1996 Ford Windstar hard starting

Tiny
LOU61575
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 FORD WINDSTAR
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 160,000 MILES
In the last few months, my daughter started a new job, where she needs to start and stop the engine every half hour or so. In the morning and the first couple starts, there is no problem. But the farther into her route she gets, the harder it gets to start, until it becomes practically impossible. In twelve years of normal usage, we never had this problem. Could this problem either be a result of her schedule, or that we are only noticing it now because of her schedule? A mechanic I took it to for diagnosis came up with an lower manifold vacuum leak, fitting the symptoms, and said it could only be fixed by replacing the manifold. He said if I replace the lower manifold, I might as well replace the upper manifold at the same time. He said if I were to do that, I might as well replace the entire engine. I said if that's the case, I might as well replace the whole car. We had the plugs, wires, and fuel filter replaced (which didn't help), and they said the fuel pressure and pump are good. Is there anything else it could be? If it is the manifold, is there any cheaper fix? Thanks!
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Saturday, March 7th, 2009 AT 4:38 PM

8 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi:
I'm not sure why he would want to replace the entire engine rather than a gasket. Did he tell you the manifold is cracked? Also, does the engine still run well when it is running? If it is, I would recommend fixing the problem unless you have other issues with it that I am unaware of.

You mentioned other ideas. If the fuel pump pressure is good, and you have had a tune up, the only other things would be a sensor (which would have set the check engine light) or a vacuum leak. You could check for that by starting the engine and listening for a hissing sound that would indicate a leak. Also, with the engine off, take a look for damaged, dry rottted, or disconnected hoses.

Let me know what you find.

Joe
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Saturday, March 7th, 2009 AT 9:23 PM
Tiny
(HELP)
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There's another Ford - a much different engine, yes, in this forum with "hard start warm" I've been following - it's going to get a ECT (engine coolant temp.) Sensor as the next try - could be no "code" because still within "range" but PCM thinks engine's cooler than it is and floods it?)
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Saturday, March 7th, 2009 AT 9:43 PM
Tiny
LOU61575
  • MEMBER
I edited my original question to say that it was actually a lower intake manifold leak rather than the upper manifold. I don't think he actually found a crack. He said when he did the propane test, it really sucked it in. He also said that when he measured something, the value went so high, he couldn't believe the check engine light wasn't on. Sorry I can't be more specific; I'm not real familiar with this part of a car. Anyway, he said that since the manifold was in two halves, there was no way to fix the leak other than to replace the manifold(s). He even said there was no gasket to replace. So I'm wondering if there really is a vacuum leak in the manifold, is there a cheaper fix than the $2000+ that he conservatively estimated ($5000 to replace the whole engine)? I won't put that much into a 13-year-old van. That's my main question. My other question is if it is possible that it is just a sensor, or something else, with no check engine light. And if there is a gasket that can be replaced that might fix the problem, can you give me a ballpark figure of how much it would cost to replace. The mechanic found one vacuum hose early on that he replaced. The others look all right. I don't hear any hissing when the car is running. Other than when it starts hard, when it shakes for a few seconds before putting it in gear, it seems to run smoothly the rest of the time. Again, I don't know if her frequent engine starting is the cause of the problem or just made it noticeable, but it does seem to have something to do with something expanding the warmer the engine gets. Thanks.
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Sunday, March 8th, 2009 AT 8:44 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi:
The labor for a 3.0L (both manifolds) is 4 hours. The 3.8L is 4.5 hours. After checking, it shows a gasket kit on the mitchell online service and repair manual, so I would say either a gasket of o-ring. I will confirm that. UPDATE: I just found it on mitchell. It has a gasket.

I still don't know why he wants to replace the intake. He never said it was cracked, just he thinks. Is there another shop you trust to take it to?

AS far as the sensors, they would have kicked the check engine light. So I will say no to that.
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Monday, March 9th, 2009 AT 10:42 AM
Tiny
LOU61575
  • MEMBER
It has a 3.8L engine. Are you saying that this can be fixed by just replacing the gasket? Or are you saying that the gasket needs to be replaced along with the manifold(s)? I'm still not sure from what you said if the manifold(s) themselves actually need replacing. If just one is really cracked, would you agree that both should be replaced? I'm still wondering if it could be anything other than a vacuum leak or a sensor. I'm also still wondering if my daughter's job caused this problem or only made it noticeable. There are a lot of other shops I could take it to, but I don't know who you can trust these days. But if I could get it fixed with a guarantee for a few hundred dollars, I would consider it. Can you try answering all of my questions? Thanks.
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Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 AT 8:44 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi:
First, please understand I am not there and will answer these questions to the best of my ability based on experience and our conversations.

First, if the gasket is leaking, you should be able to replace it and it should be fine. If one section of the intake is cracked and the other is good, replace the bad section. Why replace a good part. As far as the job, because of her schedule, I feel it became noticeable.

If it is a sensor, the check engine most likely would have come on indicating a code for a particular part. Also, yes other vacuum leaks can cause a hard start situation.

I hope I answered your questions. As I mentioned, it is really hard when I am not there to actually see the problem, but based on what we discussed, I gave you the best answers I could.

Please let me know if you have other questions and how things work out for you. If feel confident that if you were to call another mechanic in your area, they would tell you the same thing. I just hope the people where you have it have correctly diagnosed the problem. It concerns me that they were ready to replace the engine because of an intake gasket. That really isn't normal protocall unless they know something we don't.

Take care and good luck,

Joe
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Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 AT 9:19 PM
Tiny
LOU61575
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I plan to take it to another mechanic in April while my daughter is out of town. I feel it's worth getting a second opinion, both on the diagnosis and the fix. I figure from what you said that they may have told me to replace the engine in the hopes I would have them do that for $5000+, whether it needed it or not. As I said, I wouldn't sink that much into that car. I've already wasted $500+ for the new plugs, wires, and fuel filter. At least they told me it didn't need a new fuel pump, which would have been another $500+. A lot of it is trust. I don't mind paying the money for necessary, quality work. But unfortunately, the average person doesn't know if that's what they're getting. Anyway, thanks for your help, and I'll let you know what happens.

Lou
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 AT 9:33 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Lou,
I think that is a good idea. Keep me in the loop. I would like to know the final outcome.

Good luck,
Joe
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 AT 10:23 PM

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