Does the 3.8 only put out 20hp? - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Does the 3.8 only put out 20hp?

Ok so I know it doesn't but it feels like this freaking car has less power than my old Saturn. I floor it and it takes an hour to get to 4500 then shift then 4500 then shift. I feel like it takes me a solid 20 seconds to hit 60. I have put a cold air intake on it, I replaced the tp sensor, the iac valve(different problem) the coolant temp sensor and have had the timing put back to 10° (was at 15°). But I swear this car has no power at all it actually can kill my car if I turn the steering wheel too fast at idle and kills my oil pressure just to turn on my a/c at idle with the car in gear. Really what could this be? I did a complete tune up plugs, wires, cap, and rotor less than 1000 miles ago.

So the only diag info I have is the egr is unplugged due to the diaphragm leaking. If I unplug my maf the car dies and I can't get it to start again. If I unplug my o2 sensors it doesn't do a thing... I had it scanned and I have a code for the egr not responding..... Any ideas here? Parts aren't to expensive so I'm open to suggestions... The head gasket tests all passed no exhaust in the rad, no coolant in oil, no oil in coolant, no nox in exhaust... Car is running rich and I'm getting 10-18mpg
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 12:38 AM
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3.8's just plain suck, 140 hp trying to move 3500 lbs. :-(
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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3.8's just plain suck, 140 hp trying to move 3500 lbs. :-(

But really they are just this weak? I have a Kia forte that can smoke this thing. I mean I think there is something wrong with it.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 10:53 PM
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Is the "spark out" connector unplugged? If so, the ECU might not be advancing spark.
When i first got my tbird with the 3.8N/A, it was super gutless and wouldn't rev beyond 4K under load. I had no idea why.
Turns out that someone had set the timing to 38degrees and left it there w/ the spark plug pulled out (38 fixed). The car drove fine through two entire lemons races (aka 14 hrs/race x 2 @ 3K-4K RPM load constantly) -- but was dog slow. I figured what happened after the 2nd race, reinserted the sparkout plug and set timing properly, upgraded the top end from 140HP to 215HP, and then blew the engine after 19 laps.

Dog slow = safe
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 11:23 PM
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SC is huge fun on mountain roads. By no means a 1/4 miler without big money spent.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-25-2017, 07:22 AM
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What is this "cold air intake" you speak of? I am picturing a shiny intake tube with open filter in some crazy color. The stock setup is already a cold air intake, and is more than adequate.

Have to get the EGR working properly. These cars run best with all factory items working and to factory specs, which it sounds like you are getting farther and farther from. With that gas mileage, something isn't right. Mostly, it's the EGR missing.

Also throw some new o2 sensors on there, and throw the cold air intake in the trash.

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-25-2017, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Ok so the SPOUT connector is plugged in. And the cold air intake is the stock system even in the fender with a pod filter built in instead of a flat paper. Just breathes better I don't use the reusable filters as the oil hurts cars more than helps.

Do you guys really think the o2's are the problem? I believe they are stock. Although I'm tempted to say the one cat I have left is clogged as someone cut the pass cat off so the drivers is the only one left. Is it possible the cat is clogged and causing my loss of power?

I can cut that one off too and replace the o2 at the same time I just want to know if I'd be wasting my time and money.

Please bear in mind I am a certified mechanic I be have a full shop to work by with but I can't take the engine for a rebuild yet as I am not the owner and dropping a rack for a week isn't a great idea. The reason I come here for answers is due to non of my coworkers not myself have seen these mn12's before and this engine is really confusing to diagnose with obd1
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-25-2017, 11:30 PM
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I had a 1993 LX 3.8 that I bought brand new. I didn't modify it in any way. It was a decent ride - wasn't SC or Mustang fast by any means but it wasn't a dog like you're talking about.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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I had a 1993 LX 3.8 that I bought brand new. I didn't modify it in any way. It was a decent ride - wasn't SC or Mustang fast by any means but it wasn't a dog like you're talking about.
Thank you! This is good info, I thought I was at the peak for this engine stock but man is it disappointing. any ideas on what could be the cause?
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 03:50 PM
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Well, the old OBD-Is do have the engine self test procedure you can run, which might provide some useful information.

Here are some articles which might help:
https://web.archive.org/web/20140209...n.com:80/?p=13
https://web.archive.org/web/20131029...tion.com/?p=94

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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 04:09 PM
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Seafoam it before you replace the o2 sensors.

Clean the TB. Remove it from the car, and clean it and all the EGR passages. The sticker that says not to do this is 22 year old, lol.

Look at the EGR tube. It's unobtainium, so DO Not break it.

It will be full of years of goo. Flush it out until you can blow air thru it with no resistance.

After you do all this, do a compression check, and see what the peak pressure is; add a spoonful of oil to each cylinder and repeat to see how bad your rings are.

