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Dreaded 1999/2000 3.8L Pinging & How To Eliminate

Discussion in '1994-2004 V6 Mustang Tech' started by V6 Stang Tuner, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. V6 Stang Tuner

    V6 Stang Tuner New Member

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    My 2000 3.8L Mustang has had the dreaded pinging since the day I bought it a few months ago. Gas mileage is good, runs well otherwise, and the car has 159K miles on it.

    What I've done so far to try and eliminate :

    Attached inline fuel filter to PVC line - slight help, no real oil in filter so far after a couple of weeks.
    Checked PVC valve.
    Clean IAC and Throttle body - this helped a bit but it really wasn't that dirty.
    Run a few bottles of Injector cleaner and combustion cleaner thru the fuel system - helped slightly.

    Still to do :

    Change fuel filter
    Seafoam directly into intake for a hot soak to clean out any carbon deposits.
    Change spark plugs
    Possibly change drivers side valve cover but I'm not sure if its been done yet, when I lift out PVC valve I see a flat plate so looks like its not the original maybe as I was told the original had no plate and you could see the lifters.
    My drivers side valve cover has a "530" sticker on the visible end of it and I've seen this on a 2003 Mustang convertible so possibly it was already done?

    Basically if I run 89 octane gas now it pings less but still quite a bit, if I run 91 it barely pings. Don't want to continue to have to buy 91 octane so any more tips appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  2. V6 Stang Tuner

    V6 Stang Tuner New Member

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    Here is pics of valve cover that I'm not sure is original or the upgraded one :
    IMG_20180828_180201.jpeg IMG_20180828_180210.jpeg
     
  3. James Carr

    James Carr sleep-er noun = fusing speed with secrecy

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    Just to throw parts at it......Change your knock censor
     
  4. roadster

    roadster Member

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    If, by pinging, you mean the noise that a car makes from worn tappets, then you have two options:

    1) Have tappets replaced at a cost of about $1,000 +
    2) When changing your oil, drain, then add 1 quart of Lucas heavy duty oil stabilizer, then the usual amount of oil less 1 quart. This will deaden that noise by close to 100%. In addition, when mixing the Lucas product to conventional oil, you can expect an extended life of that oil by 50%, so you not only virtually eliminate that noise, but save money on oil changes (the extra cost of the Lucas product will be lower than changing the oil at your current intervals). Lucas heavy duty oil stabilizer is quite thick and sticky (consistency of honey) so it does not drain off the tappets like oil does; when the car sits for extended periods of time, the tappets will always be lubricated. Tappet wear is typically caused by running engine at too high a speed before the oil has a chance to lubricate them, especially in cold weather.

    Good luck.
     
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  5. Flex

    Flex Kicker of Arrogant Asses

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    I think you guys are confusing detonation with engine wear. Detonation onlly occurs during acceleration and usually at part throttle. Worn lifters are noisy all the time.
     
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  6. V6 Stang Tuner

    V6 Stang Tuner New Member

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    Exactly, I'm refering to detonation, spark knock, pre-ignition which causes pinging and has been prevalent in many 99-00 3.8L Mustangs when accelerating.

    Ford's official fix was to change the valve cover to a 2001 and up version and retard engine timing 3 degrees thru a flash of the computer. This worked for some but for others it didn't fix the issue completely or it came back after a certain time period.

    The 2001 and up drivers side valve cover has a baffle where the pvc valve goes so oil is not sucked up into the engine like it does on the 00-99 baffleless valve cover. I'm not sure if mine has the upgraded 2001+ drivers side valve cover so posted up pics in case anyone can verify for me.
     
  7. Joe Stein

    Joe Stein Member

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    Tuner,
    I think I can help you out. I too bought a 2000 3.8l with 171,000 miles. When I drove it home from the previous owners home, I noticed no detonation. However, the car was so sluggish, it could barely get out of its way. I thought I could improve upon that. So plugs, wires, thermostat and the engine woke up a bit. But with the improved performance, it would begin to detonate at 1750 rpms. I had to fix this. Ran seafoam through the intake several times, I would get tons of white smoke out the exhaust, but I was not solving the problem. The problem is the driver's side valve cover and the pcv system that lets oil through into the upper intake and then into the combustion mixture, thus adding oil to the mixture and reducing the octane or potency. So i installed a simple "catch can" which is a small Husky Air Compressor moisture filter (just research this) which runs between the PCV valve and the port in the upper intake. Once I installed this, the detonation only came in at maybe 2750 - 3000 rpms. A marked improvement, but I do not want any pinging in my pistons. So I happened to need to replace the original valve cover gaskets during that process, I needed to remove the upper intake to make it easier to get the passenger cover off. Glad I did, because I was able to see all the moist, black, carbon deposits caked in th e ports of both the upper intake and the lower intake, from 180,000 miles of poor maintenance and a poor valve cover design by Ford. Upper intake was easy to clean out thoroughly by first scraping it out and then soaking in a tub after hitting it with engine degreaser. On the lower intake, I was very careful to scrap it out onto a paper towel without letting it fall into the motor.
    So i put it back together, ran seafoam through immediately, and then just drove the car. The more miles I accumulated, the less and less it would detonate. I probably have 7000 miles on it since then and I will get a little pinging on 87 octane sometimes, when winding it up to maybe 3500 rpms entering the highway. I have been running 89 octane lately and the motor likes that and i get no pinging. I installed an ebay cold air intake and I have a true dual exhaust with an H pipe (very nice improvement) with 2 1/2 Summit Turbo mufflers. I would guess I am feeling around 200 hp now as opposed to when I first drove the car home with maybe 140 hp. Hope this helps you out, be patient as this 3.8l is a good engine. I am amazed at how quiet this engine is under the hood with 185,000 miles. Take your time and do the research on the "catch can" and you will realize the benefits.
     
