By on September 20, 2016

20151030_151824-1

Zac writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a confession to make. I may have lied on my last TrueDelta survey. I reported ‘No Repairs,’ but, while technically true, I have been struggling with a problem for a few months now. My 2011 Ford Taurus SHO has been my long distance cruiser for 99,000 miles now, often times pulling an eight-foot trailer full of bikes and gear to track days all over the Southeast. I installed an Airraid cold air intake, Corsa Cat-Back exhaust, and Stage 3 tune from Livernois Motorsports at 17,000 miles, and the car has run fantastic until about 4,000 miles ago.

Accelerating at low RPM, part throttle, high gear, the car hesitates, “shudders,” or misfires until the transmission decides to downshift or I decide to mash the gas pedal. Midrange to high RPM, mid to full throttle, the car still takes off like a raped ape, but if you drive it like a grandma it just doesn’t do well at all. Obviously, the first thing I did was return the engine tune back to stock. All that did was make the car slower overall. It still had the same acceleration issues at low rpm, part throttle.

I was able to pull a code from the ECU: P0306 – “Cylinder 6 Misfire Detected.” Perfect! I replaced the number 6 ignition coil, and the code went away, but it still didn’t fix my problem. I’ve cleaned both MAP sensors, and the IAC. I checked and replaced all 6 spark plugs (they actually looked pretty good — a little bit of material worn away from the side electrode, but the color was perfect). I finally gave up and dropped the car off at the dealer for a $130 diagnostic.

The mechanic complained that he couldn’t get any codes off of it, and that I need to put the stock airbox back on before he can do any more troubleshooting. The car has had this cold air intake for 80k miles! I clean and oil it every 5k miles with the oil change. I don’t have the airbox for it. Something is worn out on my 100k mile car and the dealer can’t (won’t) tell me what it is, and I can’t figure it out. Should I replace the rest of the coils (at $50 per coil)? Replace the sensors? Oxygen Sensors? Water in the intercooler (how would I check that)? Transmission issue?

Sajeev answers:

How DARE YOU lie to TTAC-alum Michael Karesh?  But I discount any vehicle’s repair woes after such modifications. Not that Livernois Motorsports sells junky tunes, but it’s no longer a factory-engineered vehicle. And having the dealer diagnose the problem is similarly unpleasant for all parties involved: the world revolves around unmodified cars.

That’s not hate, all my rides are tuned to your SHO’s extent. So I’m happy to assist. There are multiple problems within this engine code: none apply because your WOT (wide open throttle) runs are flawless!

There must be an Ecoboost specific (i.e something to do with turbocharging, direct injection or intercooling) concern — Googling netted the intercooler condensation problem.  The best explanation came from a TDI forum, leading to this factory PDF. Ford’s fix is an intercooler restrictor plate, with downsides frustrating enough to make one reconsider natural aspiration. Another fix outside of a remote-mounted catch can or in-line purge-valve-something-or-other is not likely.

But seriously, ask Livernois Motorsports for their advice, as anyone with experience in HVAC freeze ups knows the harsh reality: Thermodyamics is a bitch.

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom: 

Son, you shoulda got a Coyote-swapped Crown Vic as a tow pig.

Or maybe a Lightning-swapped Crown Vic. It’ll haul your load! 

Or, of course, hashtag LSX-FTW hashtag Panther Love:

[Image: Zac the OP]

Send your queries to [email protected] Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

70 Comments on “Piston Slap: SHO Me The Intercooler Condensation!...”


  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    I had a shudder problem on slower acceleration with my last MkT (same engine and transmission). It was the transmission range sensor.

    The car would shudder or drop whatever gear you were in until you pushed your foot down harder. Luckily, I was able to video tape what happened and the dealership fixed it.

    I still think your issue is related to the intake, but it’s food for thought.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Videoing the issue! A good idea I wouldn’t normally think to implement.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I just had the same problem, and thought it was the transmission. It turned out the throttle position sensor was getting an intermittent signal from a crimped wire, making the transmission input sensor and ECU misbehave. Apparently all these sensors work together, and a poor connection to one does strange things elsewhere. My fix was a replacement wire to the TPS, and the sluggish acceleration, poor power, and odd transmission shifts disappeared.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Sounds like you’re about due for a transmission fluid flushing. Dirty fluid will cause a shift flare where the engine rpms rise during a shift but it just wont catch the next gear.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “Sounds like you’re about due for a transmission fluid drain and filter replacement.”

