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Ford Explorer Won't Pass Emissions

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by thephotohound, Aug 16, 2007.

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  1. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    You need to stop the driver of one of those POS cars, and find out which shop sells him the sticker... ;-P

    Worst I've ever heard was a few years back down at Daytona Bike Week, before the local Chamber of Commerce convinced the local pols that it was good politics to be really nice to the bikers and their wallets, the cops were giving tickets for every infraction they could find - one guy had a Harley with a rolling light show, over 3 THOUSAND bulbs... Literally had to tow a trailer with a generator on it to give him enough juice. Cops gave him a ticket because ONE bulb was burned out, and FL law says motorcycles must run ALL their lights during the day.... >:-(

    Gooserider

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  2. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Well it sounds like you have had a streak of bad luck dealing with inspection stations.

    Without getting started on another fine example of "The Peoples' republic of Massachusetts" The inspection process is somewhat ridiculous. I too have experienced similiar results... but found a decent, honest, realistic place to go for my stickers. Been going there (a bit out of the way nowadays) and bring all five vehicles there... as well as other family vehicles because I know the place is on the level.

    The worst one I heard about though was a friend that brough his blazer to another 'local' garage for an inspection... The guy says "Hit the windshield washer fluid (technically it has to work)" he didn't have any fluid in it. The guy doing the inspection says "I can fill it up for ya...but I have to charge you for the fluid." So my buddy says ok. Inspection finished, get's the sticker "That will be $29.00 for the sticker and $9.00 for the windshield washer fluid"...Which needless to say got my buddy seeing red. "Get something to suck the fluid out of the reservoir..I'm not gonna pay you $9.00 for part of a $0.99 jug..."

    How the particular words came up I dunno... but the whole thing agravated my friend to the point where he told the guy "Had I known that I would have just (substituted a bodily fluid) in it"...

    That would have been an interesting thing to be sprayed all over the garage. ;)
  3. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    I'll never go back to this inspection station, as the guy was just too quick to quote me a price to do all 4 ball joints - $600. I told him I do most of my own auto repairs, and asked if this was a big job. He told me that it's way over my head (like he even knows me) and to leave it to the professionals. Needless to say, once I get it reinspected, he'll never see me again.

    I tested them myself (ball joints) and found that it was just the uppers, anyway... Total parts cost: $109 (both uppers). And they're only so expensive because on the Explorer, they come with the control arm as one piece. Each unit is 4 bolts. "Leave it to the professionals" my a$$. Even the lowers don't seem too tough with a press.

    So on a side note, I went to pick up a cord of 3 yr seasoned oak for $50 (but that's another story) and heard some real metal on metal action when braking (92 GMC 2500). Pulled the wheel to find that the front pads were absolute toast. New pads: $26. Went to pull them off, a caliper was seized. Replace caliper: $16 ($16?!!). Replaced both for that price. Found one rotor was too damaged and had already been turned at least 2x. New rotors: $30 each. Again, for that price, replaced both. Installed all, bled lines, ready to go. Bottom line: Nothing is ever easy on a 15 yr old truck (i.e. "just pads") but the monthly car payment makes it all worth it! I'll never buy new (or even close to new) again.
  4. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Amen to that!
  5. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    Did the passenger side ball joint & upper control arm yesterday. Piece of cake. The bolts weren't seized like everything else on the truck.... funny.... like someone had done them before.... hmmm.... Anyway, it's a good thing I replaced it when I did. The old joint was 3/4 of the way out of the knuckle. A few good bumps, and I would have had no steering. Thanks, Keyman!

    I'm leaving the driver's side for now, as the inspection station (as corrupt as they are) said the driver's side should pass. Based on "should", I bought the part anyway. As I went to pull the old one off, I noticed that I couldn't slide the old bolts out of the control arm; there were metal fuel lines blocking one bolt and a power steering hose blocking the other. Wonderful. All I need is to go to move one of the fuel lines and crease it or break a seal. So I left it in there. I think I may try to get a sticker without changing this one. I can also get $80 back....
  6. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Your welcome Photo...

    Just a thought... Seeing as the vehicle is a 1997 model (at the ten year mark)... and you already have the parts... personally I would hold onto them "for a future date" when perhaps you "just happen to find a good mechanic" etc....

    Used vehicles can "be a crap shoot sometimes" but it sounds like you are close to having it in the condition you want it to be in.

    Unless the vehicle is "to good to pass up" I usually "do my homework"... the years of buying and driving "someone elses' jalopy" have taught me some very valuable lessons. A few times I've been viewed with some curiousity by a seller when I break out a floor jack and start checking over the front end... course when you hear "I bought it for my teenage daughter to get to cheerleader practice/go off to college" etc... You can learn alot about what the vehicle has been through...just with a little conversation. Buying a truck/SUV from someone that has "turned it loose with a teenage driver" can make you shake your head sometimes....when a truck or an SUV is driven like a sportscar, chances are "It's been driven hard and put away wet"...usually the steering components will tell the story.

