A couple weeks ago the g/f and I took a vacation to Mexico. For the first time since the Cougar's resurrection, the car sat for two weeks. I've been driving it nearly every day, and never a check engine light in almost 25,000 miles. My g/f drove the Cougar to work, and guess what. CEL comes on.
I check the codes, one for IMRC stuck open, another for failing DPFE (P0401). The code for the stuck IMRC happened a few times immediately after the engine swap. It turned out the IMRC cable bracket was slightly bent. A little "encouragement" and no problems since. I have no idea why the code appeared now 2 years later... but after clearing it, it hasn't come back.
I thought maybe these hiccups were just from sitting, and my g/f's inability to drive the car as it's meant to be driven (like it's stolen!!!). She's also used to driving our 2012 Jetta TDI 6 speed, which is very different. I cleared the codes which remained gone for a few days.... then P0401 came back. The DPFE is an original part, with 99,xxx miles on it now. I'm guessing it just needs a new sensor.
This 3L hybrid (which I built from leftover junk parts) and rod shift Quaife (built by TH) drivetrain have nearly 30,000 miles now. Less than 5,000 in the '97 Contour, and now 25,000 in the '02 Cougar. And this is the first real issue. I'm quite pleased :)
Almost 1 year exactly since the Craptour was killed by a tornado, the '02 Cougar, Hello Cooter, is finished. Most of the major components that went into building the Craptour found a new home in the Cougar.
The stock '97 y-pipe was swapped for an MSDS ceramic coated y-pipe. The exhaust note in the cabin is quieter. The stock '97 main cat remains. I removed the solid upper engine mount and installed the original stock mount, which reduced vibrations and noise while cruising, but increased them while idling. I can live with that.
With a couple data logs, Torrie at Unleashed Tuning returned a new tune file. It corrected an issue with the PCM cutting fuel between shifts causing the engine to drop revs very quickly. Also, AFR at WOT redline was 10:1, now it's 12:1. The car is noticably faster. Fuel mileage has remained consistent at 23.3 MPG. I hope to have a dyno graph very soon. I am mainly interested to know if the small valves of the SVT heads are detrimental to power output when matched with the 3L block.
The rod shift trans works great. I drove the '99 3L SVT the other night and compared the feel of the two boxes. The SVT shifts great, but there is a slight rubbery feel when selecting a gear. The Cougar's rod shift box almost clicks from gear to gear. Clutch engagement is so quick that I have missed a gear when I'm not paying attention.
I have not current plans other than to drive the car. It's currently my main vehicle. The X-Type and Scion need new tires and the Dakota needs a front hub bearing.
After passing some documents through the title and registration office at my local courthouse, and sneaking through a state safety inspection, Hello Cooter is finally 100% legal and road worthy.
Interior is all together. Stereo is complete. Rear strut tower brace installed. Refilled the A/C with refrigerant. Swapped BAT hi-flow pipe for stock '97 V6 y-pipe and cat. The exhaust sounds so much better. It's quieter all around, but with a little more interior drone at idle. I'm satified for now. Installed '99-00 headlights by modifying the '99 style parking lamp socket base with a dremel to allow the '02 harness plug to fit. I think the blacked out housings complement the black car.
Terry's rod shift works great. I haven't missed a shift yet. They are always positive and direct with smooth engagement. The ride on BAT struts and springs (Euro kit) is very nice. Smooth on the highway, taut on bumpy city streets, and sporty around corners. Never uncomfortable, but sometimes a little too much rebound from the front if the road is humped.
The Cougar is now named Cooter... Hello Cooter to be exact. If you are unfamiliar with the term "cooter", the Urban Dictionary defines it as "the holiest of holies, the place all men aspire to be" and simply "vagina." In other words.... pussy aka kitty. Kinda dirty, but that's how this mind works.