      Fixed it for you. Someone as into cars as you should know you never flush a transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        We used to call those a “customer wallet flush”

        And today’s electronic transmissions adapt the fluid apply pressure to maintain a consistent clutch slip time. So your fluid has to be pretty much kerosene or molasses to get out of that range of adaptability.

        Having said that, new fluid and filter is always a good thing for durability of the internals.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Spot on, Corey.

        Any one doing a “flush” on a trans designed to be serviced with replacing the filter should be slapped by a way-strong pimp hand.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I didn’t flush, but completely drained, the 4R70W in my ’95 F-150, a couple of times in 214k. Old dirty fluid would eventually cause a shudder on the 3-4 shift (maybe also TC lockup related). Draining and replacing the fluid made the shudder go away. Fortunately, the 4R70W used a torque converter drain plug (basically, a pipe plug), which made draining it easy. That got everything except the trans cooler (part of the Super Engine Cooling package) and lines, but that wasn’t enough to worry about.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    As a general rule, any air filter you have to oil will destroy your AFM sooner or later.
    You mentioned that you cleaned the MAP sensor, but I’m surprised Ford was using one.

    My guess is that some part is failing, but not bad enough to throw a code yet. Could be AFM, coils, turbo bypass controller, O2 sensor, etc. A really good Ford tech can probably tell by looking at your full OBD2 data stream, but most techs can’t.

    The other possibility is that your tune works well with a new engine, but not with one that has 100,000 miles of wear on it. Aftermarket tuners don’t have the resources to do full durability testing, or to test their cars in the Arctic and the desert. I know you uninstalled the tune, but the intake/exhaust is still attached.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      What does oiling an air filter mean? I have never understood this – why it’s necessary.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Fabric air filters like K&N’s use oil as the filtering medium. When the filter gets dirty, you wash off the old oil with a solvent, allow it to dry, and spray on new oil.

        I’m not sure what is meant by sooner or later it will destroy your airflow meter. I used a K&N that I serviced with cleaning and re-oiling for 100,000 miles without ever destroying anything. I know plenty of other people that have never had AFM issues from prolonged fabric-oil air filter use too. There are a few mentions of this problem on ‘tuner’ forums, but I’m guessing those guys could mess anything up.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Thanks – this is relevant to me [now] because my mechanic informed me I have a K&N on my Chevy, and it needs cleaned.

          So I’ll probably screw that up nice and good.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            It probably doesn’t need cleaned, they filter more effectively when they are a little dirty. Unless you are driving it off of paved surfaces extensively there should be no need to service your K&N more than every 50,000 miles.

            Over oiling does contaminate the MAF but it takes massive amounts of over oiling to actually damage the MAF. What usually happens is that the light film of oil acts as an insulator causing a shift in the transfer curve. A quick clean with MAF cleaner will restore it to proper function.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            *Also I have no idea how long it has been in there, since I didn’t put it on.*

            And looking at the expense of the cleaning kit, that’s not even going to pay for itself in the entire time I own the car. I think I’ll just switch it to paper filters.

          • 0 avatar
            Silent Ricochet

            Corey, just slap an AEM DryFlow filter in there and call it a day. No oiling, just needs to be cleaned like once a year. With water (and some simple green).

            Never really understood why people opt for K&N when there are great AEM alternatives that require nearly no maintenance. They cost relatively the same, perform the same, and even look similar. I guess K&N is just a better known brand.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Is the AEM any better than a nice paper one in reality?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Is the AEM any better than a nice paper one in reality?”

            no. 99.9% of the time you’re driving with the throttle open maybe 1/8th to 1/4. The restriction of the throttle plate dwarfs anything upstream of it. People who claim they get better fuel economy with a different air filter don’t know how to run a proper test.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I generally don’t drive anywhere above 3000RPM. Lol.

            Next question, what’s a good paper filter brand? I think I’ve always used FRAM when changing them previously.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Corey, take the K&N out an inspect it yourself. Is the back side still pinkish? If so put it back in and leave it alone. If you do want to go paper considering the likelyhood that you won’t keep the vehicle that long go for whatever is convenient and cheap to purchase.

