Fuel Pump probelm?,99 Ford Taurus, 3.0 Lit


I have a 99 Ford Taurus, 3.0 Lit. For the last week or so, when the car sits idle for a long time (e.g. over night) when trying to start, the starter motor cranks nicely but engine will not start, pumping the gas pedal several times finally gets the car going. After that the engine runs very smoothly the whole day. Even after shutting it off for several hours , it has no problem starting up. It seems that being idle for over a long time (such as over night) causes the issue. I am wondering if there is an issue with gas pump or whatever mechanism that creates the vacuum to suck gas into engine for the initial engine startup.

Another very strange issue that might be related to gas pump is, if the gas tank is over filled (way over the full) then every so often the engine will start cutting off (hesitating and as a result jerking) like for a second or two and then it is runs fine. Once the gas level is at just below full the problem completely disappears and engine runs fine.

Any advise will be greatly appreciated it.


It could be any one of several things, but I think the fuel pump is the first suspect. There is a check valve in the pump that is designed to maintain residual fuel pressure when the engine is not running. With age and wear, or even a piece of debris stuck in there, the ball will not seal the seat and the fuel pressure will creep off as it sits.
(No, there is no check valve available separately and one would not do this anyway since changing the pump is a bit of a job requiring removal of the fuel tank.)

Next time try turning the key on for a few seconds, back off, back on, etc. about half a dozen times and then try starting it. If it starts right up then you know the lack of pressure is the problem.

If you’re overfilling the tank, stop. It’s ok to round it up to the next dime or whatever but do not continue to force feed it gas as this can affect the canister system. Hope that helps.

Just a couple of observations. Over filling the tank can cause problems, including some of those you have reported. It messes up the venting of the fuel system If you check your owner’s manual you will likely see a warning about topping off the tank when you are filling it. You may need to replace the charcoal filter or other part(s) of that system.

A small leak in the system can let air into the fuel system and that can cause the starting problem.

I would suggest you should have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here. Even if there is no light it may have stored codes. Has the CEL (Check Engine Light) come on?

ok4450 thanks for the info and suggestion , I will try the turning the key on and off tomorrow morning (as I said the car has to be idle for a while). I am assuming by key on and off you mean turn the key so that all he lights (check engine , seat belt etc etc) are on but not all the way so that the engine is not cranking

Thanks for the info Joseph. The CEL is not on, also this problem seems to happen only after long idle time, wouldn?t a leak always cause a problem? Do all Autozone stores do this kind of diagnostics, or are there the ones that have service station (that is if such a concept exists in the first place). I live in Kalamazoo, MI which is a fairly small town. The Autozone closest to me definitely does not have a service station. Frankly a couple times that I have posted here, someone has asked me to the same but I have never had the audacity just to go to Autozone and say hey guys do this diagnostics for free. I guess I can just ask for a diagnostic and if they offer it for free great and if not just pay for it.

Correct. What this does is that it energizes the pump for a couple of seconds, which is normal. After doing this a few times the recycling of the pump will pressure up the fuel lines and force any air out (back into the tank).

Hi again, I talked to my wife to see if she had used the Taurus today and she said she had not (so it had been idle since last night). Therefore I went ahead and tried your suggestion (by the way every time I did this, I could hear a faint kind of hissing noise, which I believe was the pump pressurizing) six times, and then cranked engine, it started right way. So what does this mean now, is the pump on it way out or this is just a nuisance (I can put up with a nuisance)? What would worry me would be if the pump dies say as one is driving at 80MI/hr in middle of high way!

It’s a nuisance at this point, but my opinion is that the pump should be replaced. You did not state the vehicle mileage but the pump is 9 years old and it’s about time. It’s had a good life.
Changing the fuel filter is a must also, and the filter should also be changed every 25-30k miles. Even more often if fuel contamination is suspected since a partially clogged filter can shorten the pump’s life even with the car apparently running fine.

A pump failure can be intermittent sputter or it can be instant and final. There’s no way of knowing.
Considering the constant stress of high pressure and high RPMS that fuel injection pumps are subjected to, it always amazes me that they last as long as they do.

Thanks again for the advice. The car has just under 100K miles on it. I called Ford dealership parts, a new fuel pump is $300, called Autozone, they gave me a quote for $190. I am guessing this is about 2 hrs of labor @$75/hr (dealership rate), so assuming I go with the Autozone pump, I am out another $350 to get the pump replaced.

Boy this car is tiring me out (not to mention draining my wallet), this year alone I spend $900 (outer tie rods, ball joints, alignment etc) once and $800 another time (inner tie rods, leaking breaks, warped breaks, etc), and can not quite remember but I think it was like $200-$300 to replace the alternator and now another $350-$400 for fuel pump. I really would like to keep the car for another year or two (with the economy being the way it is and uncertainty with jobs etc) but, the it looks like the repairs are getting to be more than the value of the car (I believe it is worth only about 2 to 3 k at most). I guess as the economists say it is all sunk cost, beyond this point I am not sure what else is going to go.

The irony is that I had a 60,000 mile extended warranty on this car, and under warranty the dealer (I suspect they were ripping Ford and myself- I had to pay the deductible- ) had changed so many parts on this car, from fuel pump, water pump, steering pump, heater core, etc even the molding in the car. No wonder Ford is such a trouble, how can they make money with such a crazy warranty costs?

I sincerely hope you were not ripped off due to a lot of unnecessary repairs… It is very, very unusual that you would have this many problems on one of these cars and especially considering the nature of those problems.
Inner tie rods, possible outer tie rod ends, power steering pump, etc. are not normal failures at comparatively low mileage and having a rash of failures like this raises a red flag that you may have been diagnosed wrong and charged for items not needed.

From your last paragraph, are you saying the pump was already replaced once? Or allegedly replaced? If so, what was the story behind that?

I looked in the maintenance log book and it looks like the fuel pump was replaced around 3K under warranty. I kind of vaguely remember that the car would take several cranks to start and I think that is why the dealer changed the pump. Also according to the log book, the fuel filter was last changed at 73k miles and so was some sensor also related to the fuel system (the car currently has exactly 97,765 miles on it)

As for tie rods, etc this was this done this year and at a different Ford dealership than the one in town that did all the ?repairs? under warranty. The manager of this other dealership is my next door neighbor even though this dealership is the nearby town (about 30 miles away) so I trust these guys more. The back breaks definitely had issues, at low speed you could hear a scarping noise whose frequency increased or decreased according to speed, so I am pretty sure the break drum was warped. Same with the ball joints, there was a noise when turning left and right. The outer tie rods issue was supposedly discovered when the ball joint issue was being addressed and the inner tie rods when I took her in for the break noise.

Anyway back to present issue, can a clogged fuel filter cause this same issue. What is confusing to me is that if the fuel pump is going bad or fuel filter is clogged why does cause the problem only at the startup after long idle time? Shouldn?t the engine run rough say behind a red light or anytime the car is idling? By the way this morning I tried the trick of turning it on and off several times, and this time it did not work. What definitely seems to work, is to floor the gas pedal before start and then start the car. Right after starting this was, I can smell gas fumes.