1998 Ford Taurus : EGR Problems : P0401 Error

I have a '98 Ford Taurus. I have owned it since May 2005. Since then, it has given me roughly $5000 worth of repair problems. Now, the latest problem is a
service engine light and a P0401 error. I took it to a local mechanic, and he charged me $150 for a diagnostic and to clean out the EGR valve. He claimed that it was no gurantee that was the problem. So, now I'm late with registration because I can't pass an emissions test. I just want to pass the test so I can sell the car for $2500. Any solutions? Thanks in advance.
BTW: I am a recent college grad on a limited budget. If it's something that I can do myself, then please help. Or if anyone is in metro Atlanta and just wants to do some free work on my car, I appreciate it.
Thanks in advance.
--
1981kid

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That may be in the EGR feedback sensor (DPFE) ports being plugged or faulty. Appears to be a common fault in these years. Since you're on a tight budget, find one in a salvage yard, it should get you through... It's an easy replacement, with just a few tools.
And the mechanic should have known that, BTW.
Cleaning EGR passages, is however, not an easy chore. And if he were crooked, he would have both cleaned the EGR and installed the new DPFE, and got the markup on that. But you wouldnt still have the problem.
Next time go to Autozone or other parts store who read codes for free.
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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DPFE sensor is easy to swap out and shouldn't take more than a few minutes on the 3.0l Vulcan engine. Go to www.taurusclub.com for lots of help and advice particular to the Taurus.
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I can do >> myself, then please help. Or if anyone is in metro Atlanta and just wants to do some >> free work on my car, I appreciate it. 99% chance it's the DPFE sensor, located between the firewall and engine. Unplug the wiring harness and pull it off gently from the metal egr tubes and replace. I bought one last year cost $27 took five minutes to replace on my 2000 Taurus Duratec.
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Everyone else has already said this, but it's most likely the DPFE. I had a 2000 Taurus Duratec that set the exact same code and it was indeed the DPFE. Does your car show any other symptoms?
Oh, and as common as this failure is, I wouldn't try a junk yard replacement. Get a new one.
CJB

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Same problem here and it was the DPFE.
Under $40.00 to fix it.
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The way the computer regulates the EGR value is in my mind overly complex, [The computer drives a differential pressure regulator, (connected between raw manifold pressure and the EGR valve), with a variable pulse width signal, the translated variable pressure created then modulates the EGR valve, this in-turn regulates the amount of recirculated exhaust gases ... I told you!], to simplify a bit, I suggest you check/change all the vacuum hoses involving this damnedable system. I also think there are many other sensor used by the computer to come up with the modulating signal, so don't think EGR only.
I'm chasing the same problem on a '00 Ranger. If I clear the code the problem stays away for several hours but always returns, (Isn't the "Check Engine" light system the most feeble bit of engineering you've ever dealt with? It's designed to scare you and send you running to your dealer/mechanic ... don't get me started ... it's a highly flawed system). My EGR valve and hoses are perfect, I've got to check the vacuum switch next, but I've also started to look at other sensors that can effect the EGR system: like the O2 sensors, also MAF and MAP sensors. I have been led astray by OBD II codes before.
Also don't overlook the air filter, plugs & wires, change the gas you use, also put in a can of injector cleaner in the next two or three tank fulls. Clear the code and see how long the "CE" light stays off. What do you have to lose. These are easy simple things too.
I've been driving the ranger daily for about 6 months with this problem and it runs perfect, no stumble, hesitation, plenty of power and pick up so I don't think you are causing any harm by driving with this problem. I do notice a barely perceptible chugging when going at a steady medium speed (50mph) in OD. Probably caused, (or not), by the pressure switch; its the only damn thing I haven't checked.
I wish I could say: here's how you fix it ... but Alas Poor Yorick ....
Good Luck
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That wasn't a mechanic.... he would have realized that there is a test sequence for this code... whther he works for a dealership or not. This type of EGR system has been around for many years with little in the way of changes. You, young sir, have paid him for learning.
As others will likely mention, the most prevalent cause of P0401 on this type of system is the DPFE sensor.... the test, which is printed in any manuals that any shop must purchase to work effectively, is clear, concise and takes about 15 minutes to perform including time to perform the salients steps a second time to re-affirm the initial findings.
The proper test procedure and repair (including parts) shouldn't have cost you much more than your current out of pocket expenses and you should feel rightly indignant.
One of the major problems with the automotive trades are those that presume to practice the trade without offering the effort to learn about it.... The consumer will always bear the brunt of these laggards who, for some misguided reason, feel they can repair something without understanding how it operates. That this concern is easily diagnosed using conventional, documented test procedures and was botched is inexcusable... add that this particular concern is widely known with gasoline fueled Ford products over a wide span of years shows that the "mechanic" as a job and not a career (not to mention lack of pride, lack of attention and any number of other failings). I'm sure that this person would find a rewarding career in the food and hospitality industry.
You might consider printing this off, handing it to this charlatan and requesting your money back....

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