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!UPDATE! ((Minivan Dies When You Give It Gas)) !UPDATE! good news

Desperate for help on this one.
The car is a Chrysler Voyager 2000. For the most part we haven’t ever had any issues with it. We have had it for about 2 years, and the only thing questionable it ever did was that it always took about 3 key turns to start the engine. Something we were able to just kind of ignore, since it started eventually, and ran great afterward.
Recently however, things have taken a turn for the worse. About a week ago I let the tank go fairly low (I swears not empty), stopped for gas, and then drove across town. No sign of the impending doom to come. Got home, parked it for about an hour, went to start it again and the engine seemed to be struggling. Backing down our driveway something seemed very off… it just didn’t seem to have any “go”. Put into drive, pushed gas… and it died. Since then, that has been the story, you give it gas it dies. While I sat there trying to get the engine running again, really laying into the pedal, the engine light came on. It also sputters softly, with little baby backfires while trying to idle. It acts like it wants gas, but you hit the pedal… and she dies! no sputter, no warning, just dead. It’s like the pedal has become an emergency kill switch.

So it will start (with some effort) it will idle (somewhat unhealthily seeming to ask for gas, slight sputtering) and IF it will accept some pressure to the gas pedal (gotta be so tender) it seems to rev, but not accelerate… any real pressure to the gas AND it dies. : (

We have been researching what we can and unfortunately it has come to a seemingly endless list of possibilities. Hubby decided he would just start throwing parts at it (absolutely can not afford numerous parts plus labor costs) because we must get it running again ASAP. This is our only family vehicle.
Thus far he has replaced all the air/vacuum hoses, the PCV (noticed it was slightly cracked) and the air filter. He also had a friend run a code check on it, while I do not have the code now, he did tell me the code was non-descript. It did not offer any specific solutions or specific part problems, only that the issue likely involves air/fuel. DUH!!
If I can get it to go as far as the AutoZone, I would like to try another code check. In the meantime, here are our best guesses at what might need to be replaced;
fuel filter
fuel pump
fuel pressure regulator (if is isn’t a part of the fuel assembly)
MAP sensor

Does anyone have any insight, or experience with this issue? Can you steer us toward which of these things would be best to try first? Anything else that he hasn’t considered?
Please ask all the questions you need to gather info, I will be watching this posting like a hawk!! We MUST get this darn thing running as cost effectively as possible.
Thank you in advance.

~ BroomBroom (cause that’s what my stupid van needs to do)

I know I made this a little wordy, please just skip to the bold and throw out any thoughts or suggestions… please.

The first thing that should be done is have the fuel pressure tested. If the fuel pressure is low, the engine might start, rev in park, and run rough. But as soon as you ask the engine for power under a load as putting it in gear and the fuel pressure is low, there’s not enough fuel getting to the engine to provide that power and the engine stalls.

Tester

Tester, thank you so much for responding!! It is after 10pm here now, but this will go straight to the top of the “absolutely must do” list for tomorrow.

I do not know your maintenance history so check the manual for service intervals and what might need to be performed, Fuel Filter number 1, air filter number 2, spark plugs number 3. We go on from there, along with error codes if possible.

@ Barkydog,
Unfortunately it is hard for us to know our maintenance history beyond a point. The vehicle was bought used from a mechanic/car dealer. No telling what they had done. We know they did some work/maintenance before selling to us… but for more detailed info, we would need to call and see how good of records they kept.
As far as us personally, we have done the required; regular oil changes, fluid checks, brake pads + both front rotors.
Other none-standard work would include; A/C compressor and condenser (a buddy of ours, he builds race cars and helps out friend/family did this task for us) Had to replace the control panel (AC knobs and whatnot) easy fix there, just pulled a working one from a junkyard. amazingly easy to swap out.

That is the best history I can give ya.

@ Tester… I have lined up a fuel pressure gauge for this morning. Getting a loaner. thank you for the suggestion.

To be clear, we are NOT mechanics, but relatively intelligent people (occasionally lacking common sense) trying to get by with whatever info and directions we can muster from more educated folks, (such as yourselves) past auto repair experience, and the manual.

Thank you both so much!! we will update soon when we have fuel pressure readings!!

P.S. as far as getting the codes, that is (for now) not going to happen, she just isn’t gonna make it that far

FUEL PRESSURE TEST RESULTS>…
got a reading of just over 20…obviously, not good.
Thinking the next step in this process is going to be to drop the fuel tank, change out the filter, pump, and regulator.
Got all fingers and toes crossed!!

Its probably got an external, inline filter. Change that first and check the fuel pressure again. I believe your pressure spec should be 44-54psi

thank you cigroller!!
we’re on it, hubby just headed up to get the other parts… gave him a call and he had already grabbed the external filter as well. We will try that first.

got the parts. The external fuel filter (near as we can tell) is the filter, the only fuel filter.
Meaning, no matter what, have to drop the tank. Since we are going that far, going to change the pump as well (the regulator is standard part of pump, thankfully)
Going to go ahead and clean the tank while he’s at it. I am currently researching which farm animal to sacrifice for added luck, and to please the auto-gods ; P
We shall see what happens.

~~~~ UPDATE ~~~~~
First I want to say thank you to those of you who took the time to read this post, gave advice, and helped us out!!
As I mentioned earlier today, the pressure reading was "blah"
We got the fuel filter and pump swapped out and what do ya know?? she is running like a dream!! In fact, it appears as though the issue she always had of taking several key turns to start has also been rectified. No more sputtering, no more lag, the engine light is off, and best of all…
no more dying when you hit the gas!!
Unfortunately, we are now trouble-shooting a minor issue with the starter. Our best guess is that somehow a tooth got knocked loose during the repair of the fuel system. Intermittently, when you go to start it, it makes a god awful sound. Not every time, just sometimes. Leads us to believe either a tooth was knocked out, or maybe something is misaligned. Hoping it is the latter, but at least it runs now.

Again thank you all so much!!
(on a side note, no animals were harmed in the repair of this vehicle. I never did find, in all my research, which sacrificial critter the auto gods prefer)

~ BroomBroom

Broom,
Often you can ignore the starter noise on a bad tooth. But just in case check that the starter has a good gear. A starter with a bad gear will damage the flywheel. The starter is way cheaper to replace if it is sketchy. Also just verify that the bolts are on tight. A loose starter is a bad thing.

Thank you kindly for the update. Its rare that we ever hear what happened. And give your “mechanic” a good pat on the back too. Most people would not undertake this kind of repair.