How to Line Up Synchronizer Without Special ToolPosted 5/10/2004
By Bob Mordorski
In this day and age, it's amazing that a shop can survive without spending thousands of dollars every year buying all the latest specialty tools from each car manufacturer. Today, it seems you can't complete even the most routine job - such as replacing a timing belt - without these new tools. One question our hotline callers often ask is how to align a camshaft position sensor synchronizer without Ford's special tool.
In this article, I am using a 1995-1998 3.8L Ford Windstar as an example. Usually the problem starts after engine work has been done. Maybe the timing cover has been removed or the engine was replaced. Either situation requires the synchronizer to be installed and timed to the engine. The service manual states that a "special tool" is required to index the vane inside the synchronizer to the housing. As you read through the procedure, you may be thinking, "I don't have that tool - now what?"
Good news! You can line up the synchronizer without a special tool and without a lot of extra time. Here's how:
2) The engine needs to be positioned at 26 degrees after TDC. There will often be a large groove machined into the balancer at this point. If not, mark the balancer by measuring from TDC to 26 degrees before TDC. Take that measurement and make your own mark at 26 degrees after TDC.
3) Drop in the synchronizer so that the leading edge of the vane is close to the center of the opening in the housing (this is directly below the actual sensing part of the cam sensor).
4) Leaving the synchronizer loose, install the cam sensor and connect a voltmeter from the ground to the dark blue/orange wire with the sensor plugged in.
5) With the key on, the voltmeter should read either "0 volts" or "battery voltage."
6) Turn the synchronizer back and forth to find the point where the voltage is just switching from "0 volts" to "battery voltage."
7) Once you find that point, tighten down the hold-down bolt. This same procedure can be used on most OBD-II Ford products with Hall-effect type cam sensors.
Checking Current Draw in Today's Technology
Years ago, a basic voltmeter was an acceptable way to check a vehicle for a parasitic draw. But with today's technology and the volume of modules and computers, a voltmeter is no longer an accurate way to check current draw. Something as small as a clock can show a 12-volt draw, when in reality it may only be drawing 20 mA. This obviously would not be enough to drain a battery overnight or even after the vehicle has been sitting for a week.
Most "automotive" meters are equipped with a "DC Amps" function. Look for four jacks that allow leads to be plugged into your meter. If there are only two jacks, your meter is not equipped for amperage readings. But there is a solution: An inductive amp probe to use on any standard digital voltmeter can be purchased for $100 to $300. This will give you a way to accurately check battery drains so you don't waste time chasing your tail and running in circles.
Another quick note: In the world of Fords, make sure you let the system sit for about an hour without disturbing anything before checking that draw. If you don't, you may get a reading that the system is malfunctioning; when in reality, a draw of 200 to 1200 mA (0.2-1.2A) is normal for up to an hour after you turn the key off.
A normal amp draw after all systems have powered down should be, at the most, 50 mA (0.050A).
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