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Glenn, Senior Master Ford Tech
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 1746
Experience:  26 years exp with Ford Products, ASE Master Auto & Truck + advanced engine perf L1/L2 Gas & Diesel
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96 ford windstar: ltr..cyl..valves..check engine light

Customer Question

96 ford windstar, 3.8 ltr, missing 1and 4 cyl, imrc valves intermittant stuck open stuck closed both banks differant time, different things, check engine light from these problems, sometimes engine light flashes when hitting bumps and sometimes when missing and sometimes for nothing
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Glenn replied 10 years ago.

hello there,

have any repairs been attempted? Are you saying you have a misfire also?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Glenn's Post: yes, replaced plugs, wires, and coil, yes unit has a miss, van sat for four months miss went away, now it came back and gradually getting worse, maybe fluke thing but sometimes a/c dont work, or sometimes turn off a/c, miss and flashing eengine light stops for a while, i was think pcm for these reasons, but need to verify dont have cash to blow on pcm, from what i understand, there is three diferent pcms so that scratch junk yard fix
Expert:  Glenn replied 10 years ago.

hello there,

I suspect leaking head gaskets, numbers 1 & 4 are notorious for leaking. Pull those plugs and check for any shade of green on the electrodes, if they are case closed, it's head gaskets. Otherwise check the performance of the heater on a highway run of 15-20 miles, if you lose heat output, its air locking and its head gaskets. Finally you could do the block test with the blue fluid, but these tend just to dribble in coolant and not the produce much exhaust gas. Put a pressure tester on cooling system stone cold and rev engine to 3000 rpm see if you have a abnormal pressure increase. You must absolutely rule this out before proceeding. Get back with me with the resluts.

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Glenn's Post: i checked #$ plug, nothing, will check # XXXXX today hard to get to, will check wiyh press. tester today, i think we are on the wrong track though,van runs to good most of the time, then starts shaking, the morning no problems at all, no light flashing, no miss, now only thing different had heat on to try what you said no difference, but heat conrols may not be working right, what does a head gasket have to do with imrc these codes are more frequent than #1 & #4 missesdoes not make sence but will try to check for head gasket problem
Expert:  Glenn replied 10 years ago.
The misfires are just more important than the IRMC codes, they can ruin the cat converters and will affect the fuel mileage. The runner codes almost always end up being defective feedback sensors in the actuators. I'd hate to tell you to fix the runners on a engine requiring major work. How many miles are on this Windstar? What is wrong with the heater??? I will get back with you later today with irmc tests.
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
100k on windstar, used press. tester no drastic change, gradually climbed with temp.heater not important, but a/c and heater usage seems to mak differance when missing when using a/c does not get cold on interstate then pull up to light and ice cold with a/c on does not miss as much, with heater on this morning did not miss at all. maybe coinsident but happens, heater not coming out floor
Expert:  Glenn replied 10 years ago.

I am interested in the Temp of the heat, put it on vent and hold you hand up to it driving down the freeway on all the way heat, blower on high. [open the windows I know your in Florida] It should burn your hand to keep holding it there. See if it changes to where you can keep your hand there because its only luke hot.

Here is the info on IMRC...

Intake Manifold Runner Control (IMRC)

3.8L Engine

The air induction system improves engine performance by using the intake manifold runner control (IMRC) assemblies as follows:

  • The lower intake manifold (9424) has two runners per cylinder, feeding each of the intake ports in the cylinder heads (6049).
  • The IMRC assemblies are located between the upper intake manifold and cylinder heads, providing two air passages for each cylinder.
  • One air passage is always open and the other passage switches from closed to open by means of a valve plate.
    • Below 3000 rpm, this valve plate is closed to improve low speed and cold engine performance.
    • Above 3000 rpm, this valve plate opens to improve high speed engine performance.

The valve plates are opened and closed by the IMRC vacuum actuator, which is controlled by the:

  • IMRC solenoid.
  • powertrain control module (PCM) (12A650).

Above 2950 rpm:

  • The solenoid is de-energized.
  • The vacuum actuator holding the valve plate closed is vented.
  • The spring-loaded vacuum actuator pushes the valve plate open.

Need to snap throttle open to get above 3500 rpm and watch the runner levers [9S514 in pict] to see if they move from stop to stop. They probably move and need replacement, [bad sensors inside] if not check the vacuum source to them.

Section 03-12: Intake Air System1996 Windstar Workshop Manual
DISASSEMBLY AND ASSEMBLYProcedure revision date: 05/19/2000


Intake Manifold Runner Control (IMRC)


  1. Remove E-clip retaining vacuum control linkage to lever/shaft assembly.

  1. Remove adjustment screw from the vacuum control (9S514) and bracket.

  1. Remove two bolts retaining IMRC vacuum control and bracket to IMRC housing assembly.

  1. Disconnect linkage from the lever/shaft assembly and remove vacuum control.

  1. To install vacuum control and bracket assembly, reverse Removal procedure. Tighten retaining bolts to 8-11 Nm (6-9 lb-ft). Adjust vacuum control as outlined.

    Intake Manifold Runner Control (IMRC)
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Glenn's Post: i will not accept this you have not helped but put me on the wrong track. i already new how the imrc system worked. you keep going to bad head gasket problem i did druive this with heater on (yes in florida I felt like a real idiot for listening to you no changes in temp. i am a tech also nd did not apreciate the way you spoke the last time.i needed something to get me closer do to the fact that i do not work on cars i work on rv chassis. if you still want to help answer if not i would like my deposit back. i am also getting electric smell sometimes when driving when stop its gone
Expert:  Glenn replied 10 years ago.

Hi, I'm sorry if I offended you, most people asking questions here are not techs.

So tell me exactly what you still need help with, and I promise I won't mention head gaskets again!

Have you replaced the runner motors? Is that problem resolved?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Glenn's Post: runner motors, you talking imrc runners or others. not a problem i also understand that hard to diag over phone or comp. you probably thought i was a stupid woman. with name coming up. imrc runners i have hooks up matco reader, hooked up vacuum pump to diaphrams, and found that they are reading, pcm says it is sending signal, if other runners please explain,