Torrie McPhail of FastPartsNetwork.com provided an initial tune based on the specs I provided him. No data logs, just a list of specs. Within a couple days, I received a new file for the X-Cal 3 I had purchased for the now deceased '97 Craptour. It downloaded onto the '02 PCM without trouble. Immediately, the car is running great. AFR is right where it needs to be.... between 14-16 while cruising, and no less than 12.5 at 7000rpm with WOT. I have only put about 40 miles on the car since the new tune. Only codes so far are for the eliminated downstream O2 sensors. After a tank or two of gas, I'll data log and ask Torrie for a tweaked tune to correct for the eliminated sensors.
Very happy indeed. My suggestion to anyone looking for a mail order tune (because you don't have easy access to a dyno tuner) is to contact Torrie!!!! Torrie has helped me in the past to source hard to find parts for Contours and V8 SHOs, and has always provided excellent service. This time, he exceeded my expectations.
These pics are not current, a few weeks old. The car has since received it's first bath and SVT center caps.
I spent half the day tearing apart the Craptour. Scavenged a few parts to save, and then broke out the reciprocating saw. It did not take long to remove the roof and split the car across the middle. I'll finish up tomorrow and haul the carcass away.
I hauled this 2002 Coog back from Houston this week. It has only 1 previous owner, dealer installed black leather and dealer installed Webasto one-touch moonroof. The front bumper and left front headlight are cracked up. Interior is very clean and overall, paint and body are in good shape. The engine bay is clean. I'm told that is was always run with Mobil 1. Apparently the engine spit a spark plug, it was serviced at the dealer, but when put back together the engine would not start. Previous owner believes the timing is out. The car has 75,000 miles.
The plan is to swap over as much of the new parts from the Craptour in the Cougar, including the Hello Kitty exhaust.
I shuffled the cars around while I was mowing and found them lined up in front of the house.
The '98 is now rolling on 15's. Excuse the dirt, we regularly travel country back roads. My sister is now using the car.
The '97 is sitting on the '98's wheels. The '98 needed brakes and tires before it could be driven. I robbed the parts from the '97. My Craptour is slated for execution. The damage from the tree branch which busted out the rear glass and the dead end with tuning have caused me to decide to scrap the car. The final stroke came from a friend in Houston that offered me a 2002 Cougar with a blown engine. I'll swap as many parts as possible from the Craptour into the Cougar. Pics of the Cougar after I pick it up. I'm told it's black, with black leather interior, sunroof, cracked front bumper and headlight, and damage from a failed catalytic converter.
Since the tornado, I had the Craptour parked at my girlfriend's house under a carport. As is typical of Summer in Texas, it has not rained since. When my girlfriend's lease ended last month, I brought the Craptour home. Unfortunately, I don't have anywhere else to park it but in the side yard. And guess what.... that very night, it rains. I really don't care. It's rained a couple times since. There was some standing water in the spare tire well, but whatever. It's the Craptour!
The branch bent the lower edge of the window frame. I need to straighten this out before I can have new glass installed.
SCT completely turned their back to me. No help at all. My former tuner... well... I believe he did his best, but without support from SCT, he gave up. I have one more option, my buddy Jim in Oklahoma City. He tuned my '99 3L and believes he can tune the Hello-Kitty car. We shall see....
Tornado blew through Burnet this evening. Trees are down all over town. My neighbor has one in her back yard. A local friend called to check on me; she has a tree on her roof. Roofs have been pealed back. I think a few panels on my roof are loose, but held.
A 8" branch broke off a tree across the street and landed on the Craptour.
The latest tune is still rich. Several dealers have looked at my logs, offered help, but none have been successful. Paul, my main tuner from the beginning is about ready to throw in the towel. He offered to refund 1/2 my money for the XCal 3. I accepted his offer, but he is still trying to get SCT to provide support.
From his latest email: "After giving SCT an ass chewing on their dealer forum they suddenly have decided to start working on the EXE* processor."
