Auto Repair

Are there any car pros or serious amateurs here?

Discuss repairs/projects/problems.

I have a very minor and occasional sputter, almost a tremor in my 2002 F150. It’s been there for a while and I’ve mentioned it twice before bringing it to be service for other things/general service and it hasn’t been cured.

The “Service Engine Soon” light went on. I went to auto zone and used their code reader and nothing. They said it only read codes for “Check Engine”. Is there a reasonably priced kind of reader that would be helpful?

One theory is probably with spark/coils or somethin and another is partially clogged fuel injector. I was going to look at replacing the coil packs myself, but then browsing around got the injector theory and maybe I should just try better gas or some kind of additive first?

Anyway, I just wanted to get this thread started. I’m going to try to get his figured out and done myself and then I’m going to try to pull a dent.

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I bought a hot-wax dent-puller and tried to pull a dent on a car we sold to my MIL; it did not go well. Didn’t matter, as she totaled the car a few months later. The payout from her insurance company was almost twice what we charged her for it. I told my wife we were severely undervaluing it.

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I did a dent repair and bondo once when I was 18 or 19. It wasn’t very good either. I probably won’t do any better this time but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Take it to your mechanic, the Autozone guys aren’t in the business of diagnosing you car’s problems. Sounds like a problem with your fuel/air/spark ratio, that could be a million different things.

I took it to my mechanic twice already.

Auto zone just lets you use their code reader - figuring that people who read their codes buy parts.

I guess you already did this, but try looking for a Ford specific forum. I expect there will be guys there with a lot of experience with your F150 and knowledge of common problems. Also search YT, ofc.

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I use the FIXD application for my vehicles but it reads the data same way the Autozone thing does (OBD-II port?) so it doesn’t sound like it would help. Dumb question, but did you plug the device into the OBD-II port? The FIXD application provides data like odometer data as well as the check engine codes so I’m surprised that the Auto Zone reader doesn’t do that.

I’ve used the Auto Zone reader recently and it provides verbose and plain english descriptions of the codes.

I suck at auto repair so hoping to learn something ITT.

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Not sure if this site is reputable, but it’s a place to start:

If the Service Engine Soon indicator light stays lit after you’ve started the engine, the On Board Diagnostics system (OBD) has detected a malfunction of the vehicle emissions control system. Contact your authorized dealer as soon as possible.

If indicator light is blinking, an engine misfire may be occurring, which could damage your catalytic converter. Drive in a moderate fashion (avoid heavy acceleration and deceleration), and have your vehicle serviced immediately.*

The Service Engine Soon indicator light illuminates when the ignition is first turned on (prior to engine start) in order to test the bulb, as well as indicate whether the vehicle is ready for Inspection/Maintenance (I/M) testing.

Normally, the Service Engine Soon light will stay on until the engine is cranked, then turn itself off if no malfunctions are present. However, if after 15 seconds this light blinks eight times, it means that the vehicle is not ready for I/M testing.

*Under engine misfire conditions, excessive exhaust temperatures could damage the catalytic converter, the fuel system, interior floor coverings or other vehicle components, possibly causing a fire. Have an authorized dealer service your vehicle immediately.


Yeah, I’ve been googling and YTing. I was hoping to find a YT where I could really tell it was the same kind of sputter, but not really. It’s less pronounced than anything that I guess ends up being worthy of a video. I was/am hoping someone who really knows about such things can go all House/differential diagnosis and/or first try this, then this, then this.

Slightly clogged injectors that are cleanable with Techron or some additive is the easiest thing to try, so unless I get a better idea, I’ll try that first.

It does use the OBD-II port. The one at the Auto Zone I went to just saved some info to the device and then they read it and said “no codes”. They told me that it wouldn’t show codes if it was “Service Engine Soon” instead of “Check Engine”. I don’t know if they are right or not. They asked me the odo reading, so I assume it didn’t give that info to them.

Your mechanic sucks ass afaict. I’ve had good experiences getting advice from online forums.

Check the site out. I just checked my app and it says that the service engine soon light is the same as check engine light, but I’m assuming that specific to my auto.

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That is helpful. The condition is almost always very very minor. But, very rarely it has acted up a little more for a few seconds and the Service Engine Soon light did start to blink, but pretty quickly stopped and was just lit. And it’s not lit 100% of the time either. Misfire is what I was thinking first after YTing and that’s why I went to get a code reader, because a YTer read a code that showed which cylinder was misfiring and then replacing the spark coil pack fixed it.

A whole set of coil packs and plugs can be had for around $80. I’m thinking I’ll look up my last few service reports and if they haven’t been replace, it wouldn’t hurt to do it anyway. I guess they’re good for like 100k miles - dunno when/if these have been replaced and the truck has 260k miles.


I’m not afraid to try to fix it, not worried about causing harm, will enjoy doing it and would like to save the money.

My mechanic I think has on other occasions not fixed something that could be fixed. And maybe they’re attitude is that it’s good enough - and it pretty much is, nothing bad has happened. But, their scrupulous honesty has been proven to me and there’s no guarantee of that in auto repair, so I’ll keep going to them.

I assume that’s sarcastic. ?

But the home improvement thread here and on 2p2 has been awesome for a lot of people who have done lots of stuff themselves. I was hoping the same could be done for auto repair.

Do you experience the sputter as a loss of power or just a vibration? If loss of power, the simplest possibilities are a vacuum leak or something like a bad/dirty pcv valve, though there are a lot of possibilities. If vibration, it could be a worn motor or transmission mount.

It would help to know the conditions the sputter occurs at. Idle? Acceleration?

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I have no help, but I’m about to put my 2002 F150 Supercrew with the 5.4L engine with 100k on the market if you’re looking for a replacement.


It happens as much at idle as when you give it gas. There is a loss of power when it happens under load. I don’t think it’s a vacuum leak. Don’t think it’s just vibration from a mount or something; too erratic.

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