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2006 Ford 500 Sputters when in drive

Thank you for the rev limiting info. Had no idea. Still need to figure out why it is sputtering when in drive.

Some answers to asemaster’s ?'s.

The car has not stalled.
No, it does not drive normally. Sputters when hitting the gas while driving and setting still, but while still in drive.
All the time both when hot and cold.

Thanks in Advance!

The problem might be in the drive-by-wire throttle system.

Instead of having a throttle cable to the throttle body, the throttle body is controlled by an electric motor that the computer controls thru the signals it receives thru the throttle pedal sensor. This system not only controls the position of the throttle plate on the throttle body, but it also controls the engine idle speed.

When this sysem fails, it will go into a limp mode. This means the vehicle will operate enough to get to where it can be serviced.


The engine only revving up to 3 or 4,000 rpm when in neutral is normal operation, nothing to worry about or fix there. That is done on purpose.

The sputtering when put in gear needs more information for us to help you. Does the car ever stall? Does it drive normally otherwise? Does it hesitate or run rough? All the time or just hot or just cold?

When in neutral, the ECM will use a rev limiter to prevent over-revving. My 2000 Explorer also has that feature.

As for the sputtering in drive, it could need a tune-up or have a clogged fuel filter. A fuel pressure gauge attached to the test port can check the pump, filter, and regulator.

Is that 3 or 4 thousand or hundred? I doubt it would stay running at 3 or 4 hundred.

Even crusing at 70 mph, I’m only at 2000 rpm (2 on the guage). 3 or 4,000 no load rpms sitting in neutral is pretty high and agree, probably the computer is limiting the revs to prevent damage.

I concur with what Bing stated, but I just have to ask…
Why is the OP trying to rev the engine over 4k RPMs while in neutral?
Hopefully this is not being done before the engine is fully warmed-up.

As to the “sputtering”, that could be an indication of lax maintenance, or it could be an indication of the need for some repairs. The OP did not mention whether the Check Engine Light is lit up, but, I just have to ask…
Is the Check Engine Light lit up?
Or–even worse–is it flashing?

Using the diagnostic software provided with the car is the first thing to do probably. Best if done with the Ford scan tool, but quite a bit can be learned from the free dtc code reads provided at many retail auto parts stores. Doesn’t matter if the CEL is on or not, codes can still be stored either way.

Thanks for the comments. Had no idea that there was a rev limiter.
Look for - 2006 Ford 500 Sputters when in drive - for more info on the sputtering.


This car is 8 years old. How many miles are on it? If it is 75K miles or more, you probably need to consider replacing the spark plugs.

Is the Check Engine Light lit up? No
Or–even worse–is it flashing? Yes

Just bought the car a couple of months ago. So I’m not surprised.

@BustedKnuckles… the car has 95000 miles.

@GeorgeSanJose… Will read code this weekend. Working way to much this week.

“Is the Check Engine Light lit up? No
Or–even worse–is it flashing? Yes

@TravisCampbell–A flashing CEL is an indication of engine misfire, and continuing to drive the car in that condition is going to lead to more extensive problems–if that has not already happened.

My advice is to park the car and use alternate means of transportation until you can read the stored trouble code(s)–of which there could be many on a used car with a (probably) unknown maintenance record–and do the required maintenance and/or repairs.

If you are lucky, you have “just” damaged the expensive catalytic converter by revving the engine and continuing to drive the car with a misfire condition, but other types of damage of a more expensive nature could have taken place already. For the sake of your wallet, don’t compound the problem by continuing to rev the engine or to drive the car.

I’m sure that somewhere in the owner’s manual it states something like “If the engine light is on have the cause determined and corrected at your earliest convenience. If the engine light is flashing do not drive the car other than to the closest service center as immediate damage to your car may result.”

Driving with a flashing light can turn a $300 tune-up into a $1200 catalytic converter replacement.

It’s an emergency, like a broken pipe in the basement is a plumbing emergency. Have it fixed today.

It probably started with the spark plugs, and there may be additional problems by letting it go this far. At the very least, you need a tune-up. You may need coils and a catalytic converter in the near future.

Unfortunately, it is even possible for the engine to have sustained piston and/or valve damage from continued driving while a misfire condition is taking place.

For the sake of the OP, I sincerely hope that there is no expensive damage to his vehicle, but he has certainly been flirting with danger by failing to abide by the advice in his Owner’s Manual, and–instead–to keep driving it and to rev that poor, ailing engine.

@VDCdriver @BustedKnuckles. Just to set the record straight. This happen on the way home Tuesday night. Have not driven the car since. Have other vehicles to get me back and forth to work. Will look into code reading this weekend. Thanks again for the good comments. Believe me I don’t what to compound the problem. T