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An evolving issue - Ford 2003 wagon

I have a 2003 Ford Taurus wagon that has an issue that keeps changing. After I bought it used in 2010, it had a shift delay and a transmission fluid flush seemed to have fixed that. Then the starter died and that was replaced. Approximately 6-8 months later, randomly, the indicator lights would come on and the engine would lose power, both stationary and in motion (55 mph on curvy roads, no engine power or power steering - positively exhilarating… :frowning: …). If the car was stationary then it need to be restarted. If it was in motion the engine would turn back on. I took it to two repair shops. The first one said that it was related to the antitheft deceive and I needed to go to a dealership. I took the car to a dealership and they said it was the synchronizer that was causing the loss of power and the smoke and burning smell. Of course they didn’t experience the loss of power when test driving it. I spent a TON of money to have that “fixed”. One month later, the engine loses power multiple times again with indicator lights turning on and I immediately take it back and ask them to review the repair because it wasn’t fixed. The response was pretty much to “just deal with it”. I was more than irate. I will never go back there and warn others to not go there. I was ready to trade the car in and buy new, not a Ford. My husband talked me out of it and instead had the battery tested at Advanced and AutoZone and the result was a bad diode. The first guy didn’t know what it meant; the second one said it needed a new alternator. Ok, replaced that. The car ran fine for a little while. Then, in the cold, when I had the rear defrost on, radio and head lights for a little while there would be a pop from the dashboard that was also audible in the speakers and a very quick blink of all indicator lights. I stopped using the rear defroster and that stopped. Then the car started with the random loss of power and all indicator lights coming on again mostly when coming to a stop. I had another repair shop look at it and their conclusion was “Just get rid of it. We can’t figure it out”. They also didn’t experience the loss of power. So now I refused to drive it. I don’t want my daughter in the car either. I traded vehicles with my husband. He took it to another repair shop and they couldn’t figure it out. They also did not experience the loss of power. He asked for their best educated guess. They said idle air control valve. So that was replaced. Now, when we turn on the AC or vent in idle, the engine loses RPMs (~500 RPM) and the idle air valve kicks in and revs the engine pretty hard for 30 seconds and then cyclic for a while and seems to fade with use. My husband took it back to the same repair shop and asked them. They said it was normal. It doesn’t seem normal to me. Now in addition to that, it sounds like the starter is going again, but only when it is hot and/or humid mostly after running for a while or in the hot sun.

Any idea what is wrong with the car?
Any idea how much it would might cost for diagnostics and repair?

Thank you so much in advance!

Are you getting a check engine light?

Intermittent problems are the worst. Lossof poweris either fuel or electric, If I was throwing parts at it, I would replace the fuel pump and filter.

The check engine light comes on with the rest of the lights on the dash board when the engine looses power. Other than that. No other lights are on.
The door ajar light sometimes is stays on for extended periods of time and the cab light won’t turn off, even when in drive. That is kind of annoying at night. The doors won’t lock when that light is on, but only when the car is turned on. I don’t know if that is connected to everything else or also a symptom.

I did have a water pump replaced shortly before the synchronizer was replaced because that was thought to be the cause of the smoke and burning smell.

How often should the fuel filter be replaced? How much does a new fuel pump cost?
I have had the fuel filter replaced a couple of time. Pretty sure at least once last year.

Which motor? OHC or pushrod?

I don’t know what a pushrod is. I have heard SOCH before.
How can I figure out what I have? I am not a car person.

I believe your problem could be a faulty crankshaft position sensor. These can have an intermittent problem that will temporarily cause the engine to stall, then come back on. See post #12 below:

“I have a 2002 that had this issue. When driving on freeway would shut off and violently start itself. I took to my mechanic and he changed the fuel filter. The radio would make a noise like it was shorting out this was due to car about to shut off. The issue is the crankshaft sensor. This sends a signal to the ECM computer that car is off and it shut off. The computer then realizes its on and runs again. The censor will act up once in a while only before it completely goes dead causing car mot to start When replacing this you must replace the cam shaft censor as well. Cost about 300$ for part and labor.”

Sounds to me like you bought a “Flood Car” life is too short to keep dealing with this, I usually advocate keeping a car a long time, but not this one. Trade it in on something on something more reliable.

With that list of problems, I also think there’s a decent chance this car was flooded in the past.

Observations from my husband:
The dome light, door sensor has not come on in two months since the IAC valve was replaced. The revving is still there, tried A/C yesterday. The bigger issue is the starter not working again when hot. Has to sit and cool for hours. It does start when I put the gas on, that was yesterday’s attempt. It seems to be getting worse. Something expands and the connection must not be good or something. possibly spark plugs or general wiring? Spark plugs are going on 40K miles, not sure if they need replacing.

Not sure if this helps…

I, personally, really do want to get rid of the car, but it seems more financially responsible to try to fix it first.

It may be the starter or the crank sensor as mentioned above. Why not replace the starter? It’s not a hard diy project.

Not to sound insensitive, but this posting was very difficult to read, because there were no separate paragraphs

get rid of it. it sounds like a money pit and a deathtrap.