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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I'm new to the forum, and to Trackers in general. Also, first time I've owned a manual transmission! Some background, sorry it's long.
When we got the car the CIL was on, and the trouble codes indicated that the speed sensor wasn't working (knew that, the cable is unplugged), and the upstream O2 sensor wasn't working. Also, the clutch cable was bad, and the main crankshaft seal was in crooked so I had to replace that with a new one. Also new belts, new wires and dist. cap.
We recently took this new to us Tracker on a road trip from Flagstaff, AZ to Phoenix, AZ, which is a 6k foot elevation change. We drove it around town for 300 miles before this trip and it always ran great. It again ran great going down the hill, it was early morning and I didn't hit any traffic. When I got off the freeway, I did something stupid and forgot that I was driving a manual transmission (several hours in 5th gear). Not sure how I managed to forget! But it entailed me getting to the light at the exit and trying to pull to a stop with 5th gear still engaged. It didn't like that at all, bucked like mad for a second until I put in the clutch. Then I was frazzled and went from 1st to 2nd back to 1st again instead of 3rd. Once I got into a parking spot, I noticed that it was idling really rough, and stumbling between idle and 1500RPM before smoothing out. I figured maybe the bad O2 sensor wasn't allowing it to self-adjust, so I chalked it up to the wrong fuel mixture and kept going. Later on in the day, the CIL started flashing, and I ran the codes again and found that now cylinder 3 was misfiring. Also, it had lost a lot of power, probably about 3/4 to half of the power I had before. I figure, makes sense, 4 cylinder running on 3 cylinders...sure. Unfortunately I had zero tools with me, and it was still running cool even though it was 98F outside, no smoke, etc.
It made it back up the 6k feet back to Flagstaff (cooler 75F, yay), was a challenge because of the loss of power, but it was consistent. I replaced the O2 sensor after verifying it was fried, took out the plugs, gapped them at .028 and cleaned them, checked the wires, etc. When I took the plug out of #3, it had a light film of oil on it. Fired it up, and still idling rough, stumbling below 1500RPM, but running a tiny bit better than before I cleaned and gapped the plugs. The CIL light flashed again and still misfiring on #3. I swapped the plugs between #1 and #3, cleaning them again while doing so, same thing, misfire on #3. I swapped the wires between #3 and #4 (yes, on both ends), no change. Plug in #3 seemed to have a light coat of oil again. But I don't see how this could be new? Must have been that way before but it was running better then so didn't matter as much?
SO, FINALLY, my questions:
  • Is it possible that the timing belt jumped a tooth or two? I had to take the front of the engine apart and put it back together recently, but I believe I put it all back to specs according to the FSM (even torqued the crankshaft bolt to 96 lb.ft.).
  • Could what I did cause the rings to go bad in #3?
What could cause this sort of thing? I read somewhere that the CIL and misfires can cause the ECU to go into limp mode, which has to be reset by a switch hidden behind a speaker, but that was on a 95 8V.
Thanks for any help that you can provide in solving this mystery.

Jason
1996 Geo Tracker, 1.6L 16v, 5-spd manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Hello, I'm new to the forum, and to Trackers in general. Also, first time I've owned a manual transmission! Some background, sorry it's long.
When we got the car the CIL was on, and the trouble codes indicated that the speed sensor wasn't working (knew that, the cable is unplugged), and the upstream O2 sensor wasn't working. Also, the clutch cable was bad, and the main crankshaft seal was in crooked so I had to replace that with a new one. Also new belts, new wires and dist. cap.
We recently took this new to us Tracker on a road trip from Flagstaff, AZ to Phoenix, AZ, which is a 6k foot elevation change. We drove it around town for 300 miles before this trip and it always ran great. It again ran great going down the hill, it was early morning and I didn't hit any traffic. When I got off the freeway, I did something stupid and forgot that I was driving a manual transmission (several hours in 5th gear). Not sure how I managed to forget! But it entailed me getting to the light at the exit and trying to pull to a stop with 5th gear still engaged. It didn't like that at all, bucked like mad for a second until I put in the clutch. Then I was frazzled and went from 1st to 2nd back to 1st again instead of 3rd. Once I got into a parking spot, I noticed that it was idling really rough, and stumbling between idle and 1500RPM before smoothing out. I figured maybe the bad O2 sensor wasn't allowing it to self-adjust, so I chalked it up to the wrong fuel mixture and kept going. Later on in the day, the CIL started flashing, and I ran the codes again and found that now cylinder 3 was misfiring. Also, it had lost a lot of power, probably about 3/4 to half of the power I had before. I figure, makes sense, 4 cylinder running on 3 cylinders...sure. Unfortunately I had zero tools with me, and it was still running cool even though it was 98F outside, no smoke, etc.
It made it back up the 6k feet back to Flagstaff (cooler 75F, yay), was a challenge because of the loss of power, but it was consistent. I replaced the O2 sensor after verifying it was fried, took out the plugs, gapped them at .028 and cleaned them, checked the wires, etc. When I took the plug out of #3, it had a light film of oil on it. Fired it up, and still idling rough, stumbling below 1500RPM, but running a tiny bit better than before I cleaned and gapped the plugs. The CIL light flashed again and still misfiring on #3. I swapped the plugs between #1 and #3, cleaning them again while doing so, same thing, misfire on #3. I swapped the wires between #3 and #4 (yes, on both ends), no change. Plug in #3 seemed to have a light coat of oil again. But I don't see how this could be new? Must have been that way before but it was running better then so didn't matter as much?
SO, FINALLY, my questions:
  • Is it possible that the timing belt jumped a tooth or two? I had to take the front of the engine apart and put it back together recently, but I believe I put it all back to specs according to the FSM (even torqued the crankshaft bolt to 96 lb.ft.).
  • Could what I did cause the rings to go bad in #3?
What could cause this sort of thing? I read somewhere that the CIL and misfires can cause the ECU to go into limp mode, which has to be reset by a switch hidden behind a speaker, but that was on a 95 8V.
Thanks for any help that you can provide in solving this mystery.