As far as drivability goes... the throttle response sucks. It's like driving a throttle-by-wire car with a sluggish stepper motor. IMRC engagement is abrupt with a sharp power increase. I gotz teh V-TAK yo!!! Cruising is fine. Gas mileage isn't horrible. By comparison, the '99 3L which was tuned on a dyno, has a very snappy throttle which makes clutch engagement and low speed 1st gear driving quite tricky. It takes practice and a soft touch on the throttle. Both cars are geared the same. The '97 bogs between gear changes when the engine is cold.
For anyone considering a Pro Racer Package from SCT for DIY tuning, or mail order tuning on an usual swap (like a 3L in a pre-'98), forget about it. The support from SCT is worthless. If you have an '09 Mustang or diesel truck, then fine, but they don't give a rat's ass about a 12 year old dead model like the Contour. Paul has done an excellent job doing what he can as a small niche tuner/dealer. He mainly tunes V8 SHOs and OBDII Tauruses for owner/enthusiasts. When I owned my '98 SHO, Paul was consistent with providing updates to his tunes as he gained experience. It ran great the first time and every tune had improvements.
Back to waiting on SCT.....
Just out for a cruise listening to the stereo and checking out the latest tune. WOT is finally near 12:1, which is much better than where it has been. Power is great from 3400 all the way to 7000rpm. I haven't run over 7000rpm yet. I'll be interested to see the dyno results once the tune is finalized.
SCT has now determined that their database for the EXE1 is corrupted. Comparing the EXE1 base fuel map to the EXE3 fuel map shows an obvious problem.... they are supposed to be working on a new database.
In the meantime, another SCT dealer (the third to help now) has offered another tune. It's not bad. WOT is around 12:1 now, but I'm still getting rich codes.
I finished the stereo install (finally!). I mounted the MTX 421D amp to the back of the SVT split fold rear seats along with a Polk Audio ported box that contains 4 6x9" subs. Older sub kit, but works very well in this smaller car, and the amp is more than plenty. I got my bumps in da trunk!
I knew better. I thought my buddy would be up to the challenge and would like to help me out... and he has. It's not his fault this car cannot be tuned correctly. If anything, it's SCT's fault. The PCM code in my '97 is EXE1. Apparently SCT never decoded EXE1, but they did decode EXE2 and 3. The fuel table for WOT is not accessible. The only feedback we get from SCT when asking for help is the sound of crickets chirping. I contacted another buddy that has been tuning with SCT since the beginning. He admits that SCT has really gone downhill over the last 3 years. Their products are more cheaply built, and their customer service is horrible. He continues to use SCT because of the diesel tuning capability, but he also says that if something else comes along, he'll jump ship.
SCT looked over the data we've collected so far and prepared a tune for me. Their tune was worse than anything Paul has done so far. I'm on tune #14 several months after getting the car running and the car still runs like crap at WOT.
I finished the teeth grill. Some have asked about water running onto the engine during a rain storm... well, here's the result. Water collects in some spot, and on the header wrap. Crank it up, wait a moment, and steam billows out from the hood. Looks funny when sitting at a stop light and the guy next to me is pointing suggesting I've blown a radiator hose.... nope, all is good.
I dunno about you, but I'm still not sure how I feel about the Craptour becoming my daily driver. I sold my '98 SHO yesterday... a car I really liked, so now the Craptour is taking over as the DD. It's buzzy, loud, ugly and people look at me strange. Whatever. It's fun and the stereo is enough to drown out most of the engine noise.
The good thing is that now I'll have more time and resource to spend on it. I'll be forced to finish a couple things like the interior swap. Then I'll have time to get back to the suspension on the '99. There's a track day coming up in April I'd like to attend.
I've been recovering from food poisoning for the last 3 days. Last night I felt well enough to eat and had a craving for tacos. The nearest place is about an hour away, so what better excuse than to take a drive in the Craptour and do some data logging.
