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-   -   5.4 randomly misfiring (https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1104362-5-4-randomly-misfiring.html)

Datslab 06-02-2017 03:04 PM

Question on cleaning out carbon
 
When cleaning out the carbon on each cylinder how do you keep carbon a bunch from falling down into the cylinder? Just make sure that whatever cylinder im working on is TDC? Im pretty sure that i have a majorly excessive amount of carbon buildup so i just want to know whats the safest route.

F150Torqued 06-03-2017 10:41 PM

@Datslab


On subsequent plug changes (after my initial revelation about this issue), I have used a slightly different procedure that I think works just fine - is somewhat safer - and probably would have worked fine on my initial cleaning also.


I take a piece of coat hanger wire about 12 inches long and crimp a piece of rag on one end. Stick it in my battery powered drill, soak the rag with carb cleaner and run it in and out of the spark plug hole - repeatedly replacing the rag and re-soaking it - until the rag comes back clean. If I go in too far, it's no problem to giggle it around and get the rag to come back through the hole from the bottom. Seems less likely that carbon dust (or worse - bristles from the bottle brush) will get into the cylinder. And definitely would not want to loose a bottle brush in there.


I am still a big believer that this theory is REAL. The OBDII system maintains a counter that counts the number of drive cycles and is cleared when DTC's are cleared AND by any misfire occurring after the first 200 engine revolutions (PID 16DC, MFF_0_CNT). I monitor it with Torque Pro. With 225,000 miles on my 2004 now, this counter frequently gets up to 50 to 75 run cycles on my truck without a single misfire.


Hope you can achieve just as good of results.

redfishtd 06-04-2017 09:59 AM

I know its difficult to swallow but clean that carbon out
 
I am a faithful follower of f150torqued theory of carbon build up . It has done me well at 175 k I don't fight misfires anymore .
All these posts of receiving bad new plugs are usually nothing more than damaging them forcing them in thru that carbon . They don't have to be noisy going in to damage them .
Lets face it you already changed plugs and it takes a lot to get to all of them so cleaning that nozzle area out is painful to go back in .
These misfires start at around 60 k from new . Then the carbon is fully built up . The tsb where you used anti seize helped because it lubed the carbon up and some plugs didn't crack going in and the anti sieze stopped more carbon build up plus they had you soak the plug with carb cleaner which softened the carbon . . But the real answer is to clean that nozzle are out with carb cleaner . I have been using champions with no trouble but since they redesigned plugs I will go with sp515's .
Only go 60k on plugs . No need to use anti seize on tips of redesigned plugs it can cause other problems if not done right .
Keep your hands clean , don't contaminate boots /plugs .
Change all your boots when you change plugs . I don't care what the old ones look like . They may not hold 30,000 volts . Heat/age damages them .
Clean all connectors on cops .
use dielectric grease on each end of new boots .
Don't put dielectric grease on electrical connections, it is a non- conductor .
Use a rubber sparkplug socket on plugs , be gentle .
Start your plugs by your fingers , if you cleaned it out it will go in all the way with a good feel .
Torgue your new plugs in with a torque wrench not by feel, 25 foot pounds .
You are dealing with a different animal here all must be perfect for it to run right --this ain't no flat head engine .

Datslab 06-05-2017 03:50 PM

What i was told by a mechanic
 
I brought this issue up with a mechanic that works at my company and he warned me of the danger of using carb cleaner or using any tool to clean out carbon buildup on said cylinders. I was told that i could easily vapor lock my engine. Im not a mechanic just a diyer with years of experience and i just wanted to know your input on this situation. His advice was high octane fuel with a cleaning additive. Im convinced that he doesnt really grasp the amount of buildup that these engines are notoriously known for. So is it safe to say hes way wrong?

F150Torqued 06-05-2017 08:52 PM

Well...
Anything can be done the wrong WAY --- producing poor, or bad results. But no-one has suggested you "POUR" carb cleaner down an open spark plug hole - and even if you did the result would certainly NOT be "vapor lock", but "hydro-lock" if you screwed the spark plug back in and tried to crank it with a cylinder FULL of carb cleaner (or any liquid). If you left the spark plug out and hit the starter - it would just make a hell of a mess with the stuff blown out the hole. SO, It's safe to say he is way wrong. I'm 70+ years and have vivid memory of Flat Head ford engines. They would overheat and 'vapor lock' when fuel in the fuel line 'boiled' (vaporized) from block heat and just became steam in the fuel line ---- That's what a "vapor lock" is - just like running out of fuel. And it hasn't happened to a modern engine for a long time.


