Car Stalling
December 21, 2004 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Because I'd Rather Ask You Asshats Than Call Click & Clack: Unexplined car stalling: '96 Taurus, after driving a long time in warm weather, when idling (more under the hood)

I replaced a leaky radiator last summer that caused it to overheat, then started getting this problem: warm day (80+F), when the car has been used for over an hour with only brief periods stopped and parked, on city streets or stop-and-go freeways, it starts idling rough and within a few seconds chugs to a halt and can't be restarted. Resting it for 15-30 minutes 'cools it down' (no, the temp guage never goes above midpoint) so it runs again, but it stalls again after a few stoplights. I don't really have a mechanic I can TRUST, so the more I know about what ails it before I take it in the better. Or is it time to donate it to charity for a tax deduction?
posted by wendell to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
Sounds like vapor lock to me, but am I ever not a mechanic.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:14 PM on December 21, 2004

You better explain to our international audience Click and Clack.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:19 PM on December 21, 2004

It also sounds like vapor lock to me, though I am usually used to it being a "no start" problem, not a stop-while-driving problem which means it may not be vapor lock. This forum thread has some more people chiming in on what seems to be an identical problem to yours.
posted by jessamyn at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2004

Actually,, has a good cartalk section where you can post your stuff to a bb and get answers from certified motor heads.

I had an Escort that would quit when it got hot, but rather than sputtering and dying, it would just die. It turned out to be the ignition switch. Maybe Tauruses have the same switch?
posted by Doohickie at 1:54 PM on December 21, 2004

Response by poster: Vapor Lock sounds like what's happening to me... Thanks, ikky, jess and trh. At least now I can go to a mechanic and not sound like a doofus (on preview, Dooh, I'll keep your ignition switch idea in my back pocket).

And PP, I thought the whole WORLD knew about the folks at Dewey, Cheetham & Howe...
posted by wendell at 2:05 PM on December 21, 2004

Nice strategy, insulting those whom you are asking for help...
posted by rushmc at 2:16 PM on December 21, 2004

Probably vapah lawk.
/tappet brother.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:34 PM on December 21, 2004

Uh, that's BecauseI'dRatherAskYouAsshatsThanCallClickAndClackFilter.
posted by grouse at 2:41 PM on December 21, 2004

And with that said and done, it's time for this week's --

--oh, waitaminute! That WAS this week's puzzler! Probably even "Stump the Chumps", too!
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:10 PM on December 21, 2004

Classic vapor lock. Have the fuel pump replaced and it should go away.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:11 PM on December 21, 2004

And how do you spell yah name? Lemme guess? W.....E....N...
posted by The White Hat at 3:38 PM on December 21, 2004

I had a similar problem and symptoms once. It turned out to be the fuel filter needed changing. I forget the logic of it now. If you haven't done it lately just try it, they're cheap.
posted by JohnR at 4:31 PM on December 21, 2004

Oh and don't buy that real cheap gas.
posted by JohnR at 4:35 PM on December 21, 2004

The proximate cause may be vapor lock, but the ultimate cause is buying a Ford.
posted by kindall at 5:42 PM on December 21, 2004

My mechanic friend says try checking the coolant level; there might be an air bubble keeping the gague from showing the overheat.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:34 PM on December 21, 2004

Could also be the intake manifold. If it's stuck open, your mixture will be too lean at idle. I don't know all that much about engines, but this happened to my car, and the symptoms were as you describe.
posted by Nothing at 8:12 PM on December 21, 2004

Try humming Dixie and patting your head. I had the same exact problem, and that fixed it for me.
posted by Doohickie at 10:01 PM on December 21, 2004

Given that a friend of mine had this issue with a Ford of similar vintage, I'd assume vapor lock as well.

"You know, we had a lot of fun tonight. But, there's nothing funny about vapour lock. It's the third most common cause of stalling. So please, take care of your car and get it checked. I'm Joe Namath. Good night!"
posted by sysinfo at 5:06 AM on December 22, 2004

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