1991 Ford Ranger Engine Dies Whle Driving – Won’t Restart

Reader Question Hey there Austin A while back you were very helpful with a problem I had with my 86 Ford Mustang 2.3. I bought a 91 Ford Ranger XLT pickup with a 2.3 4cyl, fuel injected engine.

It is the one with the 2 coil packs instead of a distributor. I had the timing belt , pick up (crank case) sensor, etc replaced about a year ago while was in Arkansas doing a job. (Also replaced the module) The work was done in Va Beach, Va, where I actually live.

I got back here @ the 1st of June & have been driving the truck for 2 mos. Last night it cut off on me & I thought I’d run out of gas since the gauge doesn’t work (thought I had @40 mi left since I’d already figured out I was getting 18mpg). Had AAA bring me some gas (a whole gal). Took forever to get it started but it ran Ok once it did-except the check engine light was on.

Put more gas in it on way home (didn’t turn it off). Shut it off when I got home & it wouldn’t start. Got it started this morn(would try to start then cut out as if no fuel-but did burp a couple of times). When it started, the check engine light came back on. Turned it off & no start again. Tried it hours later & it seems as if it wants to diesel–and I can smell gasoline.

I guess that means it isn’t the fuel pump, huh? Fuel pump shouldn’t cause check engine light to come on, should it? (Any I can hear the pump engage when I turn on the ign) I’m thinking sensor, but which one?

You have any ideas short of having a diagnostic run on it? Money is tight. Thought you may have seen something like this before. I don’t think its the timing belt (that wouldn’t make light come on, I don’t think).

Any ideas? Was running awesome before that- when it just cut off at a stop light-check engine light came on just before it died. Thanks for any advice you can send my way.

Hey Joe,

I think I would lean more to a weak fuel pump than anything else from what you have told me so far. Next time it will not start, have someone bang on the bottom of the fuel tank with their fist or rubber hammer AS you crank over the engine. This can help jump start a weak fuel pump. If it starts up, you most likely have a fuel delivery issue…bad pump inside the fuel tank.

When you turn the key to the ON position you should hear a high pitched whine noise coming from inside the fuel tank. This is caused from the fuel pump priming itself and building pressure. Your pump might be “working” and pumping fuel to the engine but not delivering the proper amount of fuel pressure to start the engine and keep it running.

The check engine light could be on to do a lean running condition or from a backfire that might have taken place and your computer took note of it. Both of these could be due to a bad fuel pump, or from lack of proper fuel pressure. You can usually rent a manual screw on type fuel pressure gauge from your local auto parts store to test the fuel pressure manually at the engine. Ford fuel pumps are a notorious failure item.


Austin Davis

Posted in: Won't Start Issues

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