VCT Solenoid Issue

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Hello People I'm a newbie and have a problem with my 99 Escort ZX2.Engine light came on and was diagnosed as an issue with the VCT Solenoid. This is an expensive part and I'm wondering since it is oil actuated if possibly it may be gunked up and if it can be cleaned rather than replaced. Any help would be appreciated. Thx
 
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Hello. Yes you are correct. Kreen, MMO, synthetic oils should help get the gear and solenoid cleaned up. Most of the time thats all it is.
 
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PS: Mobil 1 High Mileage 5w30 was the synthetic oil I used with Kreen that cleaned my vvt-i system having the same problem. Different names for a Toyota, but the concept is the same. Think the CEL code was P1349. Its been 90k since that happened, never returned.
 
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If you suspect it is "gunked up", don't attempt to clean entire engine with Kreen, etc. The Ford VCT (Variable Cam Timing) systems have small oil ports and orifices and are sensitive to debris. The VCT solenoid housing itself has a micro-screen filter. You will need to remove the VCT solenoid and visually inspect for its condition (varnished, sludge, other debris). If it appears dirty, it is best to clean it by soaking it in solvent. If this doesn't work, you'll need to buy another one. Best to avoid this situation by following the resommended maintenance.
 
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Nah. I suspect you've never used Kreen, otherwise you'd know how it works. Its actually protection against what you describe. I've resolved 3 hung up systems so far, there is nothing to fear.
 
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I suspect you don't know how dirty his engine is and how Kreen may impact the VCT system in these Ford engines after dislodging the crud in his engine, otherwise you wouldn't recommend it. Yes, nothing to fear; it's not our engine.
 
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If it was oil that caused the problem then the oil can carry Kreen to it and resolve the problem. Kreen is extremely unlikely to do any harm. Those who have never used it knock it a lot. Those who have used it know it to be a completely unique product that works very well.
 
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Here's how you clean the VCT system. For the 1st 4k you run a premium synthetic high in detergent and a new filter. If you have oil leaks, use M1 High Mileage. If not you could opt for Pennzoil Ultra. A 1/2 pint of Kreen goes in at 4k to thin and further dissolve any sludge loosened by the oil, attack varnish. Dump the oil at 5k. Repeat. Its a slow process over 2 oil changes and 10k. The additives are only in for 1k at the end of the oil change. You can read about Kreen on BITOG. Not sure you can get Kreen up there, MMO is the substitution. Things should start getting better within the first oil change. If not, you may have to manually clean the screen in front of the solenoid if you have one. I never had to manually take anything apart, hopefully you wont either. If the problem has just appeared, you probably wont have to. If none of this works then you have to look into a possible repair. I can judge the success with an honest answer. Have you been changing the oil when your supposed to? I ask because in addition to fouling the VCT, a plugged oil filter will also cause this problem.
 
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We had problems with the VCT solenoids on Zetecs. The diag depends on the code. Any reference to the "circuit" indicates an electrical failure, which was the most common problem we had back then. The VCT solenoid would usually go inop when the engine would get to op temp. You could ohm the VCT solenoid and it would be open/high resistance. Code reference to cam timing can be oil/mechanical related. Be aware that it is possible to get cam timing codes if the oil filter drainback valve is bad. You can hotwire/energize the VCT solenoid and see the timing change with a scan tool, or listen to a RPM change. Some suggested it was possible to free up stuck actuators/valves by manually cycling the VCT a few times. They kind of suck to replace.
 
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Check your cam sensor [on the right in front - as you look at the engine]. Also, cam timing can be off, and throw this code. A quick down and dirty test is to short the wire to the Solenoid for a second or two at idle [no more!] - you should note a change in idle. Do this test with a normally warmed up engine, so you can tell. Any of the engine solvents like MMO may help, but that won't fix a bad electrical component.
 

99zx2

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Wow...thx for all the response guys. You have given me many options. Hopefully one may work. The VCT replacement is very costly and now I can see it may not even me the culprit. I'll let you all know the outcome. Once again Thanks So Much
 

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I've had experience with the VCT solenoid in my 98 ZX2. It acted up when I put heavy oil in it. When I swapped it out for thinner oil, the problem disappeared. What grade of oil are you using? You should never use anything thicker than 5W-30.
 

99zx2

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Well, it's been a couple of months now since my first post. It seems that the VCT solenoid is now leaking from the seal. Guess I have an expensive repair ahead of me!
 
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The seal is only a few $. Easy to pop in and out when the valve cover is off. But you probably should get a new valve cover gasket set. Use a bit of silicone RTV in the corners [like the factory]. An option is to really clean the area at the seal/VCT from the outside, and gob/smear a coat of RTV around the seal. Cheap, and will work perfectly IF enough cleaning and cure time is given before starting. Use black and nobody will ever notice! But now I am thinking that you might mean the actual VCT solenoid is leaking, and not the seal.. There is no pressure on the actual seal, they rarely leak significant amounts of oil. The VC gasket may also be seeping. Clean her up and drive it to see what is actually leaking.
 
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