95 Ford F-150 won't start in wet conditions


Old 01-03-06, 08:14 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 37
95 Ford F-150 won't start in wet conditions

The last week in Dec, here in Southeast Michigan, has been warm (almost 40F) and very wet. My truck sat for about one week in these conditions, without being driven and will not fire up. I put "dry gas" in the tank and and sprayed starter fluid up in the (disconnected) air intake, but nothing. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
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Old 01-03-06, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Posts: 923
Check for spark. I doubt you have a bad gas issue, the engine would at least start coughing when you try to start it.

Perhaps the fuel pump happened to give out. When you turn the ignition to the ON position (just before starting) you should hear the fuel pump pressure up for about a second or two. If you don't hear this, then you may have narrowed down the problem.

How are the basics (tune-up, filters)?
Old 01-03-06, 01:47 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 37
Thanks Kestas, I'll listen for that tonight when I try it again.
No tune ups since I've owned it (about 60K miles), and air and oil filters
have been changed during each oil change (about 4 times).
Could the distributor be bad or wet? This vehicle has been acting up primarily in wet conditions at temps between 30 and 45F. And by acting up, I mean harder to start, and the check engine light will come on while driving, but no noticable change in the performance. However, when idling in park, the engine will rev up about a grand more and then rev back down after a minute or so. But this was only occurring in these wet conditions.
Old 01-03-06, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: massachusetts
Posts: 2,215
Check your primary and secondary wires. Also,sounds like you might have a vacuum leak some where. Gasket leaks to.
Old 01-03-06, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Posts: 923
Let me see if I understand you correctly.... you change the oil and air filter every 15K? Even with synthetic oil that's rather a long stretch between oil changes. But back to the issue at hand...

If you've done nothing else in the last 60K, you're overdue for a number of tuneup items.

I recommend you do the following tasks below.

- change spark plugs
- change fuel filter
- change distributor and rotor
- clean throttle body and idle speed control motor (try searching this forum for the procedure)
- change pcv valve
- change ignition wires (they're consumable, and at 60K you won't be wasting your money)

Perhaps in the course of doing these tasks, the problem will go away with the old parts. Also, like daswede said, check for vacuum leaks.

Since your check engine light came on, the computer has set and stored a code for you to retrieve, even if the light doesn't stay on. Places like AutoZone will read it for free. It'd be fruitful for you to find out and post back what the code is. The code is stored for something like 50-100 engine starts before it disappears.
Old 01-03-06, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Posts: 148
Suggestion to problem

If it is just during damp weather (were just across the border so know exactly what you are going through)
You are probably getting moisture under the cap, could be a cracked cap or wire. Try the minor things first, remove the cap, use a blow dryer to thoroughly dry the inside and outside, fords are known for that we have 3....lol if that solves the problem replace the cap which are not expensive. Also a good thing to also do is obtain some silicone spray from an automotive supply store and thorougly spray the new cap and or wires.
A tune-up wouldnt hurt.
Old 01-04-06, 07:58 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 37
Thanks for the input, stay tuned

Thanks gmcladee, Kestas, and daswede. I promise to post back with what works and what doesn't because I've found feedback is what makes these forums so helpful to all. Gmcladee, I too own 3 fords and have owned many others; and water in their distributors is not uncommon at all. I will check there first for simplicity, and since I don't have a garage and its dark and damp every time I get home to try the newest thing. As to Kestas comments, I would would not be wasting a penny on performing all of those upgrades, and without a doubt they ALL need to be done soon. Just one at a time. I'll start with the distributor and rotor, and check the coil and plug wires from there. Then the plugs. I will post back with what happpens.
BTW, where is the PCV and fuel filter located on this vehicle?
I'm also interested in the possibility of vacuum leaks, but we can cross that bridge later.
Old 01-04-06, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Posts: 923
Usually there's a decal under the hood that gives the vacuum diagram. It should give a clue to where the pcv is located.

I don't know where to find the fuel filter. Sometimes it's near the fuel tank, along the frame under the car, or on the firewall.
Old 01-04-06, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 100
A bad coil is another common culpret for hard starting in wet conditions. I don't recall seeing if you said this only happens when it is wet or if it just happens to be wet right now.

