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Discussion Starter #1
So what do I do in the middle of a pandemic? I look for a project car! Go figure. Anyway, I'd scanned Craigslist for weeks for something interesting. I'd found a non-running '78 MG Midget for $1300 but was weary as I had a '78 MGB in high school (class of '84). Between it, the '66 Mustang, and the '78 Fiat X1/9 I had in college, I learned the basics of turning wrenches...with my dad's tutelage, of course.

Through my 20's and 30's I'd own a 280ZX Turbo, a 300ZX, and a Thunderbird 5.0, and NA Miata, and an E36 BMW 325...among a few less noteworthy cars.

What did I want? I wasn't really sure. With a very tight budget, my choices were limited. In fact, I shouldn't even be considering a project, but I'm a car guy, so...

I wanted something fun. And unique. Sporty. And a MT. Something I could enjoy driving and improving. And something I could use to teach my girls to drive a manual transmission with. (I'd already taught my grown boys).

Autocross was also a factor. I did pretty well a few years back in HS with a '93 Civic Si. I won a few class championships and was even thinking SEDiv. Until life happened. Funny how it does that.

And I found this car. The ad simply mentioned starting problems and needing suspension work. The seller explained more he was the second owner; his son bought it new. Even though his asking price was at the extreme end of my paltry budget, my research of the car intrigued me. So, I met him for a test drive.

On a parallel note, my DD is currently a '98 Contour. I bought it about 3 years ago from a deceased elderly neighbor's family who was the second owner. The car only had about 80K miles. While it carries many of the electrical gremlins from the 1st gen, and I despise the cheap feel of the plastic steering wheel, the car has a great suspension, awesome visibility, and pretty timeless lines inside and out. Although I fondly call it "the granny wagon," I enjoy the car. Further, the story of the car is impressive. The car SHOULD have sold. Yet being the smallest in it's category and plagued by the pencil pusher's decisions of using a cheaper vendor for the engine wiring harness, Ford's "World Car" would cease production in 2000 after only 5 years.

And along comes Mercury.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I liked the car as soon as I saw it in person...and was also scared of it for the same reason. The lines are distinct, smooth, and timeless. Sexy, even. And classy. Along with the interior.

Unfortunately, the test drive was less impressive. The running problems weren't limited to cold starts. Below 2k, the car simply bogs maddeningly and requires heavy clutch slippage to get moving. The throttle requires nearly constant feathering to avoid bogging. Shifts below 35K are ill advised.

Yet the sound and feel of the rev happy 2.5 DOHC and smooth shifting were impressive. The car WANTED to run and stretch her legs; she just couldn't. It seemed frustrating for both driver AND car to constantly stumble.

The feel of the suspension was familiar, yet tighter and more responsive. Yet, a distinct wobble from the RF and a rubbing from the RR were concerning. The brakes felt good.

The appearance is good, but not perfect. The sun has taken it's toll on the ABS body parts.

Wanting but weary, I made a respectful but very low offer on the car, given the unknown running issues and suspension issues. Two days later the seller countered. I considered accepting, but held firm. I took her home that evening for a tad more than the Midget I'd been eyeing. I was proud. And still worried.

I'll update the thread as I go.
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Discussion Starter #3
After getting the car home, in the rain of course, I was able to do Ia little more research and familiarize myself with the car. The PO reported changing the MAF and fuel filter and suspected the fuel pump. Perhaps he found this forum as well. The PO also reported the car had every available option. I was pleased to be able to confirm this.

I already knew production numbers were low for 2002 at about 18,000 cars. I was pleased by a response here the XR numbers were limited to about 2,000.

The seller also reported a CEL but couldn't remember the code. The code hadn't returned after he disconnected the battery for the recent fuel filter change.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
5/9/2020

I reluctantly decided to drive the car to a friend's across town after work wondering how much life the fuel pump had left. But it was a nice day. Windows down, moon roof open, and constantly feathering the throttle, I made the somewhat anxious but enjoyable 15 minute drive. Keep in mind, if the revs drop below 2K, it's hit-or-miss getting them back up.

About a mile from my destination, the CEL glowed. As my scanner is at her house, along with most of my tools, perfect timing. After putting an electric lawn mower back together, I played with my car.

I'd already adjusted the tire pressure the previous evening, something I'm very anal about. Further, I learned with my Contour, the CAR is actually very sensitive to the recommended pressures. Although I usually over inflate by 10% for a margin of error, these suspensions are happiest at recommended pressure.

I'd also topped off the brake fluid (DOT 3) which satisfied the brake warning light. Flushing the lines are in queue.

Her dipstick showed low, consistent with my Contour. So, a trip to Advance and 2 quarts of store brand oil topped her off. She was about 1 1/2 low.

After wasting an hour searching for the OBD port, and unnecessarily removing the kick panel...and of course breaking a clip, The code was P0401. According to the forums, one of the dreaded EGR codes. I quick glance of threads here and a few YouTube vids on my phone, even with the day growing short, I decided to proceed and hopefully clear the code...and fix another issue.

