Weird idle... weird something else

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Weird idle... weird something else

Postby -Big- Red - July 26th, 2020, 5:59 pm

For about 2 weeks now my escape has been idling off. RPM will dip as low as 300, and it will feel as though the car wants to stall. Additionally, I get a similar feedback at 45mph 1500 RPM’s when lightly accelerating. It feels as though 3rd gear doesn’t want to engage. My gut says trans :( but they both began occurring at the same time. Hopefully it’s something a bit less expensive than that.

Today the E threw a code for the 2nd cylinder coil, as well as “misfire at ignition (under 1000 RPM).” I replaced the coil - no difference. Perhaps it was actually the spark plug? The Check engine light was no longer on after I replaced it.

This problem seems to be mitigated by disconnecting the battery. It will seemingly “fix” itself. However, once the escape is shut off then started again it is back. Computer issues?

I have cleaned the MAF connection and the IAC. No difference.

I have a new IAC coming in soon, but I feel it’s not the issue. I’ll try it regardless and hope for the best.

Helpful info: IAC was replaced about a year ago, model is 3.0 2wd 2004 escape auto trans, 256k miles on it. No check engine light.

Any help or ideas are greatly appreciated. I will also be replacing the top motor mount, perhaps somehow that will make a difference?
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby -Big- Red - July 26th, 2020, 9:20 pm

Another bit to add: when it does this the battery light comes on. It’s a flicker and intermittent. Only when the “stalling” esc rumble is present. It’s only visible at night as it is very faint


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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby tomw - July 27th, 2020, 2:34 pm

bad grounds, loose wires, alternator on the way out, loose drive belt, failing regulator..
Flickering light indicates there is a voltage difference between what the alternator is producing and the battery voltage. The light is 'across' the terminals of each, and will glow when electrons have some place to go. More or less.
Poor ground or connections can starve the controls of power enough to do their function. Look for loose or corroded bits & pieces. Look at the underside of the power distribution box under hood and the big fat connection from about there to the engine(square thing) for corrosion. I have had a battery box that was about to fall out... corroded bolts... and a mess underneath that drizzled down onto whatever was there. I think I prevented future problems, but who knows.
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby The Haverstraw Man - July 27th, 2020, 9:22 pm

in my experience what you describe is boots on the coils failing. First the boots leak voltage when firing and then causes the coil to go bad and then throws a code. The first thing I noticed was it just did not idle right at start up and hesitation at around 45 mph and a big gas mileage drop and seemed to run better above 45 mph. all this before throwing a code. some argue that boots never need to be replaced, my experience has shown me that replace the plugs replace the boots on the coils and only install factory original installed plugs. If you have 15 year old boots do you really think they are still good? I would also get the alternator voltage out put checked while you maintain normal idle speed. My Lincoln Mark VIII that I owned for 14 years was the only car I owned that you could not buy factory installed spark plugs but at plug change time I had to replace the boots or the old boot would fail and blow the coil. Replacing the boots (that come with the new coil) is way cheaper then buying new coils with new boots. My recommendation is voltage check and new plugs and new boots. (Rockauto sells just boots).
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby -Big- Red - July 30th, 2020, 12:09 am

Just replaced the spark plugs and two suspect coils. The spark plug replacement process sucks... but I’m preaching to the choir. They all were long over due and cylinders 4,5,6 had oil in them. I ran head gasket sealer through the coolant system. Hopefully that does it.

The ride and idle is noticeably smoother, but the issues described in this topic are not at all fixed. The CEL has not come on.

The car still acts like it wants to stall on idle and at 45ish when throttling down.

I did notice a hole was punctured on the PCV elbow vacuum tubing. I’ll be heading to autozone to buy a replacement. Not sure if it’ll make a difference, but it couldn’t hurt.

I replaced my battery terminals as they were cracked and falling apart. I will begin checking more of the grounds and connections tomorrow.

I feel that it would not be the alternator, but what do I know :/ I suppose the next step if the PCV doesn’t fix it and I can’t find the faulty ground would be get a tech check it out.


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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby vpasla1 - July 30th, 2020, 7:45 am

Good to see you're making some progress at least.

I'm not too sure, but I feel like these are symptoms of a vacuum leak in the system somewhere. Maybe the new PCV will help.
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby tomw - July 30th, 2020, 11:14 am

If the punctured elbow allowed air into the engine, it would very likely affect idle quality.

Oil soaked boots on the end of the COPs may cause misfire. Replacement boots are available. The oil may affect the boots insulative properties and allow spark to jump through rather than go through the spark plug.
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby -Big- Red - July 30th, 2020, 2:25 pm

I cleaned the boots before I reinstalled them. I don’t feel there was enough oil to cause an issue.

After replacing the PCV valve with hose from AutoZone this morning there was no difference. I’ll be taking it to a tech soon. I still need to check the grounds and connections.
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby tomw - July 31st, 2020, 9:39 am

I have tried cleaning oiled boots on a Honda with no success. The main effect was misfire at idle speeds. I don't remember if it had surging/bucking when accelerating. It was wife's friend and I was volunteered to work on it. I did not drive it anywhere to know how 'driving' was. The boots looked fine. They were not. If you have misfire(intermittent) at idle, you could try taking the boots off and see what happens. Or not.
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Re: Weird idle... weird something else

Postby -Big- Red - July 31st, 2020, 2:38 pm

As of 10pm last night there have been no issues. The idle is no smooth (with very very subtle and occasional rumbles) and the misfire-esc issue while accelerating has resolved itself. I suppose it must have been the PCV elbow hose.

I’ll also be replacing the oil-soaked boots in cyl 4,5,6 for good measure.

Thank you all for the help and input. Hopefully this discussion helps someone with similar issues out down the road as well.
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