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Thread: mystery smoke

  1. #1

    Default mystery smoke

    Alright, here goes:

    For the past fifteen months I've been under the hood of the 86 GT fixing various things like coolant leaks, oil leaks, and overheating issues. I replaced all major gaskets and that solved the leak problem. I broke a water pump bolt and had to drill it out. Drilled into the block and coolant flowed out. Plugged the hole with high temp red sealant and permanently installed a threaded stud so as to attach the water pump. Ok there.

    Flushed the cooling system with a home made pumping kit- did the radiator also. Car still runs hot but doesn't lose coolant. Car does not overheat but the gauge reads to the high side more than not.

    Engine still runs hot. After only four or five minutes when the thermostat opens the underhood temp is unbelievable. Too hot if you ask me.

    I replaced the distributor as I felt the high heat may have fried the PIP. I had to reset the oil pump drive shaft to reinstall the diz. It came out of the pump when I removed the diz. I relocated the TFI module to the passenger fender. That project actually went well.

    I replaced the air diverter valve and the one way metal check valve that route air to the heads. I replaced the tube also. It is properly secured and clean. I used a mirror to examine the passages on the cylinder heads. They have a light coating of carbon only.

    Car ran lean according to the computer. This was a grounding issues as two ground wires were missing. I replaced the main ground strap at the rear of the drivers side of the engine and the ground wire from the two ten pin connectors that grounds to the fire wall. No more lean codes. But then I had 44/94. Thought the new diverter and one way valve would take care of that.

    I haven't ran the thing enough to get codes lately. Still too hot for me. And now I have SMOKE from the oil dipstick tube. First for me and I'd say very serious. Last summer the car passed both KOEO and KOER self tests and the compression test.

    I trimmed about a half inch off the factory PCV hose and made sure it was on the PCV valve when I reinstalled the upper intake. Hose was cracking a little. It won't go on any further. I pulled the dipstick out and it wiped oil and looked like most of the oil was still in the engine. Can't say I smelled coolant or fuel.

    Car has NO throttle response but a decent idle. The throttle cable is routed behind the intake and has some tight curves but doesn't appear that it can be routed any other way.

    All vacuum lines are on correct and double checked. It sounds good at idle but I refuse to drive it anywhere.

    I've put maybe ten miles on the car in fifteen months and it appears I am no better off than before.

    What might the problem be? What should I expect? I would guess at this point I'll be yanking the engine next. It has 40,000 on the rebuild which was about 18 years ago.

    Thanks FEP.

  2. #2


    What condition is the radiator in? Inside and outside? Also the fan clutch if original probably lost all the viscous oil by now.
    If you actually have a lot of smoke from the dipstick tube that’s blow by and your rings are not sealing. Either they are worn out or seized with carbon.
    84 LX Vert. 5.0 5speed canyon red on white
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  3. #3


    It wasn't a great deal of smoke but enough. I will check compression this week as well as replace the pcv valve. The radiator was cleaned out this spring and doesn't leak. I still have a full load of coolant. It appears clean. I'll check oil this week also. And the plugs. Hopefully I can pull some codes.

  4. #4


    Was it Cleaned out by a radiator shop? Or a home made flush kit? Have you removed to inspect it? How are the fins are they all intact or corroded and missing rows of fins? On the fan are you running a new clutch or electric? If the coolant is full the head gaskets are good, the pump is new and the thermostat is opening your issue is in the radiator or lack of airflow over it
    84 LX Vert. 5.0 5speed canyon red on white
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  5. #5


    I cleaned the radiator out myself with a home made flush kit. Worked well and even flushed the block. Radiator is in good shape, not damaged or missing fins. Flow appears good. I need to actually run the car around beyond the driveway to be sure but if anything, at this point I'd say the clutch is likely shot. Fan is in good shape. I'll check it this evening. If I recall, it moves freely when cold.

  6. #6


    Just checked it. It moves easily but doesn't keep turning, maybe one quarter before stopping. Ever so slight resistance.

