Ford windstar won't hold its start

I have a 2005 Ford Windstar. For the last year or so it has had an occasional problem where it will not be able to “hold” a start. That is, it will turn over and start as normal but will falter and die w/in a few seconds.

I have entertained a few different theories.

The first was that it was connected to how much fuel I had. That is; it appeared to happen when I was below 1/4 tank.

On a handful of occasions I was able to restart the vehicle after substantially filling the car via five-gallon jugs.

However that remedy has been proven unsuccessful at least once, most notoriously.

On this occasion, the most difficult incidence of this phenomenon, the refill method totally let me down. The car was above 1/2 when it failed and I filled the tank to the brim and it still would not start, even after several hours.

I was about thirty miles from home, had my two year old with me and had to wait several hours for the tow truck. This was a major drag.

I had the vehicle towed to my mechanic. Naturally, the van started right up for him (this was the next day) and he could not recreate the stall. He worked at it for much of the next day and could not get it to happen. Nor did any of his diagnostic tools reveal reason for the malfunction.

A second theory was that the car benefited from different fuel additives; STP gas treatment, injector cleaners and dry gas have become part of routine. I add something probably every other fill up.

My mechanic and I have discussed injector cleanouts, fuel pump replacements etc but he is confident in none of these remedies.

All of my theories have suffered from confounding variables, instances when the car won’t hold its start even when I thought everything was covered.

Recently I have found that just the act of waiting, seems to allow the van to start. I have to give it about fifteen- twenty minutes, but lately it has proved able to hold its start after such a duration.

I now think that the problem is most likely to happen when I am on a short trip when the car neither travels very far nor is expected to be turned off very long.

For instance two nights ago I went to pick up a pizza. I travelled just about a mile, turned the car off, ran into the shop, picked up my pizza and the van did its thing. However after a brief wait (I think it was a one beer wait at the local tappy) I was able to go home.

Thoughts . . .

How long has the fuel filter been in the van? A clogged fuel filter would be the least expensive resolution. Your mechanic should be able to measure the fuel pressure and diagnose what’s going on. It sounds like your fuel pressure drops too low.

How many miles on the van?

It is a 2005; I doubt the fuel filter has been changed. Ther are roughly 60,000 miles

I’d try changing the fuel filter. It’s time for that anyway. If that doesn’t help, have your mechanic hook up a fuel pressure gauge to find out what’s happening. If he can’t do this, find somebody else.

Has your mechanic checked the idle air control (IAC) valve? The next time it seems like it will sputter out after starting give it a little bit of throttle. If you’ve tried that already, then report.

A leaking fuel injector could be flooding the engine. After you sit long enough the fuel evaporates.

I know this thread is a bit old, but something you said reminds me of a problem I’m having with my '99.

What I think you probably have (and I have) is a bad engine temperature sensor. The car’s computer either thinks the engine has cooled off more than it has or less than it has, and thus it either gives it too much or too little extra gas. (Back in the old days, you had a mechanical choke lever that did the same thing.) You don’t notice it on a cold start because the engine is sufficiently cold that it chokes the heck out of it anyway, but there’s probably a magic temperature range in there in which the reading from the sensor is far enough off to throw the calibration far enough out to cause the engine to stall.

For a quick workaround, revving the engine in neutral as soon as the engine catches might take care of this as well. It keeps mine from stalling out, anyway.