If its the 4.6 with the COP (coil over plug) design ignition system, run it until it throws an engine code (light). Take it to the nearest Autozone. They do a free diag check with an OBD2 scan tool. If it's the same as my truck it most likely is a failing coil, the scan will tell you the cylinder and they print out the cylinder numbers on receipt paper. Pick up a motorcraft coil for around $55 throw it in yourself in the parking lot. They can clear the code for you once switched out. Saves around $300 instead of going to the dealership. Or, pick up your own OBD2 scanner from the friendly mac tools supply truck. It's around $50, but is well worth it in the long run.
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Engine missing is a vast subject and calls for number of things to examine. What are the problem symptoms? Is it concerned with one or more of the following?
- Rough idle, stalls or misses.
- Engine hesitates/ poor acceleration.
- Engine diesels (runs after ignition switch is turned off).
- Muffler explosion (after fire) on deceleration only.
- Engine backfires.
- Engine rattles at idle speed only.
- Engine rattles at all speeds.
Please mention if there is some other symptom.
Turning on the AC forces the idle to rise, if it is working as designed. It may be masking the problem. How does it idle after warmed up and AC off, all accessories off? Check idle speed, idle mixture needle (if accessible-some are plugged off with anti-tamper metal seals) and do check timing if you have a rough idle. Timing could be spot on, it must be close if it runs perfect, just make sure it is within plus or minus 2 degrees of specifications at specified idle speed, and vacuum advance hose disconnected and plugged off.
Well, good luck with the old dinosaur, lol, as an owner of a '79 Datsun pickup, and now an '87 sedan (Nissan, of course!). We will run them into the sunset together!