            Fact is that paper filters are oiled or sprayed with an adhesive too and you’ll find hot wire MAFs that need cleaning that have always used paper filters.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It’s not a time thing with me, but rather distance. I don’t drive a lot so my cars accumulate miles very slowly. I’ll have a look at it this evening.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Hot-wire-style AFMs can be spoiled by residual oil in the air stream. Cars that use MAP sensors aren’t affected by this, neither are cars that use older FI control mechanisms, or carb cars.

          Aftermarket cone-style filters don’t do anything on turbocharged cars. Intake pressure is regulated downstream at the turbo.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          people tend to over-oil them, which means excess oil gets pulled into the intake air which contaminates MAF sensors.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Sometimes they can cause a problem with MAF sensors (oil sticking on the wires), if the filter is over-oiled.

      • 0 avatar
        Coopdeville

        Duh, proper lubrication reduces engine wear, ergo it reduces air filter wear too. When was the last time you checked your air filter’s wear bar indicator?

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        some “performance” air filters (snerk) like K&N are made from a cotton gauze, and need a light spray of a sticky air filter oil to do their jobs. it’s easy to over-oil them which means the engine will pull droplets of oil off of it which can contaminate certain types of mass airflow sensors.

        they’re really not necessary. they don’t filter as well, the OE paper filter is sized appropriately for the engine’s needs, but there’s a small group of people out there who believe their “Butt Dynos” are calibrated instruments and swear the air filter makes a difference.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Their main performance benefit is that they increase intake noise, which makes the car feel faster.

        • 0 avatar
          Silent Ricochet

          This isn’t always the case but at least for my car slapping in an AEM or K&N filter in the air box and removing a stupid 8 inch snorkel in the front is good for ~6 hp. Dyno Proven. Google it.

          Aftermarket and performance filters can be beneficial if used correctly in certain applications. So the all out assault you’re launching on them is a bit unwarranted. I buy them primarily because I don’t want to spend the money to change them every year. This is the first car I’ve owned where it actually added power. So it’s a win-win in my case.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    On a more general basis, I find the “Cold Air Intakes” (a.k.a. Cones On a Pipe) to be hilarious.

    – Most (all?) cars are equipped with Cold Air Intakes from the factory. See that tube that runs from the grille to the airbox? That’s cold air.
    – Most Cone On A Pipes are actually WARM Air Intakes because their air usually passes through the radiator and/or condenser before it hits the cone. Unless you build elaborate ducting and heat-shielding.
    – If they DID work, why do precisely zero cars feature them as stock? Automakers like “free” power as much as anybody, and if it was a better design, you’d think you’d see at least one production car that used it.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Modern day airboxes are very efficient. But sometimes a manufacturer will jeopardize maximum flow for noise control. Especially in forced induction

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        not really. Noise management in intake ducts is typically done using Helmholtz resonators, those weird tubes and chambers hanging off of the duct. they don’t affect airflow at all.

        http://www.ferrarilife.com/forums/attachments/articles/36951d1320702441-f430-air-intake-resonators-intake-resonator-1.jpg

        people who remove them because they think it’ll get them more power are dumb.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          And noise reduction is nothing new – in the ’70s, Ford would sometime used what looked like an empty Motorcraft (Rotunda) oil filter canister, on the side of the air cleaner. I used to see them on the 385 motors (429/460), along with the 351M/400 motors.

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          God bless people who don’t understand basic fluid dynamics. What is it about intakes and exhausts that make otherwise mechanically inclined individuals pretend it’s the 1920’s?

          Also, listening to people talk about turbulence on the inlet side of a compressor is… amusing.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “If they DID work, why do precisely zero cars feature them as stock?”

      There are a few modern Mopars (Challenger Shaker, nearly every “Mopar Edition” Charger/Challenger/Ram) that use the “Cone on a pipe” from the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      krohde

      Yep. This is especially true on 2011+ Mustang GT’s with the Coyote V8. Aftermarket intakes actually make less power than the factory one, unless the motor also gets a tune.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        and it’s the tune that makes the difference anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        They use a cartridge style MAF sensor which is pretty sensitive to changes in the way the air flows over the sensor.