It definatley should have a complete tune up if it hasn't had one in 60000 miles. If time is of the essence, then you would do well by waiting till the weekend and doing the plugs, wires, cap and rotor all at once. I would guess that it will start once those are done. It would only take a little while and will save a lot of time that might otherwise be wasted by duplicating your efforts trying to focus on only one thing at a time.

Good luck.
Old 01-09-06, 07:05 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 37
Thanks All!

Put in new coil and plug wires, cap and rotor, and 8 new plugs.
Fired right up! But, after about 30 sec the rpm's dropped way off but came right back and the engine smoothed right out. (apparently some kind of computer reset). Well worth the $58! Thanks again all.
Old 01-09-06, 08:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Posts: 923
Glad to hear it worked out. If you want to reset the computer for sure, disconnect the battery. I'm not sure of the exact regimen for your vehicle, but perhaps leaving it disconnected for 30 mins or removing the ground cable from the post and touching it to the positive cable is necessary.

Since your vehicle hasn't had any service beyond oil changes in the past 60K, if you plan on keeping the vehicle for awhile, it is undoubtedly due for the the following maintenance:

- change transmission fluid & filter
- flush cooling system & new coolant
- flush brake fluid

Don't forget the rest of the items from my previous list.
Old 01-09-06, 11:01 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: massachusetts
Posts: 2,215
Glad your up and running.. Thanks for posting the good news,too many forum posters never have the courtesy to post back with results.
Old 01-10-06, 11:32 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 37
To daswede, no problem. It's the best way to thank the moderators; to tell them what worked and what didn't. In this case I was absolutely amazed to hear that engine fire up on half a crank after being down for two weeks. I mean it makes sense, especially after I saw the eclectic collection of ignition wires and worn out spark plugs with gaps that varied between .050 and .075!

To Kestas, where can I read up on how to flush my particular cooling, tranny and brake system? There are a lot of pages (over 500) out here and I have not found a search tool in all of the links provided. Is there a better site where I can read up on just my vehicle? ('95, F-150, 2WD, 5.0L EFI, Auto, with a/c)
Old 01-10-06, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Posts: 923
It's probably easier for me to copy-and-paste the procedure from my personal archives. If you get ambitious I included flushing the power steering fluid.

Coolant Fluid Exchange

The procedure below is the method I use for every car I own. It is done on a cold engine. It should be done every 3 years of 30K.

1. Drain fluid
2. Remove the thermostat
3. Reinstall the t-stat housing and upper radiator hose
4. Disconnect upper radiator hose at radiator
5. Flush system with garden hose through upper radiator hose until water runs clear
6. Disconnect heater hoses, open heat valve
7. Flush heater core
8. Flush overflow tank
9. Drain as much water as possible from cooling system
10. Siphon water from overflow tank
11. Reinstall thermostat
12. Button everything back up
13. Refill cooling system with specified amount* of antifreeze, bring up to level with water, preferably distilled
14. Run car, top off coolant
15. Keep adding water as required every morning until system is topped off.

* Obtain the specified cooling system capacity for your car. Half of that is how much antifreeze should be put in. I recommend using Zerex G05 for all cooling systems.

Transmission Fluid Exchange

Here's the fluid change method I use on all my cars that don't have a torque converter drain:

1. Pull the transmission dipstick (located near the firewall in most cars). Fresh fluid is translucent and cherry red. Some darkening is normal, but if it is reddish brown or mustard color and smells like burnt varnish, it is worn out.

2. Make sure the fluid is warm.

3. Remove all pan bolts except for the corners. Remove the bolt from the lowest corner, then loosen the other corner bolts a turn or two. Carefully pry the pan to break the gasket seal at the lowest corner. Drain mostly from this corner. With good technique you can avoid or at least minimize the red bath.

4. Remove pan. Inspect the pan before cleaning. A small amount of fine grey clutch dust is normal. However, if you find metal shavings, there has been transmission damage. Remove all old gasket material. Clean the pan and magnet with solvent and wipe dry so there is no harmful residue. Shop air can be used to clean the magnet. Hammer back any pan damage from previous overtightening.

5. (Optional) Drill hole in pan at low point and install a drain kit available from most auto supply houses. Make sure the kit protruding inside the pan doesn't interfere with anything on the transmission.

6. Replace filter.

7. Position gasket on pan. Some gaskets have four holes slightly smaller than the rest to allow four bolts through the pan and through these smaller holes to hold the four bolts and gasket in place.

