By on March 23, 2018

fuel pump

Sam writes:

Dear Sajeev,

After reading TTAC for many, many years I succumbed and finally got me some panther love. It blows my mind that Ford can make such a well-balanced, corner-carving sedan and then never sell it to civilians. I traded my 2006 Mazda 3 for a 2006 Police Interceptor Crown Vic (170,000 miles). The aftermarket exhaust makes it growl and it parts the sea of entitled BMW drivers hogging the fast lane like a dream. Unfortunately, due to living in glorious urban hellscape that is Oakland, I have to pass smog regularly.

I have a check engine light code P0443. I replaced the evap. control module that was supposed to fix it and surprise, it didn’t. The internet says it could actually be my fuel cap. I replaced the gasket on the fuel cap and the check engine light is still on.

The next option seems to be to replace all the lines to my fuel system. This seems crazy, just because of a small vapor leak. This is not an expensive car (est. $1,500) and it was only meant to be a quick fling before I buy my Mazda CX-5 middle-aged nerdy dad car. Is this something I or a mechanic could fix for less than $500, or is this the death knell for an old police cruiser?

Sajeev replies:

Replace all the fuel lines? Who on earth told you that? There can be two sensors and inspect/replace all vacuum lines that look the least bit dry rotted, gooey, cracked, etc.

Sam answers:

I actually replaced both the solenoid and the canister purge sensor. I have not replaced the fuel tank pressure sensor. That might be the offending part. It looks like I have to drop the fuel tank to get to it which sounds like a pain in the ass, but it is worth a shot. It might be something I can have my mechanic do.

Can I just buy vacuum lines online? Those are the lines I thought would be difficult to replace. The one last thing I thought about changing is the charcoal vapor filter because it also takes forever to fill up the gas tank.

Sajeev concludes:

Ah-HA! You didn’t mention that filling up the tank takes forever!

Maybe you are also getting a P0445 code like this Panther owner did upon further inspection? Perhaps this thread shows the diagnostic tree you must branch out for? I’m not gonna guess: who knows if the vapor management valve (or whatever its called) failed or if you only have bad vacuum lines.

Therein lies the rub: paying someone for a proper diagnosis was a better idea than the unnecessary stress of throwing parts at a problem. If the vacuum lines pass muster, I would still enlist a proper mechanic for a proper assessment.

[Image: Shutterstock user Madcat_Madlove]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. 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. 

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30 Comments on “Piston Slap: A Panther Love (EVAP) Purge?...”

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I’m guessing you’ll have your CX-5 sooner than you imagined.

  • avatar

    Do a smoke test to see where you might have a leak before just replacing all the lines entirely. Also check that you’re getting power and a signal to control that solenoid. It’s a bit of troubleshooting, but within the realm of a hobbyist. That’s the beauty of these older cars!

  • avatar

    “and it parts the sea of entitled BMW drivers hogging the fast lane like a dream”

    LOVED that line, though per Jack’s advice I’ll never be a whacker.

  • avatar
    Gail Bloxham

    Smoke test. SMOKE TEST.
    Come on slready. Every smog test station has one.
    Gee… Guess why?
    This is a ten minute diagnosis.
    And it will be a five minute fix.
    Turnip truck. Oh wait I see a turnip truck.
    Is that the one somebody just fell off of?
    Dang… did that sentence end with a preposition?
    Crown Vic. One of the greatest cars ever built.
    So… of course… the factory was shut down.

  • avatar

    170,000 Miles on an ex police car. Are you kidding me?
    That engine has seen about 230 to 250,000 miles in engine use.
    For every 2 hours it is rolling- it has 1 hour idling. Then add on the thousands of 0-60 pedal to the floor acceleration runs.

    And they ride like crap. Hard shocks.

    Those cars a beat to death. (you know, the driver isnt the owner, beat it like a rented mule)

    I would never buy one.

