2003 Windstar Won't Go Over 3000 RPM

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  #1  
Old 06-14-09, 06:07 PM
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2003 Windstar Won't Go Over 3000 RPM

I have a 2003 Ford Windstar with the 3.8L engine and 55K on it. A couple of weeks ago, it was having a hard time catching on the start after it had been sitting overnight or after 6-8 hours. I put a new battery in, cleaned the contacts on the starter motor and put some fuel injector in.

The problem persists most of the time (at least a couple times a week) with some new twists. When it finally does catch, the check engine light is now triggered with codes 171 and 174. Also, I can't get it to rev over 3,000 rpm with the accelerator floored when it's in park in the driveway. It just starts stumbling. However, if the vehicle has been driven awhile, no problem starting up.

I've checked and cleaned the EGR and behind it, checked the PCV and elbow, cleaned the MAF, and haven't been able to see any obvious vacuum leaks. The trouble codes are only triggered if it doesn't catch that particular time, otherwise if by chance it starts up right away, the check engine light doesn't come on and the DTCs aren't present.

Couldn't find anything similar in these forums. Haven't changed the O2's yet because I want to make sure that's it before I spend the money. Haven't changed the fuel filter yet either. Any thoughts? Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-14-09, 07:05 PM
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Plan on changing the fuel filter, but before you do, key the ignition a couple of times, then, with the key off, depress the Schrader valve on the fuel rail and see if you get any pressure out of it.

If you don't, you have a fuel delivery/pressure problem = pump, regulator, filter, line to tank, etc. If you do get pressure, key it a couple of times, let it sit for about five minutes and check the Schrader again. If no pressure now = possibly the pressure regulator.

This all points to a fuel system fault and you'll have to have a pressure gauge on it to sort things out.
 
  #3  
Old 06-15-09, 06:29 AM
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Thanks for the advice, marbobj. I'll check it out tonight or tomorrow night after work and let you know.
 
  #4  
Old 06-15-09, 07:10 AM
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One note about the stumbiling at 3000 RPM in park. That may be hitting the rev limiter and cutting off. I thought I had a problem with my Tribute til I was finally clued in. Mine would start cutting out around 3800 RPM.
 
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Old 06-15-09, 07:16 AM
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Might be a collapse in the exhaust system also - I guess pending on code printout.

A really retarded timing might cause something like that too, in theory.
 
  #6  
Old 06-20-09, 11:31 AM
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check mass air flow senser
 
  #7  
Old 06-20-09, 02:15 PM
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If there is anything positive about this post, as compared to other car questions - it is the fact Michael can at least get 3000 out of it. I cruise at about 23-2500 at about 60 mph. A few minutes ago I was going about 70 and forgot to see what my tach said. That is a white knuckle ride for me as I am not used to those speeds anymore.
 
  #8  
Old 06-22-09, 09:02 PM
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Still Having A Problem With 2003 Windstar

Hi.
Back again with the 2003 Windstar at 55K. Tried everything suggested but it still takes at least three very hard tries to start it in the morning after sitting all night. Once it starts, it's fine for all of the day's other starts -- as long as they're within about 6-8 hours. Otherwise, rough start. Occasionally, it starts so badly it then trips the check engine light and trouble codes 171 and 174. The codes aren't present all the time and neither is the engine light.

Here's what I've tried so far:
1. New battery
2. Cleaned starter motor contacts
3. Checked electrical system (fine)
4. Cleaned MAF with electronic cleaner even though it looked like new
5. Checked air filter and throttle body for obstructions (none)
6. Checked PCV and hose (fine)
7. Replaced EGR
8. Replaced fuel filter
9. Checked fuel kill switch in correct position
10. Checked exhaust for leaks or collapsed portions (fine)
11. Released pressure on valve on fuel rail (seems to have pressure), keyed the ignition several times (think I can hear the fuel pump) and pressure was there again, so pressure seems fine. I don't have a pressure tester.
12. Scanned for DTCs and got none.

Any thoughts on what to try next?
 
  #9  
Old 06-23-09, 05:29 AM
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Codes 171 and 174 are both O2 sensor codes.

171
(M)
Oxygen sensor not switching - system was at adaptive limits - Single, Right or Rear HO2S - Fuel control

174
(M)
Oxygen sensor was slow in switching Single, Right or Rear HO2S - Fuel control
 
  #10  
Old 06-23-09, 05:47 PM
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Careful TOW GUY.....

