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Engines Stalls Shortly After Starting

01-04-2009, 03:52 AM
One morning, wife made some routine trips with van (school drop off, a couple of grocery store stops, etc). At her last stop (for about 20 minutes), she called that when she starts the van, it shakes/shudders for abot 20 seconds and then stalls with CEL and other dash lights on. This happened at least three times. I spoke over the phone with a guy who had come to her aid and he confirmed my wife's accounts: the engine would not stay on.

I drove over to pick her up (about 40 mins drive), but when I got there she started the van again to demonstrate the problem and it just fired right up, no problem. It had gas, I checked for any lose vacuum hoses or other obvious signs and didnt' find any so I drove the van home. That was three months ago. Van has been starting up everyday and driving OK since then. No OBD codes, CEL or other symptomps.

Any one experienced this? Any idea what could have caused this? I'm concerned it might come back since problems don't typically fix themselves.

BTW: I've had the intermittent ABS/Brake Light/No Cruise Control problem for a bout a year now, and I just found out from this forum it may be caused by leaky brake pressure switch. I'm going to fix that soon, but I hope it's not related to this stall problem.

01-04-2009, 07:26 AM
I don't really know what to say about a intermittent problem like this.
It certainly does not make one confident in their vehicle.
I would recommend giving the "general windstar information" thread a read...and make sure things are up to date there.

Also read the TSB information in the sticky thread at the very top of the forum page.

The 2001 windstar is known to have issues with the fuel pump and PCM relays.
These relays are located in the power distribution box....located near the battery in the engine compartment.

Another thing to check would be the nylon clips for the IMRC (Intake Manifold Runner Control). This will be on the passenger side of the motor, on the lower intake manifold.
There is a motor that drives both of the IMRC shafts, the nylon clips connect the shafts to the motor linkage.
The IMRC shown in my pictures is different (mine is a 1996) than your 2001, however the location is the same.
The IMRC is kind of like a modern version of the 4 barrel carborator.

One thing that can cause the motor to not stay running unless you press on the accellerator is the IAC (Idle Air Control).
This can get dirt buildup inside and stick.....

The ABS/Brake lights could be related to the brake pressure switch, if the brake fluid is very slightly the bottom side of the "full" line, it can trigger the low brake fluid switch.

I would recommend that you unplug the brake pressure switch until you can get it can cause a fire.
Your cruise control will not work with it unplugged.

01-04-2009, 09:59 AM
You probably just had some water in the gas. Once it worked it's way through everything back to normal. The brake pressure switch is a 5 min job, real easy.

01-04-2009, 10:37 AM
How long has it been since the Air and Fuel Filters have been changed? How old is the battery? Did you get any codes stored in the computer? AutoZone and Advance Auto can read the codes for free if there are any!

I would start there and work your way up to the more complicated troubleshooting if it doesn't help.

01-04-2009, 09:33 PM
Definitely get the codes first and work from there, but keep in mind they don't tell you the answer, so post them and we can help.

Just as another thought for you to consider; I have an F150 that did a similar thing. Turned out the fuel pump was on it's way out. Not sure that Ford uses the same type of pump in both vehicles, but probably. I had to climb under the truck and whack the side of the fuel tank with a 2x4 every time it happened to get the fuel pump to kick back in place. Basically, when the pump heats up and then stops, it kind of seizes in place. Hitting it jars it free so it can turn again. Obviously hitting it is not a fix, but a chuck of wood in the box kept me going until I got it fixed.

I suspect you have a similar problem because you said it started fine after cooling down for a while. Mine did that too at first and then over a couple of days it got worse. HOWEVER, if you are starting fine and then stalling, it could be a bunch of other things too so get the codes...

Good Luck.

01-06-2009, 04:01 PM
I have seen a similar (but not as severe) problem in my Windstar.

In my case, after the van has been driven long enough to warm it up, if you make a stop (i.e. turn it off for a short time) that lasts ~30 minutes, then try to restart the van, it runs rough for about 2 minutes. If you stop for a shorter time (< 5 mins) longer time (> 1 hr) there is no problem.

