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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
95 5.0 "Sputter" SOLVED

First let me start by saying that cars are slightly foreign territory to me, so if I say something wrong feel free to correct me, I'm all about constructive criticism so I promise not to get Butthurt.

Acquired car almost a year ago, no huge issues (other than the destroyed oil seals) although I could tell it had a few "hillbilly hack jobs" for mods and repairs.

Recently developed a significant "sputter". Mostly at low RPM. Did some research, decided to play with the EVAP Vacuum lines, pulled off the solenoid and capped off the line to the manifold(?) since all lines after that were pretty rotted. Helped quite a bit, still has the issue. (side note: No emissions test needed on this car)

Decided to replace spark plugs, when I pulled out the old ones and they were in good shape, I checked the gap and they were all at .043 (Autolite), which is what the new ones were right out of the box, so I put a .053 gap on the new plugs (Motorcraft) and it was a massive difference, however, now the sputter seems to have moved to freeway cruising speed. (Side note: 8mm wires)

I'm going to replace the fuel filter next. Even if it doesn't fix the issue, I'm almost positive that the thing has never been replaced.

Anyone else have similar issues with this engine?


I'll keep posting updates as I try more things to fix this bucket.
 

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First let me start by saying that cars are slightly foreign territory to me, so if I say something wrong feel free to correct me, I'm all about constructive criticism so I promise not to get Butthurt.

Acquired car almost a year ago, no huge issues (other than the destroyed oil seals) although I could tell it had a few "hillbilly hack jobs" for mods and repairs.

Recently developed a significant "sputter". Mostly at low RPM. Did some research, decided to play with the EVAP Vacuum lines, pulled off the solenoid and capped off the line to the manifold(?) since all lines after that were pretty rotted. Helped quite a bit, still has the issue. (side note: No emissions test needed on this car)

Decided to replace spark plugs, when I pulled out the old ones and they were in good shape, I checked the gap and they were all at .043 (Autolite), which is what the new ones were right out of the box, so I put a .053 gap on the new plugs (Motorcraft) and it was a massive difference, however, now the sputter seems to have moved to freeway cruising speed. (Side note: 8mm wires)

I'm going to replace the fuel filter next. Even if it doesn't fix the issue, I'm almost positive that the thing has never been replaced.

Anyone else have similar issues with this engine?


I'll keep posting updates as I try more things to fix this bucket.
Personally I think your plug gap is to large. Gap should be between .35-.45.
As cylinder pressure and load on engine increases so does resistance to
fire. A larger gap is harder to bridge under load then a smaller one.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Personally I think your plug gap is to large. Gap should be between .35-.45.
As cylinder pressure and load on engine increases so does resistance to
fire. A larger gap is harder to bridge under load then a smaller one.
Noted. Any clue why the bigger gap helped my sputtering issue tho? I have no quams pulling those suckers out and closing the gap, but if its going to worsen the sputter I'll just leave them as is, its still a stock engine after all.
 

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Noted. Any clue why the bigger gap helped my sputtering issue tho? I have no quams pulling those suckers out and closing the gap, but if its going to worsen the sputter I'll just leave them as is, its still a stock engine after all.
Considering the engine is stock all the more reason to use
a smaller gap. You can get away with a larger gap at lower
rpm's but as rpm's increase so does cylinder pressure and load
causing more resistance between ground electrode and center
conductor. The only reason I am mentioning this is because you
said the sputtering moved to cruising speed. Of course I could
be completely off base but that was the only change you made
was the increase in plug gap which moved your sputtering
up. If It were me I would re gap them to .45 and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Considering the engine is stock all the more reason to use
a smaller gap. You can get away with a larger gap at lower
rpm's but as rpm's increase so does cylinder pressure and load
causing more resistance between ground electrode and center
conductor. The only reason I am mentioning this is because you
said the sputtering moved to cruising speed. Of course I could
be completely off base but that was the only change you made
was the increase in plug gap which moved your sputtering
up. If It were me I would re gap them to .45 and see what happens.

I'll do that this weekend when I change the filter and report back. Just curious but does .002 worth of gap make that much of a difference? (plugs removed were at .043 and it sputtered BAD)
 

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Ford specs .052-.056 for a stock engine. Have the distributor cap and wires been replaced recently? Can you tell us more about the mods/repairs, especially the "hillbilly hacks"?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ford specs .052-.056 for a stock engine. Have the distributor cap and wires been replaced recently? Can you tell us more about the mods/repairs, especially the "hillbilly hacks"?

Distributor cap appears stock, ignition coil is aftermarket (unsure of brand, i'll post pics asap) wires are 8mm (not sure what stock wires are). I was told it had a 1500 stall converter/shift kit? installed.

The "hillbilly hack job" is my general opinion of any work this guy did on the car. For instance, the pan to the tranny looks like there's about 3 tubes of RTV holding it in place (3 must be the magic number because it doesn't leak lol). I looked it up and a new gasket is like 5 bucks... If he didn't go the extra 4 inches on that one there's little hope for anything else. Also paint touch up on the exterior was done with house paint (i think) totally wrong shade and texture and i'm fairly certain he slapped it on there using a dead cat as a paint brush. Add that to the stereo system that was just nothing short of disgusting and you get the idea.