  7. #7


    If you cruise at 40mph and it doesn’t run hot then starts to overheat when stopped then it’s a safe bet it’s the clutch.
    84 LX Vert. 5.0 5speed canyon red on white
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  8. #8


    Right now I'd say the clutch is best replaced. The fan moves somewhat freely cold or hot.

    I checked compression today. All cylinders are at either 120 or 125 psi. Phew. I also had to replace the pcv valve tube as it was completely off the valve. Had some vac hose and installed a section and now no vacuum problems. Plugs all looked good, too. I checked timing but couldn't locate the mark on the pulley with the shunt removed and the light hooked up. Car idled very low when I did that. With the shunt replaced the computer is taking care of timing. Checked with the shunt in and its good. May be a problem there somewhere. New diz seems to be fine but I have it rotated beyond what it should be. I relocated the TFI module and if it were still on the diz the diz wouldn't move as far as it is now. But the car runs and sounds good.

    But still hot. Very hot. It did take in a little more coolant. May have been some trapped air somewhere. Car sounds good but no road test. However I did try to get codes. KOEO shows eleven. All systems go. KOER shows only 44/94. I'm at the same spot I was two months ago. I'd guess that smog pump air is still going upstream and not switching to downstream. Since the thing is hot now I'll try again this evening and see where the air goes at the diverter valve, which is new as is the one way check valve for the upstream metal tube to the back of the heads.

    I should road test it but I'm a little hesitant right now.

    Am I on the right track? Let's hope so. Thoughts appreciated. Maybe this fox will hit the pavement soon.


  9. #9


    Pull your advance stub.

    turn the distributor until the motor speeds up then back off timing advance until it slows back down then back up just a little bit. It should not crank hard when you start it with the advance hooked up.

    now get some correction fluid and a wire brush and find your marks and try to make sense of where your timing is. Pull the stub again and use a light. 86ís with E6 heads and VM1 ECU will only tolerate 13.5 degrees of advance before they overcome the cooling capacity of a NOS OE radiator or freshly rebuilt and pressure flush.

    I went to a 3 row OE style radiator years ago. These days Iíd look at the FB169 ó thatís what Iím running on my 86GT now.

    if your fan clutch doesnít have heavy drag itís bad. Get a clutchless reverse rotation blade and test it, or go electric

    make sure you did not use any Teflon tape on the temp pickup and only use Motorcraft. NOS is possible.

    Coding lean can be too much advance or low fuel pressure or even an exhaust leak

    more or less on the right track Iíd say.

    personally the emissions crap on my 86GT never gave me any problems. Iím near 1/2 million miles. It is a decent hunch but if things are stuck it will stumble at idle badly as EGR pumps exhaust back in.
    Last edited by erratic50; 07-14-2018 at 03:03 PM.

  10. #10


    I may have missed it in the replies. I didn't read them all word for word. But all I recall in the original post is you said "too hot if you ask me" and the "gauge reads high" Do you have a reading of the temperature that the car is running using a real gauge? You said you are ready to pull the engine so I can't imagine that the purchase of an accurate temperature gauge would be that large of a setback. I do apologize if that was covered already. I did honestly skim the replies without reading them all. I just feel like it would be nice to have a REAL gauge (not a 30 year old fake one like they came with) tell us the temperature of the engine.
    Last edited by homer302; 07-15-2018 at 06:39 PM.

  11. #11


    Much agreed but hopefully I don't have to yank the engine. Problem may be in vacuum routing for the TAB/ TAD solenoids. Usually the temp gauge reads well within the normal range, maybe even towards the NOR more than the MAL side. But with too much heat- smog system problem- the gauge heads for the H. It did manage to take in a little more coolant and stays within the normal range but it just feels hot to me while the engine is running. An accurate temp gauge is a great idea and might be a future purchase before too long.

  12. #12



    Reinstalled the TAB/ TAD and verified correct vacuum flow. No more super hot engine. Lines were crossed. Not sure how that happened. Thermostat still a little slow to open but it is in the mid 80s out there. Road test soon after replacing the fan clutch. Or maybe tonight when it cools off.