Jason
1996 Geo Tracker, 1.6L 16v, 5-spd manual.
Also, re-reading my post, wanted to clear up that I was very careful when I did the main crank seal, the crank and cam were at the timing marks before and after. But I haven't inspected the timing belt since the trip.
 

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Compression test first to confirm timing,.
 
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1996 Geo Tracker, 4D ,4x4, 5-spd Manual, A/C
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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I've been reading the other threads and figure I'll need to run out to grab a compression tester and light tomorrow, have to buy new tools as we're 3k miles from home. It's just weird that it went from purring to this in one trip.
 

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The compression test will give you an idea. Also checking the valve lash, to see the gap on #3 might be helpful. It would also be helpful to actually state the codes that you are getting. As the codes will stay in memory, you should see what they are, erase the codes and then see what comes back.
If the timing belt jumps a tooth (and the compression test will give hints on that), it would affect all cylinders and not just one. Do a dry and a wet compression test, and post your values.
It’s somewhat unlikely that downshifting from 2nd to 1st momentarily would cause a problem - these are high revving engines, so it’s unlikely that you were redlining, but perhaps doing so unmasked a problem that was already there.
 

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I believe the sudden increase in revs caused by a missed shift (ie shifting down instead of up) has been known to cause timing belts to jump a tooth or two.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The compression test will give you an idea. Also checking the valve lash, to see the gap on #3 might be helpful. It would also be helpful to actually state the codes that you are getting. As the codes will stay in memory, you should see what they are, erase the codes and then see what comes back.
If the timing belt jumps a tooth (and the compression test will give hints on that), it would affect all cylinders and not just one. Do a dry and a wet compression test, and post your values.
It’s somewhat unlikely that downshifting from 2nd to 1st momentarily would cause a problem - these are high revving engines, so it’s unlikely that you were redlining, but perhaps doing so unmasked a problem that was already there.
Thanks for the reply, I'll have to wait another day to get to town and get the compression tester and light, but I'll get that done ASAP.
Originally when I got the car, it was giving a P0135 (upstream O2 sensor) and P0500 (Vehicle Speed Sensor "A"). When this idle and stumbling started happening, it started giving a P0303 as well. I've cleared the codes a few times after replacing the O2 sensor, cleaning and gapping the plugs, swapping the plugs from 1 and 3 and also the wires from 3 and 4, and the P0303 comes back.
I believe the sudden increase in revs caused by a missed shift (ie shifting down instead of up) has been known to cause timing belts to jump a tooth or two.
I'm almost hoping that's it, since I've already worked with the timing belt last week, I'm familiar with it already and it seems better than the alternatives, which I guess would be bad rings or valve damage?
I'll post the results of the compression test once I can get my hands on the tools.
 

