This is my first time on the forum and was hoping for a helping hand on my problem. I have been working on automobile, tractor and motorcycle engines since I was 11 and have been VERY successful at it. I read through some of the posts on this forum prior to my post to gather info.
I have a '99 E250 van with the 4.2l V6, 140k miles. I've owned the van, with no issues, as part of a fleet for my now defunct electrical company (had to get a 9-5, bad economy). Anyway it has sat for about 4 years now and had a bad fuel pump, which I recently replaced and got it running again. I do recall that it began a pinging problem prior to the pump going out (wasn't gradual, just went out one day).
Ok, so when I begin acceleration, the engine clatters, quite badly. Not really dependent on RPM's, it just clatters badly on ANY acceleration. This acts as if the timing is WAY advanced and or pre-ignition, but on these engines there is no distributor to troubleshoot that. This is NOT a bad rod or top end bearing noise.
I checked the IMRC bushings and there was a missing one where the arm was disconnected from the right side. I fixed that and thought that would do the trick. No change. I don't see it moving when I accelerate and wouldn't know how to check it (i have the cover off when driving). Some say it could be the EGR valve, some say dirty MAF sensor. I have had NO "check Engine" light to pull codes from. I plan on cleaning the MAF, EGR and replacing the plugs and wires because the plugs are shot. I'm at a loss and need some direction, just to make sure I'm not barking up the wrong tree.
Also, another issue I have is the front end and steering wheel shakes like CRAZY at 50 mph. Ball joints? Tie Rods? how do I check them??
Any follow up. I'd say it was your plugs if they were shot will mess the fuel delivery because of poor ignition.
The IRMC is simple. It stays closed until 3000 rpms and then opens. A bad bushing will just make you lose the rod and if the valve is open it will run rough at low speed/idle. Ford wants $8 a bushing. I bought a whole box of 100 online at a fastener company for $7. I seen full sets on ebay reasonably priced. If I ain't mistaken they are a 4.5 mm rod. Like 3/16".
Tie rods, just crawl under there and try to turn/move them. A good tie rod you won't move with your hand. A super bad one is obvious with the slop play. The ball joints you have to pry against them with a crow bar or similar to see if there is any play. I'd say it's a tie rod or center link. If I have one bad tie rod, I'd replace the whole assembly because the others aren't far behind.
Another trick is to jack the front end up off the ground. Grab the tire with both hands and wiggle the tire to see if there is any play at all.
Wiggles left/right... tie rod
Wiggles up/down... ball joint
Wiggles both ways.... wheel bearing
1) I replaced the bad MAF sensor, which was telling the computer to keep the injectors open full time, dumping gas into the cylinders.
2) I cut the cat assembly off and found the front pre-cat to be plugged! I did what every poor man would do and drilled the honeycombs out, welded the pipe back together and fired up the motor. Purred like a kitten and ran perfectly.
3) as far as the fornt end, I will jack the front end up this weekend and do the troubleshooting as you suggested.