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Is this the beginning of the end for my 03 Taurus

I drove my car from michigan to North Carolina with stops in D.C. and Maryland. Then I drove from North Carolina to Missouri, a total of about 2,500 miles in a week. everything was smooth until the final 15 miles.

I turned the car off at the gas station after exiting the highway. when I got back in and started it up there was a rocking motion coming from under the hood, and the engine sounded funny. then the check engine light came on and started blinking. when I put it in reverse the problem got worse, so bad that it felt like the engine was going to cease (ceaze?) up !

it’s drivable but the gears aren;t shifting properly and the power is greatly reduced. what happened in that last stop that made this happen ?

Thanks for any help, I’m going to take it to the dealer tomorrow.

That’s “Seize”

This is a little like phoning a doctor, complaining about not feeling well and asking, “What’s wrong?” The doctor will at least need to see you and probably do some checking or testing.

Were any gauges reading out of the ordinary, or any other lights illuminated besides “Check Engine”?

Was there any smoke or steam?

Anything leaking from the car?

Have you checked fluid levels as specified in the Owner’s Manual. This would be a helpful first step.

I hate to recommend driving it any more until you find out what’s wrong because you could cause additional damage, but if you’re driving it to the dealer anyhow, you could leave early and stop at a chain store auto parts, like Advance, and have them check for engine codes that they can advise you on. Most do this free of charge.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that your car is near death. It’s possible that an ignition coil or something like that has gone belly-up. It’s possible, but isn’t necessarily a major problem.

You never mention checking fluids during your trip or before. Now would be a good time get the manual out of the glove box to do that. While you are under the hood look for loose wires or hoses that may have com loose. If nothing is loose & there is either no oil, or transmission fluid, then yes your car is toast and it is your fault. (Can you drive to the nearest dealer & get your “Cash For Clunkers”?)
Seriously though, knocking & rocking can be caused by simple things such as a loose spark plug wire or vacuum hose under the hood or more complex issues such as a broken sensor or clogged fuel injectors. If is not obvious after doing the above you’ll have to seek local mechanical assistance.

In an effort to keep the length of my question to a minimum, I didn’t mention that I did check hoses, wires, fluids, and found no smoke, or anything other than H2O leaking from the under-belly of my vehicle.

I knew I was overdue for an oil change, I think the last change I did was at 89,000, it’s currently at 94,566. But I made sure to check on the oil level at every stop. I had to add 2 quarts of oil during the trip, but the oil was never dangerously low.

Is It Possible That The leaking “H20” Was Just Clear Water Which Normally Drips When A/C Or Defrosters Are Used?

How about stopping at an Auto Parts store? Any fault codes they can retrieve and you can post here, will help to zero somebody in on the problem. The codes will look like PO123, PO455, for example.


The “Tags” work! Your 2003 Ford Taurus has a flashing check engine light. The “code” behind the flashing check engine light is a diagnostic code. The code helps to diagnose what is causing the engine/transmission to misbehave. Yes, the repairer can certainly use that information; and, so could we in making any informed guesses.
The engine ceased to work correctly.

also I feel I should mention that the only gauge out of the ordinary was the one that reads the RPM’s. the needle was holding steady, but looked to be slightly lower than normal for the speed I was traveling.

i.e. normally when I drive 50 mph on a flat road it will sit right on 2000, but after the check engine light came on it was around 1800. ( or maybe I was just thinking crazy)

Problem solved ! thanks everyone.

the computer found that there was a mis-fire in the 2nd cylinder. after some careful analysis, we discovered that the wire had come in contact with the exhaust heat shield and had sustained a nice burn in it.

wire replaced, engine runs like normal again, and I’m happy I don’t have to take it to the dealership.

You’re Welcome. Where Did You Get It Checked? Auto Parts Store?
Which One? We can use any feed-back you’ve got. Plus, we’ll give them some “press”.