2005 Ford Escape timing/ignition issue *with video

3.0 V6
150k miles

I am at my wits end with this car! I recently did a head gasket job on this vehicle. I know the timing chain procedure is important and I stressed it very much. I referenced both a website walk-through and the Haynes Repair Manual. All the links on the timing chains lined up perfectly with their respective marks and I checked them at least 5 times before replacing the front engine cover.

The job was much harder than I had anticipated, but it went well…or so I though. Automotive work is a hobby, but this is not the most difficult procedure I’ve undertaken.

I tried to start it up and from everything I can hear, the timing is off. I’m hoping it a ignition timing issue and not mechanical. You can really hear the engine struggle when certain cylinders reach TDC. I did replace one of the coils (there are 6 independent) as the mount was broken on the old unit. The cam position and crank position sensors are both hooked up. Is there a way to test them? I do have limited automotive electrical testing equipment.

Here is the video of my engine turning over. Any ideas are greatly appreciated! Really don’t want to tear it down again. Thanks for the help!

I’ll go out on a limb with this one. The way it’s kicking back it’s almost certainly a grossly advanced timing issue but only on some cylinders. Are you sure you didn’t mix up your spark plug connections? I saw this happen once and the symptoms sounded identical.

I’m hearing this is a common mishap, I’m sure the front wires are good, but I will tear into it this afternoon and check the rears.

Still a little curious about the toothed plate in front of the timing chains, It can only go on two ways I believe. It says FRONT and I installed it accordingly.

I will cry with happiness if I screwed up the coils!

Thanks for your insight.

Please post a picture of the wiring going to the ignition coils on the front bank.

Will do. Expect a picture around 3:30 this afternoon, when I get home.

When you replaced the chain and set all your timing marks spot on, you should have been instructed to turn the engine over by hand at least two full revelutions. Did you do this and also follow the instructions that it be turned either clock-wise, or counter clock-wise. If turned the wrong direction CCW rather than CW the timing may be off.


Yes, the timing chains have a black colored link to link with reference marks. I matched them all up as per instructions. I did turn it over after and check. As far as direction, I have always though engines were only supposed to be turned clockwise at the crank, so that’s what I did. That shouldn’t change the orientation of the marks though, should it?

I removed the upper intake this afternoon after finding that there was sufficient fuel and spark. I checked the routing of the coil wires and they were all correct.

While checking the spark, some gas even ignited in the lower intake scaring the you know what out of my wife (and maybe me a little). Obviously I have fuel and spark. :slight_smile:

Not sure where to go from here.

Checked my timing, all looks good.

OK - now I’m really grabbing at straws. I don’t know how your two ignition harnesses are physically configured but is it possible the two harnesses could be flipped? By the sound of your first video I still think there is an ignition timing issue.

Something else you could try is to disable your ignition system and crank the engine. If the starter then sounds normal that would pretty much rule out a mechanical problem. I’ve done this before as a crude compression test.

OK. I’ve seen where people have crossed the wiring to the coils on the front bank but yours appears to be ok.
Since you’re this far into it now, can you pull the spark plugs and do a compression test on all cylinders?

1 Like

I will try to compression test soon. Don’t have the fitting in my kit.

Have you checked for ECM diagnostic codes? If not, before proceeding with taking stuff apart or testing individual items, that’s the first thing to check.

Beyond that, all I have is a couple of guesses. Given the configuration of the high voltage harness, it seems hard to believe the spark plugs are hooked up to the wrong cylinders. I’m not familiar with that coil configuration, but it looks unlikely the coils are a problem either, at least as far as to which cylinders they’re hooked up to.

  • Maybe your engine is simply flooded. Not an uncommon thing when diy’ers take on big jobs like this, as things get put back together and the engine cranked for testing purposes it easily gets flooded with gas. This can create weird symptoms like this. Unusual banging noises too. Remove the spark plugs and crank the engine a few times to expel most of the liquid gas, then leave the spark plugs out for at least 24 hours, allowing any gasoline left in the cylinders to evaporate.

  • That’s a good opportunity to do a compression check too. But I’m guessing your compression will be ok, or at least the same as it was.

  • There’s an off chance the spark isn’t reaching the spark plug tip for some reason on some cylinders. Make sure you get a spark on each plug wire and try starting the engine in complete dark, while someone looks at the engine compartment for any flashing sparks indicating the spark isn’t going to the spark plug but somewhere else instead. Forgetting to re-connect ground connections can cause this.

A couple of side notes:

  • I don’t think all engines rotate clockwise. Hand-rotating an engine in the wrong direction can sometimes damage stuff. So double check your work on that.

  • Remember on a 4-stroke engine there’s two different valve configurations when the number one piston is at top dead center; i.e. the camshaft rotates once for every two rotations of the crankshaft. Double check your work that you haven’t set the engine up in the alternate valve configuration, so that it is firing at the top of the exhaust stroke.

1 Like

As @GeorgeSanJose mentioned in his last paragraph, the timing could be off by 180* and firing on the exhaust stroke.

That is what the video sounded like to me.


1 Like

But not if timing marks are correct.

Hey guys, quick update I found the following last night…

I found this at the same moment my wife told me her water broke. I’m 90% sure I installed the ring on the wrong keyway. It’ll be a few days, but I’ll find out. :slight_smile:

See, it’s all her fault you got the timing off!!!

These women harping about the littlest things…right when you are trying to concentrate!!!:scream:

Next she will be blaming you for how long she was in labor.

All kidding aside “Congrats”.


Congrats and you’ll be able to take the deduction for the whole year.