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8/18/17 5:15 p.m.

Hello All, this is my first post and if its in the wrong spot, please let me know.

A little history, my father in law is about 90 and decided it was time to stop driving his 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis, my wife wanted to buy his car and get it away before he changed his mind, he has, well lost a bit in driving skills and sight.

So anyway, we live in Missouri, he lives in Louisiana, and this Mercury has lived on a dirt road for the last 12 years, dirt is being quite generous as it is really a turn row between fields and floods quite regularly. Mr. Russell did not spare the horses either, so I knew it might be a little rough. Yeah.

Driving about 10 hours, we got in late and caught up with family and got some sleep. The next day I got a good look at what I would be driving 500 plus miles home. Flat tires, check engine light, started it sounded like someone had thrown a shovel full of gravel and sand into a washing machine and set it on spin dry.

Oh boy. Oh and it was about 2000% humidity and a cool 89 degrees. They thought it was great, being from Missouri I was about to dissolve into a little puddle of sweat.

So I opened the hood and removed the belt. Its a Ford 4.6. I had never worked on one before but they really made it pretty nice to maintain. I grabbed the water pump pulley and it would move 1/4 inch either way. Not an encouraging start. The idler pulley and the tension pulley seemed to spin pretty smooth.

Now I figure your wondering if there was coolant coming out of the weep hole, nope. I looked at the engine and wondered how long it had not had coolant in it. I could not bring myself to remove the radiator cap. I started pulling the water pump. Yeah.

So Ford made it pretty easy to remove, four bolts and an o-ring seal, it might stick a little but it should pop right out. I tapped the hub. (I already pulled the pulley off) I smacked the hub. I looked to see if I had missed a bolt. I smacked it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.

Ok, so I pulled the alternator to get a better look at the water pump. It had not so much as made a line around the housing. I looked again, four bolts. I asked my nephew, Zach, to look up a picture of the pump. The picture showed four bolts, little round housing, that is what I saw on the engine. Dang it.

"Ok Zach, put pressure here, not too much we don't want to break the engine". The little tab on the edge of the water pump snapped right off. Smack, smack, smack. Nothing.

"Ok, pry here while I hit it" Snap. There went the other tab I guess was supposed to be used to pry the water pump out.

So now I am getting a little irritated, I have changed many water pumps and this is becoming the most stubborn unit I have ever seen. SMACK, SMACK, SMACK. I deformed the hub a little. But I got a line to form around the water pump. Yeah baby it'll come out now.


Fast forward, imagine a little cursing, lots of pounding and prying, mucho sweat -- Its out far enough to wedge screwdrivers on each side. The hub is deformed and we have about 1/16 of inch of movement out of the housing. I am sweating, my clothes are drenched. I start pounding on each screwdriver, alternating back and forth.

Slowly, it gives up, but it isn't moving like it should. I wedge a full blown pry bar under the hub and on the harmonic balancer. With quite a bit of force it pops loose, mostly. I had placed a pan to catch any fluid that might still be in the engine, and that was good thing because it was full of coolant!

The pump shaft was toast, and it had not leaked a bit! Of course now the water pump housing was broke and the hub was egg shaped, but dang Ford did a good job on that pump.

The reason it was so stubborn was that whoever put it in used some kind of sealant in addition to the o-ring around the edge. Combined with age, it was stuck.

So it was off to town to get parts, but that is another story. Oh and I have to drive 500 plus miles tomorrow, in this car.

einy HalfDork
8/18/17 6:11 p.m.

Subscribed !!!

Agent98 New Reader
8/18/17 8:01 p.m.

Had a 2001. What are the miles on that car? The big issues are:

--intake manifold made of plastic/nylon with an alternator mounting bracket inserted into the top runner.Stress cracks = sudden failure and worse, at highway speed cool air is blowing on the temperature sensor, so gauge = normal engine = roasting. A manifold replacement looks like the top front runner is made of aluminum and the rest is still black nylon.

--upper ball joints are "soft" at some point need swap out, luckily that is easy to do on the pre -2003 versions.

--abs sensors and window motors go bad, inside door handles break, all easy/cheap to fix.

