Rough start in minivan

I drive a 2000 Mercury Villager V6 with 40,000 miles. It starts beautifully every morning, but for the rest of the day I have trouble restarting it. It will crank, but has difficulty turning over and tends to die within a few seconds. This can happen 3 or 4 times before I get her going again. The problem gets worse the more times I stop and restart it. It also idles “bumpy” at long lights. The check engine light comes on but always seems to go off before I can call my mechanic. DH replaced the battery, but it continues to be a problem. The van was in a bit of a fender bender years ago when my Mom-in-law was still driving it. What’s wrong and can my DH fix it himself?

Who is “DH”? Is that some texting abbreviation? A lot of us don’t know these.

Anyway, one good possibility is fuel leaking into the engine when it isn’t supposed to - through either a leaky fuel injector or a leaky fuel pressure regulator. This causes the engine to run too rich and to become flooded when it sits after running.

The next time you need to restart it, hold the pedal to the floor as you do. If it starts let back off the pedal gradually as the engine smooths out.

Find the fuel pressure regulator (you can use Autozone’s online repair manuals to find it - After the car has been running and then shut off for a while pull the little black rubber vacuum hose from the regulator. If it has any liquid fuel in it replace the regulator.

If “DH” has a fuel pressure gauge s/he could also hook it up, run the van until it is all warmed up and then watch what happens to the fuel pressure.

Thanks for the quick reply. I am glad someone has an idea of what could be wrong 'cause I mostly get a shrug, even from my friends and family who work on cars.

“DH” stands for “Dear Husband” (mostly) in online discussion. (Depending on the context it could be more offensive.)

Thanks again for your time.

DH can drop about $20 on a Haynes or Chilton’s repair manual for the car. The $20 on a repair manual can easily pay for itself very quickly. A fuel pressure regulator is normally easy to replace if you follow some precautions (like not having the battery connected and having relieved all fuel system pressure).

Dealing the fuel injectors is more complicated, but with a manual, half a brain, and some basic tools it can be done. Of course, this is not something to start on unless you know that one or more injectors is a problem. I’m just guessing.

Unfortunately this can have a number of causes. I agree with those that suspect a fuel problem, but it may be in the area of a sensor and a metering problem rather than the fuel delivery.

When the engine is cold the oxygen sensor loop is bypassed in order to allow the engine to run rich until it warms up. Since it’s starting fine in the morning, it’s possible that the oxygen sensor is giving off a bad reading not being felt in the morning when the ECU is ignoring it.

It’s also possible that the gas tank is having trouble breathing in due to a clogged charcoal canister and a vacuum is developing in the tank as you drive and the gas is pumped out. The vacuum may be dissipating as it sits overnight. If so, that would explain why it gets worse as the day wears on. This can also strain a fuel pump and cause it to become weak, exascerbating the problem.

It could also be an ignition component breaking down when it becomes hot. Every time you park the car the underhood temperature rises as the heat from the engine’s insides (it’s much hotter around the cylinders than by the temp sensor) dissipates outward and radiantly heats the underhod space.

Bottom line: the ECU is telling you that the conputer has information that will help you or DH find the cause of the problem. Many parts places will read the codes for free…and while there DH can pick up a repair manual as already suggested.

Post back. I’d like to know how you make out. We care.

Mtnbike is, of course, right. The fuel thing is the easiest to check. Your best bet is actually to get whatever codes are being thrown (as indicated by the check engine light). Many chain-type autoparts stores such as Autozone will read these for free. The next time it comes on just pull into the closest one and get the codes read. That is your best shot for having a place to start.

BTW: I join the others in welcoming you back mb - glad you beat the reaper - knock off the fried foods :wink:

Thanks cigroller! Your diagnosis was correct. My hubby ran a few of the tests that you and others recommended and found fuel in that hose. He bought a new regulator, but then we had a cold snap that kept him from doing the repair until this weekend. I dropped off my boy at preschool this morning and ran a bunch of errands and it starts like a champ every time. Still idles a little rough, but hey, she’s 10 years old, and it’s better than it was.

I wish I could send you some brownies. You folks rock. Thanks for all of your suggestions and support!

It ended up being the fuel pressure regulator - so far. Starting great and no check engine light so far… Thanks for all the help.