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2004 Ford Taurus lost acceleration and power steering. Problem disappeared once at garage

I know nothing about cars and would really appreciate some advice on this one :slight_smile: I was driving my Taurus a few days ago when it lost all acceleration and power steering. The engine seemed to be running okay, and it restarted at the side of the road, but still no acceleration. I called AAA and had it towed to my mechanic. The following day they called and could find no problem…they had driven it several times, checked out likely causes but found nothing. This garage has been very reliable in the past. They said it could just be an electrical issue that may or may not happen again.
The car seemed fine when I was driving it today, but I am worried about it happening again. Does anyone have any suggestions about what could have caused this/what I should do?

Thanks!

Well, If your mechanic did not get a computer code it is a tough diagnosis. Some transient codes will be in the computer for a few restarts and then go away without setting the engine light. If the car went through a puddle and your steering went bad then maybe just water on the belts. I do not know but post more info and maybe we can help.

The hardest thing ever for mechanics is an intermittent (and not a frequently intermittent) problem.

Case in point: In early 2010 when I still had it, my 1997 Taurus started losing power going up a long steep hill near my home. Within seconds, the check engine light started flashing. I pulled over immediately and stopped the car. Started it back up after a bit and it ran fine. I didn’t drive it anywhere - just had it towed in to my mechanic about 2 miles away. He called the next day and said the code told him there was a misfire in cylinder 6, but that the car was running beautifully there. They’d hooked it up to their computers, and didn’t see any aberrant signals, had driven it around town and had no problems whatsoever.

He offered to take it home that night at no charge to see if it would happen again. I let him, and he called the next day to say he figured it out - the car hesitated slightly on him for just a split second, and he was able to capture that on his computer that was hooked up to the car at the time. Based on that and his knowledge (he swore by Tauruses as cheap, easy-to-repair, affordable vehicles, and always drove one himself), he’d narrowed it down to the fuel injector, and said sure enough, when he removed it and bench tested it, he found it was failing intermittently. Not often at all - but enough to cause the problem.

According to automd.com, the 2004 Taurus has 52 Tech Service Bulletins (TSBs), which are known technical problems that Ford has identified. I would check with your local Ford dealer first and ask if any of the TSBs identify a problem similar to your symptoms. If so, the dealer will know how to fix the problem according to that TSB.

Losing power steering suggests that the engine died entirely for a brief period. Often this can be caused by a bad ignition switch…the one you put ypur key into and turn. If you have a heavy key ring, it can wear the ignition switch contacts down, and while you’re driving along, suddenly the engine dies for no obvious reason. Then you pull over, restart the car, and it runs fine.

There could be several causes, but I would include “faulty ignition switch” on the list of things to check.

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. Sorry if I didn’t describe the problem in as much detail as I should have, I will try and add some info.

euryale1: The car didn’t drive though any water. It did get washed the day before, but that’s the only water it would have been in contact with for a few weeks.

I didn’t think the engine stopped during the incident at all despite the loss of acceleration and steering. But I was focused on trying to find a safe place to pull over, so I can’t be 100% sure on that. The battery, oil and check engine lights all came on when it was happening. When I restarted the car a few minutes after pulling over the engine sounded okay, but there was still a problem with acceleration and the rpm indicator was flicking up and down. At that point I just shut it off and had it towed.

The car still seems fine and has had no further problems.