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Old 02-19-2008, 03:33 PM   #1
bobko
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1995 Legacy wagon
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Default Rough running 1995 Legacy

I have a 1995 Legacy with the 2.2 engine and 5-speed manual. The car has 175k miles on it and is in pretty good shape.

However, for the past couple of years, it will occasionally run really rough when under load, such as climbing up a long hill. The car will stumble and backfire, and the CEL comes on. After 20 seconds of a rough-running episode, the engine will smooth out and run fine for days -- no problems. I once followed my wife when she was driving the Legacy and watched as the car lost speed and bucked going up a hill. Lots of black smoke came out the tailpipe and I could smell gasoline, so the car was badly misfiring. The OBD-II codes that I get are invariably P0301 and P0303 -- misfires of cylinder 1 and 3.

To date, I've replaced the fuel filter, air filter, coolant temperature sensor (I got an OBD-II code for that after one of these episodes), all the spark plugs and wires (twice), both O2 sensors and the ignition coil. I've gone over every connector I can find to make sure they are getting good electrical connection.

A couple days ago, the car just started running rough at idle and around-the-neighborhood speeds. I checked all the vacuum lines in the engine bay for leaks but could find/hear/feel nothing.

Any thoughts on this? Why would the car start bucking, losing power and dumping fuel while going up a hill? Why the repetitive "Cylinder 1 misfire" codes?

I appreciate any thoughts and assistance on this. I like the car and hope to keep it running a while longer.

--Bob
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Last edited by bobko; 02-20-2008 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:57 PM   #2
suby53
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2.3L engine? Do you mean the 2.2?
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:53 AM   #3
bobko
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Yes, I meant 2.2-liter. I'll fix it in my initial post.

Last night, I decided to replace the spark plugs (again!) and found that one was broken. The tip electrode was loose and could actually contact the grounding electrode. Replacing that plug made the car run MUCH better. I don't know if it still has the "stumble-under-load" problem, as that sometimes doesn't show up for many days.

--Bob

Last edited by bobko; 02-20-2008 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:19 AM   #4
suby53
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Does it ever knock or ting? Thats strange that the end of the spark plug is broken or bent. Usually means there is interference between the piston and teh spark plugs or something. You could also try and run the sea foam stuff through your engine to really clean it out. My buddy did that too his honda cause it was stumbling after he replaced plugs, wires, etc. and it made it feel like a new car. Worth a shot?
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Old 02-20-2008, 07:37 PM   #5
bobko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suby53 View Post
Does it ever knock or ting? Thats strange that the end of the spark plug is broken or bent. Usually means there is interference between the piston and teh spark plugs or something. You could also try and run the sea foam stuff through your engine to really clean it out. My buddy did that too his honda cause it was stumbling after he replaced plugs, wires, etc. and it made it feel like a new car. Worth a shot?
It doesn't have piston knock, if that's what you're asking. The valves tick for a couple of minutes when it's cold but there's no piston knock that I can tell.

I'm sure the piston didn't hit the spark plug... the electrode that curves under the tip was fine. It was the small round electrode that goes up through the center of the spark plug that was broken. You're right... that's a strange one.

I've thought about using engine cleaner stuff but never tried it. I've never heard of a product called Sea Foam before, so I'll search and see what comes up. Thanks for the suggestion.

--Bob
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Old 02-20-2008, 07:48 PM   #6
Bluefoton
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now with a HID retrofit

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Sea foam did a marvelous job on my old 150 000 ford. It's basically the automotive equivalent of a diarrhea inducing semi-poisonus basement booze. Flushes all the crap out and disinfects everying along its way....

Run the car, control the idle with your hand, suck seafoam in the engine from a disconnected vacuum tube, turn engine off, restart (will take a LONG crank before it runs). Google for more intructions, and check youtube for the effects so that you're not scared
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:18 PM   #7
giantturtle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefoton View Post
Sea foam did a marvelous job on my old 150 000 ford. It's basically the automotive equivalent of a diarrhea inducing semi-poisonus basement booze. Flushes all the crap out and disinfects everying along its way....

But in a caring, healing way
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:36 PM   #8
novacivic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefoton View Post
Sea foam did a marvelous job on my old 150 000 ford. It's basically the automotive equivalent of a diarrhea inducing semi-poisonus basement booze. Flushes all the crap out and disinfects everying along its way....