8. Hand tighten pan bolts in a criss-cross pattern. After that, use a torque wrench to tighten bolts to proper ft-lbs as per manufacturer.

9. Refill the transmission using only the amount shown as “refill capacity” in the owners manual (or an equal amount that was drained), using the type of fluid specified for the vehicle.

10. You now have replaced the trans fluid and filter according to manufacturer’s requirements. Fluid is changed in the pan only.

You can stop here and go to Step 17 if you just wanted a regular drop-the-pan fluid change. For a complete exchange of the fluid (including transmission body and torquer converter) continue with the next steps.

11. Obtain the total system capacity of the vehicle from the manufacturer. Have this amount - plus a bit more - of fluid readily available.

12. Disconnect the oil cooler line from the oil cooler. Tickle the ignition to find the flow direction. Direct the stream of fluid toward a receptacle. It is better to use a clear length of hose with a shoplight laying next to it so you can see when all the old fluid has left the system.

13. Start the engine, let it idle to pump out old trans fluid until you start seeing air bubbles.

14. Stop the engine. Refill transmission through fill tube with fresh fluid - same amount as pumped out (usually about 2-3 quarts).

15. When either the fluid color brightens or the total capacity has been replaced, shut the engine off and re-attach the oil cooler line. All trans fluid has now been changed.

16. Button everything back up. Clean up the mess.

17. Recheck the fluid level. With the car on level ground, set the parking brake and the transmission in “Park” or “Neutral.” Let the engine idle for a few minutes. Shift the transmission through all detents, pausing momentarily at each position, before returning the lever to “Park” or “Neutral.” Check the fluid level again and check for leaks. Refill fluid so it is slightly undercharged. This way it can be properly checked and topped off after a long drive.

Flush Brake Fluid

You’ll need a helper to pump the brake pedal.

1. Siphon old fluid from master cylinder. Replace with new fluid.
2. Starting with the wheel farthest from the master cylinder, loosen the brake bleeder screw at the brake caliper or cylinder.
3. Slip a length of (preferably clear) tubing over the bleeder screw. The other end should go into a clear jar.
4. Open the bleeder screw, instruct helper to push and hold brake pedal.
5. Close bleeder screw, instruct helper to release brake pedal.
6. Repeat 4 & 5 until clear fluid comes out or 250 ml is flushed out. Don’t let the fluid in the master cylinder reach the bottom (go dry).
7. Repeat 3 to 6 at the other wheels.
8. Congratulate yourself for a job well done.

Never let the master cylinder go dry or else you may need to bleed the master cylinder.

Use the fluid recommended for your vehicle, usually DOT 3 or DOT 4. DOT 4 has a higher boiling point. Both can intermix. It’s not that big a deal to use one instead of the other unless you plan on driving through the mountains in the heat of the summer.

In a pinch a one-man system can be used, where all you have to do is crack open the bleeder screw a bit and pump away at the pedal. The fluid will be forced out of the bleeder, but there is enough restriction so only a little bit is slurped back in when the brake pedal is released.

Power Steering Fluid Exchange

You'll need a helper. The steps are rather simple.

1. Lift front tires off the ground.
2. Disconnect the ps return line, drain ps reservoir.
3. Plug open connection at the reservoir.
4. Secure the return line to a generously-sized container (at least one gallon). If needed, add a length of hose.
5. Fill reservoir.
6. Line up your bottles of new fluid for quick pouring.
Here comes the fun part...
7. Have helper turn car on, and immediately have him go through full range of steering motion (left and right) and shut off car, all the while you are trying to keep the reservoir filled.
8. Button everything back up.
9. Clean up mess.
10. Top off fluid.

The front tires must be off the ground so the system is unloaded, otherwise a lot of fluid is forcefully pumped out. The return line must be secured to prevent a big mess. Keep at least a gallon of ps fluid on hand. The helper must know what they are doing.

I strongly recommend using power steering fluid rather than the Dexron stuff that is probably recommended for your vehicle. Modern Dexron formulations are different than the Dexron formulations specified at the time when your car was built. Power steering fluid is the same as Dexron, but without the additives that may be harmful to the steering system.
Old 01-10-06, 01:55 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 37
That looks like years of wisdom! I'll write back as I do these tasks over the next few months.

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