (where it should be tested). After the engine reached normal operating temp, it was 50 psi at idle and 65 psi at 2500 rpm’s. The oil in the engine is Castrol GTX 20w50, so my numbers are a little higher than what they should be. At any rate, I’m very happy with the result. Obviously it was a bad sending unit causing the gauge to bottom out and snap back to the half way point. Whew!

Of course the time it rattled in the top in still has me curious. Maybe because it had been sitting for a while? It only did it one time. Any thoughts?

It did smoke for a minute or two when I first started it, but I believe it was due to the gas, not the oil. It was white smoke and smelled like bad gas. Possibly a stuck injector flooding a cylinder? Any thoughts?

At any rate, with oil pressure that good, the internals have got to still be good in the engine so I’m a happy camper!

Thanks for all the responses!
Glad you got it fixed.....I would think it possible to be smoking from sitting for awhile...Lifters draining back over time....You can pull out the spark plugs and see if they are fouled or need to be cleaned also....It may sound crazy but put in a thinner oil for the winter like 5 w 20 it will make the car easier to start and won't sludge up as much and clog the screen....Only for winter months....I do that for all my cars and it helps....The thicker oil tends to make it harder to start....Just a suggestion....Good luck!
Thanks Terry! I picked up some 5w30, due to colder temps, on my way to work this morning so that I could change it before I start driving it again. Colder weather aside; I’m curious to see how much it affects the oil pressure. It really looks like Ford would put an actual working gauge on these cars rather than something that indicates more or less than 6 psi. It looks like our 2012 GT has the same sending unit in it. soapbox.gif
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