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Hmmm.....when you worked with the timing belt, by any chance did you remove 17mm bolt in the middle of the crank pulley? It is not necessary to do this when changing the timing belt, but if you did, it is imperative that this bolt be torqued to 94 ft/lbs, otherwise the crank key can shear, causing running issues....????
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hmmm.....when you worked with the timing belt, by any chance did you remove 17mm bolt in the middle of the crank pulley? It is not necessary to do this when changing the timing belt, but if you did, it is imperative that this bolt be torqued to 94 ft/lbs, otherwise the crank key can shear, causing running issues....????
The main reason that I was inside the timing cover was to find the source of all the messy oil that was being slung all over the place. It was consuming about 1/2 qt every tank of fuel. The PO told me that he suspected that the front crank seal was the culprit, so I purchased new crank and cam seals and tore it down. Turned out the crank seal was pushed in 1/8" on the passenger side and out the same on the driver side, so I removed and replaced it. Since then, no mess (yet), and way less oil consumption. I've read through the forums a lot in prep for that, and read that the keyway isn't what supports the crank shaft cog, but that bolt. Crank seemed pristine, btw, key and keyway looked new, rear face was flawless. I also read that the crank will possibly tear up a new seal, so I wrapped the crank in a strip from a plastic bottle when I installed the new one. I was very careful to torque the 17mm to 94 ft/lbs when I was done. I know that someone, the person who hosts fixkick I think, said that I should have also replaced the 17mm bolt, but I didn't do that. I'm also pretty sure that I torqued the tensioner pulley and plate to spec. But as I'm a bit rusty on the more advanced engine repairs, maybe I left the belt too loose?
I didn't remove the cam shaft cog because that seal seemed fine, and the belt, tensioner, and seals seemed pretty fresh. I think whomever did the 100k service (200k service???) just wasn't careful with the front crank seal.
And, wow, I sure hope that everything is as I left it, it would be a shame to have botched that repair, after all my research and efforts, and having been lucky enough to get an engine that didn't have any of the more common issues with the end of the crank shaft.
 

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I’d check the valve lash on #3.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I’d check the valve lash on #3.
Thanks for the reply. Maybe it has to do with the clicking sound that seems to have gotten louder. I'm used to driving a newer vehicle, this one I don't -think- had a clicking sound when we got it, but now it does. I figured stuck lifter, but maybe something got loose with my shifting debacle. I'll try to check it today along with the compression and timing.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, since there was a light clicking in the valve train, and so many unknowns with this car, I inspected the cam timing, timing belt, and the torque on the crank bolt. All of these checked out okay, the way I left them. Then I took the valve cover off and checked/adjusted the valve lash. The gaskets on this area were very old, so the valve train probably hadn't been serviced in a very long time. The lash on #3 was more than .006, but I don't think it was more than .008. There were a couple of valves with .008, but nothing horrible. So I don't see this as being my problem. I did notice that the 'dizzy?' is off by 90 degrees CCW, firing #1 at 10 o'clock or so. But the firing order is correct other than that.
When I did the lash, I followed the FSM and verified it with the article on fixkick, using the 2-stop method to check according to cam timing. Since I had the timing cover off, I made sure that cam was set to 'E', and the crank cog was at TDC for #4, and then rotated it 360 degrees to #1, verified that #1 and #4 were firing each time by blowing into the head as suggested on fixkick. So far everything seems fine.
Tomorrow I'll put everything back on the front of the motor and check compression now that the valves are lashed correctly.
Oh, I noticed that the EVAP cannister, which is a big thing on this year, was wearing against the A/C hose. I'm not completely sure if it had a notch out of it before, but it does now. And from what I can tell, it's possible that there's a leak because of this wear. Since I had to unbolt the A/C hose to make it easier to remove the fan, shroud, etc, to get to the timing belt more easily, I think it's possible that I bolted it back together without enough clearance on this part.
So I guess the new question is, would a vacuum leak in the EVAP cause this sort of thing? And I wonder if it's possible to seal the hole using epoxy or similar.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I just got done doing the compression test. I warmed it up for 5 minutes or so and then did it.
#1 - 110 / 110
#2 - 85 / 115
#3 - 95 / 110
#4 - 100 / 110

So it seems like a rather tired motor. It’s a new compression tester, so it’s possible the it’s not accurate, maybe reading low. But I did each test 3 or more times.
I then used the timing light to check the ignition timing, letting it warm up while waiting for the smoke to clear from the oil in the cylinders left over after the compression test. It seemed to be at TDC instead of 5 degrees BTDC (from the hood sticker), so I rotated the dizzy CW until I think it’s correct.
I haven’t driven it yet, and I’m going to replace the plugs after it cools back down before the test drive, as they look old and fouled even though I think the PO said they were new.
*I realized after reading some threads that I didn't have my wife press on the gas pedal while she was cranking the motor. I'm not sure how that will affect the results.
 

