98 Ford Taurus issue, Please help

I just bought a 98 Ford Taurus, I’ve driven maybe 600 miles on it so far and it’s been fine until recently. It first started with this jerking it was doing. I would press on the gas and it would do this jerking thing. And when I would pull up at a stop sign or put it in park it will do that jerking thing too like it’s going to stall but never does. Then last week I start smelling this burn rubber smell, and then I saw a little bit of smoke coming from the right side of the Hood and then the check engine light came on. It doesn’t over heat though. Last nite I was driving, I pull into a parking spot and put the car in park and the RPM 's kept going higher, it scared me so I put it in drive and they went back down. I was going home and as I was driving I took my foot off the gas but the car kept going faster anyways. That’s hasn’t happened again but the burnt rubber smell, the jerking, smoking, and check engine light keeps happening. It’s my only car. I don’t have mad money to keep going to mechanics and getting stuff fixed and it not fix the problem. So please if anyone knows what is going on with my car I would really appreciate your help. I just need a plan, if I know what’s wrong I can go tell a mechanic this is what I need done and not have to worry about a mechanic just fixing whatever to make money cause I don’t have money like that. Thanks everyone…

Sorry you are having this problem, frustrating. If I were in this situation the first thing I’d do is take the car to a retail auto parts store that offers a free OBD II code reading service. Get the printout and post the diagnostic trouble codes here.

Clean the throttle body first . . . if there is a sticker telling you not to do this, DISREGARD THE STICKER

But it sounds like your idle air control valve ultimately needs to be replaced. Very common

your check engine light might be on because of the erratic idle

As far as the smoking . . .

I’ll assume you have the 3.0 OHV Vulcan motor, yes?

We have tons of those in our fleet, and the valve cover gaskets leak after several years, often dripping onto the exhaust

The engine oil pan gaskets also leak, dripping onto the hot exhaust

I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of those gaskets is leaking, and is the cause of the smoking

If I were you, I’d get those codes read for free and post them, please

Other than agreeing with db4690 I will address your comment about telling the mechanic what needs to be done and the impression that the mechanic will go hog wild running up a bill.

Telling the mechanic what needs to be done based on opinions from people who have never seen your car (referring to me…) and can only make an educated guess can lead to problems.
You tell the mechanic you want X and Y replaced and if X and Y doesn’t cure the problem then the customer gets irritated with the mechanic. I’m not saying you would do this; only that it happens.

It’s also possible the car has more than a couple of issues. It may have half a dozen or even a dozen. Quite often one gets into an aged and/or high miles car and the further the digging the more issues that are found.

I wonder if the jerking could be an igniton miss or fuel delivery problem.

Any kind of jerking or seeming to stall accompanied by a burnt rubber smell would indicate to me…something locking up under the hood. Like an alternator giving up the ghost…and actually seizing temporarily and then spinning again. Methinks you might have one of the accesories driven by the serpentine belt that is about to die.

Look under your hood at the rubber serp belt…does it look like its getting damaged or melted in any area? I think something is about to die bearing wise under the hood. At least thats the first thing I would look for anyway.


Thanks everyone, you all are amazing. I will definitely get those codes and post them.

@Chrissy29 Honda Blackbird’s post reminded me of something

Your engine is somewhat notorious for throwing accessory drive belts, due to frozen ac compressors

I’ve seen it several times, actually

Theoretically, it’s not supposed to happen, but it does, at least on this application

Might want to have somebody check out that ac compressor. To a competent mechanic, it will be fairly obvious if the the compressor is about to cause trouble

Good catch DB…if it was the AC compressor…say cycling on with the defrost setting…it would explain the locking up and then getting free again…when the clutch cycles on…and tha AC compressor is locked up you get jerking and burnt rubber. Then the clutch lets go and it freewheels again seeming like nothing is wrong.

Need to look at that belt and also run the car and turn the AC on and see what happens. Must look at that belt for damage


I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think replacing an ac compressor on OP’s Toreass is my idea of an easy job

Apparently, there are 2 ways to go about it . . .

Lower the cradle

Remove the electric fans, and move the fuse box aside

I choose the second scenario

That is if that’s the issue… I was just guessing…but it sure is a possibility. The OP might not have realized the compressor was engaged and possibly seized.

We need more info about the look of that belt. Burnt rubber is a very specific smell. Each time Ive smelled it under a hood it was due to a belt burning on a seized pulley of some sort.