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TeamSelig
03-14-2007, 02:07 PM
I've had so much trouble with my car lately, that I've contemplated suicide. Seriously though, I am ignorant when it comes to vehicles and working on them, and I can't seem to figure out what is wrong with my car.

First I thought the transmission was going out because it seemed like it would shift down randomly. But later found out that it was just bogging down periodically. Got new spark plugs and plug wires (they were bad), figured that would fix the problem. Nope. It runs a little better but still bogs down. At times it will drive fine, but most of the time it bogs down, sometimes bad sometimes not so bad. When it is bogging down I can get up to about 45 mph before it basically shuts down and usually I can keep it going about 25 mph but thats it.

I was told it was the fuel filter, so I got that changed this morning, and today it still runs crappy, maybe even worse. Whats weird is my roommates car is doing the same thing. He got his fuel pump changed, and then fuel filter as well but still nothing happening.

Any ideas? I think my next move is the distributer cap, but I am BROKE and cannot afford to fix something that isn't the problem.

SunDeck
03-14-2007, 02:17 PM
Do you buy your gas at the same place? Are there locks on your gas tanks? For both of you to have the same problem it's either a really weird coincidence or something like that- water in the gas or maybe some jokester took a wiz or dumped something in your tank.

When I have had water in my gas lines, the problem presented kind of like yours is- you get initial acceleration, but it drops off quickly and nearly stalls. Then it does it again when you press on the gas. Up then down quickly.
My experience with fuel pump, injector and/or filter problems is that they sputter more than anything.

Just guesses- I'm no mechanic but I had these problems a lot with the trucks I used to maintain for a landscaping company.

TeamSelig
03-14-2007, 02:34 PM
yes that is it....

hmm... how do you get water out of your gas line though?

there are two different gas stations that I normally buy gas at, but not every single time...

bengalsown
03-14-2007, 07:44 PM
What kind of car is it?

Could be a faulty ECU...

TeamSelig
03-14-2007, 08:25 PM
lol Ford Escort 1989

thatcoolguy_22
03-14-2007, 10:26 PM
lol Ford Escort 1989

ok so we can eliminate the ecu...

if it is just the gas then it will burn out by itself. don't keep topping off your tank though as you will have half a dozen contaminated tanks as oppose to just 1 or 2.

TeamSelig
03-14-2007, 10:33 PM
looking around and reading stuff... sounds like getting a gas treatment with alcohol in it would work... with the alcohol absorbing the water

LoganBuck
03-15-2007, 12:17 AM
Go to an Autozone or Napa. Tell them what is going on and that you suspect it is the fuel, and that your roommates car is doing the same thing. Throw in that you suspect that someone messed with your fuel. They can set you up with the proper additives, and or point you in the direction of good local mechanic that can drain your lines and tank. You should probably get new filters again after this. Get a locking fuel cap.

Reds Nd2
03-15-2007, 12:48 AM
Here are some questions that will be helpful in trying to eliminate your problem.

1. What, EXACTLY, do you mean by "bogging down"?
2. Does the car start normally when you crank the engine?
3. Does the car idle ok, or does it keep going dead. At stop lights for instance.
4. What did the spark plugs look like when you removed them? Were they covered in oil?
5. When was the last time it had a decent tune-up?
6. What size motor does the car have?
7. Have you changed the gas cap recently?

It may be the fuel, but since you buy it at different locations, I'd rule that out. Unless you have reason to believe someone has contaminated it on purpose, I highly doubt that it's the fuel. I wouldn't waste my money on fuel treatments. If someone has done this on purpose, fuel additives won't help anyway.

Your basic internal combustion engine needs three things to work properly; air, fuel, and fire. I think we can safely eliminate fuel (It could be a fuel delivery system problem though. I.E. fuel pump). By trial and error, you've already eliminated some of the possible problems though. So, your getting close to getting your ride where she needs to be. Let's hold off on the seppuku and throwing money needlessly into the AutoZone coffers though.

Fixing cars is much like fixing your favorite baseball team. Throwing money needlessly at the problem won't fix it. You have to identify the problem first, then spend your money accordingly.

TeamSelig
03-15-2007, 02:25 AM
1. What, EXACTLY, do you mean by "bogging down"?