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A 16v engine, if timed correctly should pull about 170psi on a cold (UN started) engine, or about 190psi on one that has been warmed up. While I suppose it is possible that the engine is ‘tired‘, it’s also as likely that the valve timing has been done to cylinder #1 firing (rather than cylinder #4, which is as it should be done. I would suspect that the timing is 180* out. There are also 2 marks on the cam pulley, an I and an E mark. If the pulley is timed to the I mark, it will also seriously affect the compression as well. I think you need to get back to that timing belt (and while you’re there, check the 17mm bolt on the crank to confirm its still at 94ft//lbs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm so new with this. I did restore a car with my dad when I was a kid, but I didn't do any of the internal work on the motor, and I wish I had so that I'd be more familiar now...so please forgive my HUGE gaps in knowledge.
When I got the car and went to fix the bad crank seal, I rotated the crank by the 17mm bolt until the tick mark on the crank gear was at 12 o'clock, and noted that the outside 'E' mark on the cam cog was also at 12 o'clock. This matched up to the tick marks on the head cover, and the oil pump. So I took it as correct valve timing, and fixed the crank seal, making certain not to move the cam or crank while the belt was off. When I re-checked it yesterday, they were still lining up with the tick marks. When I did the valve lash yesterday, I checked that the dizzy was on the #1 cylinder, and then on the #4 cylinder, for the 2-stop method. And I visually verified that the cam lobes for intake and exhaust were on the heels for #1 and #4 respectively. Given this, is it still possible that the valve timing is off by 180 degrees? Logically (noob logic here), it seems like the motor shouldn't be able to run if it were this far off, because I think it fires every 90 degrees of cam rotation, right? And again, please be patient with me. Wouldn't moving the cam 180 degrees independently of the crank cause piston/valve interference?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I just watched a video that I took yesterday for notes, and when the tick mark on the crank cog is on the tick mark on the oil pump, and the 'E' on the cam cog is on the tick mark on the head cover, the dizzy is firing on #4. Also to verify, I used the compression tester hose to blow air into #1 and #4 at this time. I could blow air through #1 but not #4.
So, it seems like the valves are timed to #4, I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The new plugs, gapped to .028, didn’t help. I drove it around to warm it up and I’m still getting a P0303. I then used the light again to check the timing and verified that it’s still timed to 5 BTDC.
The P.O. mentioned that at one point it wasn’t running right, and he ended up cleaning the injectors himself. Maybe it is the injector for #3? The exhaust smells like there is unburnt fuel.
I’m also using DashCommand to monitor the motor, if anyone thinks that will help.
 

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You can try to switch out the injectors - switch #3 to another, etc., and see if the code follows the injector or stays with #3.
You can try to do the wet compression test (putting a teaspoon of oil into the spark plug hole) and seeing if your compression comes up.
Again, when you are doing the valve timing, the crank key is at 12:00, the cam key is at 6:00 and the E mark on the cam is at 12:00, and the #4 cylinder is in the firing/compression stroke.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
I went and picked up a new fuel filter, fuel system gage kit, and injector seals over the weekend. I'll swap a couple of the injectors to see if the problem moves with the injector as you suggested. I'll plan on cleaning them myself according to that YouTube video that suggests adapting a can of carb cleaner to the injector and powering it to run the cleaner through the injectors, back flushing them, etc. I'll order reman injectors to replace these with when I get back to my shop in a month or so, but I need these to get me by for now.
I've had several people look at the car and comment that the condition of the interior, body, suspension, and other controls suggests that it can't have more than 200k miles on it. So I'm really confused as to why the compression is SO bad.
On Wed I've got a new timing belt coming in, as my last inspection showed that the tensioner is almost at the end of its throw, so I'll plan on doing the timing belt and re-re-re-verifying the cam timing then, paying more attention to the cam keyway this time, and pulling the crank gear to re-inspect the crank keyway. I paid attention to the crank keyway when I did the seal, and had the cam pin/keyway at 6:00 when the crank was at 12:00 at that time. But who knows, maybe I drove it SO BADLY that I broke one of them loose.
Has anyone seen compression this bad on a otherwise nicely running car? Because I can't see it getting this bad over the 500 mile trip that caused my latest issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Pretty sure I found the problem. The filter basket on injector #3 is completely packed with what looks like rust powder. And the injector port for same has a wall of it packed in where the injector seats in. It’s almost comically dirty.
98444

Injectors for #1 and #2 were getting just as bad, but not completely buggered yet. I flushed the rail with carb cleaner, and then back-flushed the injectors with carb cleaner, once the baskets were clean, I also ran the carb cleaner through the regular way until I think the injectors are clean again.
So my tank, probably filter, lines, everything, has to be full of this rust powder.
I’m guessing that next I put a new filter on, pump the tank out (12 not so great gallons of fuel probably full of rust powder), flush it out, and then somehow clean the fuel pipe, return pipe, etc.
So, for anyone else reading this thread; if you buy a very old 4x4 that wasn't really ever used off-road in the past 15 years, DO NOT take it on bumpy roads until you inspect and flush the fuel system of any contaminants.
 
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