You are correct that he probably doesn't grasp the amount of buildup that these engines experience - if the carbon is 'packed' around the extended part of the plug so tight as to literally 'twist' the nose OFF on removal. Once the plug (and tip if necessary) is removed, you are NOT going to hurt anything by crimping a cleaner-soaked piece of rag on a wire and run it in & out of that hole until you have 'mopped' all the carbon out of the extended hole. And a new plug will screw all the way to the seat by finger.


Just show your friend an SP515 plug and tell him we're only cleaning carbon buildup out of the hole that snout fits down into.


Good luck.

redfishtd 06-05-2017 09:44 PM

Ford tsb calls for soaking original bad plugs with a little carb cleaner to get past plug threads
 
It evaporates fairly fast but of course give it a little time, It would only last in real cold conditions . . Make a coat hanger loop with a crimped soaked pieced rag to do the cleaning . Hydro locked has been discussed and tossed out . You could turn the motor over with plugs out to clear it if you accidentally got a lot in there with some rags to catch the blow by . And of course you would not use it on a very hot engine .
No I don't think he realizes the severe carbon problem around the tip of the plug on this engine . If you haven't lived with one you can't see it .
Take all prudent care and you will see the carbon dissolve . Don't do it without plenty of ventilation . But it's like working with gas lines on your engine . No sparks or closed in areas . When I pull injectors gas is everywhere on the rags I put around it .
I live in fl so I am outside working all the time or under a carport .My temps are always high enough to evaporate stuff quickly .
No fuel additive has a chance of getting this out, forget seafoam and all that , I like techron but not for this .

Datslab 06-06-2017 06:05 PM

Thanks a lot
 
Well i finally got my parts in to get this job finished. Thanks for all the great info and such speedy responses. I think without this thread i wouldve torn into a lot more before i finally found the real issue at hand. Thanks again

Datslab 06-09-2017 04:45 PM

Now what
 
Well i cleaned every single hole for the plugs and got a lot of carbon out and replaced them with brand new plugs and i put new ignition coils on. My truck was running great but after about half an hour later the same misfires occured only at idle though and its especially bad when its in gear. Any ideas on what i should try next?

F150Torqued 06-09-2017 05:38 PM

Geeez, really sorry to hear that. Guess I have to start with some dumb questions (no insult or accusations intended).


You replace (new) boots/springs with those COPs?
Brand of plugs, COPs?
Did you perform a battery disconnect relearn after completing the plug change?
Do you have any Codes you can report ---- After capturing freeze frame data?
Any COP electrical plugs that have broken clips?


Before making any wild suggestions - I would like to know these things.

jwiegele 06-11-2017 09:36 PM

Picture of homemade cleaner tool?
 

Originally Posted by F150Torqued (Post 16431782)
@Nitemare2
You mention you are dealing with an '01 Expedition - confirmed by your signature block.
I do not wish to give you misleading information. Much of what I have written in this thread, and others, regarding misfires has specifically to do with the unique design of the 2004 - 2008 cylinder head and spark plug. As I've noted, I'm no expert on your 01. Although I stand by my comments in post#26, I am certain yours doesn't share the special "nightmare" (No pun intended) problem 2004-2008 models do with spark plugs.


http://www.devoll.com/Remote_Images/...plug_image.jpg

The long shank on our plugs as pictured above extends down into a deep well in the cylinder head. That hole becomes clogged with carbon deposits (top plug in the photo) so tightly it alters the "heat range" of the plug and often times twists the shank off in the cylinder head when plugs are removed. That leads to necessity of using a special removal tool on these models, and I believe frequently leads to internal fracturing damage to new plugs on re-installation. As discussed in Post #16 https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1...l#post15819897 and Post #23 above.

It deals mostly with getting the carbon buildup out of the hole as part of a plug change job on 2004-2008 models.
Thank goodness - yours doesn't share this "Nightmare".

Could you show a picture of the homemade tool you use to clean out the carbon in the cylinder plug where the long shaft of the plug extends?

JKaboom 06-13-2017 07:50 PM

This is a fantastic thread, I am chasing a miss now where it was on cyl 2 and then 5 when the COP was moved. Replaced that COP on 5 and getting same behavior but no check engine light. I will connect the scanner and see if there are any codes but I imagine not if the check engine light did not trip. I don't know though and only a medium skill DIYer with experience on 1990's and older vehicles mostly. This is the first newer care I have really done anything to (06' Expedition with 5.4). Thank you guys :)

F150Torqued 06-14-2017 08:30 AM


Originally Posted by jwiegele (Post 17254325)
Could you show a picture of the homemade tool you use to clean out the carbon in the cylinder plug where the long shaft of the plug extends?