Car just turns sluggish, loses power. Also makes a weird putt-ing sound when it starts to do it. Typically when it is bogging down, it will have power til it hits 45 mph then its like something just hits it and it starts to decline. Sometimes I can put the car in neutral & hit the gas a little, then put it in Drive and it will take off for a little while.

Whats strange about it, is sometimes it drives fine. Today it drove horrible to school, and on the way back except for about 1/4 mile away then it drove fine. After I got everything changed back home, on Sunday I drove THREE HOURS to school and it was PERFECT (better than its ever drove)... then Monday morning about half way to school it starts acting up. On the way home Monday it got real bad so I stopped and tried to figure stuff out. Revved it up a bunch. When I pushed the gas down it wanted to kinda sputter/bog down and die but I'd let off. After pumping the gas it seemed to almost work its way out but was still being stupid. (EDIT: when it started to bog/sputter/whatever you call it, it would sometimes made a popping noise) But once I got out on the road it drove home fine. My roommates car bogs down until he drives it for a while, then it seems to work.

2. Does the car start normally when you crank the engine?

After changing the spark plugs, yes. Before you had to give it gas to start it.

3. Does the car idle ok, or does it keep going dead. At stop lights for instance.

The vacuum tube (I believe thats what its called) has came off, so it idles weird sometimes. The other day it was idling at 40 mph lol without me hitting the gas at all. Sometimes at stop lights or whatever when I try to take off it will want to die but usually doesn't. If I leave it idling in park it doesn't die.

4. What did the spark plugs look like when you removed them? Were they covered in oil?

Not sure what you mean by covered in oil, but they were dark, old, and nasty looking. They were dirty, so I guess the answer would be yes, they had oil on them. (EDIT: also one plug wire was almost burnt in two)

5. When was the last time it had a decent tune-up?

Well, I just changed the spark plugs & plug wires, along with changing the oil. Now it has a new fuel filter. Not sure what else is involved in a tune up, but I think that covers it all?

6. What size motor does the car have?

Its a 4 cynlinder, 1.9 I'm pretty sure.

7. Have you changed the gas cap recently?

Gas cap as in the cap you take off to put gas in it, no. I didn't know people did that lol...


As for someone putting something in my tank... I'm not sure why anyone would do it to my roommate and I. I just moved to this town, and I don't know anyone in it hardly. When we go to school, i've never parked near my roommate, so I think I would rule that out. The only person I could think of would be the guy that used to live with us, who now lives a couple blocks away. Him and my roommate are related but I wouldn't consider them on good terms, but we were fine. Just a possibility.

I NEED transportation to school... school is 3 hrs from home, and 15 minutes away during the week (commute), no money to buy a different vehicle, no spare vehicle, no nothing, and a baby on the way. Maybe I'm expecting too much from an old Escort but I'd like to at least get from A to B without any major difficulties.

Thanks for the help, maybe you can give me a idea of what might be wrong now that i've gave you a better description.

ghettochild
03-15-2007, 04:14 AM
sounds like the fuel pump

MaineRed
03-15-2007, 07:35 AM
I bet it isn't the fuel pump. My wifes car was doing the same thing and the mechanics and the dealership tried a number of things including that and it seems like he already tried that.

It might be the EKG valve. That is was the problem with my wife's car. She'd drive it and then complain that is was doing what you are saying but then you could drive it and it would be fine. You'd give it to the mechanic and he'd say he didn't see anything wrong with it and then on the way home it would start in with the mind of its own crap.

Though you might have water in your gas tank. And that doesn't have to come from someone actually putting water in your tank.

You don't sound like someone who keeps your gas tank on the full side and if you have a low tank and cold weather, condensation is created and then drips into the gas causing the problem you are sort of describing. A serious lack of power and sputtering is often water in your gas. All you need is a little bottle of "dry gas". You can try this as if it isn't the problem it will cause no harm. Everyone should be putting dry gas in their cold climate cars probably. I'd give that a try. It will just cost a couple of bucks. You can get it a a 7-11 or whatever you have out there. I wouldn't even bother with the folks at NAPA. Ask them where the dry gas is, pour that in, if it doesn't work, you need to call a mechanic. You are going to waste more money experimenting. If you had gone somehwere to start and they didn't get it right you could go back and tell them to fix it without being expected to pay IMO. Sounds like you are already out the cost of a fuel filter when maybe you didn't need it.

