Intermittent power loss on highway

Rockin GT

New Member
May 9, 2006
I'm hoping I can get some guidance here . . . My stang has had some brief, total power losses while driving down the highway at 75 - 80 mph. The last time it happened it lasted about 5 seconds. Fuel pressure remained normal. Pressing the accelerator produced no power only a faint humming sound (FP?). Seems like an ignition problem. I visually inspected the coil for cracks. It looked fine. I was originally thinking it was likely either the coil or the coil wire. However, the diagnostic codes didn't seem to support that:

1st group of codes (Key on engine off):
2nd group of codes (Key on engine off):

The car has a custom dyno tune (piggy back chip on stock puter) and does not have O2 sensors or a carbon canister. Clutch was not depressed while checking the codes. I'm worried it may be the computer. However, the computer is too expensive for me to just guess and hope. Given the codes above would it be a waste of money to replace the coil and coil wire?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Any guidance would be appreciated.
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Running an EFI car with no O2 sensors does not sound like a recipe for success. Unless you have a broadband air/fuel monitor rigged into the computer, there is no way for the computer to keep track of the current air/fuel ratio.
You set a single O2 sensor code (code 41) in your list of codes.

Code 15 - No Keep Alive Memory power to PCM pin 1 or bad PCM (Memory Test
Failure). The voltage to the Keep Alive Memory (KAM) is missing (wiring problem)
or the KAM is bad. The KAM holds all of the settings that the computer "learns" as
it operates and all the stored error codes that are generated as a result of
something malfunctioning while the engine is running. Use a voltmeter to check
the voltage to the pin 1 on the computer - you should always have 12 volts. No
constant 12 volts = bad wiring. If you do always have the 12 volts, then the KAM is
bad and the computer is faulty.

If the computer has to "relearn" all the optimum settings every time it powers up,
the initial 5-30 minutes of operation may exhibit surges, poor low speed performance,
and rough idle.

Note that some aftermarket chips will cause code 15 to set. Remove the chip,
clear the codes and retest.

Before replacing the computer, remove the battery ground cable for about 20
minutes. This will clear all the codes. Retest after several days of running. If the 15
code is gone, then don't worry about it. If it is still there, then you get to do some

Wiring diagrams for the proper model years are next…

See the following website for some help from Tmoss (diagram designer) & Stang&2
Birds (website host) for help on 88-95 wiring Mustang FAQ - Engine Information

Diagram courtesy of Tmoss & Stang&2birds

Code 67 - clutch not depressed (5 speed) or car not in neutral or park (auto) or A/C in On position when codes
where dumped. Possible neutral safety switch or wiring problem. This code may prevent you from running the Key On
Engine On tests. You can generally ignore this code, since it has no effect on engine performance.

The computer wants to make sure the A/C is off due to the added load on the engine for the engine running tests. It also
checks to see that the transmission is in Neutral or the clutch depressed (T5, T56, Tremec 3550 & TKO)). This prevents
the diagnostics from being run when the car is driven. Key On Engine Running test mode takes the throttle control away
from the driver for several tests. This could prove hazardous if the computer was jumpered into test mode and then driven.

The NSS code 67 can be bypassed for testing. You will need to temporarily ground computer pin 30 to the chassis.
Computer pin 30 uses a Lt blue/yellow wire. Remove the passenger side kick panel and then remove the plastic cover from
the computer wiring connector. Use a safety pin to probe the connector from the rear. Jumper the safety pin to the
ground near the computer.


Code 85 - CANP solenoid - The Carbon Canister solenoid is inoperative or missing. Check vacuum lines for leaks and cracks. Check electrical wiring for loose connections, damaged wiring and insulation. Check solenoid valve operation by grounding the gray/yellow wire to the solenoid and blowing through it.
The computer provides the ground for the solenoid. The red wire to the solenoid is always energized any time the ignition switch is in the run position.

Charcoal canister plumbing - one 3/8" tube from the bottom of the upper manifold to the rubber hose. Rubber hose connects to one side of the canister solenoid valve. Other side of the solenoid valve connects to one side of the canister. The other side of the canister connects to a rubber hose that connects to a line that goes all the way back to the gas tank. There is an electrical connector coming from the passenger side injector harness near #1 injector that plugs into the canister solenoid valve. It's purpose is to vent the gas tank. The solenoid valve opens at cruse to provide some extra fuel.

It does not weigh but a pound or so and helps richen up the cruse mixture. It draws no HP & keeps the car from smelling like gasoline in a closed garage. So with all these good things and no bad ones, why not hook it up & use it?