I'm 'almost' embarrassed to show a picture of the 'low tech' - 'red-neck' contraption! Guess I should patent it. lol


On a more serious note and in hopes of helping my fellow 5.4l owners, the attached picture shows the three versions of tools I have used to "REMOVE" the disruptive carbon buildup from the extended spark plug hole in the cylinder heads. The tool on TOP (minus the extension that I lost) is out of a set of 'thread' brushes I bought from Harbor Freight for $19.95. I had changed plugs TWICE, moved COPS & injectors, replaced one injector and several COPS like everybody else seems to do trying to cure random misfires. The third plug change (within a few thousand miles) I decided the carbon buildup that was breaking plugs coming OUT - must be damaging new plugs going IN. They WEREN'T bad out of the box.


So I got the thread brushes and rotated my engine to TDC for each cylinder one at a time and burnished the carbon out of each hole very thoroughly, and did a very 'clean' (no greasy finger prints on plug ceramic) plug install using new boots/springs and a dab of dielectric grease on boots. ///NO ANTISEIZE ON ANYTHING - I believe it conducts heat out of the snout and alters plugs heat range ///. Plugs screwed in all the way to the seat by finger like on new heads. Instantly --- no more misfires.

I posted that experience here:
https://www.f150forum.com/f4/5-4l-3v...6/#post3930018


Since, I have repeated the procedure at each plug change and have never had the problem again (now @ 225k) and I have become a strong advocate of this procedure.


I have since come up with the 'low tech' tool (bottom in picture). I just crimp a piece of shop rag on a piece of coat hanger wire and use it in a drill - soak the wrag with a solvent and run it in and out of the hole, replacing the wrag or resoaking it repeatedly, until the rag comes back clean. I am convinced this procedure would have worked for me fine the first time instead of the thread brush. And I believe it is safer as for avoiding possibility of metal bristles and/or carbon dust going into the cylinder. Also avoiding the misfortunes of this forum member:
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/13...lp-piease.html


This certainly isn't the ONLY cause of misfires, but I believe it speaks to maintaining the engineers original intent for the design. They wanted maximum heat range of the Plug. The snout should running very close to the combustion temperature shortly after startup. Anything (including anti-seize) in contact with it conducts heat out of the snout into the water jackets - lowering their temperatures. And that carbon that breaks plugs on removal - also fractures new ones on installation.


Good Luck, and I hope this helps your random misfires go away.




https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.for...be43d8db34.jpg

https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.for...62cf446e8c.jpg

jwiegele 07-08-2017 12:33 AM

Thanks for the pics! Need advice...
 

Originally Posted by F150Torqued (Post 17259650)
I'm 'almost' embarrassed to show a picture of the 'low tech' - 'red-neck' contraption! Guess I should patent it. lol


On a more serious note and in hopes of helping my fellow 5.4l owners, the attached picture shows the three versions of tools I have used to "REMOVE" the disruptive carbon buildup from the extended spark plug hole in the cylinder heads. The tool on TOP (minus the extension that I lost) is out of a set of 'thread' brushes I bought from Harbor Freight for $19.95. I had changed plugs TWICE, moved COPS & injectors, replaced one injector and several COPS like everybody else seems to do trying to cure random misfires. The third plug change (within a few thousand miles) I decided the carbon buildup that was breaking plugs coming OUT - must be damaging new plugs going IN. They WEREN'T bad out of the box.


So I got the thread brushes and rotated my engine to TDC for each cylinder one at a time and burnished the carbon out of each hole very thoroughly, and did a very 'clean' (no greasy finger prints on plug ceramic) plug install using new boots/springs and a dab of dielectric grease on boots. ///NO ANTISEIZE ON ANYTHING - I believe it conducts heat out of the snout and alters plugs heat range ///. Plugs screwed in all the way to the seat by finger like on new heads. Instantly --- no more misfires.

I posted that experience here:
https://www.f150forum.com/f4/5-4l-3v...6/#post3930018


Since, I have repeated the procedure at each plug change and have never had the problem again (now @ 225k) and I have become a strong advocate of this procedure.


I have since come up with the 'low tech' tool (bottom in picture). I just crimp a piece of shop rag on a piece of coat hanger wire and use it in a drill - soak the wrag with a solvent and run it in and out of the hole, replacing the wrag or resoaking it repeatedly, until the rag comes back clean. I am convinced this procedure would have worked for me fine the first time instead of the thread brush. And I believe it is safer as for avoiding possibility of metal bristles and/or carbon dust going into the cylinder. Also avoiding the misfortunes of this forum member:
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/13...lp-piease.html


This certainly isn't the ONLY cause of misfires, but I believe it speaks to maintaining the engineers original intent for the design. They wanted maximum heat range of the Plug. The snout should running very close to the combustion temperature shortly after startup. Anything (including anti-seize) in contact with it conducts heat out of the snout into the water jackets - lowering their temperatures. And that carbon that breaks plugs on removal - also fractures new ones on installation.


