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Seeing The Whole Picture: The Importance of Loop Status
Posted to Technical Tips Forum on 12/23/2011 34 Replies

This Ford van came to me with the typical P0171 and a P0174. [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Scan Data] OK, so it's time to analyze fuel trims. Whenever I look at trims I always pull up the Fuel System Status. I see many screen shots posted here without this pid displayed. Hopefully with this post I can prove how important it is when looking at fuel trims.

First I need to briefly explain the different fuel system statuses. We should all know what closed loop and open loop are so I will not spend any time on them.

Open Loop - Drive, also known as fuel enrichment, occurs during heavy acceleration and WOT.

On a two bank vehicle Closed Loop - Fault is when one bank O2 sensor or A/F sensor has a fault. This can be caused by a bad sensor or by one bank being extremely rich or extremely lean. The vehicle will then substitute fuel trim corrections from the "good" bank to the bank it believes has a fault.

Open Loop - Fault is when both upstream oxygen or A/F sensors on a two bank vehicle have a fault. This could be caused by two bad upstream O2 sensors or both banks can be extremely rich or extremely lean. On a single bank vehicle Open - Loop Fault occurs when the upstream sensor has a fault. This could be caused by a bad upstream sensor or the vehicle is extremely rich or extremely lean

OK, enough of the boring stuff, back to the case study. Luckily this van came in the night before and the engine is cold. I do a cold start and watch the fuel trims. Here is what I saw when the vehicle is in Open Loop. [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Scan Data] Shortly after start up the vehicle goes into closed loop. [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Scan Data] Notice that the total trims on both banks starts to climb towards +40% on both banks.

Not long after the vehicle goes into Closed Loop it then goes into Closed Loop - Fault. [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Scan Data] Notice that the STFTs and LTFTs on B1 and B2 are exactly the same. If I didn't know the vehicle was in Closed Loop - Fault I would be pretty confused about what was going on with the trims right now. At this point the vehicle starts to surge a little bit.

Not much longer and the vehicle now goes into Open Loop - Fault. [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Scan Data] At this point the vehicle has a rough idle and is surging because all of the positive fuel correction has been completely taken away from it. A quick glance of fuel trims without looking at fuel system status at this point could take you down the wrong diagnostic road.

After the vehicle finally gets to full operating temperature it goes back into closed loop and runs well. [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Engine/Propulsion Scan Data] I then bring it up to 2500 RPM [2001 Ford E-250 Econoline, Scan Data] . It's pretty obvious at this point that I have a vacuum leak. Within 15 minutes of running this vehicle I know have a pretty good direction before I even pull the dog house.

Upon further inspections I found that the upper intake manifold gasket was leaking. I just wanted to make everyone aware of how important it is to look at the fuel system status to get the "big picture".

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Matthew from Illinois

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car Vehicle Data

2001 Ford E-250 Econoline 4.2L Mil Lamp On, Poor Idle Quality

Engine4.2 L
Trans4-speed Automatic (Electronic)
SymptomsMil Lamp On, Poor Idle Quality