If you are ignorant when it comes to cars, you probably shouldn't be messing with them to the extent of changing the fuel filter or anything like that. Plugs are one thing. I understand trying to save a few bucks but you aren't doing that. You are also wasting your time that at worst could be spent on redszone. You might want to consider a part time job (if you don't have one) to help finance a new car. If you could get someone to co-sign like a parent you could probably get something dependable that would only cost you $150-200 a month. That would beat nickel and diming yourself to death with an undependable car.

TeamSelig
03-15-2007, 12:28 PM
I had someone else change the fuel filter, I wasn't about to try and mess anything up. My uncle took a look at it, and my fuel filter was bad so if anything I got that out of the way for later issues.

Also, I was told that a fuel pump doesn't start to go out, it just goes out. Not sure if that is true or not though.

Thanks for all the help guys

Reds Nd2
03-15-2007, 04:21 PM
From what you described, it sounds like it might be a firing problem. Take off the distributor cap (The thing that all four of your spark plugs and coil wire plug into). This is something you can do yourself. It will be held on by either a couple of clips on the side of the cap or a couple of screws through the top of the cap. It will have a notches in the cap and the distributor itself to help you line it up when you put it back on. So don't worry about not being able to put it back on correctly. This is easy, I promise. After you've removed the cap from the distributor, check for corrosion on the four terminals inside the cap. There will also be a rotor button or a pickup on the distributor. Check to see if it is corroded. If you find any corrosion, take a piece of sand paper and sand off the corrosion, being carefull not to remove too much metal. You only want to remove the corrosion on these parts.

It also wouldn't hurt to check your air filter. After you have taken it off the car, hold it up to a light. You want to be able to see light through the filter. I don't think a dirty air filter is your problem, but a new one would help improve your fuel economy, and with the price of petro and your limited budget, that's a good thing.

One other thing. When you remove your distributor cap, leave the plug wires attached. That way you don't have to worry about the firing order.

If you have any questions about any of this just post them here, or you can PM me. I'll try to help all I can.

TeamSelig
03-15-2007, 05:27 PM
The air filter is bad, I know for a fact. Couldn't see through it at all. I just left it out (someone was telling me it works better w/o one than a bad one). From what I've been told the air filter isn't that much of a problem due to the fact that I never drive on anything but the highway.

The problem with the distributor is that I think my bolt came off. It barely stays on... I had someone put silicon on the edges so it would stick, so honestly I'm not sure I can take it off without not being able to put it back on or not. My uncle did check out the distributor and he said it didn't look too good, but I'm not sure if it was corroded or what. I'll try to see if I can't work on it a little with sand paper though.

Today on the way to school, I noticed that I could pump the gas when it bogs down, and in a few seconds it will kick back into normal. Seems like pumping the gas helps it fire or find its power again.

Does this still sound like a distributor cap problem? It seems like it makes sense to me, and since you mentioned it, along with the fact that my uncle said that it might not be working right, it could be reasonable to think that could be the problem.

Thanks again

LoganBuck
03-16-2007, 02:48 PM
Your last post makes me think it is either the distributor or water in the fuel. Your distributer sounds like you have been playing with it for awhile so use your own discretion.

As for the water it sounds like you should try some dry gas. You should have less than $5, in that. My guess is that it is water in the fuel. Like Maine said it could just be condensation, my guess was based on the proximity of your car to other college students ==== potential random drunk idiots.

Is your fuel cap sealing properly? Does it feel loose when you tighten it or does it fit snuggly like it should? Generic fuel caps are fairly inexpensive as well.

Reds Nd2
03-16-2007, 08:31 PM
The air filter is bad, I know for a fact. Couldn't see through it at all. I just left it out (someone was telling me it works better w/o one than a bad one). From what I've been told the air filter isn't that much of a problem due to the fact that I never drive on anything but the highway.
You really need to replace the air filter, but if nothing else, put the old one back on immediately. You have enough problems without sucking a bunch of trash into your carburator. Take a good look at the outside of your old air filter. Do you really want all that inside your carburator? Because that's where all that dirt is going to go without a filter.


