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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas
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A few maintenance questions.

1994 Cougar 3.8L

For quite a while my idle air control valve was bad causing the car to idle high. I replaced it a little while ago and now the car will idle at about 600 RPM when I'm at a light and it's in drive. Is that the normal idle speed? It also kind of shakes and sounds at that speed and might be missing? I must confess this is the only car I've ever owned and don't don't really know what it's like when one misses. It idles around 800 or 900 RPMs in Park or Neutral and is much smoother. When I'm accelerating everything sounds pretty smooth, but there is a faint gurgling that is especially evident when going up hill at lower RPMs. Could it be the timing or is the engine just old and worn out?

A couple of years ago when I first got it I took it into a show and they said the head gaskets were going bad and they wanted $900 to fix it. I suppose that's a pretty decent price but I didn't want to spend it at the time. Whenever I change the oil it always looks fine. I hear it's quite a bit cheaper do fix the headgasket yourself, but I'm not sure I have the skill or tools to do it. About all I've done is change the spark plugs, oil, and that bad Idle Air control valve.

Anyway those are my thoughts. Any input would be great.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 04:42 PM
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The idle speeds you described sound perfectly normal. The shaking you describe could very well be motor/trans mounts, and those could also explain what feels like a "miss" to you. In any case, you might as well check all the vacuum lines to make sure they aren't rotted. 12 years is a long time so it's probable that some vacuum lines need replacing, especially the ones going to the vapor canister behind the front bumer, passenger side. Just trace all vacuum lines coming from the engine and any that are brittle, replace.

Also, it would be a good idea to clean you MAF sensor if you have never done so. Instructions for this procedure can be found here. Afterwards, flip open the fuse panel under the hood, pull the #15 fuse, wait a minute or so and plug it back in. This will reset the PCM and allow it to relearn the engine's operating parameters.

Have you changed your fuel filter in the last 15k miles? If not, replace it.
Have you gapped the plugs correctly? The spec is 0.054", and if it's not right your engine could "stumble" a little at lower RPMs. Also, bad plug wires could cause this as well. Do the wires have more than 100k? If so, replace them.

Is your car overheating at all? Does it run warm? Does it spew white smoke at start up or at all? If you answered no to the above, then chances are you don't have headgasket problems. It is much much cheaper to do the headgaskets yourself, and in all honesty it's not too bad of a procedure. It's just quite time-consuming your first time around.

--Chris

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