Purge valve solenoid:

Carbon Canister:

Code 22 or 126 MAP (vacuum) or BARO signal out of range. The MAP or BARO sensor is pretty much the same sensor for both Mass Air & Speed Density cars. The main difference is where it is connected. Mass Air cars vent it to the atmosphere, while Speed Density cars connect it to the intake manifold vacuum. Its purpose is to help set a baseline for the air/fuel mixture by sensing changes in barometric pressure. The MAP or BAP sensor puts out a 5 volt square wave that changes frequency with variations in atmospheric pressure. The base is 154 HZ at 29.92" of mercury - dry sunny day at sea level, about 68-72 degrees. You need an oscilloscope or frequency meter to measure it. There a very few DVM with a price tag under $40 that will measure frequency, but there are some out there.

The MAP/BARO sensor is mounted on the firewall behind the upper manifold on 86-93 Mustangs.

Baro or MAP test using frequency meter - run the test key on engine off. The noise from the ignition system will likely upset the frequency meter. I used a 10 x oscilloscope probe connected from the frequency meter to the MAP/BAP to reduce the jitter in the meter's readout.

If it is defective, your air/fuel ratio will be off and the car’s performance & emissions will suffer

Some basic checks you can make to be sure that the sensor is getting power & ground:
Note that all resistance tests must be done with power off. Measuring resistance with a circuit powered on will give false readings and possibly damage the meter.
Check the resistance between the black/white wire on the MAP/BARO sensor and then the black/white wire on the EGR and the same wire on the TPS. It should be less than 1 ohm. Next check the resistance between the black/white wire and the negative battery cable. It should be less than 1.5 ohm.

The following power on check requires you to turn the ignition switch to the Run position.
Use a DVM to check for 5 volts on the orange/white wire. If it is missing, look for +5 volts at the orange/white wire on the TPS or EGR sensors. Use the black/white wire for the ground for the DVM.

Code 41 or 91 - O2 indicates system lean. Look for a vacuum leak or failing O2 sensor.

Code 41 is a RH side sensor,
Code 91 is the LH side sensor.

The computer sees a lean mixture signal coming from the O2 sensors and tries to compensate by adding more fuel. Many times the end result is an engine that runs pig rich and stinks of unburned fuel.

The following is a Quote from Charles O. Probst, Ford fuel Injection & Electronic Engine control:
"When the mixture is lean, the exhaust gas has oxygen, about the same amount as the ambient air. So the sensor will generate less than 400 Millivolts. Remember lean = less voltage.

When the mixture is rich, there's less oxygen in the exhaust than in the ambient air , so voltage is generated between the two sides of the tip. The voltage is greater than 600 millivolts. Remember rich = more voltage.

Here's a tip: the newer the sensor, the more the voltage changes, swinging from as low as 0.1 volt to as much as 0.9 volt. As an oxygen sensor ages, the voltage changes get smaller and slower - the voltage change lags behind the change in exhaust gas oxygen.

Because the oxygen sensor generates its own voltage, never apply voltage and never measure resistance of the sensor circuit. To measure voltage signals, use an analog voltmeter with a high input impedance, at least 10 megohms. Remember, a digital voltmeter will average a changing voltage." End Quote

Testing the O2 sensors
Measuring the O2 sensor voltage at the computer will give you a good idea of how well they are working. You'll have to pull the passenger side kick panel off to gain access to the computer connector. Remove the plastic wiring cover to get to the back side of the wiring. Use a safety pin or paper clip to probe the connections from the rear. The computer pins are 29 (LH O2 with a dark green/pink wire) and 43 (RH O2 with a dark blue/pink wire). Use the ground next to the computer to ground the voltmeter. The O2 sensor voltage should switch between .2-.9 volt at idle.

Note that all resistance tests must be done with power off. Measuring resistance with a circuit powered on will give false readings and possibly damage the meter. Do not attempt to measure the resistance of the O2 sensors, it may damage them.

Testing the O2 sensor wiring harness
Most of the common multimeters have a resistance scale. Be sure the O2 sensors are disconnected and measure the resistance from the O2 sensor body harness to the pins on the computer.

The O2 sensor ground (orange wire with a ring terminal on it) is in the wiring harness for the fuel injection wiring. I grounded mine to one of the intake manifold bolts

Make sure you have the proper 3 wire O2 sensors. Only the 4 cylinder cars used a 4 wire sensor, which is not compatible with the V8 wiring harness.