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  8. Flex

    Flex Kicker of Arrogant Asses

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    Try adding a PCV baffled catch can to reduce oil drawn into the intake. Reducing the timing won't help. With a programmer I took out 8 degrees. Didn't help.
     
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  9. Sam36

    Sam36 Active Member

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    I got a 2000 v6 back in 2002 with 7k miles on it. The only thing that would stop it pinging was running 93 octane (which I've done for the last 200k miles). But even then, dropping it in to first and holding the rpm at about 4.5k, would sound like it was chewing beer bottles. Would only happen if you were holding it at a steady high rpm though, would go away if you gave it more gas, was kind of weird really.

    After ten years of that, I forked out $450 for an SCT tuner that came with a 93 octane performance tune and a 87 octane "gas mileage" tune. I had to adjust the ignition timing on both tunes as I still got some detonation in some areas, but at least I could now tune that out. But the strange thing is, I once flashed the ecu back to stock, and drove it on 87 octane for a few weeks and the detonation was gone... SCT does state that the base ecu firmware is updated to the latest version when you make your first flash. I can only assume that the ecu got some kind of update through the flasher that helped the problem... Ford does offer ECU updates, but you have to pay for it. There was only one person on this board that I can remember doing it and they said it made the car more sluggish and still didn't totally fix the problem. So my advice, is to just get a tuner...
     
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  10. Joe Stein

    Joe Stein Member

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    See Husky Catch Can from Home Depot for $12.98. Maybe 3 ft of vacuum line and several hose clamps. This is a cost effective fix.
     

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  11. James Carr

    James Carr sleep-er noun = fusing speed with secrecy

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    I agree after all the fixes I could find the only thing that worked was a Diablosport Predator Tune for 93 octane
     
  12. V6 Stang Tuner

    V6 Stang Tuner New Member

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    Will pick up a catch can like you mentioned. Taking off the upper intake to clean out the carbon deposits seems like a great idea seeing how much you seemed to have on yours and the results you got.
     
  13. V6 Stang Tuner

    V6 Stang Tuner New Member

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    Thanks for relating your experience, good info! Wonder if a computer from a 2001-04 would fix the issue also as they have the baffled valve cover and didn't have the issue so most likely the firmware is slightly different than the 99-00 and addresses the issue.
     
  14. Sam36

    Sam36 Active Member

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    I think the rfid chip thing in the ignition key is stored in the ecu, so if you just swap an ecu, your key won't work. Of course the dealer can fix that for you... but if you are going to go that route, might as well just get them to see if they can flash an update on the ecu. But as far as I know, I think they all charge over $100 for any kind of flashing. Which puts you at 1/4 the price of an SCT tuner...
     
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  15. James Carr

    James Carr sleep-er noun = fusing speed with secrecy

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    I agree
     
  16. Joe Stein

    Joe Stein Member

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    Yes - removing those deposits really helps the engine run with the combustion mixture not being diluted with "oily residue". I don't know that any number of seafoam treatments would have cleaned out the ports in the upper and lower intakes. You do have the option of replacing the driver's side cover with one from a later year, but changing out the ECU will not solve that physical problem in the 2000's valve cover design.
     
  17. V6 Stang Tuner

    V6 Stang Tuner New Member

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    How difficult is it to remove the upper manifold and is it just a new gasket for it that I need when re-installing it again?
     
  18. Joe Stein

    Joe Stein Member

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    The upper intake removal is straightforward. There are maybe 10-12 10mm headed bolts to be removed and then tap it with a rubber mallet or pry it up off the lower intake. You can pick up the "plenum gasket" (upper intake) at any auto parts store. See attached photos - MustangUpperIntake.jpeg file-16.jpeg file-16.jpeg
     
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  19. Joe Stein

    Joe Stein Member

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    Stang Tuner,
    I was also getting a strong odor of oily fumes through the ventilation system as soon as the motor got up to temperature. It was worse when outside temps were high. So a combo of the catch can and cleaning out the intake ports virtually eliminated these fumes. Here is a pic of the catch can - thought I had posted this several days ago.
     

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  20. James Carr

    James Carr sleep-er noun = fusing speed with secrecy

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    has this helped ?