So should I leave my plugs alone and hope the fuel filter gives it the final push in the right direction or what?
 

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Hiya Psycho!! Welcome to the site!! (ok, that's slightly Psycho.....J/K)!


I've always had my plugs gapped at .054, that's what the manual said and had no issues with them like that.


When I bought my car about 6+ years ago, it took me about 6 months to find one unmolested (almost...except exhaust). Some of the ones I looked at, I couldn't believe what people did to these. I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot wrench!. With these cars getting up in age, have you checked all your vacuum lines? I know some of mine were pretty cracked and needed replacing.


When I got mine, one of the first things I did was the standard tune-up stuff. New plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter, air filter just to know where I stood with those. You might try cleaning your MAF sensor with some MAF cleaner spray (yes, they sell it!).


Just a few thoughts.....


...and holy sh** that pan is amazing!! I think there's a little bubble gum in there too! That should be fun to clean up. :O
 

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I'll do that this weekend when I change the filter and report back. Just curious but does .002 worth of gap make that much of a difference? (plugs removed were at .043 and it sputtered BAD)
.002 is very small. I did some looking around and it seems that
the stock gap for a 5.0 is .054 in so maybe you should leave it alone.
I am going by personal experiences with my 87 and I have an MSD box
and the car runs great with .045 in gap on Autolite plugs with no hesitation
or any other problems. Your problem may be something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hiya Psycho!! Welcome to the site!! (ok, that's slightly Psycho.....J/K)!


I've always had my plugs gapped at .054, that's what the manual said and had no issues with them like that.


When I bought my car about 6+ years ago, it took me about 6 months to find one unmolested (almost...except exhaust). Some of the ones I looked at, I couldn't believe what people did to these. I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot wrench!. With these cars getting up in age, have you checked all your vacuum lines? I know some of mine were pretty cracked and needed replacing.


When I got mine, one of the first things I did was the standard tune-up stuff. New plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter, air filter just to know where I stood with those. You might try cleaning your MAF sensor with some MAF cleaner spray (yes, they sell it!).


Just a few thoughts.....


...and holy sh** that pan is amazing!! I think there's a little bubble gum in there too! That should be fun to clean up. :O

I cleaned the MAF sensor with contact cleaner. And I removed the EVAP canister lines and capped off the one to the manifold, what other vacuum lines should I check? And yes, the pan was a lot of fun lol Thanks for the tips!
 

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Any vacuum lines connected to your intake. On the foxbody, there is a vacuum tree on the drivers side firewall where some vacuum lines come from or go to!


Have you also checked codes?
 

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+1 on checking for codes, even if just to make sure there's nothing there.

Yeah, pan gaskets can be really hard to seal if you don't re-use the stock gasket. It's meant to be re-used and is far better than those flat ones that often come with replacement filters.

But back to your sputter: The focus of my question about your other ignition parts was in regard to age. Any idea how old they are?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Any vacuum lines connected to your intake. On the foxbody, there is a vacuum tree on the drivers side firewall where some vacuum lines come from or go to!


Have you also checked codes?

No check engine light(s). But, being that this is an OBD1 I am trying to find a code reader, I was told to check sears so that's probably where I'll start unless someone has a better idea. I checked all visible hoses and wires when I was doing the spark plugs, the only area of concern I found was the EVAP system and I capped the line to it after removing the solenoid (again, this was a huge help with the sputter).
 

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+1 on checking for codes, even if just to make sure there's nothing there.

Yeah, pan gaskets can be really hard to seal if you don't re-use the stock gasket. It's meant to be re-used and is far better than those flat ones that often come with replacement filters.

But back to your sputter: The focus of my question about your other ignition parts was in regard to age. Any idea how old they are?

The wires look fairly new (2 years?) the distributor looks like its a little older, I cracked it open and checked inside, everything in there seemed fine but I'm not 100% sure what to look for. The plugs were fine except for the small gap, no crud or anything on them, I would assume they were about the same age as the wires.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Forgot to mention that the exhaust was removed after the muffler (with a hacksaw). Could this have anything to do with the sputter? Would a Flowmaster muffler help at all on a stock pipe setup?
 

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95 5.0 "Sputter"

Sounds like what was happening to my GTS...

Eventually, my pickup (stator) in the distributor went out. Replaced it for a new one only to have it do it again.

Turned out the bearings in the distributor were smoked and were letting the shaft 'wobble', giving the pickup a bad signal in and out.

It was doing it even at idle where we could see it on an older scan tool, but it seemed the computer could compensate until load was on the engine.

Swapped out for a remanufactured distributor and cleaned it right up.

HOWEVER, I wasn't 'in-the-know' enough at the time to buy a NEW distributor instead of a remanufactured one. In the rebuild process, they generally only focus on the distributor hard parts, not the other electrical components. So even if they test the pickup in the first place, as long as it 'works', it won't be replaced.

Now so far I've gotten lucky with my remanufactured distributor, but I would recommend a new one (Richporter or a Cardone Select) like many others told me.

Good luck!


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