2003 Ford Taurus POS

My mother has a 2003 Ford Taurus. I really hate this car, but she wants it fixed. It sputters in drive when your taking off and it barely goes up hills. There is no sputter in idle or park. I put on new fuel filter and spark plugs on it and cleaned the idle air control. What should I try next?

Is the check engine light on?
Did it gradually get this way, or a sudden change?
How did the plugs look?
Test fuel pressure.
Do a compression test.
Does this engine have multiple coils, or a distributor cap?
It could be a weak ignition part (coil, dist. cap, rotor, etc.).

If I was wastefully throwing parts at a car like that, I’d grow to hate it too.

Seriously, it could be anything, the transmission, something electrical, etc. I just had a work vehicle fixed that was hesitating because of a broken fuel gauge.

I’m pretty sure you’re in over your head, and if you don’t hire a good mechanic to do a proper diagnosis, you’ll keep wasting money on parts.

How has the maintenance upkeep been? Does it misfire while driving? Might check tranny fluid, it should be a ruby red, if not might need changed.

Ik your pain in these lol, changed the oil pan gasket on my mom’s.

It doesn’t misfire, plugs were worn but not to bad except one was cracked, and I checked the distributor but it appeared to be fine. How do I check fuel pressure? I’m not sure about the upkeep (we just got the car less than a year ago).


“I checked the distributor but it appeared to be fine”

I’m a little bit confused, because a 2003 Taurus doesn’t have a distributor

Is this what you checked? If so, that is actually the coil pack.


I responded to you in your other post about the fuel pressure, but I’ll answer your question here.

If your fuel rail has a test port, the mechanic will hook up a gauge to the test port

If your fuel rail doesn’t have a test port, the mechanic will tee into the system, using adapters.

Thanks for the advice, and sorry for the flubb up on terms, I’m a novice about cars, but I’m learning.

I think you should have the car properly diagnosed at a reputable garage. The $100 or so you’ll spend will pale in comparison to the time and money you’ll spend guessing until you by chance find the problem. A good mechanic with the proper equipment will test drive the car and have a good idea what’s wrong before even opening the hood.

agreeing with asemaster on this one. If you have the time and basic knowledge I’d say go in and try to diagnose yourself, if you want it fixed quick (well depending on the garage) take it in for a checkup.

Could be caused by an assortment of things, but the symptoms are consistant with a lean mixture. I suspect unmetered air is getting into the intake manifold somehow. Check for vacuum leaks. For it to be this bad, either a hose has completely split or fallen off, or there’s a leak in the brake booster diaphragm. Checking for a diaphragm leak in the fuel pressure regulator would be worthwhile too. Any good inde mechanic could do these tests for you.

BTW. I don’t see where you replied to the query about the CEL. That’s the first place to start. Even before checking for vacuum leaks.

The check engine light isn’t on. I have the spare time and some general knowledge, but this my first time with this kind of problem. I found what I think is a disconnected vacuum line, but I’m unsure where it connects to right now. I will check the regulator next time I go outside, that is unless I just take a sledge hammer to the car. It seems like every time I fix one thing on a ford, 5 more break. Here is a pic of the junction where I found the broken line. It is on the passenger side close to the firewall and has 3 lines going into the junction. The bottom line is the one that goes no where.

Look at the emissions decal under the hood, the one with engine identification, etc. It should have a vacuum diagram to help you.

A shop may be extremely hesitant (or maybe even refuse) to touch the car when they raise the hood and see what appears to be electrical tape in a number of places and even what appears to be duct tape…

If it were in my hands, I would first repair everything that is visibly patched and/or broken

I’m trying to get it all running right. My mother got this car without letting anyone look it over so this is what I got stuck with. The previous owner loved tape and could have cared less about doing things right. It’s a real patchwork kind of car under the hood.

@damnitbecky ik that feeling, family jumps in w/o knowledge then the loved ones get stuck with it. Start with what looks wrong and repair the half (censored) stuff first. After that if not running right follow basic troubleshooting steps (checking for vacuum leaks, voltage tests, fuel pressure, etc) depending on issue.

A vacuum leak anywhere could very well cause the problems the car is having. Sometimes those leaks can be a difficult to track down; especially if you’re not mechanically inclined and do not have certain tools.

Just my 2 cents, but after fixing the obvious as db4690 mentioned and if problems still persist then the best way of determining if vacuum leak problems still exist is to connect a vacuum gauge to a vacuum source from the intake manifold.

Vacuum gauges are cheap, easy to use, and will reveal instantly whether or not there’s a leak or possibly other problems which affect engine performance.
A vacuum gauge, in my opinion anyway, is one of the handiest tools in the box.

A vacuum mini-tutorial might be helpful at this point @damnitbecky. Car design engineers had a problem. For the engine and other systems to run under all operating conditions, they needed a way to automatically move various parts and gadgets, like switches, valves, etc. To move something, you need a force, right? So what they figured, rather that coming up with something new, is to just use the vacuum of the engine intake manifold as a force. It was there anyway, caused by the engine running. A vacuum is just a negative pressure, and pressure is defined as force per unit area, so the force of a vacuum can move something. The more force needed, the more area you need it to act on is all. (That’s why a vacuum controlled brake-booster is so big.)

So they just hooked a hose up the intake manifold, routed it to and fro, and they had a force they could use to control the various mechanical gadgets. Here’s the key: The force is there for free, and can be used without an adverse effect on the engine performance, but to do this the controlled gadgets must not allow any air to leak into the intake manifold. They must all be air tight. Otherwise, if any of them leak, the engine will run lean.

I can’t tell from your photo what that taped hose is, but it may be a vacuum hose that is supposed to control something inside the passenger compartment, most likely something in the AC or heater system. Vent doors, etc. So – if that is what that hose is – it goes to a controlled device. The question is: Where is the vacuum source for that device supposed to be coming from? If there’s a leak in the hose supplying the vacuum source, then air could get into the intake manifold.

The taped hose is for the windshield washers (I actually fixed that today). The problem hose is the one coming from the bottom of the T junction in the pic. I don’t know what it is supposed to connect to. I’ve been looking for something near the area that looks like it could need this hose but I’m dumbfounded. I think I’m going to get a guage after the holidays and try again.

Do you mean the hard line that starts at the top and bends to the left? Otherwise, it is hard to see what lines your are talking about.