--EATC -climate controls take a dump - one fix is easy, oring replacement one is not-electronics go sour. about a $200 part on ebay.

--transmission shudder - caused by fluid additive breakdown in the torque convertor - find a NAPA, pour in a vial of "Dr.Tranny's shift improver" sounds like alow budget porno flick but that thin(watch pouring it into the trans fill it will get all over you smells like cat Pee) red fluid will fix the trans issue for about 12,000 miles.

--coil packs take a dump at some point -symptoms are stalling out at 15 miles into the trip, easy ebay part or rock auto.

--tires are dirt cheap at walmart.

-all fords eat rotors and brakes its a heavy car, easy swap out.

-cats might clog eventually car will idle fine then have less highway power.

-radiator pet cock is plastic will break off, as long as it holds water just pull the bottom hose.

-headlamps fog up easy polish or replacement.

-eats batteries, replace at three years get Motorcraft on sale, or interstate.

Water pump for 4.6 there were a few different ones, make sure yours matches up(pulleys).

use the correct weight oil! Walmart brand is fine, use the ford 820 filter: has a drain back block valve inside.

Good luck! a 300,000 mile car if you semi-take care of it.

pheo New Reader
8/18/17 8:41 p.m.

I got cleaned up and we went to town to take care of the title. Tallulah is a little town in the North East corner of Louisiana with a typical small town bank. The notary had been there for years and knew Mr. Russell personally.

Paperwork is picky any time you deal with the DMV. Is DMV a curse word? Should it be? I digress. So, she told Mr. Russell not to sign the back of the title, the heirship paperwork took care of that. His wife died a few years ago and was on the title hence the heirship paperwork. She said the Louisiana DMV would not accept it if he signed it. I believe her because she did quite a few of these and I had dealt with that office before. This lack of signature is important later on.

So anyway, I went to the parts store and got the water pump and a belt. The old belt looked a little cracked and I wanted to make it home. I went the long way around to avoid the flooded and muddy road, traveling down a muddy road anyway, but no flooding. There is no way to get to Mr. Russell’s house without going down a mud/dirt road. This is the black gumbo mud that sticks really well, it then dries and falls off in large chunks at the worst time. This is the same mud that was caked in the floor board of the car.

Putting the water pump in was relatively uneventful, the belt was easy to get on once I figured out the routing. Luckily, I had taken a picture because I put it on wrong the first time and thought it was too short.

Then I started it.

The gravel had been taken out of the washing machine but the sand and a few large rocks were still on spin cycle. Dang. I had filled it with water but knew I needed to get the air out of the engine.

After filling the tires with air, and noting the cracks in the rubber, I wondered if it would make the 500 miles before it blew 3 of the 4 tires. I also figured I might as well break it and drive it to town. I wanted to break it while I was still close to help.

As I careened out of the drive way at 5 mph, no really, this thing tilted really far to the left, something clanged in the suspension. I figured the shocks were shot the way this thing floated down the road (remember, road is a generous term here). That had to be the clanking, the shocks were falling apart. Yeah, that’s it.

So, flinging it left and right for the first ½ mile down the road I figured the air had gotten flushed out of the motor. Maybe I shook the oil out the side too, 30-degree tilt and all. I mean this thing REALLY tilted. In my mind, I was thinking it needed a sway bar from a Peterbilt. I had never driven a Grand Marquis before so I didn’t know if was worse than stock or if this was how they drove. I didn’t see how I could keep it on the road in the corners through Arkansas hills.

On the bright side the check engine light, traction control light and ABS light kept me entertained by blinking alternately. Then the over drive light went out. I guess that was good, one less light. (Rats got under the hood and had chewed the wires a few years back)

So, the engine that started so easy was now wheezing and would chug every now and then. I don’t know when was the last time it was driven and how old the gas was. I was hoping that new gas would clear up some of the rough. Oh, and the sand in the washing machine was now small gravel when I could hear it over the road. A few miles down Willow Bayou Road it changes to more of a gravel base. Then two turns later I am on blacktop road. Now I can really hear and feel what is going on. Oh my.

