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Fuel issue. this van is my source of income. help!

My fuel pump primes only when it wants to, and when it does I have to assist the start with some throttle to make sure it fires. If I don’t get it the first time I’m SOL for the rest of the day. When it starts it runs great! But if I turn it off it wont start again until the next day. Or sometimes two days. I’m thinking it could be one or maybe even a few of these issues?

  • Bad fuel pump
  • Blown fuse (relay and/or pump)
  • Loose electrical connection
  • Faulty ignition switch

If you have any additional ideas/ possible causes that would be much appreciated.

My local ford mechanic charges $119/hr and I don’t want some hack throwing parts at it until my bill is worth more than my truck. Hopefully I can find someone in between or do the work myself. I’m a contractor and this van is my life line. Without it I am worthless

If it were a blown fuse, then the pump would never work. The other 3 are possibilities. As this is your income source, take it to a shop. Don’t take it to the dealership, take it to a local independent. If that’s the $119 an hour guy, then so be it.

To crib from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, that repair costs $119 per hour. Not repairing it costs however much you make per hour, times the number of hours the vehicle is down, plus $119 per hour when you finally do decide to get it repaired. How quick will the cost of not repairing it surpass the cost of repairing it?


If this is the 1995 van you asked about a year ago why have you not upgraded because down time is the last thing you need.

Same van. Its been running great since the overheating issue was solved. This is a fairly new problem.

I just don’t have a clue of what it will end up costing me. Being that I’m self employed (and waiting on back payments) and my wife is out of work two months I’m really hurting for money. But you are totally right. This is my first year in business and this has been the biggest learning experience so far.

I’d add there might be a leaking injector or 2. The fuel pressure bleeds off overnight so it has a hard time “priming” the engine. Your cracking the throttle may be flooding it causing it not to start until the next day.

@shadowfax has good advice. This van is your livelihood, you can’t afford to have it down. I’d reinforce that idea by using your comment;

Then take it to a real mechanic and pay him to diagnose the problem so it gets fixed correctly because THIS;

Is exactly how you throw parts at it until the bill is worth more than your truck. I mean this in the nicest way possible. We have people that post here that try and fix their car by throwing parts at it and then asking us to help them fix it after none of that works.

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I think that’s the question i should’ve asked. Is there ways to test and find the problem? And How much should i be willing to spend on a diagnostic? Im really hurting for cash. I just need to know how much im looking at spending.

Some problems, especially intermittent problems and marginal driveability problems can get tough for the pros and on some complaints I throw out suggestions to throw some relatively cheap and simple to install parts at the car when doing so is cheaper than a minimum diagnostic charge. As for this problem I recall a somewhat common intermittent failure of the computer to ground the control circuit on the fuel pump relay when cranking and also the intermittent failure of the ECU relay to feed current to the control circuit on the fuel pump relay. With dozens of Ford trucks in fleets to service I rigged up a wiring harness to indicate when circuits were complete and found that one of my telltale lights provided enough ground to make the initial trigger on the fuel pump relay to eliminate the problem with 100% success on many subsequent vehicles. I just checked my old Ford electronics manuals and found a gap from 1993 to 1996 so I’m just rambling in the shadows on this vehicle. Finding a good mechanic with a great deal of experience on pre OBD2 Fords might be a problem. Altel and Mitchell might offer some insight.

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How do I know what mechanic to choose without bringing it to a dealership? Or do you think a reputable ford dealer would be my best bet? The local ford guys have been around for 50 years. But theyre very pricy. The head mechanic (who’s also my old track coach) even recommended to go somewhere else because of how expensive they are.

Paying someone to waste their time chasing their own tail is more expensive than paying an experienced/knowledgeable man to get to the bottom of the problem relatively quickly. I would suggest you look for an older independent mechanic who worked for a Ford dealership in the late 90s. But maybe those are the pricy ones you mentioned. Good luck.

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ford e150

Kev, Model Year, please?

1995 Ford E150 Club Wagon 5.0L

When it won’t start, check for a healthy visible spark using a spare spark plug during cranking. If you’ve got good spark, most likely a fuel problem. You’d or a shop would need to do a fuel pressure test, again at a time it won’t start. Or even if it will start you could still do a fuel pressure test, and measure if the fuel pressure is leaking down over time after the engine is turned off, which would indicate either a leaky fuel pump check valve, or leaking injector. A couple other random guesses, first the crank position sensor is a part that tends to fail when hot, but works ok once it cools down. Such a problem can cause a fails to start. It would usually cause a no-spark condition too, but not always. And of Fords there’s a part called a DPFE or something like that that tends to be a frequent failure by reports here. That part controls the EGR system. If the EGR system is activated when it shouldn’t, it can prevent starting.

The advice to take the van to a well recommended shop it what makes most sense of course, being that it running well is essential to your income. No reason you can’t get a pro diagnosis, then fix the problem yourself though. Don’t discount the idea of renting a truck or van in the meantime, to keep your customers happy.

Just for clarity, are you saying that when you first turn the key to the RUN position you may, or may not, hear the fuel pump run for a few seconds?

Second question. Is the single pigtail connector adjacent to the diagnostic connector a tan wire with a green stripe or is it blue and orange?

Yes. I always turn it to the on position and wait to hear the pump fully prime. If it doesn’t I won’t even try to crank it, as that has caused it to take longer to eventually prime. Sometimes when I hook jumper cables up to it from my jeep it will do the trick. But the battery gauge says its about half full and the battery itself is fairly new.

From what I see they are blue and orange, if I’m looking at the correct wires.

Not sure where a statement like that comes from.

The orange/blue single pigtail by the diagnostic connector is a splice for the trigger circuit from the pump relay through the ECM. When the key is first turned to RUN there is an electronic ground made for that wire.If the engine is not started the ground disappears in a few seconds. If the engine is cranked then the ground continues.

While this could be done with a test light, a VOM would be much better. One would connect one lead to ground on the vehicle and the other to the orange/blue lead. With the key on the VOM should show continuity for a few seconds.
If not, the problem is likely the ECM

I’m saying that the battery has a sufficient charge but when I jump the van it has a better chance of kicking the pump on. Good enough for you? Or are you just trying to make me look stupid? Mr (why dont you just buy another van) Do people treat you like that when you go on construction forums? Oh wait let me guess your a jack of all trades? Get over yourself.

His statement comes from the fact that there is, not a battery gauge that reads in terms of “half full”. And a “half full” battery whether new or not is really a dead battery. If this is really a do or die situation you need to get it to a shop instead of wasting time on Internet forums, getting guesses on the vague info you are giving. What’s worth more to you? Missing a weeks wages or spending a couple days wages to get it fixed right. Take it as you will but that’s my two cents worth.

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Here’s a real simple test. When you turn the key on the check engine light should come on briefly and the fuel pump should run until the CEL times out.
If thats not happening when it wont start the problem might be a flaky ECM power relay.