    Oh, and the wear parts / drivetrain parts are specials- for the police package. (added expense)

    • 0 avatar

      Dude a Panther can go 500k without breaking a sweat.

      JK, guy got lucky. He shouldn’t spend a dime unless a) the imminence of smog is imminent and b) he knows exactly what the problem is and c) the fix is dirt cheap.

      This might not be the end of the road for this beloved Panther, but it may need to live on in some place that doesn’t rhyme with “Malifornia”.

    • 0 avatar

      It all depends on the agency. Yes you can see city cars with 2/3 of the total hours as idle hours but at the other end of the spectrum you’ll see cars with idle time only accounting for 10-20% of the total hours. Doesn’t matter much either way since the engine was designed to idle for hours on end and to go 350,000-500,000 miles.

      The cars being beat to death also varies greatly. At the one end you have agencies that hot seat their cars so in a given week it may see 4, 5 or more drivers who don’t give a crap and at the other end you have the agencies that are 1-man 1-car so it is assigned to a particular officer who will be questioned if their car gets dents in it and make keep the interior immaculate.

      The spring rates are the reason that they ride as firm as they do much more so than the shocks.

      Not many of the wear parts are unique to the police versions. They leave the factory with better friction material on the brake pads but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the cheapest available civilian pads if you like to replace them often. Some do have the silicone cooling system hoses and again if you don’t care about longevity you can put the standard hoses back on. The police alternator is a higher output and may cost you a bit more, but again you can use the standard alternator if you choose. The front seats are unique but yet again if you want you can bolt in a set from any Panther from the proper year including the Town Car buckets and center console/middle seat.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe, the current owner is the one who is beating the crap out of the car and the previous life of a police cruiser is relatively sedate. I drive that thing like I actually stole it, an old pig like that deserves Valhalla. Why not go out overheating, missing many crucial parts and in an uncontrolled power slide through a residential neighborhood, hypothetically.

  • avatar

    Also every fuel cap since ever has an internal valve that lets air in but not out. Just replacing the fuel cap gasket may not solve a leaking fuel cap. The caps are really inexpensive to replace. The same smog station that will run your smoke test also will have a fuel cap tester.

    Also for volatile codes it takes a number of specific engine/drive cycles to reset them. Did you drive the appropriate profile?

  • avatar

    I always though that throwing parts at a problem until it fits is the true American way. I don’t need no mechanic to “diagnose” my car. That is why Jesus created the internet.

  • avatar

    ” I traded my 2006 Mazda 3 for a 2006 Police Interceptor Crown Vic (170,000 miles).”

    Bless you.

    Smoke the lines to find the leak and or restriction. You can buy aerosol cans of smoke. It’s not just for putting back into wiring!

  • avatar

    Smoke test or in my case start yanking on the lines. I had the most annoying problem with a 97 LHS I had some years back. It wouldn’t always throw an EVAP code but it always had a raw gasoline smell. It drove me nuts and for the winter that year, I put it off. Come spring, no CE light but the smell was back (windows down in warmer weather). I got under there and started pulling and bingo, one of the lines went from metal, to a rubber junction then to a plastic tube/pipe that went up the frame over the rear wheel towards the tank. It was disconnected. I replaced the connector hose and done. It solved my problem and I was happy as pie. You might get lucky. Are you smelling fuel at any time?

  • avatar

    As others have said the smoke test is the way to go, IF you have a leak. However the code you posted has nothing to do with a leak. It is a problem in the purge valve circuit. When the system tries to do the purge valve it is detecting that the current flowing through the circuit is not within the expected range. That means that either it is not flowing at all due to an open circuit, the flow is really low, possibly due to a corroded connection or otherwise compromised wire, or the flow is too high because there is a short to ground or power.

    To start diagnosis you need to see if there is power to the solenoid. The first thing to check would be the fuse. So fire up the car and go for a drive. Does the speedo work? Then go home, lift the hood and turn the HVAC to max AC and full cold. Does the AC compressor engage? If both of those things are working then the fuse is good, the wiring to the splice is good and it is unlikely there is corrosion in the splice.

