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1998 Ford Windstar Won't Start

09-17-2007, 12:58 PM
First a little history; My windstar 3.8 L has 150 K miles on it. Back in May 2007 the battery died while I was driving home from work. No idiot light or anything, just tach dies, a few minutes later speedo dies, a few minutes later engine dies. Got a jump start and got home, just barely. Based on the voltage readings, using a meter, it appeared the alt was dead. Charged up the battery and ran the engine again in June. Car sat until this past weekend (about 3.5 months).

This weekend I fully charged the battery and tried starting. The starter turned the engine over just fine but it would not start and did not make any sounds like it wanted to start. I checked one of the plugs and it was firing but it also was dry. Up to the time the battery died the car had been very reliable. I suspect the fuel pump so I put a bit of gas into the throttle opening and expected a bit of life but got nothing. Again, the starter turns the engine over just fine but there is just no sign of life from the thing.

My question is to how to best proceed. I am an old school mechanic (with engines my experience stops with electronic ignition and fuel injection).

I read in another post that a 1996 windstar had a fuse which, if blown, did not allow the alt to charge the battery. Is this true with the 1998. I guess I can just check them all. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

09-19-2007, 09:17 AM
OK Took a bit more time and researched past threads and came up with the following:

1. Since spark seems Ok need to look at fuel
2. Going from easiest to hardest:

Check Fuel Pump Fuse and relay
Check Codes
Listen for Fuel pump hum from fuel tank after turning key on but before hitting the starter
Check fuel delivery to Rail
R/R Fuel filter under car (I will have to check the book since I have NEVER done this)
Clean out IAC valve
If no fuel to rail and everything else OK then it is probably the fuel pump which is in the tank. Big job but I could probably do this myself.

If anyone has any other ideas I will be happy to give them a try.

One thread suggested a rag wet with gasoline infront on the air intake may get the engine to start if fuel is a problem. I have never done this. Good thing about this is that it would confirm a fuel problem but sounds messy.

I would also appreciate any help with checking the fuel pressure to the rail. Where is the best place to disconnect ?

Thanks in advance.

09-19-2007, 10:26 AM
First squirt a little carb. cleaner in the intake and try to start. If it fires and dies Check the fuel pressure. On the fuel rail is a fitting like a tire stem. Attach a fuel pressure guage to the fitting. Most auto parts stores will rent you a guage.

09-19-2007, 05:50 PM
I will also recommend checking fuel pressure as listed.

IF the fuel pressure is low or non-existant, then troubleshoot the fuel delivery.
I would verify that power is getting back to the fuel pump before going to the trouble of dropping the gasoline tank and replacing the pump.

Take note that if you still have an electrical issue that results in low voltage, the fuel pump relay may not be pulling in.
I would clean the battery terminals (remove cable and clean each terminal and inside the cable end).

I would stay away from the gasoline rag that sounds dangerous (fire).

09-19-2007, 06:06 PM
First thing with this thing is make sure Battery is fully charged. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to trouble shooting and seeing the spark made me look in other directions.. Spark is nothing unless its the right spark. Alot of times just enough juice is to little.. So make sure the Battery is fully charged. Check coil for high spark. Or use a volt meter. Of course fuel spark and ignition. Tell us how its going.. hope this helps...

09-20-2007, 08:40 AM
I charged the battery until it showed 12.3 volts on my voltmeter and cleaned the terminals and clamps. Additionally, while cranking, I had one of those portable jump batteries hooked up. I am sure there was enough power from the battery. It cranked strong.

The spark plug sparked, I don't think it was a strong blue spark though. More yellowish. I have a few years of experience working on engines and the thing that really struck is this. The engine showed no signs of wanting to start. I probably tried 20 times (5 to 7 seconds, with at least a minute or two in between). It was always the same. In my experience if there is no signs of life then you either don't have a spark or no fuel. Spark plug was not wet. The only time it cranked a little different (to my ears) was when I had the one spark plug out to check the spark. This is expected since no back pressure on one piston.

I am really thinking no fuel. I will try the carb cleaner and see how that works. If it fires or at least does something different, then that points to the fuel. I will check the pressure as taillight suggested and go from there.

Thanks for all the help.

09-20-2007, 08:57 AM
I did notice you said it sat for 3.5 months. So it could be a frozen fuel pump.. The bad thing is you have to pull the gas tank down to get to it. I know I have hit some fuel pumps with a hammer and they would kick in. But I don't know if a few wacks on the tank would work but maybe worth a try.. The gas tank is plastic but seems to be fairly strong so I don't see the wacks hurting any thing..

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