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Old 09-12-2007, 06:59 PM   #1
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Default Engine dies while driving

Hello, truck details below.

While driving I have my the truck simply shuts off, randomly, with the Check Engine Light (CEL) on. This has happened a few times and it happens during all types of driving, including at highway speed, while accelerating, while slowing down. It can be dry or wet, it happens with the same randomness.

There are also times when it dies that it will start right away, and times when it won't start for 20 min or more. It will still crank and you can hear the fuel pump coming on pressurizing the system, it just won't fire. Sometimes it won't even start first thing in the morning, only after 5 min or so of trying.

Also, a few seconds after I start up, very often the engine will "rev" a little and keep the higher RPM (higher than a normal cold idle), while the CEL flashes on and off. It will do this for 10-20 seconds. If I try to put it in gear, the engine will sputter and stall. If I leave it alone and the engine returns to a normal idle, it sputters and sometimes dies, or sometimes manages to keep running and then returns to a normal idle. If I tap the gas pedal while it's revving, there is no change. If I hold the gas pedal a little while I put it in gear, it will stay running.

Additionally, there are times while accelerating that it hesitates, and if I tap the gas pedal a few times it sometimes comes back to life. Other times it merely chuggs along poorly and then suddenly accelerates like normal again, after gaining a little speed.

Upon checking the engine codes I get "#211 - PIP circuit failure". That is the only code I get. I know this to be a signal from the stator inside the distributor that goes to the TFI Module (remote mounted on the fender) and the Engine Control Module. I cannot identify any wiring problems from the distributor to the TFI visually.

So far I have replaced the cap and rotor (they looked pretty bad), and the ignition coil.

Thinking of replacing the stator in the distributor as I am strongly suspecting a failed sensor there. Any other suggestions or experience of what this might be?
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:10 PM   #2
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I have a code book ill chekc for you.


And on a side note isent Yellow Knife were the ice road is for the Snap lake mine?
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:18 PM   #3
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Yup, lots of ice roads up here in the winter. Fall is already here and it's getting cold fast! Gotta get the truck running right before I get stuck out in the cold, pun intended..
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Old 09-12-2007, 09:14 PM   #4
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alright - I'm not the only one that watches the History Channel. Ice Road Truckers was supposedly the highest rated series they ever had. Don't think it was widely available up north. Makes one appreciate the challenges of living in a cold, cold environment.

Anyhow - back to the problem at hand - found this link that may help
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/...d.php?t=162998

If you've checked the wiring, it appears that a sensor may be on the fritz, just have to figure out which one. Personally had problems here with the one in the distributor. Hope the link gives a better understanding of what the code really means as far as troubleshooting and repair.
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Old 09-12-2007, 09:19 PM   #5
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I loved that show, watched it every sunday at 10.
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:22 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info. Read through it and another thread like it on another website, but there were never any follow-ups that the problem was solved. Oh well, maybe it wasn't, haha.

Anyways, I'll be double-checking the wiring tomorrow and then looking into replacing that hall sensor inside the distributor. You said you've done it before? Does it involve any special tools such as a press? Would it be better to buy the entire distributor instead? (Ford dealership quoted me $460.. I don't think so. Napa said $170).

I hate to throw parts at a problem but I have no other recourse right now. Asked the dealership about it and they don't know anything, so I'm not paying them to troubleshoot at this point in time.

Any advice with changing that hall sensor in the distributor would be much appreciated.

As for the ice roads show, I didn't see it but heard it was a good show. Everyone up here has satellite everything, including camps of 20 guys on the arctic coast doing drilling operations. Some of the camps up there even have faster internet than places in Ontario. Go figure.

The cold is not fun, however, and I'm hoping to get these problems squared away before the first snow, which can be any day now, haha.
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:51 PM   #7
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well, if truth be told, I destroyed the distributor trying to press the gear off, so I ended up buying another distributor anyway - the NAPA price sounds about right. "Experience is the result of poor judgement".

The gear can be pressed off if you have the right tools, or you can elect to take it to a service / machine shop. The varnish on the distributor shaft makes it tough - shaft needs to be thoroughly cleaned before trying, and even after that, it's a tough booger to get off without the right tools - as I found out firsthand.

Replacement of the pickup is pretty straightforward once you get the doggone distributor drive gear pressed off. Be sure that the pin is knocked out before trying to press off.

There should be checks / tests listed in the various shop manuals to help identify exactly which part to replace, so you don't go on a random replacement expedition. If you don't have one of these (Chilton's, Haynes, Motor, etc.) and you intend to do a lot of your own maintenance, I highly recommend getting one.
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Old 09-12-2007, 11:10 PM   #8
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I have a Chilton's CD-ROM, but unfortunately it has the wrong information. It talks about the distributor with the TFI Module attached to it, but I have a remote TFI mount (on the inside of the fender). So the tests it says to carry out on the TFI are not applicable. Frustrating, but I'm gonna buy a paper manual tomorrow. Hopefully that has the right info.
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Old 09-12-2007, 11:11 PM   #9
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If it comes to it I'll be getting the new distributor whole, by the sounds of it.
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Old 09-13-2007, 07:37 PM   #10
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Well I did a bit of testing today with my Haynes Manual (strongly advise against Chilton's CD Manual) and found a couple of things.

Luckily when I first tried to start the truck this morning it wouldn't start, so I went to work, first testing the primary circuit for the ignition coil from the ignition module. Found this to be an open circuit. In that condition, the ignition coil won't fire. I checked all the wiring and did a resistance test as the book said, and the wiring checked out okay. The book said that this condition is from a "stuck open transistor" in the ignition module. It advised to replace to module.

But what about the "211 - PIP circuit failure" engine code? I tried pulling the codes again and didn't get that code this time. Strange. Well I checked it out anyways according to the book. When checking the PIP output signal from the distributor, it said the value should be within 3.0 to 8.5 volts AC while cranking the engine. However, I got 12.8 volts AC. It then said to unplug the ignition module and try again. I then got 10.2 volts AC. It then said to unplug the PCM and try again. I got the same 10.2 volts AC. It says to replace the PIP sensor (Hall effect sensor inside the distributor) upon any value outside the 3.0 to 8.5.

So, I decided to at least replace the ignition module. Got it from the store and put it in right away. Immediately upon startup the truck sounded better and ran smoother. The idle was lower and it didn't do that revving thing it was doing before. Driving home it seemed to respond with better acceleration as well. Once home I shut it down and started it again, and it started immediately and ran nice right away. Excellent.

Ran out of time but wanted to check the PIP output signal again to see what it says now. Hopefully I don't need to replace it, but I'll post what I find when I check it next. Thanks for the help everyone.
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