With nothing to lose, I tromped it to the floor. As I got put back into the dirty Lazy Boy seat I had a new appreciation for Ford Motor Company. The chug left, and 4.6 liters of angry Ford surged forward moving a massive boat down the road.

Then I remembered the tires,

Yeah, I lifted, I mean 60 mph was all I was going to risk on these tires. But dang, 4.6 liters of abused, neglected, tired engine had some pull. I can see why they use these for police and taxis now. I wondered what it would run like when I could give it some proper love.

Ok, so now I am in town. This is the unpleasant part. Remember the rat comment? I haven’t told you about the time we had to pull all the pecans out of the engine compartment. Under the intake, everywhere.

I went to the carwash to vacuum the worst of the mud and rat crap out of the car. The trunk was about ¼ inch deep in rat poop, I wondered if the gloves I had on would protect me from, well, whatever. Using the vacuum hose to rake the mud out of the floor board I got the carpet somewhat “clean”. (clean here is a relative term) I then hosed the trunk with Febreze because it was the worst smelling. I shut the trunk and tried to mentally forget what I had just done and seen. I figured if I vomited I would have to clean that up too.

I chugged home, gravel sound and all, really worried about what was coming apart under the hood. It would clear up if it was screaming down the road but I seriously doubted that I could keep it floored for 500 miles. I was going to have to do something. The family wanted to go out to eat, so I didn’t get much else done. Oh boy.

pheo New Reader
8/18/17 8:47 p.m.

Its midnight, I still haven’t fallen asleep, I am so dang worried about the troubles tomorrow.

I wake again at two a.m. What the hell was I thinking? Is there a junk yard we drop it at? I drift back into troubled sleep. My wife slept no better.

Six a.m. I’m awake, I guess we may as well get this rolling disaster on the road. Blurry eyed we say our good byes and I climb into the Grand Marquis. Grand she may have been in her day, but she has seen her better days.

The washing machine grinds to life. I have to say, for something that’s about to explode, it starts every time. Taking the long way into town, scraping bottom and swaying like a boat in a hurricane I fly down the road. (remember road is a generous term)

Onto the blacktop and into town I make a command decision. I stop at the auto parts store, grab both an idler pulley and a tension pulley. I also swap the old belt back on so I will have a good one when the bad pulley freezes up and snaps the belt. I did not put the pulleys on, I just wanted them for when the old ones blew.

I grit my teeth and fire the washing machine up.

I don’t believe it, quiet as a church mouse! No squeaks, grinding, gravel or rock sounds! The engine is smooth and I figure it’s a matter of tires to get home!

Yeah, right.

I kept my speed down. The tires are inflated and its relatively cool out. Its overcast so the pavement isn’t hot. Speed, heat and inflation kill tires, I have blown many tires, I drove semis for several years. The engine is running smooth, I guess fresh gas makes a difference.

A couple of gas stops, oh yeah, gas stops. Ok, so part of the charm of older cars are their quirks. I guess the Grand Marquis is a snob about gas stations. At some you can fill it quick and easy, other gas must taste bad because it spits it back out at you and isn’t happy until your covered. Then maybe she will drink a few sips making you go to another station just down the block. Then she drinks like a drunk at an open bar.

Ok, back to the problems. At Little Rock we take Highway 65 north, it gets hilly and curvy. Remember the chugging? Its back, with a vengeance. Remember this thing tips sideways? As I start up first hill the check engine light goes from steady state (pretty good) to rapidly blinking, followed by a loss in power, followed by chugging.

I was trying to carry speed (impossible on the curves) to get up the hills, I gain on the RV’s (due to the gravity thing) only to fall behind them as the engine loses power on the way up the next hill. The chugging is getting worse the entire time. Do you know how embarrassing it is to be passed by an RV going uphill? You haven’t lived my friend!

Trying to corner, say right, the back right of the car really lifted and the left front dove. It was like I had no shocks, no sway bars, nothing. If it wasn’t for the wreck and die thing off the cliffs, it would have been kinda fun. It really floated around.

