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2001 ford taurus engine light flashing with car shaking & dying when idles

I have 104k miles on car, had tune up back in 09, new die hard battery from sears spring '10, just today my car started to shake when in idling, check engine light flashing. It seems to shake itself even while driving, when in idle it will then kill or die. Had radiator flushed January 2nd, 2011 due to heat not pumping through, still doesn't work (I know heater core) like it should. Finally the other problem is when I start & turn the car on it won't turn over-it wants to but takes a few tries like turning key each click like as if it were alternator, does sound like it would if it did turnover but like I said it takes a while & maybe will fire/catch. What the heck is going on? 2001 flex fuel as well but I only once put it in.
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Comments

  • edited January 2011
    You have a serious problem. A flashing CEL means a misfire, which can do a lot of damage if you keep running it before it's fixed. I advise you to have it towed to a mechanic so that it can be properly diagnosed.
  • edited February 2011
    That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

    Since it is a flashing light do not try to drive it or even start it.
  • edited February 2011
    The thing is I live in a small rural town, with not much to this town. The mechanic's here did a shauwdy job, so I can't bring it to the autozone etc due to over 50 miles away.
  • edited February 2011
    I'm only an owner, not a mechanic. But, I had a similar problem on a GMC sonoma a few years ago.

    Everybody who is telling you not to drive the car in this condition is absolutely right.

    My mechanic pulled the codes - it was a multi-cylinder misfire. He replaced the plugs and wires, and an O2 sensor. It worked for two months and the problem re-occurred. He put in a part called a "fuel injector spider" and that fixed it.

    It could be a problem along those lines, but this is complete speculation based on a different kind of vehicle. You really need to find out what the CEL codes are.

  • edited February 2011
    My Taurus did the same. It needed a vacuum hose that had cracked and the engine was sucking in to much air. Take it to a shop for diag.
  • edited February 2011
    I just brought my car in today, so hopefully they will let me know by tomorrow what the deal is on the vehicle. I was getting gas mileage during this so hoping it is an easy cheap fix.
  • edited February 2011
    It turned out to be a coil pack causing the cylinders to misfire. Along with the fact of getting a new heater core.
  • edited February 2011
    Well, the coil pack should have been very cheap to replace - under $100 for parts and no more than 30 minutes labor - probably no more than $125 total (plus diagnostic). The heater core would be much more... but if the mechanic knew the shortcuts for the car that don't require taking out the dash, it could have been much less.

    But my question is why is the heater core is being replaced? That would be unrelated to your other problem. These cars don't have the greatest cores, but if the fluid is changed regularly, it shouldn't be an issue.
  • edited February 2011
    This is my 3rd year of owning this car. Every year I had radiator flushed with heater core. This used to be a state vehicle. It doesn't work anymore, having 2 small kids I need my heat working. The coil cost $200 & heater core is $500.I'm driving this car till it dies or I can find a job. Minnesota winter hasn't been good to cars up here.
  • edited February 2011
    Dicey times for many of us indeed, and getting a new heater core into that car isn't cheap.

    I don't know much about them, but there are small 12V electric heaters that you can buy for the interior of a car. You plug them into the lighter socket. Like I said, I don't know much about them and I don't think I'd suggest looking at it as permanent plan. But you may be able to use one to limp through the rest of the winter and put off the cost of the core for a while.

    I also wonder what kind of a shop you're going to. Sometimes a core is so bad that it just needs to be replaced. Sometimes you can get them cleaned out. Your best best for more creative efforts are your little hole-in-the-wall type shops. You need to check up on reputations though.
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