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I'll apologize ahead of time if this is long, I'm trying to give as much info as I have so bear with me. Also, I'll try to grab a recording of the sound(s) if I get a chance soon.

The car: 2007 GT California Special with the 5-speed manual.

The history: About a year ago, I had to take her in because she was throwing multiple misfire codes and running REALLY rough. The sound was horrible like the engine was literally going to shake itself apart. I replaced the camshaft position sensor myself and that cleared the codes on the driver side bank but then the same code, and the same symptom popped on the passenger side bank. Turns out, the cam phasers were sticking and replacing the sensor actually had no effect. The mechanic managed to take the phasers apart, clean them, and put them all back together and the symptoms disappeared.

Now: Over the last couple of months, the engine has developed a ticking noise. It speeds up with engine revs and sounds particularly loud when reflected back at me by the curb, other cars, etc.

Here's where the history may be important. She also occasionally decides to run really rough again, with a sound similar to that experienced a year ago. The difference is, back then it was constant and now it's only occasional. The roughness ONLY pops up when I give a little gas at very low RPM under load, like in stop and go traffic. Those of you from the Atlanta area will know EXACTLY the kind of traffic I'm talking about. Stop, creep forward 2.5 feet, stop again kind of traffic. When it happens, I can pop the gas to get her up to about 3000 RPM and it stops.

I took her in to see two different mechanics. Both said it sounds like valve tick, and neither took the valve covers off. Here's the part that I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around. According to both mechanics, the fix is to replace the heads. One of them refused to even replace the heads, and recommended a whole new engine. The engine wasn't *that* much different in price from doing the heads!

The first mechanic told me that it was probably the oil pathways in the heads causing issues with lubrication to the lash adjusters as well as causing the cam phasers to not "work right" (my own words). The second mechanic didn't focus on the heads at all because, as he put it, I'll just have to replace the engine in a year anyway. The price ranges I've gotten for a head replacement runs in the $3500 to $4500 range while the engine replacement from the first mechanic was right at about $5000 for a 60k mile engine. The second mechanic called his Ford supplier on speakerphone to get the MSRP and his cost for a brand new, 0 mile, engine and gave me his cost, $4,300. That comes with a 3 year, 100k mile warranty. He will charge $1600 to install the new engine, start to finish so I'm looking at just under $6,000 for the new engine.

I'm currently at 214k miles but I've kept up with the maintenance and only play on the road very occasionally. At just over 200k miles, I know it's entirely possible that the engine replacement is, in fact, the best path to go but I still want to get an outside opinion from folks who are not going to make money off my woes. The simple fact is, it won't cost much more to get a new car and I can finance that but I don't have $6k to plop down on a new engine right now...

Does anyone have any other suggestions?
 

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Timing chain tensioners are probably worn out. They work sort of like a combination of an old school drum brake adjuster and hydraulic lifter. They pump themselves up with oil pressure and lengthen to hold chain tension. After a while, they can't hold the pressure any more, and/or are at full travel, and can't compensate any longer. New chain, new tensioners is my idea.
 

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At 214k miles you need a complete timing kit (phasers, chains, guides, tensioners, trigger wheel, crank sproket) , new oil pump, lash adjusters, and rocker followers, and VCT solenoids. Here are before and after videos I took before I did all this to mine. Sounds like these mechanics don't want to actually diagnose the issue but rather jump straight to the worse case scenario or better yet, they neither have much experience working on the Ford 3v engines (4.6 & 5.4L) and know of these very common issues to the engines. I would seek out shops that specialize and have a lot of experience on Ford modular engines in your area if possible.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys!

Jeremy,

Your first video does sound pretty similar to the ticking I'm experiencing. Did yours ever run rough while this was going on? Your second video shows as unavailable so I wasn't able to watch that one.

I'm going to look for a mechanic who specializes in this engine, though the second guy I went to does seem like he knows a thing or two. He managed to get 7 of 8 stuck plugs out of the engine without breaking them using the stuff he'd learned from dealing with the modulars before.

I'll update here when I've found another guy to look at it but if anyone else wants to jump in, I'll welcome every tidbit I can get.
 

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Sorry about the video. You should be able to view it now. Mine never got to the point of running rough. Sounds like your phasers are probably flat worn out. Try watching a few of the videos by FordTechMakuloco concerning the 3v engines. Brian makes some excellent DIY videos while also explaining in great detail explaining why these failures occur. Here's one on phaser oscillation.

 
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