Ping, ping, ping!


I have two vehicles which ping, one of them quite consistently. It’s a 2000 Ford Ranger with 2.3L I4 and manual trans, 80,000 miles. This engine really clatters! No check engine lights, no codes set. My mechanic, a Ford master-trained mechanic, can find no reason for this. Hot weather or cool, hit the gas and hear it clatter. Have tried several different brands of gas.

The other vehicle is a 98 Mercury Sable wagon, 3.0L V-6 with auto trans, 86,000 miles. This one pings much more quietly, but it’s there. 92 octane gas helps but does not stop the pinging (manual calls for 86 octane min.). No check engine light, no codes set. This car overheated once (without the temp gauge moving off the center of the range) and quit, I changed the stat and it has not done that since, but no change to the pinging (pinged before and after).

Ideas welcome!



The majority of pinging problems are caused by EGR system faults. it’s common.
It should not be that difficult to diagnose and repair an EGR fault in either vehicle.


I believe OK is likely right, but I would suggest that the lack of a noticed CEL does not mean there may be error codes stored. You should have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code not just their translation into English and post it back here. It likely will have a format like P1234.


Pinging is also caused by excessive carbon deposits inside the engine. There are some products, like Seafoam or BK? 44 that are designed to loosen up and remove these deposits.

However, there must be a reason for these deposits to form. Besides EGR problems, it could also be caused by an engine running rich, or vehicles that are driven for short distances, and sit it traffic a lot.

My first inclination is to go on a long drive on the interstate with the overdrive off to let the engine breathe, at least for an hour’s worth, round trip. Getting the engine going with higher RPMs (aound 3000) for a bit will clear out some of the carbon deposits.


It might be worth cleaning the MAF sensor with some contact cleaner. When they get dirty it can cause a lean condition that could possibly cause pinging


Not sure about your engine, but I had a 94 Mazda truck with the 2.3 engine that pinged brand new unless I used Premium. Went back to the dealership and they had a TSB that said something about the compression ratio causing the problem if I remember correctly. At any rate, I was very disappointed. Maybe that issue was never fixed completely?


Pining is caused by an improper air-fuel mixture; it is early detonation of the mixture caused by too high heat inside the cylinder. The ignition control module, O2 sensor all should be checked. Fuel injectors can also be a problem. ECU should throw codes.


Hi, all.

Many thanks for the ideas.

Neither vehicle has stored any codes at any time. The mass air sensor was cleaned on the pickup with no change in behavior.

I just finished running some injector cleaner through the pickup as well (Gunk brand, put 2 bottles in a 16-gal tank at less than 1/4 full to increase concentration) in an attempt to clean out carbon deposits. No change. Ideas for other brands or products?



SeaFoam is the best IMHO, but your problem could still be EGR related.
Chemical solutions are seldom the answer.
If you use the SeaFoam anyway, expect some smoke out the exhaust. That’s normal and will clear out.