65 is really sparse about auto parts stores, topped by the fact I don’t know what is wrong with it. Fighting the hills most of the way into Missouri I finally stop at a well-known auto parts store that will read the OBD-2 for you, a laundry list culminates with “No 5 misfire”. Having put the worst of the hills behind me I decide not to buy the coil pack. I was hoping to get it home and that the light load on the engine would cure it. We were not sure it was the coil pack.

So long story short, 2 cities down the road its chugging so bad that I am at the auto parts store buying the coil pack. Luckily No 5 is the driver’s side front cylinder on Ford. 10 minutes later the cheapest coil pack they had is happily pumping juice through the plug. Misfire solved. The chugging was solved and oddly the other symptoms are gone also. I can only guess the MCU was trying to accommodate the misfire situation.

Back to worrying about tires. 137 miles to go.

I would like to say there was more adventure, but truthfully, I just had to worry about tires. With the engine sort of sorted out, it pulled up the hills great. It still had the check engine light, the ABS light, the overdrive light and the traction control light, but hey, it was running great.

It got me home.

Home sweet Home. Now to clean the car. I mean clean it. That is the next adventure.

pheo New Reader
8/18/17 8:50 p.m.

I am trying to catch up with what all has happened so far. Its parked and I have found most of the problems and started to fix them, but the story of getting there is humorous. I will write about cleaning tomorrow. I learned a lot.

Thanks for the advice and list of problems, it has the shudder. I still have a lot to do!

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/18/17 9:24 p.m.

Welcome, and thanks for the stories!

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
8/18/17 10:38 p.m.

Quite the journey. I'll add it's good your father in law recognized it was time to give up driving on his own, rather than waiting until you forced him into it.

Gunchsta Reader
8/19/17 12:24 a.m.

Heck yes! I got a 2002 Lincoln Town car for free from my grandmother 2 or 3 years ago. It's a swell daily and it's a blast to autocross. The 4.6 pulls hard and revs really nice for such a pedestrian/utilitarian engine.

If these cars weren't built so cheap (and were optioned with a manual) I would really be in love.

I don't know where your suspension is at but I blew a balljoint out on mine doing 70, so keep an ear out for the squeaks. I also put a rear sway bar on from the junkyard (all the cars should have the mouting tabs, just a matter of finding the largest bar at the junkyard that day) that made a big difference in the road feel of the car.

Agent98 New Reader
8/19/17 7:44 a.m.

Easy to check ball joints for wear, jack up wheel ~ pry up on suspension, any play more than 0.4 mm which means any play at all = new ball joint time.

Other thing is throttle body and idle air control get dirty there's spray cans especially made to clean those.

appliance_racer Reader
8/19/17 8:33 a.m.

I've driven 65 several times. While fun in a healthy vehicle I don't envy you having to drive in an unknown vehicle with a questionable state of health.

ClemSparks PowerDork
8/19/17 9:27 a.m.

Where are you in MO? I'm in Columbia, MO, myself. I daily drive (and I do outside sales, so there's a lot of time spent with the car) an '03 P71 Crown Vic and it's really enjoyable as a mobile office. We refer to it as "The Road Sofa." A twisty 2 lane blacktop is a lot of fun in mine. So I assume yours will be good to go after a little bit of suspension help.

pheo New Reader
8/19/17 10:01 a.m.

You know the project your dreading? The one that is overwhelming? I have found if you just start somewhere, even if it’s not the right start, the project seems to shrink in size. Kind of like cleaning a car that has sat unused and a home for rodents at various times. I have a thing about rat crap, or rats and mice in general.

I am not a clean freak exactly, one look at my cluttered desk also tells you I am not the neatest person in the world. But I do require a certain standard. After the Grand Marquis got me home I took a long shower with lots of soap and hot water. I slept like a rock, no stress, home, my bed. Clean.

I got up the next day and miserably thought, “I may as well get started.” I got gloves on, pulled out the shop vac, got the water hose with a nozzle set on “Mist”. I didn’t want to soak the interior of the car, but I figured I needed water to loosen the dried mud. I got the stiff plastic scrub brush I use on tires. Some soap, all set.

