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1995 ford contour v6 losing power

About six months ago my 1995 Ford Contour with V6 engine and a 5 speed transmission lost power when driving on expressway in cruise control(65mph) with air conditioning on. I had stop and go driving during the day and then was on expressway about 40 minutes when this occurred. It steadily lost power until it would not go more than 10mph but did not die and would idle ok. I turned off the air conditioner. I stopped on the berm of the road for about 20 minutes and then began to go and it seemed normal. I drove the rest of the way home and it was fine until yesterday(8-14-09) when it did it again. I drove on the expreessway about one hour and 20 minutes and the engine ran fine. I was parked for about two hours and then headed home on the expressway. I had been on the expressway in cruise control(65mph) with air conditioning on for about 45 minutes, then I started losing power. I turned off the air conditioner. This time it would not idle when I got under 5 mph and the engine died. The engine would restart but had no power and would not go over 10mph in second gear. Then the engine would slowly lose more power and engine would die again within one minute. At this time I turned the ignition off and waited about two minutes and restarted engine and the car seemed to perform normally until I got up to 60mph and then it lost power again. It slowed all the way down to 5 mph and died again. I turned off the engine, waited three minutes and it restarted and ran for five minutes normally at 65mph, exited the expressway and lost power again. Next, I pulled into a parking lot, turned off the engine and waited about 15 minutes. Then I restarted the engine and it ran fine all the way home which took about 15 minutes. What’s my problem??

ps. For the past four years when I am on the expressway at 65mph with air conditioning on there is a slight miss in the engine where their is a slight jerk every two minutes. If I turn off the air conditioner the miss goes away.

This sounds to me suspiciously like a problem with either the fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator. Fortunately, both can be checked.

I think the “slight miss in the engine where there is a slight jerk every two minutes” may be unrelated. When was the last tuneup?

Um, let me add another thoought. If you’ve been having the second problem for four years now and the first for six months…when was the last time anyone opened the hood on this car?

The slight miss or jerk in the engine every two minutes may be the air conditioning compressor turning on and off. A low refrigerant charge in the air conditioning system will cause the compressor to cycle on and off. It would be a good idea to have an air conditioning technician put his gauges on the system. I know that I could always feel the compressor kicking on and off in the Ford Maverick that I once owned.

The other problem sounds like something in the fuel system. If it happens again, try loosening and retightening the gasoline cap. If you hear a rush of air and the car restarts, the problem may be in the vapor recovery system. The other possibility is a clogged fuel filter or a failing fuel pump.