Just think for a moment.....If the motor is actually running lean due to a vacuum leak.....Then the O2's are doing their job...They arent switching , because they havent seen a reason to....
Someone mentioned MAF...... good possibility....Along with Low fuel pressure....Or the ever common Vac leak from that wonderfully engineered PLASTIC intake Plenum

Grab a Buddy who smokes.......Cover the throttle body with a piece of duct tape, and disconnect the PCV at the valve.....Have your assistant "Blow smoke" into the PCV hose and watch to see where it comes out....Where the smoke leaks out is where the air leaks in....
 
  #11  
Old 06-23-09, 07:24 PM
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I was merely interpreting the codes for those who hadn't looked them up.

Careful, Unc, you forgot to tell him to turn the motor off before the smoke test.
 
  #12  
Old 06-23-09, 08:05 PM
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I'll check for leaks using the smoke test and update this thread, but I'm not hopeful. Mostly because I'm still wondering why it will only hard start after sitting 6-8 hours or overnight? Once I get it running (and it's a real struggle), it's fine for starting for the rest of the day. If there was a vacuum leak wouldn't it affect it on a continual basis, i.e., every time I started it up? Same question with the MAF which I have looked at (appears brand new with no buildup or glazing) and cleaned using electronic contact spray.

In the old days, I would've guessed a leaky bowl or bad float, but no idea now. Someone mentioned fuel relay earlier. Any more guesses? Thanks for all the input.
 
  #13  
Old 06-23-09, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by the_tow_guy View Post

Careful, Unc, you forgot to tell him to turn the motor off before the smoke test.
You mean It wasnt supposed to suck my face in?No wonder it never worked
Originally Posted by mmichaelk View Post
If there was a vacuum leak wouldn't it affect it on a continual basis, i.e., every time I started it up? .
Not Necessarily............Your PCM only makes adjustments AFTER the engine is running , warmed up, and has passed "Readiness" monitors. Start -up is dependant upon a predetermined set of values, which dont vary, as opposed to a running engine depending upon data from sensors for fuel control.

Very simple if you think it thru, ..... after it starts, your pcm compensates for the "LEAN" condition, until it reaches its "ADAPTIVE LIMITS"....When those compensations dont produce the expected results....The Check engine light is lit and The codes are stored.....

The most common causes that Ive seen for 171, 174, are 1) the guy that changed your oil, and checked your airfilter didnt put the "Bypass " hose back on the Air Cleaner,Which allows unmetered air into the system, bypassing the MAF.....In turn , PCM only allows enough fuel for the amount of air that is being Measured, which is almost NONE And #2....The vacuum supply for the climate control has crack in the plastic tubing.....resulting in the Same theory.
 
  #14  
Old 07-04-09, 08:41 AM
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Well, it's taken me a while but I've checked all the vacuum lines and can't find a leak anywhere. Bypass hose is hooked up. Looked and listened using the rubber tube method around the plastic plenum and nothing seems to be leaking there. Problem is still occurring. I agree with UncleDiezel that it has something to do with the Windstar sensing something and then resetting its measurements/calibrations after that initial start because it starts right up after that. I cleaned the MAF but could it just have gone bad (55K)? Vacuum leak stills sounds plausible but I can't find it. Looks like a trip to the dealer is in store but really hate to spend the bucks when I've got it narrowed down quite a bit. Also the fact that I'm laid-off has something to do with forking over more money. Any more thoughts?
 
  #15  
Old 07-04-09, 01:02 PM
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You hate to take it to the dealer since you have it narrowed down? Well, that still may help save money if you've helped them by narrowing it down. That is, if you tell them all you have done and theories you might have. I'm sure they'd run a proper vacuum test on it also, if they deemed that necessary.

As far as the behavior changing after it gets warmed up; there really is nothing so strange about that. Don't forget that engines heat up and parts expand. This can affect electrical contacts (this scenario happens in my home stereo a matter of fact!). And you hear alot about todays intake manifold gaskets leaking also. I'm sure the behavior of what happens can change from when it is cold, to when it gets warmed up.
 
  #16  
Old 07-22-09, 10:15 PM
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Still at it trying to figure out what's wrong with the rough/hard start only when the engine is cold. Low on dough so taking it to the garage is going to have to wait a bit.

Since I lasted posted, I pulled the IAC, cleaned it and reinstalled it. The engine stumbles badly when you disconnect it so apparently it is working. Also replaced the DPFE with a known working one and no difference in starting. Finally, replaced the fuel pump relay and PCM relay because I wasn't get a strong click from either one (and it was a cheap option). No difference again.

Any more suggestions?
 
  #17  
Old 07-23-09, 07:02 AM
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You can borrow a fuel pressure gauge from an auto parts store, so I would definitely do that and at the same time check the base setting on the timing.

When you have a timing light on it you can see if you have a timing variance when you hit the shutdown rpm.

Have you done anything with the engine temp sensor?
 