I pulled the mats out, they should have been a nice tan color, they were a mottled black. And when I pulled them out the mud cracked and separated near the gas pedal. It was more than ½ inch thick and matted into the carpet.

As I bent around the seats to vacuum the loose stuff up I realized how little suction the carwash vacuum had. I also realized that the car was much dirtier than I had thought. Coffee or coke had been spilled in the floor, on the tunnel, in the seat, and never been cleaned up. The dirt and dust from the road had stuck to it making the mess even worse.

I started scrubbing the driver’s side floor, I would mist a little water, dunk the brush in soapy water scrub, vacuum, rinse and repeat. All very timid and controlled. I would mist the mud cake and scrub on the top layer, trying not to smear it around. Vacuum, rinse the brush, start again. I soon realized that the seat was really in the way and it would be easier to clean with the seat out of the way. So, I get my tools, unbolt the seat and unclip the wires, (power seats) and manhandle the front seats out of the way.


Dang, there is more stuff to dry vacuum up. I could swear I stuck the vacuum nozzle under the seat. Candy wrappers, broke pencils and unidentifiable bits. I set the vacuum back up for dry, vacuum, dump. Set the vacuum up for wet. Start scrubbing again.

Now by this time I had gone from timid to a little more aggressive. I set the nozzle to shower and gave a quick spray of the area I was cleaning and scrubbed and vacuumed. I still did not want to flood the car’s interior and have it mold. But I was making progress! I could see a clean spot!

Fast forward – I really got aggressive with the water hose and vacuum, using both at the same time and hoping I would NOT electrocute myself. Spray, vacuum, spray and vacuum at the same time.

The carpet looked pretty good.

I turned my attention to the back seat. After a few minutes of working on it in the car I decided it had to be pulled. With it out we started, timidly, scrubbing and vacuuming it. My wife had a softer scrub brush, we didn’t want to damage the cloth. I would mist it, she would soap and scrub it and I would vacuum. 15 minutes later it looked great! A beautiful tan seat!

Oh, and we had to clean stuff from under the back seat too.

We set it off to the side to dry and started on the driver’s seat. As we start gently scrubbing I hear my wife groan, I turn to see what the problem is and she is looking at the beautiful back seat.

It’s not tan anymore. Everywhere I had vacuumed, it has a stripe of dark brown. It looks like a drowned tiger striped foam lump. We have been at this for a couple of hours at this point. I look at her and then turned back to the driver’s seat.

Timid was out the window, I set the hose on “Jet”, I didn’t care if the seat was green with mold later on, I started hosing, full on drowning it.

And the coffee ran, everywhere.

I don’t know if it was coffee, or just the dust from the Louisiana black gumbo, but the water that came out looked like coffee. We dumped soap on it, scrubbed and rinsed with all the power that hose would produce until it ran clear. I stuck the hose in the pocket on the back of the seat, more coffee. I didn’t care, I didn’t vacuum anything. I set it in the sun to drip and dry, hoping it would be all one color.

The passenger seat got the same treatment followed by the rear seat. All now in the sun drying. To complete the drying, I used a box fan inside the car for a couple of hot sunny days.

In the end, we scrubbed several seat belts, the carpet and all the seats. Wiped the interior plastic down with bleach wipes. Later I took the car to a carwash and hung the matts up, I have never seen so much mud. I got the first layer off the outside of the car, but it still needs a hand wash and rubbing out.

To the owner of the carwash, sorry, I really had no idea there was 600 lbs of mud hiding under the car...

I am really impressed with how clean it is. The seats came out one color, the carpet looks good. I think I am being to like this car. How do I tell my wife I don't want to sell it?

pheo New Reader
8/19/17 10:03 a.m.

@ClemSparks -- I live south of Knob Noster. Go south, turn right, turn left, about the time your lost in the woods look to your right and that's our place.

pheo New Reader
8/19/17 10:30 a.m.

A couple of you have asked about the car. Its a 2002 Grand Marquis, 113,000 miles. Its missing the hub caps but does have a nice aftermarket cloth top. I found that the front sway bar is completely loose, both links are broken.

