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Old 01-13-10, 02:07 PM   #1
jccaclimber
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Help solve my automotive mystery

1993 Ford Probe, 4 cyl 2.0L, 5sp manual, 127,717 as of getting gas this morning.
Saturday evening I went from Columbus, OH to Lafayette, IN. Average ambient temperature is ~20*F. The car started quickly and without problems, and proceeded to idle smoothly as usual. Nothing seemed unusual in the drive (girlfriend driving to learn stick, I'm the only passenger).
Around 3 hours in we stopped at a gas station near the freeway to fill up as the tank was ~2 gallons from empty (15.5 gas tank, added 13.5) After filling up the car wouldn't start. It turned over ok, the lights were not dim, it just didn't start.
After two iterations of this I traded places and got in the driver's seat, same thing. If I held the gas pedal down just a bit the car started and ran with no problems, even if I had it at idle speed (900 rpm). However, as soon as I released the accelerator it would die. No stumbling, coughing, or trying at all, it just died as if I had turned off the key. After doing that again (start, die) I restarted the car (holding the accelerator down slightly) and proceeded to get on to the freeway operating both the brake and clutch with my left foot, and maintaining some pressure on the accelerator with my right. After ~ 1 minute on the freeway I depressed the clutch, released the gas pedal, and the car idled smoothly as if nothing was ever wrong. The next morning (Sunday) I tried to start it, and it started and idled without any problems.
Monday I drove to work(65 miles each way) and back, no problems starting, idling, or running.
Tuesday on the way home I made 1 stop ~20 miles in and then drove the rest of the way home, no problems starting, idling. etc., warm or cold starts.
This morning (Wednesday), no problems starting, got gas on the way in to work (40 miles in), and had the same problem. Once more a slight depression of the accelerator pedal got me going. The car did die when I stopped at the freeway entrance and forgot to hold down the gas pedal a bit, but started up just fine when I did. As before, a test 60 seconds down the road showed no problems. When I got to work I shut my car off, waited 60 seconds, and restarted it with no problems, and no need to hold down the accelerator.

At this point I've concluded that it has something to do with putting fuel in the tank, and I have 4 theories:

1) My car doesn't like gas stations, and is trying to condition me not to go to them.
2) My car really likes gas stations, and wants to stay once it gets there.
3) Water in the tank.
4) Clogged fuel filter.

1 and 2 don't seem scientific enough for my engineering mind. 3 and 4 have some holes as well since it runs without problem with just a little pressure on the gas pedal.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:14 PM   #2
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It's a Mazda.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:17 PM   #3
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Probably a sensor or solenoid that tells the computer to provide fuel at idle or holds open the throttle has failed. What sensor I don't know because I'm not up on modern cars or FI systems. It could even be a smog related sensor or even the computer itself. You need to take the car to a mech who has the diagnostic tools to read the system parameters.

Of course it could be that your car just doesn't like the specific gas stations you're taking it to. You Cheapskate.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:17 PM   #4
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Probe 1957-
This is true, but I've never had a significant problem in the last 50k miles that my former room mate or I owned it, and it's just not efficient to drive the modded Camaro ('91) 150 miles/day.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:19 PM   #5
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Get a bike!
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Old 01-13-10, 02:20 PM   #6
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Yeah, might be the fuel filter or fuel pressure regulator.

There's a good chance the car is reporting errors when it won't start. Head down to your friendly autoparts store and have them scan the computer. Maybe that will clue you in.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:21 PM   #7
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Probably a sensor or solenoid that tells the computer to provide fuel at idle or holds open the throttle has failed. What sensor I don't know because I'm not up on modern cars or FI systems. It could even be a smog related sensor or even the computer itself. You need to take the car to a mech who has the diagnostic tools to read the system parameters.

Of course it could be that your car just doesn't like the specific gas stations you're taking it to. You Cheapskate.
No check engine light, and no error codes registering (already checked that), plus it's not OBD2 so the local places can't scan it.
If it's a solenoid, why does it only happen when I refill the tank and not the other 7 times I've started it since then?
I've been to doth gas stations at least a dozen times.
If an O2 sensor, why isn't it lacking on power, stumbling at idle, or not starting other times?
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Old 01-13-10, 02:22 PM   #8
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Get a bike!
Already have several. They aren't good for the 65 mile commute in the winter, I'm not PCAD. I did bike to work once over the summer, and then spent the rest of the day answering the question "You biked HOW FAR to get here?"
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Old 01-13-10, 02:22 PM   #9
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Yeah, might be the fuel filter or fuel pressure regulator.

There's a good chance the car is reporting errors when it won't start. Head down to your friendly autoparts store and have them scan the computer. Maybe that will clue you in.
No error codes.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:23 PM   #10
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Already have several. They aren't good for the 65 mile commute in the winter, I'm not PCAD. I did bike to work once over the summer, and then spent the rest of the day answering the question "You biked HOW FAR to get here?"
move a little closer then.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:25 PM   #11
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move a little closer then.
Then I wouldn't be able to live with the girlfriend. I suppose I could make her move too, but with her PhD work at Purdue, she already leaves when I do and often gets in much later. It isn't the commute I mind, it's my car not starting when I put fuel in to it.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:29 PM   #12
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It's a Mazda.
lucky, if it were a true Ford it prob wouldn't have made it off the production line.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:30 PM   #13
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Then I wouldn't be able to live with the girlfriend. I suppose I could make her move too, but with her PhD work at Purdue, she already leaves when I do and often gets in much later. It isn't the commute I mind, it's my car not starting when I put fuel in to it.
well....new car?
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Old 01-13-10, 02:32 PM   #14
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Old 01-13-10, 02:34 PM   #15
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My guess is the Idle Air Control is intermittent (it's the air bleeder that allows the car to idle, takes the place of an idle screw on a carb).
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Old 01-13-10, 02:39 PM   #16
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No check engine light, and no error codes registering (already checked that), plus it's not OBD2 so the local places can't scan it.
If it's a solenoid, why does it only happen when I refill the tank and not the other 7 times I've started it since then?
I've been to doth gas stations at least a dozen times.
If an O2 sensor, why isn't it lacking on power, stumbling at idle, or not starting other times?
Check engine light only comes on when it's an emissions-related electronic issue.

