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Ford E-350 Motorhome loses power - misfires- stalls

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Ford E-350 Motorhome loses power - misfires- stalls

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  #1  
Old 06-22-2018, 06:25 PM
Brown Bear
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Unhappy Ford E-350 Motorhome loses power - misfires- stalls

Hello All,

My friend and I took her 1995 Chateau Sport Motorhome on a road trip, and had lots of issues. The motorhome is based on a Ford E-350 cutaway chassis with a 460 EFI engine. She bought the motorhome recently from an elderly couple who no longer used it. It had 19, 500 miles on it, so naturally it wasn't driven much over the last 23 years. That's not a good thing, of course.

About 500 miles out on the road, the motorhome started losing power, backfiring and I had to pull over. I called a wrecker and had it towed to the nearest RV shop which, luckily, was 7 miles away in a mid-sized Texas town. It was almost closing time and the owner said the best he could do is put on a fuel filter and see if that fixes it.

We left right at closing time, drove almost 60 miles and the same conditions came back - loss of power, back firing and then I had to pull over. I pulled over into a grocery store parking lot and we hunkered down for the night. We decided to drive back to the same garage and see what else it could be. The owner did say that the fuel filter was pretty clogged and so it might have been straining the fuel pump and weakened it. He suggested having it replaced.

Okay, that sounds like a reasonable conclusion so we had the fuel pump replaced, and they emptied the fuel and cleaned the tank before putting in a new pump. Great, off we go and about 600-700 miles later the same issue came back. We pulled off the side of the road and stayed the night near a convenience store deciding to find a mechanic the next day.

The motorhome started up fine, as usual, and we took it to a mechanic/muffler shop who didn't have an OBDI tool to scan it, but wanted to rule out the catalytic converters. He tested them and they checked out okay. He found a vacuum hose that had rotted and replaced that. We thought that might have been the issue all along.

Nope we drove 50-60 and the issue came back. However, we noticed that if we pull over and let the motorhome rest for 30 minutes, it would start up and run fine until 50-60 miles - like clockwork - the issue would come back. Loses power, back fires and I pull over.

So the last mechanic we took it too had a proper Snap-On scan tool for OBDI, and said the fuel trim was high and shot two cans of Berryman B-12 cleaner directly through the fuel rails. To do that he disconnected the fuel supply from the tank, and ran the engine on the Berryman. It ran about 6 minutes on each can. He re-scanned, and said the fuel trim was normal. His logic was, gummed up fuel injectors. He also checked the cap and rotor, and they were within specs. He also checked the plug wires, and they were within specs, too. We thought for sure that would have fixed the problem.

Okay, so off we go and no sooner that the usual 50 miles did the problem come back. Fortunately, we were just a few miles from my friend's house, and we parked the motorhome on the side of the road as usual, and drove it to her driveway shortly afterwards where it sits now.

I've attached a video so you can see the condition in glorious super low-resolution video. (This site doesn't allow large files and video files can be large as you know.) They're difficult to read, but I included some words within the video describing what was happening as I drove. I've pretty much summed that up in this thread with the exception of mentioning that under a load and going up hill the condition is likely to come back.

What's been done: 1) replaced fuel filter, 2) replaced fuel pump, 3) replaced vacuum line, 4) two can of Berryman B-12 used to clean out the injectors. The motor is very clean, tight, and idles smoothly with lots of power. Otherwise, there's the intermittent but predictable issue. One mechanic suggested changing out the PCM (computer), but he was just guessing and had no OBDI tool.

Also, if you watch the video you'll see that the ABS light is on. It goes off when the motorhome is running okay to start, but it comes on when the condition comes back.

Does anyone have any thoughts as how to approach the fix?

Thanks for any insight,
Jack (Austin, TX)
 
Attached Files
File Type: mov
1995 E-350 motorhome.MOV (1.08 MB, 9 views)

Last edited by Brown Bear; 06-22-2018 at 06:29 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention something additional.
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  #2  
Old 06-23-2018, 06:27 AM
wirelessengineer
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When people who really don't understand vehicles (which is a LOT of mechanics) find a problem they don't understand, they often blame the thing they least understand - the computer. It's rarely that. Could it be? Yes, but some actual diagnostics are called for, first. You have a clue - the fuel trim. This suggests a problem with what? The fuel system, or the fuel metering system (which may include some sensors).

Check your fuel. If the tank is full of gunk, you might be repeatedly clogging the fuel filter, or the intake. I don't know what kind of screen is on your intake (inside the tank), but if it gets clogged up, then is allowed to sit, the gunk falls away and allows the intake to clear, you drive, suck it all back up, and repeat. Might be a failing fuel pump, too. Gets hot, gives up. Worth checking, anyway. A fuel pressure test while the condition is present should be done. (Should have been done by the alleged mechanics who worked on it!)
 
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Old 06-25-2018, 01:07 AM
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I donít know anything about your year engine management system but from what you describe it could be a bad coil or the magnetic pick up inside the distributor.

If if itís a bad pick up in the distributor itíll usually just quit. But if the coil is bad itíll cutout and misfire under a load. Often a bad coil will work okay when itís cold but act up when itís hot.