Good Luck, and I hope this helps your random misfires go away.




https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.for...be43d8db34.jpg

https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.for...62cf446e8c.jpg

Thanks for the pics F150Torqued!

My situation is a little different... '06 F150 XLT 4X4 supercab with 188k. Bought in 2011 with 120k and original plugs. I changed them right away - 2 broke coming out, but wasn't too bad. I get an occasional random misfire that I can feel, but not often. It never throws any codes, but I can see "total misfires" in Torque using my OBD II adapter. Most of the time, no misfires, but usually I get 1-2 when I drive, completely unnoticed.

Just made a 3200 mile round trip (Atlanta to Breckenridge CO) loaded down with my daughter's remaining furniture and boxes, along with my 20' walk-around cuddy cabin boat + 150hp Yamaha outboard (daughter and husband get to keep the boat). I figured the total cargo plus boat and dual axle trailer at around 4500-5000lbs. I do have a Ranch bed top, which also adds a few hundred pounds. Prior to making the drive, I changed the spark plugs. They came out without difficulty except #4, which gave me trouble for awhile. Used nickel anti-seize on the Motorcraft SP515 threads and shaft, torqued to 25ft/lbs. Truck runs great!

1600 miles heading North and West, including the mountains from Denver to Dillon Lake @ 9500 feet above sea level, not a single misfire with the bed loaded down and the boat in tow. Used 3rd gear a lot, TC locking up nicely, trans temp running 168-177 and coolant at 194. Averaged 9-10mpg, not unhappy considering the weight and no misfires. Speed was near 70mph except on the steeper climbs.

Unload the truck and put the boat on the water, enjoy the 4th of July in the Rockies. Drive back to Atlanta basically empty and got a few random misfires, but no codes. Sometimes I'd go 2 fill ups and no misfires, then I'd get 3 on the next tank. Only see them in Torque app, didn't feel anything. Got nearly 18mpg coming down from the mountains, but I averaged about 15-16mpg on most tanks running @ 75-80mph. Trans temps stayed around 144-147. Quality of gas varied, I'm not brand loyal, 87 octane.

Are the misfires just part of the 3-valve 5.4L Ford motor? Why not a single misfire with the engine pulling the extra 5000lbs? I do all the routine maintenance including cleaning the MAF and throttle body, etc. I did not scrub the carbon when I changed the spark plugs. The COP's all looked good, but I did carry an extra COP just in case. Again, no CIL, no codes, runs very well considering it's nearly 12 years old and 188k+ on the odometer. Maybe gasoline quality affects the number of misfires?

Any input/advice is appreciated... Thanks!


https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.for...9c7dd0c274.jpg

F150Torqued 07-08-2017 01:42 PM

ALL Misfires are not the SAME
 

Originally Posted by jwiegele (Post 17313314)
(daughter and husband get to keep the boat).

Damn! I was going to suggest just pull the boat everywhere you go! :-X21


Thanks for a nice detailed writ up. NICE LOOKING TRUCK!! And I'm envious of the (safe) trip and 4th vacation. And from your report it appears your truck is in very good health.


But you do know how to ask difficult questions.



Originally Posted by jwiegele (Post 17313314)
Are the misfires just part of the 3-valve 5.4L Ford motor? Why not a single misfire with the engine pulling the extra 5000lbs.


First - for full disclosure, I'm no expert nor specially training in these matters but have an insatiable curiosity and hyper analytical nature. Those attributes, in conjunction with extensive research and monitoring my '04 5.4L with Torque Pro form the basis for my strong opinions.


I do not believe ANY misfires are acceptable OR should be expected as normal. You mention at one place - "you can feel" them, and later that you "can't but see them in the Torque App. There are different types of misfires that _are_ treated very differently by the PCM. A misfire during the first 1000 engine revolutions is not viewed by the PCM as being as significant - and in reality probably isn't. Those (occurring before 1000 Revs) "ARE" counted in the OBDII Total Number of Misfires (PID# 1616 MFTOT) that you are probably monitoring, however they do_NOT_ clear/reset the Number of Run Cycles 'since' a misfire was detected (OBDII PID# 16DC MFF_0_CNT), AND they do not increment the Mode 06 misfire count for that cylinder for the current drive cycle.