Run the car, control the idle with your hand, suck seafoam in the engine from a disconnected vacuum tube, turn engine off, restart (will take a LONG crank before it runs). Google for more intructions, and check youtube for the effects so that you're not scared
wow a 150,000 ford. that must be huge
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Old 02-20-2008, 10:35 PM   #9
Bluefoton
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... i mean a 150 000 miles ford escort.... 1.9l, 88 hp
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:24 AM   #10
my4isflat
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I use BG 44K, its damn good stuff. The only downside to it is it won't clean your intake manifold like the seafoam, but on the flipside of things seafoam won't clean your injectors like the 44K. Just my two cents.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:26 PM   #11
giantturtle
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You can put seafoam in the tank too, which will supposedly help with the injectors. You can put it in the crankcase too.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:57 PM   #12
bobko
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Okay, I replaced the plugs and the plug wires yet again and the car is running smoothly. However, it still is stumbling hard under a medium continuous load (such as driving up a long hill) and giving me "Plug-1 misfire" error codes. It's not just a stumble.. the car backfires and I get the idea the engine will die.

Any thoughts on this? Could it be a knock sensor problem?

--Bob
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:39 AM   #13
Kansei
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I'm new to all this, especially since I'm only 17... but I own a 96 legacy l with the 2.2 n/a and it is constantly misfiring, (cylinder 1 as well), and it dies at stoplights when in drive, and it only idles because I've tightened the throttle cable. I've replaced the whole sparking/ignition system other than the ICM so I know it's not spark related. so I kind of agree with your speculation on the knock sensor, I've heard from the man I bought it from that it was a "catastrophic electrical failure", because when I bought it, it didnt run at all. but I'm just kinda learning from this. Sorry I'm not any help.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:41 AM   #14
Kansei
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I just posted this so that you know its not as bad as it could be...
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:22 AM   #15
bobko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kansei View Post
I'm new to all this, especially since I'm only 17... but I own a 96 legacy l with the 2.2 n/a and it is constantly misfiring, (cylinder 1 as well), and it dies at stoplights when in drive, and it only idles because I've tightened the throttle cable. I've replaced the whole sparking/ignition system other than the ICM so I know it's not spark related. so I kind of agree with your speculation on the knock sensor, I've heard from the man I bought it from that it was a "catastrophic electrical failure", because when I bought it, it didnt run at all. but I'm just kinda learning from this. Sorry I'm not any help.
There's a few things you could look for, such as leaking vacuum. That will cause rough idle and make the car stall when idling. Fixing it is just a couple bucks for some rubber vacuum hose.

It could be the knock sensor but it could also be the cam and crank sensors. Both are right in the front of the engine and easy to replace. I thought that the OBD-II system would throw codes that will say if these sensors are bad. However, both these sensors are involved in getting the engine's timing correct, so they could be your culprits. Hell, they could be my culprits! When my cam sensor went bad a few years ago, the car would occasionally stumble and die at idle.

Did someone tell you to check your plug wires? That's a good idea. While you're at it, make sure the spark plugs are in good condition and threaded in snugly (don't overtighten, though). Disconnect and re-connect every connector you can find in the engine bay to fix possible bad contacts.

Good luck!

--Bob
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:35 PM   #16
bobko
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At long last, I may have solved the problem of occasional backfiring, rough-running and CEL codes with my 1995 Legacy wagon. I pulled off the connector on each of the fuel injectors and reset it several times, hoping to clean any dirt off the contacts. Since then (and this was the only thing I did that day), the car has run perfectly without even the hint of a stumble or loss of power. This was a couple months ago, so I'm increasingly confident that this solved the problem.

Of course, me bragging here about how I fixed it will most likely cause the problem to recur...

--Bob

Last edited by bobko; 05-14-2009 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:22 PM   #17
Burnout
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If that didn't fix it, it sounds like you have some loose Valve guides. Its been know to happen before and will happen intermitten as the guide will get pulled back into position from the valve's movement. One thing you can do is pull off the header and check and see if one of the guides is sticking out more then it should be.
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:32 PM   #18
bobko
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It's been a couple months now and the car is still running fine in that regard. The engine is really running well. However, a little electrical problem just raised its head and I'm gonna ask about it in a new thread.

Thanks for the valve guide tip!

--Bob
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:15 AM   #19
roman1
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fuel injector was going to be my guess as well since i have talked with other sub owners that have had the same issue on these motors.
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