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2002 Windstar rough idle

10-30-2011, 10:24 PM

I have a 2002 Ford Windstar 3.8 with 111,000 miles that broke down this weekend and need some help. I have had it since 2003 and have performed all maintenance on it.
Start of problem. My wife called to say it will not start. Got to it and it would start but would not go above idle. After 15 seconds, it would not start at all; it would turn over but not start. Had it towed home for troubleshooting.

Do not have a pressure gauge but fuel pressure very low at the test port on the fuel rail. Replaced the fuel pump, two filters in the tank, and fuel filter along the frame rail. It increased the fuel but did not fix the problem.

Checked this forum for hints. 12Ounce and wiswind are phenomenal at the Windstars. 12Ounce hits hard the relays so started checking this area. Started off with the fuses and found the fuel pump fuse blown (did not get to the relays). Van started after a minute of trying but was difficult and did not run well. While cranking, the engine would stop for a second then start again (never seen this before). It eventually started but would not idle. Started again and kept the RPM up enough to run but seemed to backfire through the exhaust constantly. Ran the RPM to about 1500 and still backfired but not as bad and had a higher pitch sound and half a sulfur smell. After about 3 minutes shut it off and found the front exhaust cherry red. Very leery to run again because of this. No codes are thrown so at this point, I am a lost. Could the timing chain be worn and slipped? If so what is the best way to check? Anyone have any ideas? Below is a list of things I have done so far (think I have included everything).

Current troubleshooting:
Coil pack primary readings all 10.5k ohms
secondary all about .9 ohms
**note on coil pack under the #2 cylinder coil there is a 1 inch crack, recently a code was thrown for #2 cylinder misfire. Thought it was spark plug. Should this be replaced?**
Compression all cylinders 175 to 180 psi
New spark plugs
New spark plug wires

Old items:
Replaced isolator bolts (kit) 3 years ago



10-31-2011, 08:35 AM
Definitely replace the coil pack if you find a crack. Another reading you should make is coil terminal to ground ... should all be near infinite resistance ... no leakage to ground. After replacing the coil .... and making sure the cables go to the correct cyls ... get back to us.

A super hot exhaust is caused by mis-firing ... either the coil or misplaced cables would be high on my list.

(Any chance some prankster has switched up the cables? It is the mischief season you know.)

10-31-2011, 07:30 PM
Coil packs are high failure....seems that they are more so on the 1999 and newer.
As mentioned, if cracked....replace.
They can measure perfectly, but the high voltage will still arc through the air in the crack.

When replacing the coil pack....I would recommend moving 1 wire at a time from old to new unit......a bit more work, but it avoids crossing wires.

Also, verify the condition of the spark plug is easy to break them inside.

As mentioned, that red hot catalytic converter is from raw fuel getting into it.
You may have no spark to a cylinder (cracked coil pack can cause that).
There are 3 coils inside the coil pack, each coil fires 2 spark plugs.....1 plug on each end of each coil, so 1 gets a big postive voltage and the other gets a big negative voltage.

10-31-2011, 09:14 PM
Thanks to both of you for the information. I will replace the coil pack and do the other checks and report the findings Tuesday evening.

10-31-2011, 10:36 PM
On the original, Ford provided, coil pack there is a stick-on diagram showing which coil end supplies which number cyl plug. I would suggest transfering this stick-on, or making a photo image of it before discarding the old coil. I understand the concept of replacing cables one-by-one ... but it scares me... I'm too fat-fingered. And what if there is already an error in cable location? I personally prefer to rip all the old cables out at first, and then use the stick-on diargram to locate the new cables. I keep a hand made sketch of the diagram in the glove box.

The same information can be found on page 1 - 2 of Haynes #36097 (it shows diagrams of all models 1995 - 2003) for those who have misplaced the original stick-on or coil.

10-31-2011, 11:06 PM
I doubt if you have a worn chain ... in good oil, I think this thing will go for a million miles or more. A loose chain could also be caused by a broken tensioner ... but that is usually accompanied by wierd noises under the front cover. Your range of compression is indicative of no mechanical problems.

11-01-2011, 10:56 PM
Well, thanks again for all the information.

Some crazy little ghost or goblin must have gotten in and moved the wires around while I was not looking; or:runaround:I put the wires on wrong. Anyway I replaced the coil pack and made sure wires were put on correctly and fired right up. Do not have enough time to take it for a spin but will do this weekend.

Thanks again for all the help from you guys. This forum is great. I will be doing more work in the next few months so will be back for more great advice.


11-13-2011, 11:13 AM
I had a problem similar to this last week. Driving on the freeway my 2001 threw the engine light and starting hesitating. Pulled over and idled fine but when I tried to pull away hesitated again.

Got towed home then to a mech. the next day. Found out I had two bad spark plugs and several plug cables were arching. Felt like a real idiot.

Over three hundred later van runs fine. They had to remove a manifold and the front passenger wheel to replace the rear plugs. Stupid design.

11-13-2011, 03:49 PM
Yeah, the plugs and wires can cause strange problems. I change them probably more than is required (about 50k miles) but have not had problems; except plugs other than OEM types. Using other than OEM plugs, the engine will run for a little while but then go down hill quick.

As far as changing them, the manifold and tires should not be required to be removed. I think there is very little difference between the '01 and '02 but the cowl (think that is what is called; holds the windshield wipers) needs to be removed. Once removed, feel your way to the plugs. It also helps have smaller arms to get to, but is better than removing the manifold and tires. Anyway, hope it is running better.

My wifes van is better but has developed a rattle that almost sounds like valves but is not consistent. Rattles sometimes, is loud sometimes, and other times it does not rattle. I am going to take a look at it in about two weeks or so.

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