The above two parameters, along with several others, are captured for inclusion in Freeze Frame data. (But Freeze Frame data is only updated upon occurrence of a DTC) --- which often hasn't or doesn't occur. You _MAY_ be stressing over the less significant ones if you aren't feeling them.


I created a Torque Pro dashboard that monitors a dozen or so misfire parameters (PIDs) to analyze detailed misfire information. My 'ole' 2004 with > 225,000 miles will routinely clock 50 to 60 and sometimes as high as 75 'Run Cycles' without a single misfire. "INVERABLY" when a misfire is detected, it will be the < 1000 revolutions variety. I believe THAT is because the various systems (fuel / MAF / Cams / ignition timing) haven't settled down yet. In most cases, they will occur within the first 2 or 3 seconds of "Run Time". Often times intake air temperature will register 116 - 122 sitting in the hot sun here in South Texas. I am now at over 1900 "run cycles" since DTC's cleared, but recently had a startup misfire clear my MFF_0_CNT, which is now back up to about 15 - and counting.
SO --- if you are judging based on MF_TOT on your Torque Pro App - it might be those < 1000 revs kind and not too serious.


But you did mention you can "_feel_" them. That would be a different class and should show up on Mode 06 report (Test Results) on your Torque Pro scanner. The individual cylinder misfire counts for the last 10 drive cycles might point you to a certain cylinder. /// Maybe Replace plug in that hole ??? I have heard of defective new plugs 'out of the box' ///


Don't want to be argumentative or sound like some 'goofball' - but based on my personal experience and logic, I'm going to recommend getting that "anti-seize" outa' there, and make SURE there is nothing (carbon OR metallic anti-seize) that touches that long plug snout. It is my opinion that the design purpose was very intentional. To keep heat from conducting away from the plug tip into the head and water jackets. With that 1 1/2" long snout touching nothing, it would VERY quickly reach - and operate at - combustion temperatures. The carbon build up - or metallic anti-seize provides a heat conductive path that would cool the plug tip down to cylinder head temp (about 205-209 degrees). I believe a 'Hotter" plug operates at a higher spark voltage - and therefore perhaps more efficient at ionizing the air within the sparkplug gap. Hence - one part of my reasoning for cleaning the extended spark plug holes.


The second part is that I believe the accumulation of carbon buildup often results in an obstruction that 'fractures' the internal ceramic of new plugs upon installation. Seams reasonable to me if it can result in twisting the end off old plugs on removal. ((That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. lol )).


WHY - "not a single misfire with the engine pulling the extra 5000lbs?" ??? Who knows? If it was the 'post 1000' revolution variety, it might have something to do with slightly improved ignition environment resulting from PCM adjusts to accommodate the added "LOAD". ie: Richer fuel mixture; Cams running less degrees CAM retard (increases compression); Cylinder Head Temperature (and plug tips) running higher.

Just some thoughts. :-jammin
Since you use Torque Pro -
take a quick look at your Mode 06 (Test Results) and let us know the results.

jwiegele 07-08-2017 07:46 PM

Thank you so much for the well thought out reply... As you say, not all misfires are the same. Prior to my last plug change, I could "feel" the misfire every once in a while, but it was very rare. However, those bothered me the most. You are right, what I normally see in Torque are the misfires during the first 1000 revs, and then they stop. The counter resets every startup. I watched cylinder head temp also, it was constant.

Yeah, I made a judgement call (probably a bad one) when I decided to use the anti seize on the plug threads and shaft. There are so many opinions about this, and I didn't do it the first time, so I decided to give it a try. I was a little nervous about cleaning the carbon in the spark plug holes in each cylinder, but I was still going to try it - I chickened out at the very end. I think you're right, dry is best, and just change them more often. I did consider the possibility I had a defective plug out of the box, but the behavior of the truck doesn't support that. And, I haven't had a misfire that I could actually feel (since changing the plugs about 3400 miles ago). The truck doesn't get driven much anymore, and it does seem to get a few misfires after sitting 3-4 days.

The only true misfire number I get is MFTot Count. It doesn't appear I am getting any readings on the individual cylinder misfire count, which could be the actual adapter I'm using that limits the available data. I have a BAFX Products OBDII Diagnostic Interface. If I'm looking in the wrong place, let me know. I have the current version of Torque Pro.

When I look at mode 06 test results, all cylinders are at 0 currently (last 10 drive cycles). All O2 sensors pass also within the range. The EVAP monitor tests all show "test incomplete or dependant test failed". I'll try to post the full test results...

Thanks!
Joe


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