Also, if i reacall correctly Ford used to mount a TFI ignition module right to the distributor but they had a problem with them getting hot and causing ignition problems. Later on Ford mounted the TFI remotely in a cooler location. So if your TFI module is mounted on the distributor itís suspect and it would be a good idea to retro-fit a remote mount for the TFI in a cooler location as a preventative measure.
 
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:58 AM
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This appears to be a fuel feed problem. On an older vehicle that was rarely used two things come to mind that could cause this. Since you drive 60 miles or so each time my first thought is the fuel tank vent is stopped up. As the fuel is drawn out of the tank it creates a vacuum in the tank until the vacuum is stronger than the pump and the pump can no longer pump fuel to the engine under adequate pressure.

Or, the fuel lines are old and rotting. As they heat up from heat soaking they collapse and bock the fuel flow.

The only real way to know would be to put a fuel pressure gauge on it to monitor the pressure and drive it until the problem occurs.
 
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Old 06-25-2018, 09:11 AM
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It would appear that you have eliminated any fuel supply problems so time to move on and investigate the EFI control system. I didn't see any mention of codes being read despite the fact that it appears somebody did connect a scan tool at some point, a common problem with these first gen EFI motors is a loss of ignition signal from the distributor and that would set a code. The Equus 3145 is an inexpensive code reader that is widely available, codes can also be flashed on the check engine light but that often results in mistakes so the code reader is money well spent.
 
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Conanski View Post
It would appear that you have eliminated any fuel supply problems


Where are you seeing that?
 
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Old 06-29-2018, 01:07 AM
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I have a 1990 Ford e350, 460 7.5 liter, 27 foot “Mallard” RV. I bought it from a friend dying of cancer. It has 50,000 miles. I drove from Irvine, CA to Needles. No problem. On the way back it sputtered and stalled. The engine temp was normal. i pulled to the side of the road and within 15 minutes started the engine. About 100 miles later it did it again. I made it home eventually but it got worse. Eventually, I could not drive it more than two miles and it would sputter and stall. I took it to my mechanic and he replaced the fuel pump inside the tank, another fuel pump outside the tank and the fuel filter. It operated fine on all of my short trips, a total of 200 miles at most. I just returned from a 3,500 mile trip, and it ran perfectly until I encountered 109F Las Vegas heat. It stalled twice. Eight hours later after the outside temperature cooled, I drove it home and it ran fine during the remaining 220 miles. What would you do at this point?
 
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Dffraser View Post
What would you do at this point?

I'd start my own thread, rather than hijacking someone else's.
 
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Old 06-30-2018, 11:15 PM
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I've been out of town for the last six days, but thank you all for the excellent observations. Let me be clear: The motorhome is presently at my friend's house in Arizona and I'm posting from Austin, TX. I'm not close to the motorhome right now.

Let me re-cap about what the mechanics have done: 1) replaced fuel filter, 2) replaced fuel pump, 3) replaced vacuum line, 4) two can of Berryman B-12 used to clean out the injectors.

Okay, a few days ago I called the first mechanic in Abilene, TX and asked if they cleaned out the fuel tank and the manager said "It's standard procedure to pump the fuel out and then clean the tank before installing the new fuel pump." I did request a Motorcraft fuel pump replacement, but they said it'd be three days before they could get it. The quickest replacement was a couple of hours, but he didn't know the brand of pump. We had no choice but to accept whatever brand he could get that day since we were traveling. The motorhome did run fine for the next 600 -700 miles, as I mentioned in my first post.

I found a video on YouTube titled: "Ford 7.5 460 fuel pressure regulator symptoms" if you choose to seek it out, but in it the Ford 460 truck owner said that he replaced the fuel pressure regulator even after it tested "okay" and it solved his problem of stalling. I sent the video to my friend and she ordered a Motorcraft replacement part, and she's going to have her neighbor install it in a few days. It's a cheap enough fix and worth the $36.00 crap shoot.

Clubwagon, good thoughts about the fuel tank vent being clogged. I have no idea how it's vented but I remember my friend complaining on the way out from Arizona that her fuel filler hose was cracked and leaking when she went to fuel up. After she made it to Texas and picked my up I asked the first mechanic in Abilene, TX to replace the fuel filler tube and he did. I'm not sure how it's vented though.

Wirelessengineer, brilliant thoughts: "You have a clue - the fuel trim. This suggests a problem with what? The fuel system, or the fuel metering system (which may include some sensors)."

Do you think an Ignition Control Module (ICM) might be suspect? I've seen a YouTube video where there was an issue of the ICM heating up and causing the symptoms I've got, and then when it cooled the engine ran normal until heated again.

"A fuel pressure test while the condition is present should be done. (Should have been done by the alleged mechanics who worked on it!" You are absolutely right, a fuel pressure test should have been done as it was driven. You mentioned the fuel tank screen and I don't know what the set up is that's in the tank since I'm 1,100 miles away.

I'll have to report back when my friend has the fuel pressure regulator replaced to see if that solved (or not) the issue. If not, I'll keep suggesting logical solutions. Thank you very much to all of you for your thoughts.

Fingers crossed in Austin, TX,
Jack
 
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