    Adjusted timing to where the car was happy and near the correct timing marks. Idle is a little high but that can be adjusted after a few drives. Distributor is spun around far enough that if the TFI module was still on it, the diz wouldn't spin that far. Its rebuilt but seems OK thus far. TFI is now in a cooler place.

    Car has great throttle response and no hesitation. Sounds really good. Haven't heard that for a spell.

    Check them vacuum lines. Best way to adjust idle if necessary?

    Thanks everyone.

  13. #13
    FEP Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Grand Rapids, MI


    Quote Originally Posted by Magnetic82 View Post
    UPDATE:Adjusted timing to where the car was happy and near the correct timing marks. Idle is a little high but that can be adjusted after a few drives. Distributor is spun around far enough that if the TFI module was still on it, the diz wouldn't spin that far.
    Are you sure you aren't a tooth off on the distributor?
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  14. #14
    FEP Super Member
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Roseburg Oregon


    He is a tooth or 2 off .
    Do not attempt to adjust idle with the throttle body screen.
    I suspect that the timing is still too far advanced , causing your high idle speed .
    clowns to the left of me , Jokers to the right

  15. #15


    That thought occurred to me also. Likely have to reposition the diz. Then try again.
    Still sounds good.
    Throttle body screw?

  16. #16


    This car is junk.

    I removed the diz and played with the oil pump shaft for an hour to get it back into place. Re-positioned the diz. No luck. Disassembled the fan area to replace the fan clutch and rotated the engine by hand to TDC. Reinstalled the diz AGAIN with the rotor pointing to number one cylinder. All back together and no start but the computer ground wire at the negative battery terminal is MELTING. And of course, no start. Hardly cranks.

    Its been fifteen months and no luck. Plus when I checked codes two days again when it ran I still have 44/ 94. Go figure.

    Ideas and suggestions are most welcome as I'm lost at this point.


  17. #17


    Just repeated everything I did earlier. Rotated the engine by hand to TDC according to the timing marks. Re-positioned the diz so that the rotor is pointing at the number one terminal/ cylinder. All the way in the back. Thing lined up very well. But no start. And ground wire mentioned earlier is getting hot again. Cranks but nothing.

    Car is junk.

    Anyone want a piece of junk?

  18. #18
    FEP Super Member
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Roseburg Oregon


    Number 1 is not at the back .
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  19. #19


    Ok — at TDC the rotor should point directly towards the center of the rear of the car. Or if you are “180 off” it will point directly to the front of the car.

    Once you get it running you need to time it at 10 degrees before TDC with the advance removed.

    my 85 didn’t even have a drive train at all when I bought it. Does that make it a POS too??

  20. #20


    Repeated the whole diz install once again. Diz is now in a better looking position but the timing just isn't right. Without the jumper the timing is great- spot on even. Once the jumper is installed it hesitates and seems to either advance itself or slow itself down. Messes up the idle bad. I managed to install a new fan clutch but the car still runs hotter than I'd like. Code 94 is gone but 44 still present. Car hesitated on me on a test drive last week. Made it back to the driveway. I have the old diz with a new stator inside in the car now and it can't find a decent idle or stay timed. Plus tonight I turned it on and it searched for idle for three minutes. From 1300 to 250 RPM. Yikes.
    Not sure what else to do now. Getting tired of working on it.

  21. #21


    Is it just a 44? I would guess you still have a vacuum leak but I have never had a searching idle like that. I wonder what would happen if you disconnected the air pump or the 02 sensor.
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  22. #22
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Grand Junction, CO/RR TX


    I read most of the last posts, but didn't read some of the earlier ones, so I might have missed this. If so I apologize.

    Are you positive the balancer is correct? Generally they are fine, but at this point with the issues you are having, I would double check that before moving forward with any other changes or repairs.

