2000 mercury sable repair question

So for the first time ever since I first started driving, I drove my car out of gas! Never again will I allow that to happen because of the subsequent problems. Right before the car died I lost power steering. I got a gas can, filled it, and took it to my car. It took about 3 attempts to get the car to start, it just wouldn’t turn over. Once it did start my husband drove it to the gas station to top off the tank. On the way there and back he said there was still no power steering and the thermometer gauge on the dashboard went all the way to hot. Later he took it out for a drive thinking that maybe that would help, but it didn’t. Its labor day weekend and the garage I take my car to is closed. Anybody have any suggestions on why running the gas out of my car caused these issues and what exactly needs to be fixed?

I would open the hood and check if the serpentine belt is intact. On this car the serpentine belt drives the power steering and water pumps. If the belt is broken do not drive the car, have it towed to a garage to replace the belt. I’ve replaced that belt on my 03 Taurus but there is not a lot of room to work with.

While the hood is up check the coolant and oil levels. Note, only remove the radiator or coolant cap when the engine is cold.



I agree 100% with @edb1961‌

I’ll assume your Sable has the 3.0 Vulcan V6 engine, unless I hear otherwise. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a Sable or Taurus of your vintage to have a frozen AC compressor, which destroys the belt.

And the symptoms are exactly what you describe

Do NOT just blindly replace the belt, without checking out that AC compressor. If it’s toast, I strongly advise you to replace it, along with the accumulator and the orifice tube. If it failed, it may very well have shot metal debris into the system.

I’m not being pessimistic . . . I’m being realistic, based on professional experience with this exact problem on this exact car (2000 Taurus 3.0 Vulcan, but it’s really just the same car, badged as a Ford)

I agree with the above except…If the belt broke you would have no working alternator and your battery light should be on.

Maybe it did and your forget to mention it.

I know of no relationship between running out of gas and your power steering or cooling systems getting damaged. It is all coincidental. Your problems may be from multiple causes.

if you do have a Vulcan engine they are known to have a high maintenance cooling system. The impellers on the water pump have been known to disintegrate. If the coolant is reddish or dark in color you are in dire need of a coolant system flush.

You may have a slipping belt (not broken yet). I have seen this caused by the tensioner loosing its spring tension. Was it raining out? Water will cause it to slip more easily too.

If you have the original belt tensioner in the car you would be wise to replace it along with the belt.

Bottom line is you need to find out why all this happened. It could be any accessory driven by the belt including the a/c, water pump, P/S pump.

You did not say if the A/C was being run during any of this and if so was it working ok?

If you can remove the belt, try spinning all of the accessory pulleys by hand. When the A/C is turned off the pulley should free wheel. They should spin with out excessive drag. You can remove the belt with a Serpentine belt tool(free rental at some auto stores) or in some cases a breaker bar with a 3/8 drive. If any pulley is frozen or turns very hard, that is a smoking gun.

This may at least get you to rule out stuff and hopefully find the root cause.

If this is beyond the skills or frustration threshold take it to a mechanic and have them DX it.

Thank you for the help everyone! My husband went out to take a look and it is the serpentine belt. Its not broken but it did slip off. Unfortunately we do not have the tools to fix it ourselves so we will have to wait till our mechanic opens the shop back up. Thank you again for the suggestions of what to look for.

If it slipped off there is an alignment issue with any one of the accessory pulley’s This is caused by an accessories bearing failing or the tensioner failing. Looks like you should tow it and hope it is only the tensioner. Best of luck.