I did fix a chewed wire and that made the traction control light go out and the button works right.

I figure due to the abuse it will need a full front end kit, I was looking at Moog. There is a shutter, but I don't know if its the tranny or the drive line, it only happens when I decelerate. I am going to get the additive first.

After it dropped chunks of mud for 500 miles (keeping my wife entertained as she was following me) it still had a mass of it in the frame. I think I got most of it out. If I can get the handling straightened out I think it would be hilarious to do a track day in a Lazy Boy.

That about catches up what has happened until now. I will try to post as I fix things.

Oh, wait, I forgot about the title woes... Tomorrow I will detail that little problem.

efahl New Reader
8/19/17 10:49 a.m.
pheo wrote: I think I am being to like this car. How do I tell my wife I don't want to sell it?

Clearly a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

einy HalfDork
8/20/17 6:30 a.m.

Pheo .... We. Need. Pictures!!

pheo New Reader
8/20/17 9:10 a.m.

Working on it. Tomorrow is the Eclipse and I have to get some equipment ready, among other things, busy day. I also have to find a hosting site. Please be patient. Edit, ok here goes a trial run of Flickr As it sat for some time 

Ah! Finally success! So this is a concrete driveway, but the mud is really difficult to get away from. The water standing in the drive way is trapped by mud, but is on concrete. 

Another view of where it sat. Now below is part way through cleaning it. I didn't document very well because I didn't know I would be writing this. 

I was really impressed by how clean the floor was at this point so I took a picture.

Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
8/20/17 9:26 a.m.

In reply to pheo:

I switched from photobucket to Flickr. Cant post pictures from the phone, but working well otherwise.

appliance_racer Reader
8/20/17 1:03 p.m.

I realize this is a little late.... I've done exactly the same sequence of soak and vacuum in a few carpets. When I was faced with a couple carpets that were putting up a good fight I yanked them from the car and took just the carpet to the car wash. Used the soap and then rinse with the high pressure. Then let it dry out in the sun. Not only were the carpets cleaned they smelled good when back in the car.

KevinGale Reader
8/20/17 3:39 p.m.
pheo wrote: To the owner of the carwash, sorry, I really had no idea there was 600 lbs of mud hiding under the car...

Lol, My wife is asking why I'm laughing so loud.

Two_Tools_In_a_Tent New Reader
8/20/17 5:39 p.m.

Pictures !

pheo New Reader
8/20/17 7:57 p.m.

This photo deserves its own explanation. I was spraying the mud into the drain pit for the most part, I forgot to do that here. This is just from the front part of the rear wheel well. 

And these are what the seats looked like when we took them out. They are tan seats. No, really.... 

You might notice the floor mats in the back ground, that is the rear mat that was much cleaner than the front. I'll get pictures of it now and post them tomorrow. I am really behind on stuff, it will get better, in December.

dannyzabolotny New Reader
8/21/17 1:24 a.m.

Glad to see that Grand Marquis getting some love. I always love seeing Panther body cars on here.

That 4.6L gets a lot of hate for some reason but it's really quite a good motor, even in the less powerful non-PI form (96-98). It always starts, revs pretty well, makes some decent sounds, and has a good amount of low end torque. My 96 Mustang GT feels pretty zippy with it, especially since it's a 5-speed.

Gunchsta Reader
8/21/17 8:14 a.m.
dannyzabolotny wrote: Glad to see that Grand Marquis getting some love. I always love seeing Panther body cars on here. That 4.6L gets a lot of hate for some reason but it's really quite a good motor, even in the less powerful non-PI form (96-98). It always starts, revs pretty well, makes some decent sounds, and has a good amount of low end torque. My 96 Mustang GT feels pretty zippy with it, especially since it's a 5-speed.

Agreed. I wish more people loved these cars because they are inexpensive and work pretty well. Unfortunately in my research most of the Panther owners of this world just use them and throw them away. Or are cops. Or are 94 years old.

But I digress- to pheo; Definitely track it! If nothing else at least autocross it. You'll make friends because you have a large barge out there, and I promise you'll have fun throwing it around.

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