Transmission: unless it's a manual, change the fluid, drive it and see if it helps or kills it.

These cars are getting old, much is worn out.

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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 07:33 PM
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Its an under powered motor for sure but it shouldn't be stupid slow..I can imagine that almost any newer car would be quicker regardless of motor size.well before my bro got his turbo veloster the NA model was probably the slowest car I was ever in ..but my 92 3.8 cougar coulda at least beat a Saturn . unless it was a sky or red line.
Mine ran crisp and I also did an intake and deleted cats with that flex pipe.lol worked well though..0-60 I would say took like 8 seconds.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2017, 03:39 PM
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The few, inexpensive things I did to bring some power back 96 lx

New plugs (iridium, gapped to .54 I believe)
Wires
Coil Pack
Clean MAF
Ditch the air intake silencer
K and N Filter
Clean TB
Seafoam in the fuel, I dont really trust the intake version with the tube you put in
Good oil changed every 3-5k
Trans flush and new filter
Radiator flush
New tires

98k and running strong

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2017, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Alright. So the plugs are double platinum, the tb has been cleaned, I have used seafoam, mmo, and three vacuum based cleaners. The egr I haven't messed with aside from unplugging and plugging the vacuum tube. The car has one cat on the driver side manifold. The pass has been removed and replaced with flexpipe. I have to do valve cover gaskets so I'll be pulling the intake and replacing those gaskets while I'm there.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2017, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Also is the filter on these a maintenance item? The fluid was flushed when I did my tune up. And it may be a trans problem it feels like I get a huge boost of power shifting gears, then back to none untill shifting again. Also the pan gasket is leaking mildly... On another note how on Earth do you do the oil pan gasket on this car. I'd like to do the gasket and my rod bearings at the same time, the crank seal is leaking too but that is a bear.
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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker93_3.8na View Post
Also is the filter on these a maintenance item? The fluid was flushed when I did my tune up. And it may be a trans problem it feels like I get a huge boost of power shifting gears, then back to none untill shifting again. Also the pan gasket is leaking mildly... On another note how on Earth do you do the oil pan gasket on this car. I'd like to do the gasket and my rod bearings at the same time, the crank seal is leaking too but that is a bear.
"is the filter on these a maintenance item?"
- Which filter? Generally filters are maintenance items but some are easier to access than others (oil filter is easier than ATF filter, for example).
- ATF filter is doable from underneath the car.

Given the position of the kmember, i can't imagine you'd have very much success swapping out the oil pan gasket let alone the rod bearings while the engine is still inside the car). .. and if you pull it, I'm not sure why you'd put it back in. You aren't going to get that much more performance out of the 3.8L singleport and any cash spent will leave you feeling disappointed.
Speaking from experience: whatever you do, do NOT do a splitport heads/intake swap without pulling the engine and checking the bearing clearances. You do NOT want to spend the money on the top end without confirming that the bottom end is robust enough to take the abuse.
http://forums.tccoa.com/9-engine-3-8...tport-diy.html

Personally, I would NOT drop any more money into the 3.8L. Not even the valve cover gaskets. I'd drive it until it blew up and then I'd look for another engine.

If you insist on trying to "build it up", consider shopping for a 4.2L from a Ford F150 as a donor... or a Mustang 3.8L splitport...
Then tear THAT engine down and rebuild it. When it's ready, swap that into your car.


PS. Simple test to see if your cats are clogged. Check the temps before and after the cats.

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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 07:10 PM
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So I caught you only have one catalytic converter, and it is plugged up?

Get rid of it!

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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Wow great info! I will be checking the cat tomorrow. Also the donor engine from an f150 is a good idea that way I can replace all the bearings, gaskets, rings, and not have to drop the car for weeks at a time.
Also I was talking about the trans filter and if it was meant for regular maintenance. After some research I found it is paper and due every 30k so it being the original at 150k isn't good and I will be replacing that on wed.
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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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So I caught you only have one catalytic converter, and it is plugged up?

Get rid of it!
Ha yeah I will it seems like a good plan of action since it wasn't treated well in life. But after that it is a straight pipe with a resonator so it may get louder.
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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 12:30 PM
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Wow great info! I will be checking the cat tomorrow. Also the donor engine from an f150 is a good idea that way I can replace all the bearings, gaskets, rings, and not have to drop the car for weeks at a time.
Also I was talking about the trans filter and if it was meant for regular maintenance. After some research I found it is paper and due every 30k so it being the original at 150k isn't good and I will be replacing that on wed.
Dont forget to drain the torque convertor (accessible from the bottom of the bell housing)

A 97-04 4.2L V6 F150/E150 is what you want to aim for. They have a return style fuel system which matches our car so you can reuse the F150 fuel rail.
97-98 F150s had some problems so a 99-04 donor would be best: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_E...gine_(Canadian)

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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Dont forget to drain the torque convertor (accessible from the bottom of the bell housing)

A 97-04 4.2L V6 F150/E150 is what you want to aim for. They have a return style fuel system which matches our car so you can reuse the F150 fuel rail.
97-98 F150s had some problems so a 99-04 donor would be best: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_E...gine_(Canadian)

-g
The torque converter flush was done when I had the transmission fluid flushed less than 1k miles ago so I may skip that step the system I use replaces the trans fluid a quart at a time in cycle because it becomes part of the system... Not one of those suck and fill machines... But thank you for the info and the fluid that I've been using is dextron 5 or fully synthetic mutivehicle atf... Is that ok or should I flush it again with the classic crap or mercon III? Bear in mind I plan on abusing this trans in the near future.

