Temecula Auto Repair and Radiator / Ford Expedition
  Ford Expedition

I took my Ford Expedition to a dealer for repair. I don't drive it very much, but happen to take it to work one day and about half way there it started to misfire. I put an analyser on it and found that #5 cylinder was the problem and I determined that it was either the coil and or the plug. The dealer is now recommending a fuel injector flush and replacement of all the spark plugs (quoting about $500 to perform). My question is injector flushing really necessary? I use Chevron gas 100% of the time so I'm having trouble understanding why the flush would be neccesary. Is this a standard service requirement for this vehicle? I can't find this requirement on any of the Ford web sites, including this dealer's. The other concern I have is that while searching the web, I found that Ford trucks are notorious for blowing plugs out of the cylinder heads. In looking at the location of the rear plugs, I can see why. I'm not sure what tool or method be used to remove and replace the two plugs against the firewall. I take an annual group golf trip to the desert each April and the last thing I want to do is have a plug blow out of the cylinder. Can you offer some advice? Regards, Gil

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2010-11-19 19:22
Sure I can offer advice Gil, but I'm awful glad you didn't ask for "good" advice! Seriously though, you've asked some great questions and I'll do my best to answer them. No, you won't find fuel injector cleaning in Ford service recommendations. Interestingly, GM (who is in cahoots with Chevron) does describe the need for injector cleaning in several of their Technical Service Bulletins. This need stems from some of their early-design fuel injectors that were prone to plugging up. Chrysler has had a terrible time with some of their fuel systems too. We could go into a long discussion of the how's and why's of fuel deposits and carbon buildup on injectors, but for the sake of space suffice it to say that fuel injectors do become restricted over time and occasional cleaning is still a good idea. Now this brings us to the other things we should discuss which are the possible causes of your misfire problem and what should be done about it. You are correct when you suggest the spark plugs and/or ignition coils as the most likely cause of the misfire. This is an area where Ford has been weak for quite some time... the 4.6/5.4 liter engine family has weak ignition coils and downright poorly designed cylinder heads. It seems that Ford made the cylinder head castings too thin in the area of the spark plugs and the threads are very weak as a result. When the plugs are removed for the first time often the threads are partially or completely seized and become badly damaged as the plugs are removed. Screw a new plug into the damaged threads and try to drive it... POP! Not good. The answer is to have an experienced, CAUTIOUS technician replace the spark plugs. When we change plugs on the newer Fords we soak the area with penetrant and work the plugs slowly back/forth in their threads all the way out. It takes forever (not really, but it sure seems like it) but is absolutely necessary to avoid damage. As for the injector cleaning, since I'm not the guy testing it I can't say for sure whether you "need" it, but I can tell you that it won't hurt and it will bring back some power and snap to the throttle that will make the rig fun to drive again and will really impress your friends on the way to the golf course! I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it goes, ok?
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Basics of California Smog Check Program

What is a Directed Vehicle? In order to comply with state law, the California Department of Consumer Affairs along with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (DCA/BAR) directs a portion of the vehicles registered in Enhanced Smog Check Areas of California to Test-Only and Gold Shield stations. These vehicles are called Directed Vehicles. Enhanced Areas are those parts of the state with "serious" ozone pollution problems.

What is a Test-Only?
 Test-Only facilities are licensed Smog Check stations that, by law, are only allowed to test cars; they cannot repair or service them. Any needed repairs must be performed elsewhere at either a Smog Check station designated as a Test-Repair or Gold Shield station.  Because of this unbiased status, test only stations are certified to smog all vehicles in Califronia.

What is a Gold Shield station? A Gold Shield station has met certain performance criteria and is now authorized to inspect Directed Vehicles. Gold Shield stations can perform State-Subsidized repairs under the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP). So basically Gold Shield stations perform the same test inspections as a Test Only station but, if your vehicle fails at their shop, they can charge for repairs.  If the state of California finds that a Gold Shield station is doing anything illegal or dishonest, there directed vehicle status will be pulled indefinetely. 

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