The intake side of the TB and intake were not surprisingly covered with gunk. Also, all hoses leading to the resonator were brittle and likely leaking...or will be soon. I cleaned the TB and intake, although quickly, and reassembled just as the sun set. I didn't clear the code hoping the cleaning is enough to clear it on it's own. Sadly, a test drive revealed no real change to the cars running issues.

Finally having time to price fuel pumps and FDM's (thanks posters!), I ordered a Delphi unit from Auto Zone for $105.92 with tax, cheaper than CARID and other sources. Shipped to home, it should arrive tomorrow in time for a weekend install with my daughter(s).

I truly hope the new FDM solves the running problems. If so, the TB is coming back off for a more detailed cleaning and replacement of the previously mentioned hoses. I also plan to have the car's suspension looked at next week.

If the FDM replacement DOESN'T fix the problems...more troubleshooting.
 

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Congratulations on the addition, looks like a well-kept car. Most of them I see for sale look like they've been airborne a few times.

There are a lot of possible causes, but the lack of power at low RPM makes me wonder if the secondary butterflies in the lower intake manifold are stuck open. Take a look at the linkages directly below the throttle body. Make sure the rod is connected and will open with some force and then spring back closed. The silver box mounted to the front cam cover is the IMRC, and opens those secondaries at around 3,500 RPM. If they're stuck open for whatever reason you'll have lag on the lower end of the RPM; if they're stuck closed you'll lag on the upper end.
 

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As for the fuel pump replacement, Ford's engineering decisions are about to ruin your day. Under the rear seat is an access panel where you can get to the top of the pump and unhook the wiring and fuel line...but the pump won't fit up through it. The correct method of removal is to drop the tank. This is a lot of work, and these days most of the gas tank straps don't really come apart and go back together with ease due to rust. Most people just trim the floor pan enough to remove the pump that way and patch it back up as best as they can.

There was a Ford TSB on the returnless fuel pumps, and they were replaced with a new design. If yours is locked into the bottom of the tank and you have to twist it to remove it then you still have the original design. Installing the redesigned assembly requires cutting a set of tabs out of the bottom of the tank and you almost need the Ford-specific tool for that. I may still have the instructions around somewhere that came with the redesigned pump. If you get that far and need help I can try to find them. You can just replace the pump element in the assembly, I did that with my 2000 SVT Contour and haven't had any issues.

For what it's worth though I don't think your problem is the fuel pump. Usually when they go they're completely done.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the thoughts. I noted yesterday a linkage arm under the TB was disconnected and missing the keeper seen below:
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This was from another poster. I reconnected it but no doubt it fell right off on startup, especially since it idles so poorly.

Regardless of the pump, I plan to work on cleaning the TB more and will try to find a keeper for that linkage. It'd be great if that's all it is. Thanks!
 

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That will definitely make a difference. In the Help isle at any auto parts store you can buy a little pack of misc plastic fasteners and clips that will have one in it that fits and will hold the rod in place.

Pulling the upper and lower intake manifolds off off isn't a terrible task and it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to pull them for a proper cleaning and gasket replacement. The UIM gaskets usually can fail and cause vacuum leaks.

Use some throttle body or carb cleaner on the lower intake manifold (after you've removed it) and get those butterflies moving smoothly again.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The part is called the IMRC linkage bushing. I found a 5 pack at Advance for 5 bucks. Nearly impossible to get to without loosening the UIM and sliding it toward the front of the engine after removing the TB. I removed the UIM after losing 2 bushings and it was still a bear to get to.

After installing the bushing and connecting the linkage, I reinstalled the UIM and cleaned the badly gunked passages. Then reinstalled the TB and all connections. I replaced the hoses for what I think is the PCV valve and the non-EGR hose.

In the process, I discovered the large nut on the RF strut tower was loose and the plate beneath. I tightened it.

I had high hopes for a $1 fix but it was not meant to be. Throttle response is generally better above 3500 and quite impressive when it's smooth. However the lurching and bogging are still very much present below that.

I pulled codes again. In addition to the P0401, it's now showing a TPS and general misfire error. I cleared all to see what returns.

The pump assembly should arrive tomorrow. I don't think the motor is bad, but perhaps the internal screen is clogged. Beyond that, I dunno.
 

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Air leaks are very common for these cars right now. It sounds like you got a good start on inspecting the top end already, but that's something to consider.
Another issue that often causes these types of symptoms is the ignition. Go ahead and replace the plugs, wires, and coil so everything is new and fresh and can be ruled out. Use Autolite double platinum plugs. and motorcraft wires and coil. I wouldnt worry about the TPS code, thats usually just an indication that something else is wrong, often an air leak.

My money is on ignition though.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
My thoughts exactly. The seller stated the ignition system was original which put's it beyond overdue. I'm also wondering if the IMRC is bad...or going bad.

The TPS code was my fault, btw. Losing daylight, I forgot to tighten the resonator (air hose) clamps.

