Reader Question: Hi there,
I have just purchase a 1993 Ford Taurus Station Wagon 3.8L V6. I drove it home 2 days ago – this was a journey of roughly 800 kilometers.
When I first got the car, I noticed the idle was slightly rough, but the engine was not totally choking or anything, rough like a slightly bad batch of fuel rough, not like the engine falling out of the car.
With the lights on, the radio on, and the heater on, sitting still at traffic lights was making the idle go quite low (no tach to tell how low), and it felt like it was getting close to stalling.
Having driven about 700kms of my journey, the Check Engine light came on.
I was quite concerned by this at first. However, the car continued to run fine, as it had for the rest of the journey. The car ran fine for the remaining 100kms of the journey.
The next day, the car having sat for 24 hrs in -15 degrees (Alberta), the car now will not start at all – turn of the key showed the instrument panel lights briefly, then everything went out.
Therefore, I am not sure now how to tackle this problem.
I could replace the battery. However, I guess it could be an alternator problem. The car sat in 0 degrees a few days ago, overnight, and started beautifully the next morning incidentally.
Thinking probably the rough idle may be spark plugs and/or leads. However, the check engine light has me wondering about perhaps the oxygen sensors being the cause of the rough idle, the almost stalling and the check engine light being on.
Perhaps I have a dead battery and dead oxygen sensors.
Any advice much appreciated before I start spending (the few I have) dollars.
On the idle problem, I would first want to inspect and clean the throttle body and the idle speed control motor of dirt and carbon that accumulates inside those items. Erratic/surging idle is a very common complaint when those parts need servicing.
This is a fairly inexpensive maintenance item your mechanic can do for you if you don’t know how to clean them yourself.
The check engine light COULD be coming on because of the poor idle problem, or maybe there is something else wrong. I would correct the idle problem first then see what happens and go from there.
The no start issue now, sounds like the battery is either bad or weak because the alternator did not properly recharge the battery while the engine was running.
Since you did not mention a red battery light coming on the dash, as you were driving. I would probably recommend you get your battery LOAD TESTED and replace as needed. Batteries do not do well in extreme conditions neither do I. Hahaha…
Here is an article about check engine lights that you might find helpful.