I have noticed that I can hear a bubbling noise (after the key is on, before I attempt to start) that sounds like it's coming from the gas tank when this occurs. I've attributed this sound to evaporated gasoline vapors in the fuel lines. If the stop is short there isn't enough time for much evaportation. If it's a long stop, the evaporated gasoline recondenses in the fuel lines. I could be wrong though. I've noticed that when the condition occurs, I can switch the key from off to on to off repeatedly until the bubbling noise stops. When I do this, then start the car, there is no misfire.

I tried to resolve this by replacing the fuel pressure regulator, but it didn't help. I have some ideas as to what to do next, but I have not yet taken the time to try them.

I would guess (if my theory to the cause of my problem is right) that there could be so much vapor in the fuel line that it wouldn't run at all or would stall.

01-06-2009, 04:54 PM
I don't know what year model you have ... but if it is '99 or later, there's a good chance you have failing relays ... either for the PCM or Fuel pump or both. I have very similar symptoms on my '99.

01-08-2009, 12:29 PM
Hi, New member here,

I know of an additional possibility....The IAC valve.
The Idle Air Control valve is easy to access, past the air cleaner. I took off the original and cleaned it, which fixed the stalling at start problem for several months. When it started happening again, I replaced it with one obtanied on line.


01-16-2009, 06:25 PM
I have a 1999 Windstar with the same symptoms, except that it stalled once after starting when cold, early in the morning. The other times have been after driving and making between 1 and 3 stops. One stop was only 10 minutes.

When it happens, it cranks fine but hesitates for several seconds, then stalls completely. It will keep doing this until I walk away from it for 10 or more minutes and come back to it, then it usually starts and runs fine.

When it does start OK, it continues to run fine until it is shut off.

I left it with a dealer for the last 3 days, but they could not get it to misbehave by just cold-starting it, so I drove it home today.

If I learn anything else, I will post it.

01-19-2009, 02:48 PM
I removed the connector to the IAC on my '99 Windstar, and tried starting it. I could get it to keep running by pressing the accelerator, which I could not do the last time it misbehaved. So I am ruling out the IAC for now.

I will check the fuel pump relay and PCM relays next.

09-10-2010, 05:07 PM
I know this is an old thread but my 2001 Windstar is doing the same thing - I have taken it to the Ford dealership who ran a diagnostic test but no code was stored. I have heard everything from fuel pump to head gasket.
I was just wondering if you ever got the problem resolved.


09-11-2010, 12:57 AM
I know this is an old thread but my 2001 Windstar is doing the same thing - I have taken it to the Ford dealership who ran a diagnostic test but no code was stored. I have heard everything from fuel pump to head gasket.
I was just wondering if you ever got the problem resolved.


Hopefully tomj76 will answer, but I thought I should update this thread also. I swapped relays on my 99 Windstar and determined they were not the problem. Then one day it would not start at all, so I towed it to a dealer and they found it was the fuel pump that had gone bad. Once they replaced that, I did not have the problem again.


09-11-2010, 10:47 AM
Thanks for the reply...I'm glad a new fuel pump resolved your issue as the fuel pump is the main suspect (at least in my mind) at the moment - it's hard though to drop 3 to 4 hundred dollars on a hunch. I called a number of Ford Dealerships and received several different guesses. The one that surprised me the most was a head gasket - they suggested inspecting the 4th and 5th spark-plug to see signs of coolant.
The key to this particular problem seems to be driving time (over an hour or so).
The million dollar question is - Does one drive the vehicle until it finally breaks down as yours did...or do you gamble and start throwing money at it.
Thanks again...Dan

09-11-2010, 11:26 AM
Well, THE WAY is to use a pressure gauge, the kind with a long hose that you can leave hooked up to the schrader valve ... tape the gauge face to the windschield ... and see if the readings drop radically when you have problems.

I did not do that, after checking the relays ... and having continued problems bogging down/stopping ... it just SEEMED to pressure related. I also did not want to drop the tank ... so, being in denial, I threw some money at a new fuel pressure regulator ... finally dropped the tank and replaced the pump.

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