Did you leave the key on while you filled the tank?
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Old 01-13-10, 02:40 PM   #17
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Sounds like a dirty Throttle Body. If cleaning that doesn't fix it I'd try the MAP sensor next (but I'd expect that to cause a 'Check Engine' light).
My Camry sometimes has the same symptom. Will not keep running when started unless I keep my foot on the gas, but once it's driven for a minute or so it runs fine. But I haven't had any correlation with stopping at gas stations - it's been pretty random.

See:
http://minimopar.knizefamily.net/idleproblems.html
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Old 01-13-10, 02:51 PM   #18
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well....new car?
But with a simple fix, this one may well continue to work.
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Strongly considering that at this point. I always have enjoyed their show.
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My guess is the Idle Air Control is intermittent (it's the air bleeder that allows the car to idle, takes the place of an idle screw on a carb).
Sounds reasonable, but once more, why only when I fill the tank (opposed to the other warm starts)?
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Check engine light only comes on when it's an emissions-related electronic issue.
Yes, but shorting the correct two pins at the diagnostic port should show all errors, including crank position sensors and such. No errors codes showed.
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Did you leave the key on while you filled the tank?
No, I always remove the key and shut off the running lights/head lamps.
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Sounds like a dirty Throttle Body. If cleaning that doesn't fix it I'd try the MAP sensor next (but I'd expect that to cause a 'Check Engine' light).
My Camry sometimes has the same symptom. Will not keep running when started unless I keep my foot on the gas, but once it's driven for a minute or so it runs fine. But I haven't had any correlation with stopping at gas stations - it's been pretty random.
See:
http://minimopar.knizefamily.net/idleproblems.html
I'll look in to this, thank you.
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Old 01-13-10, 04:21 PM   #19
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Sounds like a dirty Throttle Body. If cleaning that doesn't fix it I'd try the MAP sensor next (but I'd expect that to cause a 'Check Engine' light).
My Camry sometimes has the same symptom. Will not keep running when started unless I keep my foot on the gas, but once it's driven for a minute or so it runs fine. But I haven't had any correlation with stopping at gas stations - it's been pretty random.

See:
http://minimopar.knizefamily.net/idleproblems.html
I would start with the basics, and the above is one of the basics.
Please note that, with Ford products, you need to use a special throttle body cleaner, rather than carb cleaner. The throttle plate has a coating on it that normal carb cleaner can destroy. It's available at most/all auto parts stores. Make sure you clean the back of the plate, and the little hole (assuming the Probes have that hole) through the plate. I would also remove the IAC (Idle Air Control) and clean the pintle on that.

It's odd that it only does it after filling up.... maybe leaky injectors?

Wait.
Duh.
Crap in the gas tank. When you fill the tank, crap (rust, bugs, all kinds of crap - you'd be surprised) on the bottom of your gas tank is mixed with the gas. It could be covering the screen on your fuel pump pickup, reducing the fuel pressure at idle. Once the crap settles to the bottom of the tank while you're driving or after you stop the car, it's all good again until you fill up the next time.
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Old 01-13-10, 04:53 PM   #20
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Old 01-13-10, 05:07 PM   #21
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Google "Ford Probe Forum" and let people who know the car fix it for you. Chances are it's an easily diagnosed problem. I've had great luck with automotive forums finding fixes to the problems my cars have had.
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Old 01-13-10, 05:20 PM   #22
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My guess is a faulty Kuhneutson Valve.

Last edited by dragracer; 01-13-10 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 01-13-10, 06:53 PM   #23
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<snip>
It's odd that it only does it after filling up.... maybe leaky injectors?

Wait.
Duh.
Crap in the gas tank. When you fill the tank, crap (rust, bugs, all kinds of crap - you'd be surprised) on the bottom of your gas tank is mixed with the gas. It could be covering the screen on your fuel pump pickup, reducing the fuel pressure at idle. Once the crap settles to the bottom of the tank while you're driving or after you stop the car, it's all good again until you fill up the next time.
This. The first time you noticed it was when you put 13.5 gallons in a 15.5 capacity tank. The next time you noticed was also when you got gas. How low were you then? Rule of thumb around here is to drive using only the top 3/4 tank. When the needle gets to 1/4, time for more gas.
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Old 01-13-10, 09:38 PM   #24
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Throttle position sensor? Did you get gas at Supertest on 52 and 38? Either could cause the issue. Supertest has a lot of water in their tanks and if they just took a delivery, that was all stirred up and floating around in their tanks. It takes about 2 hours to settle to the bottom of the tank again.

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No check engine light, and no error codes registering (already checked that), plus it's not OBD2 so the local places can't scan it.
If it's a solenoid, why does it only happen when I refill the tank and not the other 7 times I've started it since then?
I've been to doth gas stations at least a dozen times.
If an O2 sensor, why isn't it lacking on power, stumbling at idle, or not starting other times?
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Old 01-13-10, 10:06 PM   #25
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Run a bottle of dry gas through the tank. It will dissipate any water in the tank. If the problem persists clean out the throttle position sensor with some brake cleaner, dry and reinstall.
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