    I would recommend verifying that TDC on the balancer is actually TDC for #1 on the engine. If the marks don't line up then you will need to either replace the balancer or remark yours for TDC in order to be able to time the vehicle correctly.

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  23. #23


    Follow the suggestion I gave before on timing it “by ear” then clean up your marks and see where you are. The rotation of the distributor in comparison to the rotation of the engine is absolutely critical to get right. Timing is a precision operation.

    My 86 runs quite warm but strong if initial timing is set to 14 degrees before TDC where as it’s just as powerful and fine at 13.5 degrees. Advancing timing past the Stock 10 degrees quickly becomes a premium fuel only operation. If I go to 16 or 18 degrees of base timing power goes down, it starts hard, and it runs HOT and worse than it does at 10 degrees.

    You can add as much as 50 lbs of torque or remove most of 200HP and all the torque just by screwing with timing. The entire sound of the car changes with timing too. As timing is advanced the motors tendency to want to rev up quickly is created. It starts sounding pissed off, etc.

    Every speed part in the world is useless if it’s not properly timed.

    timung marks can be very inaccurate on some motors.

    Get yourself a buddy and some masking tape, a pen, and a breaker bar and socket. With the car in neutral and wheels blocked (or park if it’s an automatic) Have your buddy bar the engine over to somewhere near TDC then pull the #1 plug and you watch the piston come up, reach the top, and start to go back down. Mark the points on your balancer where it looks like it has just stopped moving and where it just barely starts again . Now take it past and go backwards doing the same.

    The real top dead center on your motor is in the range you’ve marked. Most guys find the mid point on each direction then split the difference. Now mark your TDC on both the outer ring of the balancer and the inner part in case the outer moves on the inner in the future. (If it does get a new balancer before it lets go!)

    Modern timing lights let you dial what advance you want while keeping the strobe on TDC. These are far more accurate than timing marks on average. Set the timing to not less than 10 degrees and not more than 13.5 degrees before top dead center. Lock the distributor down and leave it alone.

    Make sure you pull the advance stub or vacuum line (and plug the line) before setting base timing

    when you Hook the advance back up the motor will speed up slightly and sound different as 1-2 degrees of advance are added automatically

    onve its set, rev the motor and watch the timingit advance and go back If it doesn’t then the advance in the distributor is not working

    The guys who have foxes that run like a scalded dog are usually the ones that know exactly what they are doing with timing or have a buddy who does.

    you can cause catostrophic failure by messing with timing if you don’t know what you are doing.

  24. #24


    A stuck oil ring would cause smoke while still seeing good compression. Try some sea foam in the oil and gas after the timing is solved.

    Or try to top end drown out trick if you like.

    I just did gas and oil and spraying some in the throttle body while running. I never drown mine out. It made a HUGE difference in the way my worn out old 1/2 million mile motor runs and drastically reduced oil consumption (which was WAY out of control before)

    silly question — what thermostat are you running? Anything less than 180 on a carb motor or 192 on an EFI motor has long term carbon accumulation effects that are bad.

    Mileage also usually suffers.

  25. #25


    Quote Originally Posted by erratic50 View Post
    Ok ó at TDC the rotor should point directly towards the center of the rear of the car. Or if you are ď180 offĒ it will point directly to the front of the car.

    Once you get it running you need to time it at 10 degrees before TDC with the advance removed.

    my 85 didnít even have a drive train at all when I bought it. Does that make it a POS too??
    The classic happening or mistake of the engine/distributor being "180 off" (or the timing chain having "jumped"), is where everything obvious in your face is checked and appears to be perfectly correct - the rotor points at #1 of the distributor when the balancer mark and pointer align and show TDC of #1 cylinder (or the initial timing advance amount) etc, but the ignition fires on the exhaust stroke instead of the compression stroke. So if the engine basically will not start or even belch or run, deeper digging is required to verify that the distributor is installed at TDC of the compression stroke, by looking at #1's valves, that they are both closed.
    Last edited by Walking-Tall; 08-01-2018 at 01:24 PM.
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