I had some new tunes to try out. Since there is some relevance to this blog post and a current topic on the forums, let me explain. I am using a "mail order" tune. My tuner is a buddy from the Taurus Car Club of America. He's very experienced in tuning Taurus Duratecs and V8 SHOs. When I started looking at tuning options, SCT had priced the Pro Racer Package out of my budget, there is no one nearby I could haul the car to for tuning (that I trust), and the only dyno tuner I trust is 400 miles away, not to mention the $400 tuning. So I asked Paul Nimz (SHOZ123) from the TCCA if he would be up to the challenge of tuning a 3L swapped older Contour. He agreed, and here we are....
So we've been working on the tune for several months now. When I have time, I install his latest tune, data log, and email him the results. When he has time, he interprets the data, makes corrections, and emails me the new tune. We aren't done yet.
Lately, the main issue has been WOT AFR. I am using 24# injectors with the stock 2.5L MAF. Originally, I was using a MAF matched to the injectors, but Paul wanted to try to the stock MAF instead. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been much, if any difference. The engine is running pig rich. At WOT AFR spikes around 10:1. My wideband stops at 10:1 AFR, so at times, it could be running even richer than the gauge can output.
Last night I had two tunes. One with SCT's 24# injector values, and another with stock Taurus Duratec injector values. The SCT values were noticeably richer. Cruising at 65mph AFR was around 12.5. With the Duratec values, AFR at cruise was better, around 15:1. But WOT is still pig rich.
So, back to waiting for some corrected tunes.... the tacos were good. My stomach is still grumbling today and I have no appetite.
I made some slight modifications to the cheap aftermarket window regulator and threaded some holes on the reman'd OEM motor. I also lubed the window tracks with WD-40 because the glass seemed to be hanging up near the top. I re-greased the regulator. At the moment, it's working like it is supposed to. Maybe it will actually last this time.
I have not had any time to spend on the Craptour in a couple weeks. School has started... gettin' my learn on.
Still have the high RPM loss of power. I have checked fuel pressure and disabled IMRC with the secondaries pinned open. Problem still persists, so I can rule out failing fuel pump and IMRC box.
I've never really taken any decent all around pics... and now that the car is road worthy, it's time to post some.
The cowl vent covers have been removed to run wiring for the wide band O2 and amp. They will go back on soon. I have not finished installing the SVT interior. The driver's window is still jacked.
Been driving it for the last couple days, data logging.... I have a high RPM stumble I can't explain yet. At first I was getting the stumble at 5500rpm and up. I replaced the old nasty fuel filter, and now the stumble is at 6500rpm and above.
2 outta 3 law requirements ain't bad.
I shaped a piece of scrap sheet metal and used a plasma cutter to rough cut some teeth. Still a work in progress... I haven't decided if I'll paint it, or let it rust.
I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with tech support from SCT. We installed a firmware revision on the tuner and all appears to function as it should. The wideband O2 is installed, the gauge is mounted (sorta). Time to start data logging!
Introducing the SHT Extra shiz Kit. These and other options are available from your local independent SHT dealer.
SHT exterior package (Wheels are temporary while the 15s get new rubbers.)
Stupid window motor been giving me headaches. The car had a busted driver's window regulator when I bought it. So I bought a new one. It sat in the box in the trunk while the car sat waiting for me to begin working on it. I did fix the window before starting the 3L swap. I used the window... maybe 10 times at most, how often do you use a window in a car with a bad engine you don't drive? Once the engine swap was completed, I thought I was done correcting all the little issues in the car... then the damn BRAND NEW window regulator jams!!! WTH?!
I took it out, completely disassembled the regulator, track, cables, etc looking for a bind... nothing, but a lot of nasty grease on my hands. I take the motor apart. Don't see any obvious problem. I cleaned it up, tried it. It worked twice and jammed again. Take it apart one more time, file the brushes, wire brush the stator, put it back together. This time, it's working... tried it 20 times up and down, no problems.
We'll see, fingers crossed.