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2005 Ford Escape stumbles/dies while driving, and then restarts on it's own

I recently bought a 2005 Ford Escape V6 auto trans with 165K miles in need of repairs. I rebuilt the AC system, put in new plugs, a new MAF sensor, a new idle air control valve, brakes, front right motor mount and did some other minor stuff. For two weeks it drove great, plenty of power, a real change from the 87 Dakota, A few days ago it stumbled/died in flight, and then started right back on it’s own in seconds and I continued driving. This happened two or three times in the course of a couple of miles. Speed was around 40-45mph. Then it died at a red light, but I was able to start it up again before the light turned green. Then it drove for several miles that same day with no problem. Yesterday it drove about 20 miles with no issues whatsoever. Check engine light did not come on. I’m thinking (and hoping) it is just a fuel filter issue. I will put a new one on today.

No way it’s a fuel filter. Doesn’t fit the intermittent symptom.
My first suspicions are a failing fuel pump or ignition switch.
Check with a voltmeter before just throwing parts at it.

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That can be the early signs of crank sensor that is failing.


Fuel filters are cheap and part of routine maintenance. It is only good practice to install a new one one a used vehicle that has over 160K miles. I guess the same can be said of the fuel pump, so I will order one and install. Access is under back driver side seat, so not that big of a deal. The peace of mind is worth it. Same with crankshaft position sensor. Both parts are cheap to buy. I got the Escape at a good price. It makes sense to replace some parts that are crucial to reliability.

My experience with fuel pumps, you get what you pay for

Which brands would you recommend?

I am sure that’s true. I have always been wary of “too good to be true” car parts sold online. The only fuel pumps I have ever bought were Denso First Time Fit brand, and they worked well. There are cheapo brands that cost less than $100 with shipping, and I question how reliable they would be. Similarly, I see cheap ignition coils online for $20 or less with free shipping, when a reputable brand such as Standard Motor Parts costs $40 or more on Rock Auto.

By the time you pay for just one tow home, that has exceeded the “savings” from buying a cheap fuel pump, ignition coil, sensors, etc.

There are two flavors of fuel pumps that fit this vehicle, with and without On-Board Vapor Recovery. The car is currently equipped with the original On-Board Vapor Recovery pump assembly. From pictures of the two flavors, the only visible difference that I can determine is that the fuel pump assembly WITHOUT On-Board Vapor Recovery has two metal pipes that penetrate the metal disk that seals the gas tank, while the fuel pump assembly WITH On-Board Vapor Recovery has only one. If this is the only difference, it would seem that it is possible to use the fuel pump assembly without On-Board Vapor Recovery in a system designed to use a fuel pump assembly with On-Board Vapor Recovery simply by sealing the extra pipe.

Someone on eBay is selling original Ford fuel pump assemblies for use in a system without On-Board Vapor Recovery at a very good price. This item is listed as compatible with my vehicle. Any thoughts?

For comparison, here the two flavors of this fuel pump assembly made by the same manufacturer, one for use in a vehicle with On-Board Vapor Recovery, and one for use in a vehicle without On-Board Vapor Recovery:



Yesterday I installed a new crank sensor and fuel filter. Crank sensor is Duralast. No symptoms on this morning’s commute. On the way home on the advice of a neighbor I stopped at Autozone and read the codes even though there was no check engine light. My neighbor was right. Codes can be stored without the check engine light being on. The scanner retrieved a P0191 code: Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor Circuit Range/Performance. No other codes present. There is plenty of info on P0191 on the net, like this site:

This YouTube vid discusses diagnosing the problem to zero in on the actual cause. In the vehicle used in the video, the problem was traced to the fuel pump assembly:

P0191 Check Engine Trouble Code - How to Diagnose the Problem

When I get a minute I will follow the diagnostic procedure to see if I can determine the real cause in the Escape.


Still having the same problem. I changed:

  1. Crank sensor
  2. Fuel filter
  3. Fuel rail pressure sensor
  4. Fuel pump driver module

Waiting for new fuel pump to arrive tomorrow.

No drivability problems other than the very occasional stumble/stalling. Starts right up, hot or cold, even after stalling. Idle is smooth. Acceleration is excellent. Stalling happens while driving and while idling.

It was the fuel pump. Put in a new and no stalling or stumbling after 40 miles.

Good for you. Sometimes a shop will install a gauge to monitor the fuel rail pressure during driving to sort this kind of intermittent.

Thanks, George, all in all I spent $131 for the fuel pump assembly, the fuel pump driver module and the fuel rail pressure sensor, plus my labor to install them. The pump came from RockAuto and the other two parts came from eBay. I bought them all at once as all were suspect in causing the symptoms the car had. In this case it was the best strategy for getting the car running right ASAP. The pump arrived last and was installed last. I would have just hung onto it for a while had the installation of the other two solved the problem.

Now however, the car has taken to throwing a P0102, Mass Airflow (MAF) Circuit Low Voltage Input. This began around the time I ordered these parts. I cleared the code and changed the air filter. Code was thrown again. I had early swapped out the MAF sensor, so cleared code and reinstalled the old sensor. Code was thrown again. No drivability problems, so will check circuit wiring when I get a chance.

Not sure about your Escape, but some of those MAF sensors don’t output a simple voltage proportional to the airflow. Instead they output a 5 volt square wave, the frequency of the square wave is proportional to the air flow rate. I presume that’s done to minimize the signal’s susceptibility to electrical interference. So with those types if you measure the voltage and it is well above zero, the code could be saying the frequency of the square wave is zero, rather than the voltage is zero. For square wave output MAF’s, the computer usually provides the 5 volts, and the sensor provides the ground. If the sensor’s ground wire isn’t actually connected to a chassis ground (broken wire or connector), then it might sense the flow ok, but won’t be able to output the square wave, which the computer will interpret as zero frequency.