  #18  
Old 07-23-09, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by marbobj View Post
You can borrow a fuel pressure gauge from an auto parts store,.....
I have run into 2 cars just lately that have permanent fuel pressure gauges on the rail. Nice, eh? I love gauges. Too bad this is not industry standard on vehicles. It also be nice to have a vacuum gauge standard at the dash. (Hear that Detroit? - at least some of us want to be able to diagnose and fix our own vehicles for cheap!)

One was this guys multi-point fuel-injected hotrod V-8 Camaro at a rental I was at yesterday. Nice looking engine, and he was cleaning it with a solution and garden hose. I said "I hope it starts (with all that water)". He said, "It will."
 
  #19  
Old 07-23-09, 06:44 PM
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Have you checked/changed the fuel pressure regulator? Correct me if I am wrong guys( diesel/ tow guy/ any others) doesent the regulator close off and hold a residual pressure in the rail at engine shutdown?
 
  #20  
Old 07-23-09, 07:00 PM
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The regulator will hold the pressure in the rail at shutdown. The pump or the regulator could be causing his problem, although it shouldn't contribute to the codes he's seeing.

It would be best to get an accurate reading on the rail pressure, before starting - just off keying ignition, during running, and the bleed down after shutoff.
 
  #21  
Old 08-21-09, 01:46 PM
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It's Baaaaaaack! More Hard Starts

Well, just for kicks I did the TSB 3-16 repair and replaced the port intake seals and isolator bolts. (Also checked the spark plugs and they were in very good condition. Didn't need replacing.) No luck. After about a week of driving around, it still has the hard starts when you first go at it in the morning, however, there's a new twist. Lately, after the hard start, the engine light comes on later in the day and I'm guessing the computer tries to overcompensate. So much so that the Windstar will sputter and even stall out.

I read the code a couple of times when this happened at got a misfire on three of the six cylinders. I erased the codes and it runs perfect. Next morning, same hard start.

I've looked everywhere for a vacuum leak (visually and rubber tube method) and can't find it. When I pull the vacuum lines from the air/heater controls I get a healthy whoosh. Same for the brake boost, so I'm guessing no leak there.

If I purchase a vacuum gauge, where's the best place to start looking for this potential leak? Or any other suggestions? (BTW, I put a new fuel pressure regulator in and didn't make any difference.)
 
  #22  
Old 08-21-09, 02:25 PM
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The vacuum gauge is more of an engine condition diagnostic tool. It's a very good one, but as far as pinpointing vacuum leaks, I don't believe it would do a lot of good.

Have you done anything on a fuel pressure check yet?
 
  #23  
Old 08-22-09, 07:29 PM
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Nope, nothing beyond checking that there was fuel spurting out on the check valve on the fuel rail, but I take it that should be my next step, right? I did replace the regulator and fuel pressure relay.

Two new problems have developed that I think are related. When I step on the gas (very noticeable on the freeway), I get almost no response, then a slow acceleration up to whatever speed I need to be at. So much so that I'm worried about merging onto the freeway. Engine shows plenty of revs/rpms on the tach, just no go.

Problem number two is that today when I was stuck in traffic, and thus practically parked on the freeway, it would start to stumble and sputter, and come close to stalling out, but I could always bring it back.

Never had these two happen before, but I somehow think they're trying to tell me something about what's wrong. Unfortunately, I ran my scanner and no trouble codes show up at all. Any thoughts please?
 
  #24  
Old 08-23-09, 06:30 AM
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The stuttering - it could be low fuel pressure. The fuel pressure actually accomplishes two things although one is certainly secondary. First it feeds the injectors with sufficient fuel. But the pressure in the rail also helps prevents the fuel from vaporizing. With inadequate pressure you may be getting a vapor problem in hot weather.

Fuel issues usually won't have a code. I would get it checked with a gauge.

The rpms/no go sounds more like the transmission. Once you have the rpms it should respond.
 
  #25  
Old 08-24-09, 06:28 PM
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I see you replaced the intake gaskets and isolator bolts. Did you clean out your EGR ports while the intake was off? Those get plugged all the time. Check the 2 wires on your MAF. They get dirty and can cause problems also. You can clean them but must be very careful to not break them. Use a qtip with some brake clean on it. Also, verify that the screen is on the housing going to the MAF.

Get a fuel pressure gauge and see what your fuel pressure is. I've replaced quite a few fuel pumps in Windstars. Cycle the key on once, pressure should go to about 30-35 psi and stay there. If it drops, the check valve in the pump is bad and it needs a pump. If the filter has never been replaced, replace it. They get plugged up too.

The 3000 rpms in park is a rev limiter while the vehicle is in park.
 
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