Last edited by Rodeo Joe; 08-30-2017 at 04:27 AM. Reason: Fixed the quote for you! :)
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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 11:21 PM
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But thank you for the info and the fluid that I've been using is dextron 5 or fully synthetic mutivehicle atf... Is that ok or should I flush it again with the classic crap or mercon III? Bear in mind I plan on abusing this trans in the near future.
Mercon V.

That'll help take care of that transmission.

RwP

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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 07:54 AM
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the fluid that I've been using is dextron 5 or fully synthetic mutivehicle atf... Is that ok or should I flush it again with the classic crap or mercon III? Bear in mind I plan on abusing this trans in the near future.
None of those will do.

Either use Mercon V, Mercon V, or if you can't find either of those, use Mercon V. Drain and fill the whole system, including the torque converter. Should be ~ 12 qts total, 13 if you remove the valve body.

Al
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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 11:19 AM
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The torque converter flush was done when I had the transmission fluid flushed less than 1k miles ago so I may skip that step the system I use replaces the trans fluid a quart at a time in cycle because it becomes part of the system... Not one of those suck and fill machines... But thank you for the info and the fluid that I've been using is dextron 5 or fully synthetic mutivehicle atf... Is that ok or should I flush it again with the classic crap or mercon III? Bear in mind I plan on abusing this trans in the near future.

If your transmission has relatively fresh ATF, I personally wouldn't bother dropping the pan to replace the ATF filter unless you notice some issues with it (hesitation shifting, etc). Then, think about what else should be replaced at that time (or consider just living with it since it's an old tired transmission anyway).

IMO, the goal should be to minimize expenses on this transmission and put your money/time elsewhere (refreshing suspension, buying that engine to build up, planning a transmission swap/upgrade, etc.

With an old transmission and an old V6, "Good enough is good enough" should be your mantra. Then again, it's your money and you spending it helps our economy.

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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Ok so to address everyone, I meant and used is mercon V. I did the filter and gasket. The trans isn't tired and looking through the Carfax had a trans rebuild done 50k ago. The engine will be getting replaced soon as it is just a boring engine but solid. (No blowby, oil stays clean till the time to change, no misfire, runs cool, no corrosion in cooling passages, and the bearings seem tight but I can only judge by oil pressure and no rodknock) .... So the trans had very little friction material on the magnets although does shift alot smoother and feels like it has more power hitting the ground (maybe placebo effect). But still feels like the car chokes at higher rpm. Which it shouldn't with new filters new fuel filters and clean injectors. .......... On another note I was looking around my valve body while I was cleaning the bottom of my trans and waiting on the pan to get cleaned, and from what I've seen on the YouTube videos and forms for my AOD I should have accumulator pistons and my 1-2 should be visible from beside the valvebody. But there is just a hole... Is that normal?
But fluid was beautiful
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post #26 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 02:10 PM
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Dude, cut that other cat off and put flex pipe over it..its simple enough to be done with a sawzall and the trunk jack ...then yank the stock air box and put a cheap cone filter on the end of the mafs or replace the panel filter with a k&n..I guarantee it will help..also cut off the rear muffler .
It will still be far from loud..these cheap things will help it breath better and get better mileage ..lol it will never even be close to fast but you can make it a bit peppy...research the split port swap.
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post #27 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 02:13 PM
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Yes that hole is normal...aod trans valve bodies did varry a little bit...found all about it when I put in a mustang aod in my cat.
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post #28 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 04:50 PM
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Dude, cut that other cat off and put flex pipe over it....also cut off the rear muffler.
Yeah and it will sound like shit!

Do it right, go to RockAuto and replace the whole Y pipe assembly with new converters.

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post #29 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 04:58 PM
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Flex pipes are terrible for flow too, you may as well gut the cats if you want inducing turbulance "fix"

Cone filters won't let a 140 horsepower engine breathe any better than a panel, especially heat soaked into an engine bay.

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post #30 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 06:50 PM
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No 1-2 accumulator piston? I don't think I've ever seen that before. It's common to pull/change the springs for it to make the shifts quicker... I'd get the piston and retainer along with light blue upper and purple lower spring and install them in there.

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