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Kenny Z.
Kenny Z., Ford Senior Master Tech
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 5211
Experience:  Auto Trans, Drivability and Electrical Specialist
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F-150: 2007 Ford F-150 5.4 3 valve= Variable valve timing

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2007 Ford F-150 5.4 3 valve= Variable valve timing issues

Hello and thanks for your question.

Below is a summary I prepared for this engine based on my experience diagnosing and repairing the various issues this engine has with the VCT system.

These engines are notorious for phasers and VCT solenoids sticking from oil feed problems to the cylinder heads. Cam sensor codes do not mean the sensors are bad. They can be set by any timing drive component that is making the valve timing incorrect due to over retarded or over advanced cam timing due to a sticking or inoperative phaser/VCT. The bad or sticking phaser or VCT solenoid is usually the result of the problem not the root cause. Here is a list of what I check or replace on these every time I get one in with phaser noise, VCT codes, cam sensor codes or misfires caused by VCT issues. Before any disassembly the PCM data pids for VCT error correction should be monitored to confirm it is a VCT issue. If the vehicle won’t run, a compression test can also verify the VCT problem.

• Oil Pressure. Any thing under 25 at idle with the engine hot will cause phaser issues. Oil pressure needs to be steady and not fluctuating. If low or fluctuating suspect crankshaft thrust bearing wear. This can be verified by a simple end play check. Also if engine is sludged in the least amount there could be oil starvation to the valve train which is also very common on these and can be verified by pulling a few cam caps on each side, it will be obvious if the there is an oil supply issue to the valve train by the condition of the caps and journals.
• VCT valve body/solenoids. Have seen many issues with solenoid plungers sticking and restrictions in valve body due to plugged or collapsed screens.
• Timing chain tensioner gaskets blown. This will cause oil pressure bleed to the valve train and affect phaser functionality.
Camshaft phasers sticking due to contamination or low oil volume/delivery pressure.
• Crankshaft endplay, I don’t bother fixing the engine if endplay is over .010
Oil pump, I change if there was any evidence of sludge or varnishing. There are passages in the pump that clog and can cause oil starvation problems.
In short if I don't find oil pressure concerns and my cams are in good shape I usually replace the phasers, VCT bodies, oil pump and tensioners on every one of these. Ford has updated these part numbers several times with improved engineering designs.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the information that's a good spec to have. Now let me make clear that when i did the job the truck ran fine, but it only misfires when stepping on the gas and then let it idle when it misfires it set a code for the BANK 1 variable valve timing when stepping on the gas again the problem goes away. i took the cam bearing caps and there were no signs of sludge but i did notice on the bottom of the cap "scratches" as where the cam rides but i thought that would be normal since it looks like where the cam rides on what should i look for "condition of the caps" How do i check crank shaft endplay?

The cam caps and cam journals should be mirror smooth. If they have grooves that you can catch your fingernail in then the cylinder head has been oil starved at some point or still is after the engine is hot. Hot oil pressure is the first thing to check on these. Getting an oil pressure reading at the time of the phaser malfunction is optimal. Usually the phasers on these malfunction at idle and will work normally over 1500 rpm, usually. To properly check crank endplay by the book the belt and oil pan is removed and a dial indicator is used. Once the dial indicator is set up a pry bar is used to move the crank front to back to measure endplay by prying between the main caps and crankshaft counterweights. I usually just pry back and forth on the crankshaft dampner and can tell by feel if the play is over .010. You can also mount the dial indicator to touch the dampner and measure that way also.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Kenny i understand what you're saying now and yes the cap bearing did show grooves that i can feel with my nails but not super deep, i work on a shop and i appreciate your information i understand the system a lot better now than when i first try to diagnosis this truck. my mistake was not checking oil pressure before doing the job but when i finish the truck ran really and so far it runs great it's just that intermittently it would misfire in bank 1 with that variable valve timing code. I'm going to check oil pressure when i get it back, i was also thinking if the PCM wasn't commanding the solonoid on bank 1 causing the phaser be out of time. No wonder why people just replace the engine.

We really paid the price on these engines when they first started having issues back in 04-05 trying to get to the root cause. Don't feel bad we get these from independents all the time with all the same parts you replaced and still having phaser issues. Most techs don't even check the cam bearings. I don't necessarily blame them. Unless you know about the issues with this engine finding the root cause is next to impossible if you don't know where to look and knowing what is normal and what is not.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hey kenny, i see what you mean and trust what you just told me is worth a lot to me, i bought a pan gasket from the dealer this morning just in casei want to drop the pan so i inspect the oil pick up and i'm going to check other things on it, i went back into my picture folder ( i take a lot of pictures when working) and i saw what you mean on the cap bearing they are scratch bad three different patterns of dismarks i guess that would be lack of oil going into the top of the motor due to clugged passages it's amazing because i didn't see any sludge on the valve bodies and the rest of the parts i replaced, i know what i replace was broken it's just that something else that i can't see unless i tear the engine apart -Alex

Unfortunately if the cam bearings are scored then the only fix is replacing cylinder heads. With the price of head replacement its usually more cost effective to replace the engine.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yeah i agree too, that's the price i pay for not knowing that, but i just want you to know that i appreciate your time and answers which they've helped me understand this issue hope you give you more business in the future hopefully i can figure it out hehe take care kenny

Your welcome and best of luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, hey kenny sorry i just had one last question, is this going to appear on the website for people to see??

The threads are public domain but take some pretty intense searching to find them.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Good to know

Thanks again.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No problem, you don't need to reply for this one kenny ok....IDENTISUX if you're reading this Shame on you!!!!!I'm watching you

I have to be the last one to reply otherwise the website won't let me help any other customers!