Reader Question: Hi,
The other day my 2000 Ford Windstar started to shake going uphill at 4000 RPMs. The engine check light started to blink and turned off as soon as the van stopped shaking which coincidentally happened when the RPMs dipped below 4000.
After three same events during the road trip the engine check light stayed on after the third event. The van seemed to remedy itself later that afternoon and the power seemed good even above 4000 RPMs. The next day I poured “heet” into the gas tank thinking it was water in the gasoline and soon the engine check light turned off.
However, the past few days I have been noticing that the car feels like it may be sputtering here and there although the engine sounds great. While in park, I also notice the engine sputtering above 4000 RPMs when I rev the engine. Do you have any thoughts as to what may be happening?
Nothing costly I hope.
My first thought would be to check the tune up items like the spark plug wires. Worn out spark plug wires can break down and cause an engine misfire when they get hot and overworked like going up hill or if the engine is operating at high RPMs. Anything stressful to the engine will cause the spark plug wires to fail. An engine miss would cause the check engine light to come on, and would cause the engine to shake/vibrate/miss and you would feel this in the driver seat and steering wheel.
So, have your mechanic inspect the spark plugs and spark plug wires. Most original spark plug wires will have numbers stamped on them 1-6 to designate which cylinder they belong to, so if you see a black number 1-6 on the body of the plug wire they are probably original and if they have more than 60,000 miles on them they are probably due for a change.
Lack of fuel pressure from a weak fuel pump or a restriction in the fuel filter can also cause complaints similar to what you describe. Checking the fuel pressure at the engine will a manual fuel pressure gauge would be in order to determine what is going on.