    So now check for voltage and current at the purge solenoid connector. Disconnect the Solenoid connector and examine the terminals in the connector. Are they both properly seated?. If so then grab an incandescent test light, turn on the key. Connect the test light ground to the battery (-) terminal and verify that the light works and its brightness by touching the probe to the battery (+) terminal. Note how bright it is. Now touch the probe to the terminal that is connected to the red wire with the yellow stripe. Does the light come on and is it similarly bright as it was when connected directly to the battery? If yes then power to the solenoid is good. If the light doesn’t come on or is particularly dim then the problem lies in the power supply circuit, most likely after the splice.

    Now disconnect the battery and connectors at the PCM. Reconnect the battery and connect the test light “ground” to the battery (+) and touch the probe to the other wire in the purge solenoid connector, the purple with white stripe. If it lights up then you have a short to ground between the solenoid and computer. If it doesn’t light up then the wiring is not grounded but may be open.

    To see if the wire between the solenoid and computer is open you can then pull out the Digital multimeter and check the resistance between the terminals on each end of that purple with white stripe wire. It should be in terminal location 13 on one of the PCM’s connector. You’ll find the numbers of the end terminals on the connector and you just need to count from the #1 position. The resistance should be close to zero.

    • 0 avatar

      Note the use of a LED test light or a multimeter instead of an incandescent test light may result in an erroneous diagnosis in this situation. The other thing to keep in mind is that the part your threw at it could have been NEW, or Never EVER Worked.

      • 0 avatar

        These are all good ideas, but how about an easy way to short circuit the check engine light or tips for bribing the smog check station dudes. That would be preferred.

        • 0 avatar

          Well there are ways to stop the check engine light but are not as easy as actually fixing the problem. Now if you need to get it through the smog test there is a easy way around it. You just have to fill the tank to the brim take it home and let is cold soak in a shady place for a minimum of 8 hrs. Do a drive cycle to get it to run every other monitor then take it home and let it cold soak again. Next day start it up, do a drive cycle and then continue driving to the smog test station. You should have got a bypass on the EVAP test thanks to the full tank and it will send a clean bill of health to the test station’s computer.

          • 0 avatar

            now that sounds like a new you can use. the next question is how hard is putting a supercharger in.

    • 0 avatar

      Fantastic writeup scoutdude!

  • avatar

    What’s the relationship again between this platform, the Crown Vic, and the Mercury Grand Marquis? If one had say a low-mileage never throttled 2001 Mercury, what fun could be had in police-cruisering it out? Is there a best mega-thread somewhere I’m not seeing?

    My brain is small but it seems that project could be bigly.

  • avatar

    Was it P0433 or P1443? It’s easy to get them mixed up when you’re scouring forums for info. If it’s 0443 then that should be an electrical or valve issue.

    If it’s actually 1443 then it could be a number of things. I’ve dealt with pesky P1443 codes on my Mustang a few times over the years. The first time was a failed purge valve, the second was rotted vacuum lines in the engine bay and the last time was a cracked canister and some more rotted lines in the fender leading to it accompanied by strong stale gas smells when it was hot outside. When you replace any lines, make sure you use fuel rated lines since they are exposed to gas vapors.

    Good luck!

  • avatar

    Its your clogged charcoal canister. My 2007 S550 took FOREVER to get any gas in it at all, when I bought it at 150,000 miles. Replacing the canister solved it 100%. At 205,000 miles now and it fuels up like normal still. Topping off the tank kills/clogs the canister, as well as just age and miles.

  • avatar

    i hope the first part you threw at it was a $10 or less fuel cap.

    fixed the vacuum-related CEL on my ’01 Ranger. Can’t remember the exact code I pulled, though.

  • avatar

    We had the same code for my wife’s 09 Grand Marquis and couldn’t put gas in it. Replaced the canister purge solenoid and now it’s fine. Replace fuel lines?

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