    My bet on the right side being "hammered" would be one or two things of "bad driver traits". Coulda been driven by someone who had a tendancy to "cut corners" into curbs or from "hard lefts through traffic".

    If it would have been the left??? "Taking highway off ramps at 70MPH religiously".

    Personally, I TRY to drive focusing on putting as little stress as possible on steering components as possible.

    Glad to hear your new rig is 'coming together'...Just don't take those off ramps to hard/fast.

    I've seen the end results of hard driving on steering components... from turning wrenches to being a "passerby". ;)
  7. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    Thanks for the info. Much appreciated.

    I actually thought that the fact that he bought it for his teenage daughter (who never actually drove it) was a good thing... if he's willing to put her in it, he's confident in it's reliability, no? Just my take on it.

    Yes, it's just about to where I want it. I'll probably replace the shocks sooner than later, and I'll do the A/C in the spring (wouldn't get cold even after a recharge). Really the only pressing item left is the whole P0401 issue. P1000 is still coming up though (system reset), so P0401 may go away once it's driven enough miles, right? Just for good measure, I'll clean the EGR and O2. If that's still not it, next is the gas cap. After the cheap fixes are done, I'll look to the MPFE sensor, then the EGR valve itself...
  8. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    "Believe some of what you hear and 1/2 of what you read(into it)" Yeah, the guy might have bought it for his daughter to drive so he cares..."She never drove it"..dunno.

    Now look at it from the other side...

    She might have drove it a couple of times, whacked a curb and it was taken to a (unscrupoulous) mechanic "Hey buddy your daughter is driving that thing??? You better think of spending the $1200.00 bucks to do the front end over before she get's killed driving home some night with all her friends in the car"... guy thinks to himself it's too big for her to drive "Daddy I want 'a little red rice ship' with a kickin' stereo system...can I can I please..."

    Yeah so the guy is thinking about his daughter... Hey? How many have been put in that predicament when it comes to "Daddy's little girl???" ;)
  9. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Actually my suggestion, if the check engine light is out, would be to give it a blend of high test and E85, about 50/50. put in some 15/40 or 20/50 synthetic, and see if you can sneak past. If you felt really ambitious you could change the plugs.

    Steve
  10. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    UPDATE

    I have replaced the upper ball joint (the one that failed). I have also freed up the stuck EGR valve. Hopefully this cures the P0401 code I was getting. However, I also found that the round rubber part of my gas tank filler neck (that holds the nozzle in place when filling the tank) is broken off. (The metal part that the cap threads into it just fine.) I pulled it out, but there's no way to glue it back on. Could this be causing a vacuum leak, thus causing the P0401? Or does the gas cap seal the tank completely?

    Second problem is this: I am on day 59 of 60 with the failed sticker (no lectures please). I know I have to drive at least 50-75 miles after the fix for the code to clear out of the OBD-II system... I will hit this mark after freeing the stuck EGR, but if it is something else (like a DPFE sensor) I will need additional time and mileage after changing the sensor (a $120 part, mind you).

    So here's the question... how does everyone feel about driving on an EXPIRED REJECTED inspection sticker? If you're not so confident, any ideas on how to get around this mileage requirement? Or is it time to put this baby on blocks and stick the gas pedal until we reach 75 miles??
  11. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    If the rubber part mating the filler neck to the tank is shot, you're getting a vacuum leak (big one) which will throw a check engine light. Don;t bother driving any miles without addresng that.

    You should be able to clear the code with one of those scan tools - $20-30 at Pep Boys or AutoZone. Or a decent mechanic might even clear it for little or no money.

    As to the inspection sticker, srtictly your call. Locally they could care less about expired registrations, but they charge you a late fee when you do get around to registering (of course, if you're in an accident with an expired registration it becomes noticeably pricier).

    Steve
  12. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    Obviously the rubber part is first on the agenda then... Is that a junk yard part? Looks like just 3 bolts takes the neck off...
  13. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Could be a junkyard item, or it should be pretty cheap at a NAPA or similar. If you were really going hillbilly, you could probably do it with some appropriate diameter hose, a couple hose clamps, and some formagasket, but the right part might cost less than the cobble job.

    Steve
  14. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Depends on how lucky you feel. If you get popped in MA with an expired sticker, the cop can do anything up to towing and impounding the vehicle on the spot, leaving you standing on the curb. On a regular sticker it's fairly obvious when you've expired as well, since they are color coded by month. I don't know how obvious it is for a reject sticker to be expired.

    I've heard of people getting software and the paper to make their own "free-lance" stickers, not sure of details on how to do this, and while you might not get caught because of a wrong color sticker, if you get caught for anything else then you really get hosed...