        Hell I had a friend complaining about drivability issues on her sixxer. Nobody looked under the hood and told her it was an ignition problem. I popped the hood and the lid on the filter box had come loose creating a dirty signal.

        But yeah, the tune is where all the power generally comes from. Most decent “Cold Air” kits I see really just increase the volume of air that can pass from the filter to the throttle body which on an otherwise stock engine doesn’t do much. Then you get to the filter side and the airbox and its less an airbox and more a crappy splash shield that somewhat deflects hot air when the car is moving. At an idle the engine just pulls hot air.

        Laughably when I still had the GT500 (2.9 Whipple with a CAI and AFCO heat exchanger with fans) the heat exchanger would pull down the discharge air temp to below what the engine was seeing before the supercharger on particularly hot days when I was sitting in traffic (pretty interesting how the ground and car in front of you could heat the air so much before it even entered the car). So much for the cold air part of the CAI.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    A Coyote-swapped Crown Victoria is literally music to my ears. That is heavenly.

  • avatar
    Pesky Varmint

    Right on the mark about the oil covered air filters. I have had several experiences that they f.u. mass air flow sensors. My opinion is never use oiled air filters.

    And I also laugh at the cold air intake. I bought a used Mustang which unfortunately seriously suffers in the hottest Arizona summer since the so called “cold air intake” is sucking the hot air coming through the ac condenser and radiator. And I’m having difficulty finding the stock replacement that draws true cold air from outside the fender. What a joke those cold air POS are.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Man if I had a wrecked truck with a good engine and transmission I’d seriously consider picking up a Crown Vic/Grand Ma/Townie just to have some fun.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Another vote for fouling of the MAF by the oily air filter.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Any filter that allows more air through will also allow more dirt through. My Jeep had same problem. Try replacing #6 fuel injector.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’d go to a proper diagnostician who wouldn’t just throw parts at it (that’s called “swaptronics” among guys like my brother others in the business). It’s pretty easy to check the function of a fuel injector, a coil’s behavior, the signal coming from the MAF/MAP sensors, etc.

      I’d put it back to full stock including airbox, clean up the MAF, and see where you’re at. Take it to a truly qualified auto diagnostician if problems persist.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        I jokingly call it using my credit card as a scan tool. For my Jeep it was an easy cheap thing to replace and solved the issue after replacing just the coil didn’t work. I swapped the injector with another one and the code changed to that cylinder.

  • avatar
    jhughes

    I’d recommend an EcoBoost Flex, but that’s the same engine as the SHO. My wife has one. Someone called it a SHO-wagon once. The name kind of stuck.

    Crown Vics are fun though. I loved my P71 until it failed inspection for busted ABS and needed over $1000 to fix. :( I’d ponder another though.

  • avatar

    As Sajeev mentions above, an LS swap is probably the solution.

    But in all seriousness, the MAF is likely oily and needs some cleaning as others have mentioned above.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I think Sajeev hit the nail on the head with his cooler condensation suggestion. The symptoms, as you describe, fit nicely. Youtube “ecoboost cac” and debate whether or not you want to drill a spew hole.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I dunno.

      I mean, the VW PDF he links to says “in cold temperatures, the condensation may freeze”.

      Which is legit, and makes perfect sense.

      Except OP was talking about living *in the Southeast* and didn’t mention “only happens in winter” (and even then…).

      In the Midwest or Northeast, I could believe that.

      I don’t think he’s getting ice in his intercooler in the Southeast, though, not consistently over the last 4,000 miles.

      I don’t see any plausible way he could get ice in his intercooler with ambient temps over freezing; it’s just a heat exchanger, not an active cooler like an A/C unit, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        A pressure drop through a restriction causes a corresponding drop in temp. That is why carb cars used to have the temp controlled air cleaner that was fed heated air from around the exhaust. When temps were in the upper 30’s to mid 40’s and humidity was high ice would form on the carb’s venturi often to the point where it would totally block off fuel flow. I’ve seen it many times and to the un-initiated it can be very hard to diagnose as the ice will melt rather quickly once the engine is off and sitting for 2 or 3 minutes will “fix” the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Sigivald,

        It’s not ice that is the issue. It is condensed water that accumulates inside the intercooler when you are driving under light throttle for an extended period of time. It is especially prevalent when the humidity is high.