I'm ordering all ignition parts now.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Plugs, wires, and coil OTW from RockAuto, the only place I could find everything. Sadly, they won't arrive for a week. :/
 

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Rockauto is the go-to around here.
 
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Rockauto is the go-to around here.
+1. I got sick of hearing 'well, there's a single one in the system, and it's uh..it's in Texas. I dunno if I can get it for you.' rockauto does the job for anything that I can't substitute.

I hope ignition & fresh intake gaskets clear it up. another common suspect is between the lower intakes / heads, there's a small oil-separator doodad that has a nice, rubber hose coupling it to a plastic tube; right in the middle of the engine like that, it was brittle as all hell when I checked mine.

These cars are pretty old. no wonder we're all fighting air leaks these days. hell, mine doesn't even run right now - but that's on me, not the car (frankeinstein work.. oops) I realize this might be an 'ouch' introduction to the car, having all these parts and ideas thrown at you Todd. I hope it all clears up with a few bits and bobs and TLC. i'm excited to read your 'victory!' post.
 

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The Duratec is very sensitive to ignition problems. replacing everything at once is a good idea, as putting new plugs on bad wires, for instance, will just burn out your new plugs almost immediately.

The routing is a little tricky, so take notes, or photos, or do one at a time to be sure everything goes where it's meant to.
 
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Discussion Starter #16
The FDM and PCV arrived today. I'll plan to install the FDM tomorrow. I'm sure the intake gasket is on borrowed time, but I don't think it's the main issue since I have no lean related codes. The ignition parts are likely part of the problem. If they were here, I'd replace them before the pump as they're definitely overdue, and to rule them in or out.

I still think the main issue is in fuel delivery. Perhaps the "sock" (and or internal screen, if there is one) is restricting flow.

On the other hand, even though I'd have to wait until next week, if the ignition parts fix it, I can return the FDM and save myself $105. From what I've read, replacement can be challenging so I'd hate to go through all that and NOT fix it.
 

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hope your fuel tank lock ring isn't too rusty. quick tip : curving the 'teeth' slightly downwards, as in towards the tank, at the leading (interfacing) edge, along with a copious amount of whatever grease you have on hand (I used white lithium) helped a lot. a brass punch is also a good measure. I just used a brass pipe section from Home depot.

Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The fuel pump arrived yesterday, but after reading a LOT more (i.e. HOURS and HOURS) on the forum, I decided to try the ignition parts (arriving next week) first. If the ignition parts fix it, it'll save me $100. If not, I'll go ahead with the pump.

The PCV valve also arrived yesterday, so I thought I'd pop it in this morning before work. Along with other items, I figured it was overdue. Long story short, this was a much bigger PITA than I thought. What's worse, I STILL can't find it.
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Of course the retainer for the blue/gray thing (oil separator?) crumbled when I released it. The hose I'm holding to the right connects to the end of the "T" and runs to the crankcase(?). So where's the PCV go?

To add to the frustration, I saw the forward linkage to the IMRC popped back out. Bah.

Later this afternoon, I decided to simply pull the UIM, try to find the PCV, reconnect the linkage, replace the UIM gasket (ordered), and clean up both manifolds. I was really surprised at the carbon inside, although it makes sense considering the EGR passages on the intake flange were absolutely packed.

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I tried 3x to upload a pic of the LIM but no go. Seafoam and a rag on the lower as I wasn't inclined to remove it. I noted the buildup was much worse on the secondaries probably meaning the car was driven mildly. Also, the rear cylinders are much worse than the middle and front. Closer to the EGR and PCV flow I'm guessing.

It does make me wonder about the IMRC purpose, basically wasting an intake valve per cylinder below 3500, not to mention the extra buildup. It definitely tells me to prevent this, these cars needs their legs stretched...often. Has anyone done any re-engineering to keep the secondaries open? I'm guessing there's crossovers in the UIM but still seems a waste of power. I'm sure fuel mileage would suffer some.

I worked some on the UIM but ran out of daylight. I'll clean it more tomorrow. As others have said, removal isn't bad at all. Since I'm waiting on ignition parts, I may soak it overnight with Seafoam. Seafoam will definitely be a regular fuel additive.

So back to the PCV. WTH am I missing? Am I blind? Is it simply missing? I checked RockAuto to be sure the '02 has one and there's one listed. Thoughts?

80632

4x the charm!
 

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for what it's worth, the exact same sequence of events happened to me. I was chasing down potential leaks, figured I should change the PCV, and found one listed on Rockauto for my 2001. I ordered it, took off the UIM ,and started looking at hoses.. huh? Where's it at? ...I redid those hoses with new stuff and new tees (thanks, Home Hardware! brass fittings are so shiny!) and still have the PCV valve sitting in it's box somewhere around here. I have no idea where it's at on the engine or if there is indeed one. I doubt it. still, it's pretty frustrating indeed. So you and I are in the same boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Reading more, maybe it's down in the blue/gray connector that broke? Runs downward toward the firewall. I guess I'm blind as I pulled it off and looked.
 
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