The problem with the distributor is that I think my bolt came off. It barely stays on... I had someone put silicon on the edges so it would stick, so honestly I'm not sure I can take it off without not being able to put it back on or not. My uncle did check out the distributor and he said it didn't look too good, but I'm not sure if it was corroded or what. I'll try to see if I can't work on it a little with sand paper though.
You won't be able to do what I was suggesting without taking the cap off. If there is a question of not being able to put it back on, then don't take it off. At least your car is able to run now. If you take the cap off and can't get it back on, your stuck with a vehicle that won't run at all.


Does this still sound like a distributor cap problem? It seems like it makes sense to me, and since you mentioned it, along with the fact that my uncle said that it might not be working right, it could be reasonable to think that could be the problem.

Thanks again
Yes, definantly sounds like a distributor cap problem. So much so, that I suggest you replace both the cap and the rotor button. The new cap will come with the two screws you need to hold it on. I did a quick price check for you and around here (Southern Va.) a Motocraft distributor cap sells for $18.99 and the Motocraft rotor button sells for $9.88 for a 1989 1.9L Escort LX. That is a bit pricey and you can likely find the parts cheaper.

Will this fix your problem? Honestly, I don't know. But from all you've said, that's definantly where I would start. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions just ask.

Put an air filter on that car before you drive it any where.

Reds Nd2
03-16-2007, 08:50 PM
Another thing, if your missing a screw that holds on your distributor cap, my guess would be that the cap is broken where the screws attach. If that's the case, the cap could be cracked. That could also cause the problems your describing.

TeamSelig
03-17-2007, 01:52 PM
Update.... before I went home yesterday, I was like screw it I'll get some gas treatment. Once I got in there I saw fuel injector cleaner, so I bought that. Seems like it worked. I think the car bogged down twice on a 3 hr ride home, and I barely pumped the gas for it to start working again.

MaineRed
03-18-2007, 07:55 AM
It is doubtful that fuel injector cleaner would work that fast.

Sounds like coincidence. That stuff doesn't start working instantly, you need to burn through a tank of gas, at least.

You've got a problem that comes and goes I think.

LoganBuck
03-18-2007, 03:23 PM
Did you get dry gas or fuel injector cleaner? There is a big difference between what the two are.

Reds Nd2
03-18-2007, 10:11 PM
Update.... before I went home yesterday, I was like screw it I'll get some gas treatment. Once I got in there I saw fuel injector cleaner, so I bought that. Seems like it worked. I think the car bogged down twice on a 3 hr ride home, and I barely pumped the gas for it to start working again.
But it still bogged down. Good luck.

PickOff
03-18-2007, 11:38 PM
I agree that it is the distributor, almost certainly. Spend the $50 if you can get it. Good luck!

Reds Nd2
03-23-2007, 09:50 PM
How's the car running?

TeamSelig
03-25-2007, 06:27 PM
Okay.... update time...

my roommate finally went and got his hooked up to a machine, long story but in the end he had a dirty fuel map sensor.

Does my 89 Ford Escort have one? I'm pretty sure. Now I just need to find it and clean that little thing...

Spring~Fields
03-25-2007, 09:18 PM
Check the vacum lines to make sure that they are connected, also check to see if they are leaking, sucking air, etc, if they are replace or put some electrical tape around them. Vacuum lines, little or smaller black hoses that run to various parts. Also check to see if that car has an EGR valve. Chryslers do and they act as you described when the EGR valve is bad.

We had a car that did that also when the oxygen or fuel sensor went bad or was going bad to, as you described.

TeamSelig
03-25-2007, 09:38 PM
Can't remember if I posted this in here or not, but the vacuum line is off. I didn't think that would make it bog down though ???

Spring~Fields
03-26-2007, 12:33 AM
Can't remember if I posted this in here or not, but the vacuum line is off. I didn't think that would make it bog down though ???

Just depends, its detachment can cause one of the emission/fuel system valves or sensors not to work properly which can create the symptoms, if it was suppose to be attached to one of those. That would be a cheap out (vaccuum line) if that is the resovle to your car problems. If it was attached to the EGR valve or oxygen sensor, without the line attached that could be causing one of those not to work correctly and you will have the bogging down and such as you described in your original post.

http://www.aa1car.com/library/vacleak.htm

RBA
03-26-2007, 12:36 AM
Just a tip for everyone. Some car parts stores will scan your car for you free, if the service lights come on. I went to an AutoZone once and they scanned my car, the employee told me to put the gas cap on tight, that's all it was.