        Then, when you open the throttle and increase the airflow through the intercooler, a slug of liquid water is swept into the intake airstream, causing misfires and engine stumbling. It’s a common problem that you can read about on several Ford vehicle forums. The ‘fix’ is a metal plate which blocks off airflow to part of the intercooler, which makes it not cool the air so much.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    If you clean and oil your air filter every 4,000 miles you are probably one of the few people who have actually caused permanent damage to the MAF that can’t be fixed by cleaning it.

    Read the directions on the K&N they absolutely do not recommend cleaning and oiling every 4K, 50K to 100K is the recommended interval for most applications.

    As others have mentioned you need to find someone who is willing and has the knowledge to actually trouble shoot the problem. Someone experienced in “no code” driveability diagnosis.

  • avatar
    vtecJustKickedInYo

    3.5 Ecoboosts commonly have water condensing in the intercooler due to the intercooler being oversized for the application. Oddly the best solution is to drill a tiny pin hole in the intercooler.

    Daniel Jaeger, one of my favorite automotive technicians on youtube, has the fix.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKgI5pnD_3E

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    I gave up on aftermarket oiled air filters after two events:

    1) A guy I knew had his 4.6L Mustang dynoed before and after making numerous mods (intake manifold, exhaust, etc.) He managed to improve hp by over 20% over stock while still using the factory air box and paper filter. That suggested strongly that manufacturers build plenty of excess air filtration capacity in for when the filter gets dirty, so you’d need serious mods before the stock filter became an issue (so long as you change it regularly.)

    2) Through a car club I was in I met a guy who managed a fleet of vehicles for a large company. They went through a lot of paper filters because their vehicles spent a lot if time in dirt roads, and he convinced them to do a trial of oiled aftermarket air filters to see if they could save money over time by just cleaning rather than replacing filters. They performed oil analysis tests on these vehicles and saw a big enough increase in silica (from fine sand making it into the engine ) and other wear indicators. They went back to paper filters as the oiled ones (cleaned and oiled according to the maker’s direction for that environment) didn’t filter as well.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It only takes holding a cotton gauze filter up to a light to know that they won’t filter as well as paper. I’d throw out a paper filter if I saw any pinholes like that. But I have learned to appreciate some intakes with those filters.

      My buddy loved his ’04 RX-8, so when he had an opportunity to buy an ’07 with only 12k miles this spring for under $10k he jumped on it. It has a Mazdaspeed CAI which I thought was ridiculous, as the stock paper filter is enormous; large enough that it is also used on 500+ horsepower Vipers. I immediately suggested swapping his old airbox on to the newer car.

      He didn’t have room for both cars so I babysat the ’07 for a few weeks until he got the ’04 ready for sale. I quickly discovered that the intake sounds glorious at full throttle from 6000 rpm on up to the 9500 rpm limit. It’s like a musical instrument, with the only drawback being that it makes hearing the 9000 rpm shift chime difficult when the windows are down. Unlike the noisy Borla on his ’04 that was fun on clear evening roads but embarrassing to drive in traffic – making all sorts of unnecessary noise just to go as slow as all the other commuter cars around you – the intake is perfectly quiet like a stock setup whenever it isn’t driven hard.

      So I finally understand the purpose of aftermarket intakes. It even led me to remove the resonator assembly on my own Mazda3 for a little more growl at full throttle. Maybe someday I’ll understand the purpose of aftermarket exhausts too.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    2010 Taurus SHO owner here since 2010. Agree with Sajeev. I had the same issue at around 30k miles. Dealer fix it and I was on my way. A short time later, I had the same exact issue with my EB F-150.

    Great cars though. I have 72k miles on the SHO now and still pulls like a freight train.

  • avatar
    anonymic

    Low speed drivablity problems like this are most likely linked to a failing sensor (transmission range sensor comes to mind), a dirty MAF if your car has one, or a vacuum leak. I’d put money on the intake manifold gasket.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • redapple: Hatch struts still work? W T Fudge? My sawed off broomstick handle was always in the back.
  • kosmo: “How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter,...
  • dividebytube: When I’m down south I’m taken aback by the number of decent looking old trucks and even G...
  • redapple: RED…. Great catch. Love it.
  • teddyc73: What an ugly rear end.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States