CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Intermittent starting problem with my truck

Hello! Looking for a little help with my F250 v10 gasoline engine truck. It has been having an intermittent starting issue. It has only done it twice and we’ve been able to get it started after a bit but it’s almost stranded me twice with a trailer that has a horse loaded in it which is a major problem! Nothing like filling it up at a gas station when you are on your way to a show with your horse and having it not start. Yikes!
The first time we were near a Ford dealer so we were able to take it in there but they found no issue with it. We thought it might be maybe some condensate in the fuel. It performed perfectly for me that weekend but just did it again the other day. Again with away from home with a horse loaded in the trailer. So it goes to our mechanic on Monday. I’m hoping they find something but I was looking for some input on what you all think it might be. The truck has about 150,000 miles on it and is really only used to haul trailers and horses.

When it doesn’t start . . .

Does it crank over at all?

Or do you just hear a strong click?

Do the dome lights dim when you turn the key to start position?

Or does it crank over for an extended period of time, before actually starting?

Please elaborate?

Did you wind up using ether?

Did the Ford dealer perform any tests at all . . . such as fuel pressure test . . . or did they just start it up normally, and declare there is no problem?

How old is the battery?

Has it been tested?

When it doesn’t start, what are the outside temperatures?

The battery is new. It will crank and cranks strongly. No dimming of the lights. It seems to be more of a fuel issue. It acts like it is not getting fuel. It cranks but doesn’t start.
The Ford dealer checked it for codes and it had not set any. We did not leave it with them for further tests as it had started up and was running fine. It’s been fine for 2 weeks.
The other day it did it when we hauled over to another farm to pick up a horse. After we loaded the horse it wouldn’t start. Again it acted like there was no fuel and the tank was over half full.
Both times it has done it have been after it was running and shut off for a short period so I thought it might be some type of a warm start issue. Today I tried to repeat the condition of the issue so I drove it for about 10 miles to warm it up, turned it off and let it sit for about 10 minutes and started it. No problem…darn…
Both times it has done this we have been able to get it started by repeatedly trying it. Wait a bit, try it and repeat. We have not done anything to start it other that crank it. We have not had to have it towed anywhere…yet…
The weather has been cool but not cold both times and the engine has been warm. It hasn’t done it in the driveway or when the engines been cold. Only after it’s been running.
I’m going to try my experiment again on it tomorrow. Monday it goes into the shop. I’m thinking fuel pump, loose connection someplace…once it starts it runs great.

When it won’t start, can you hear the pump run for a few seconds when you first turn the key to RUN before turning it to START?

I love the fuel pump idea also, the best way to diagnose it is in failure mode, if you want to pursue it have your shop on standby, stop there and see if there is a start fail, and have them diagnose it. Assuming after an hour or so it starts right up?

Good question about listening for the fuel pump and I don’t have a good answer for that one. I will have listen for it next time it happens.
The first time took over an hour. We thought we were going to have to tow it. Had the tow truck called and the truck unhitched from the trailer. We had pushed it out of the way so a friend could come and pick up the trailer. My husband tried it one more time and it caught! That’s when we rehitched it and drove it to the Ford dealer across the street. We dropped the trailer in their lot and it was looked at in one of their bays.
The second time it took about 20 minutes. I had just given up and unloaded the horse I was picking up when it started up for my husband. Reloaded the horse and drove it home.
I really don’t want there to be a third time!

Well, if you want to keep this truck to 200K, I’d just have a new fuel pump installed and even a crankshaft position sensor. Those would be the top two on my list.

1 Like

Yep, I’m thinking at a minimum a new fuel pump and I will talk to them about a crank position sensor. Thanks!

Well hubby spoke to the mechanic at the shop and he says that these pumps are known to heat up as they age and can cause this problem. Run the truck, the pump heats up, shut the truck off and the pump will not run until it cools down so the fuel pump will be replaced.
If there are further issues I’ll update this thread. Thank you all!