Replace the O2 sensors in pairs if replacement is indicated. If one is weak or bad, the other one probably isn't far behind.

If you get only code 41 and have changed the sensor, look for vacuum leaks. This is especially true if you are having idle problems. The small plastic tubing is very brittle after many years of the heating it receives. Replace the tubing and check the PVC and the hoses connected to it.
A secondary problem with only a code 41 is for cars with an intact smog pump and cats. If the tube on the back of the heads clogs up the driver’s side, all the air from the smog pump gets dumped into one side. This excess air upsets the O2 sensor calibration and can set a false code 41. The cure is to remove the crossover tube and thoroughly clean the insides so that there is no carbon blocking the free flow of air to both heads.

Code 54 – ACT sensor out of range. Broken or damaged wiring, bad ACT sensor. Note that that if the outside air temp is below 50 degrees F that the test for the ACT can be in error.

Check the resistance of the black/white wire to battery ground. If it is less than 1.5 ohm, it is good. If it is more than 1.5 ohm, the black/white wire has bad connections or a broken wire. Always take resistance measurements with the circuit powered off.

Then check the resistance of the ACT sender located in the #5 intake runner on most 5.0 stangs.

ACT & ECT test data:

The ACT & ECT have the same thermistor, so the table values are the same

Pin 7 on the computer - ECT signal in. at 176 degrees F it should be .80 volts

Pin 25 on the computer - ACT signal in. at 50 degrees F it should be 3.5 volts. It is a good number if the ACT is mounted in the inlet airbox. If it is mounted in the lower intake manifold, the voltage readings will be lower because of the heat transfer. Here's the table :

68 degrees F = 3.02 v
86 degrees F = 2.62 v
104 degrees F = 2.16 v
122 degrees F = 1.72 v
140 degrees F = 1.35 v
158 degrees F = 1.04 v
176 degrees F = .80 v
194 degrees F = .61

Ohms measures at the computer with the computer disconnected, or at the sensor with the sensor disconnected.
50 degrees F = 58.75 K ohms
68 degrees F = 37.30 K ohms
86 degrees F = 27.27 K ohms
104 degrees F = 16.15 K ohms
122 degrees F = 10.97 K ohms
140 degrees F = 7.60 K ohms
158 degrees F = 5.37 K ohms
176 degrees F = 3.84 K ohms
194 degrees F = 2.80 K ohms

Code 63 - Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) signal too low TPS. Vref missing (5 volt reference voltage supplied by the computer), bad connections or damaged wiring, TPS sensor failed, TPS sensor way out of adjustment. Use a DVM to check for 5 volts on the Orange wire. If it is missing, look for +5 volts at the Orange wire on the EGR or MAP sensor located on the firewall near the center of the car.

All you need is less than 1.2 volt at idle and more than 4.25 at Wide Open Throttle (WOT). You'll need a Digital Voltmeter (DVM) to do the job.

When you installed the sensor make sure you place it on the peg right and then tighten it down properly. Loosen the back screw a tiny bit so the sensor can pivot and loosen the front screw enough so you can move it just a little in very small increments. I wouldn’t try to adjust it using marks. Set it at .6.v-.9 v.

1. Always adjust the TPS and Idle with the engine at operating temp. Dive it around for a bit if you can and get it nice and warm.

2. When you probe the leads of the TPS, do not use an engine ground, put the ground probe into the lead of the TPS. You should be connecting both meter probes to the TPS and not one to the TPS and the other to ground.

3. Always reset the computer whenever you adjust the TPS or clean/change any sensors. I just pull the battery lead for 10 minutes.

Rockin GT

New Member
May 9, 2006
Wow, thanks for all the info jrichker! I'll do some diagnostic work tomorrow afternoon with the info you supplied.

Regarding the O2 sensors, that's the way my tuning guy (Lidio at Alternative Auto Performance in Michigan) sets up all the 5.0s he tunes (O2s disabled). I don't understand why it would be ok, but he told me that he's set up 100's of 5.0s this way and it works. At this point though I just want to keep the car from dieing on me.

Rockin GT

New Member
May 9, 2006
I checked the power to pin 1 and it is 12 V. Removed SCT piggyback chip and code 15 is still present. Cleared codes and rechecked w/o starting engine and only codes 15 and 85 remained. I really don't see why bad KAM/NVM would cause the car to just lose all ignition while cruising down the highway though. I wonder if either there's another problem with the computer (which may not be getting stored w/ bad NVM) or it's an intermittent coil/wire problem.
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