    I'm not terribly worried about it from the peice of paper standpoint - the problem is the thing you got rejected for, if that's been fixed then you are safe, regardless of whether the gov't's gotten it's peice of the action or not. If it hasn't been fixed, but you gamed the system into a legit sticker, you aren't safe even if the gov't is happy...

    I've also heard of people going in for a second inspection, failing, getting another reject sticker, and starting over - but this was a few years back, and I don't know if they've changed the rules so that this wouldn't be allowed any more.

    Gooserider
  15. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    I heard that in this great state that you CANNOT DRIVE if you have a R on your sticker.... The car can be pulled over and impounded on the spot (regardless of the date on it)... This must be a newer law on the books...I dunno...
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Technically correct - If you have a Reject sticker, you are ONLY supposed to operate directly in relation to getting the car serviced and made inspectable. If the officer feels so inclined, he can pull an "R" car over and interrogate the driver about where he is going - if the driver is going anywhere besides to and from a repair shop, parts store, or other such repair-related facility, or home from one, then the cop can give more tickets or impound and tow the car.

    Some ways this makes sense - in theory you got the rejection because the car wasn't safe to be on the road. They are doing you the "favor" of allowing you to drive around enough to get it fixed, instead of having it towed, but the intent is not to have you running all over the place in an "unsafe" vehicle. If you accept the entire concept of gov't inspections, it makes a level of sense.

    Gooserider
  17. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Doesn;t Mass. differentiate between safety inspections - brakes, seat belts, tires, etc - and emissions? An emissions failure doesn't mean a car is unsafe, just smoky... Or malfunctioning in some manner that may vary from minor (vacuum leak on the EGR) to major (no exhaust pipe).

    If you fail safety, you probably shouldn't be driving period. If you fail emissions, I have mixed feelings about it.

    Steve (living in a state with neither safety nor emissions inspections)
  18. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    I failed initially for both safety and emissions. I immediately fixed the safety (upper ball joint). I then procrastinated with the emissions until it was too late (today is 60 days). It is now off the road until I fix it. The problem is not fixing it, it's what do I do once it is fixed. I have to wait approximately 50-75 miles until the code clears the system. If I get pulled over with an expired safety reject sticker, I'd say I'm screwed. I can have the receipt for the ball joint if that will help to show that I fixed the safety issue, but if he's in a bad mood, I can consider my car impounded. So my plan is to fix it, then just drive back roads in my own town until it cycles through the OBD. Then I should be good. Even if I get pulled over, I should be OK.
  19. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Seriously, getting the codes cleared shouldn't be a big thing. A gas station with a service bay should be able to do that for $10 or less. Probably for less than the gas you'd burn driving 75 miles.

    Steve
  20. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    Getting the codes cleared isn't an issue... doesn't P1000 show up after you clear them for the 50-75 miles??
  21. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    UPDATE

    Had a chat with two Ford techs yesterday. They said that the plastic/rubber grommet between the gas tank and filler neck would not cause any vacuum loss, and that the gas cap seals to the metal filler neck... the plastic is irrelevant.

    So I've determined it has to be the DPFE sensor. I picked one up at Autozone, but for the life of me, can't locate it! After much research on forums, and searching my engine compartment, I've determined that my Explorer must be an early model '97, which had no DPFE... just an EVR (electronic vacuum regulator). I'll double check tonight by taking off the EVR (as this is the only obstruction left between the intake and the firewall) and I'll know for sure.
  22. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Sorry for the misdirection. Most of the filler assemblies I'm familiar with have a metal neck attached to the fender, and a metal neck attached to the tank, then a flexible piece somewhere in between to deal with relative motion between the tank (hard mounted ot the frame) and the body. I thought that flexible piece was what you were referring to.

    Steve
  23. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I drove on an expired sticker for almost THREE years ;)

    Finally got pinched and he wrote me up and told me to get it done.
    I tild him it slipped my mind ROFL He said FOR THREE YEARS!
  24. thephotohound

    thephotohound New Member

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    Steve - Please don't apologize! You obviously know more than me, so ANY info is welcomed!
    Babalu - Thanks for the tip. And when I get pulled over, I'll tell him "I know this guy in Middleborough....."
  25. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    "Things are going to get interesting folks"....

    Talking with a friend recently (that is state certified to do inspection stickers)...Seems the Registry of Motor Vehicles "has some new plans in store for the motoring public"...

    In 2008...They are changing the "inspection process" again. The Dynamometer machine...is going to be history...(as well as the current 'machinery'...)

    They are going to have a new computer to plug into the OBD port...and a 'gas anaylzer' for the "two speed snap test"...but supposedly, anything 1996 and older "will be safety inspection only"...

    The "kicker"...lol The 'proposed fee' for a 'sticker' is going up to $45.00

    ...Gotta love this state....lol
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