Question about 1986 Ford Thunderbird

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My 1986 Ford Thunderbird Elan shows no oil pressure on the oil gauge on the digital dash. I tried replacing the oil pressure sender, same results. There is a small block that looks like a fuseable link in the wiring that connects to the oil pressure sender. One end of it had bad wires inside and I replaced it with an aftermarket type. Still not working. There is oil pressure just not showing in gauge.

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  • goweb Jul 10, 2010

    My 1986 Ford Thunderbird Elan is about to turn 25. It has the digital dash, 5.0 Liter multiport fuel inj. Here's the problem I'm having. The oil pressure gauge started to drop out showing no oil pressure for a few seconds and then come back. A couple of days ago it went to zero and stayed there. I don't have a oil pressure meter to test but I suspected the oil pressure sender unit and got a new one to replace.

    Before putting the new sender in I turned the engine over and lots of oil came out the hole the sender goes in. That told me its not the pump. Engine runs fine otherwise, no ticking or signs of no oil. I think the problem is electrical. The wire going to the oil pressure sensor which is next to the oil filter has a plastic block in it that looks like a fuseable link. Using a multimeter through this plastic block shows no conductivity. One end wire coming out of it is stretchy so I assumed it was burned out.

    I couldn't find that part at Ford so NAPA sold me an aftermarket fuseable link and I wired it in. Still no go for oil pressure. Where can I look next?

    PS: Thanks Duane, I'll keep that in mind but all the other parts of the gauges work. I read somewhere you can test the gauge by shorting the pressure sensor to ground. That didn't change anything in the reading.

  • goweb Jul 11, 2010

    Didn't get it right but didn't have all the facts. Best answer though so here's my vote.

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The way a professional would address thi is to check the pressure at the engine with a shop guage to see what is real. If still no pressure the most obvious reasons would be a bad oil pump or clogged stainer or your crank bearings are warn out. An oil service may make it a little better but as soon as the oil gets warn out the pressure will go back down.
Now if a shop gauge shows good pressure and by testing the sender the only other option would be a bad gauge, Gauges do go bad

Posted on Jul 10, 2010

  • goweb Jul 11, 2010

    That all makes sense.


    One thing that I have found out since posting this and that no one is mentioning is the fact that the oil pressure sensor outputs OHMs to the guage. The small block inline with the sensor is a resistor and if it goes out the reading on the gauge won't be accurate.


    I was able to short the sensor wire to ground and the oil pressure reading went to five bars (60%). So at this point I need to do two things. First measure the oil pressure with a shop gauge. And second. Figure out if that little resistor inline with the sensor connection can be replaced or substituted.


    Thanks everyone for the input and I'll let you know what I find.



  • goweb Jul 11, 2010

    Problem fixed. I'm putting this down for anyone else who might experience this with their older Ford.


    Putting in the new oil pressure sensor invalidated everything from then on because it was BAD. The problem was with the inline resistor (22 OHMs). One wire coming out of it was burned/broken. Good wire could be found inside the plastic resistor casing, I had to dremel tool a V notch 1/8 " into it to get to the good wire where I soldered a new wire on.


    Putting this back on still showed no oil pressure. I bought a oil pressure tester from Harbor Freight for 8$ and tested. Pressure at 200 RPM was 55. The original oil pressure sensor was put back in instead of the new one and bingo all's good.


    Thanks for everyone for your input.


    Gary
    denvermacintosh.com

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The gauge package on the digital dash system for the 1986 Ford Thunderbird (we have a 1985 ford thunderbird with the same setup)
might be damaged seeing that you had to replace the bad wiring and sensor. That's probably what I would have done.

That's high technology from the 1980s.

Posted on Jul 09, 2010

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  • If either happens, the gauge and wiring are good and the sending unit is at fault.
Testing Oil Pressure
Pressure can be tested by temporarily installing an oil pressure gauge in place of the sending unit. Before testing, look up the oil pressure specifications for your vehicle in the appropriate service manual.
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  • Disconnect the wire from the sending unit and use an open ended wrench to remove the sender. Using pliers can damage the unit.
f43-19.jpg An oil pressure sending unit is removed with a special socket. Courtesy of Chrysler Corporation.
  • Tighten the oil pressure test gauge into the hole in the block where the sender was removed.
f11-15_3184.gif Measuring oil pressure. Reprinted with permission.
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WARNING Be extremely careful when working near a running engine. Always wear safety goggles or glasses with side shields when working around moving machinery and be sure that your clothing is not loose.
  • Now turn the engine on and check the oil pressure on the gauge.
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    • In many cases, replacing the oil sending unit will correct the problem.
  • After the test is complete, reinstall the oil pressure sending unit, start the engine, and confirm there are no leaks.




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