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Questions and Answers

Hard Hot Restart

Q. My Probe overheated and stalled on me. I let it cool down, put more water in the radiator, and got it to start so that I could get it home. After that it was always hard to start and I thought I might have done something to the head, (cracked, warped, or blown the head gasket), I did a compression check and everything seemed ok.

I finally found the problem to be the water pump. I replaced it but I still had a problem starting the car. It used to start within a few turns of the engine. I replaced the plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter, and engine coolant temperature sensor. I adjusted the throttle cable and the car started within a few cranks of the engine, but once the car is warmed up (normal operating temperatures) it takes about two to three times on the starter before it starts, and it usually idles rough for a second or two before it begins to run normal.

I know it has to be a fuel delivery problem. And when I changed the fuel filter, I did not have any pressure on the high pressure side. I would like to try and pinpoint the problem before I just start replacing components. It runs smooth and doesn't seem to have lost any power, but it just doesn't want to start right away when it's warmed up.

  • 1989 Ford Probe GL
  • 2.2L non-turbo, fuel injection
  • Manual transmission
  • Power Steering
  • 120,000 miles

Thanks in Advance for your advice.

A. Generally a hard hot restart is indicative of misadjusted timing or vapor lock. But in this case, with no fuel pressure, I would take a look at the fuel pump check valve or fuel pressure regulator. It's a little odd, because a bad check valve would mean hard starting all the time. To check this properly, you're going to need a fuel pressure test gauge. Hook up the pressure tester according to the directions and then start the car. Note the fuel pressure reading and shut the car off. A small drop when you shut it off is okay. Now watch the gauge and see if it starts to drop and how quickly. The quicker it drops, the more severe the problem.

Once you confirm the pressure drop, start the car again to build up the pressure again and shut the car off. Then quick as you can, pinch the fuel line between the fuel filter and the gas tank. If the pressure still drops, then you have a bad fuel pressure regulator or a leaking injector(s). If the pressure remains constant, then the fuel pump check valve is bad and is allowing the pressure to bleed off. Now some cars have a separate, replaceable, check valve and some are built into the fuel pump. In either case you'll need to drop the gas tank to replace it.

You can do a quickie test this way; when the car is hot, turn the key on, but do not start the car. Count to five and then turn the key off and on and again count to five Do this 3 or four times and then start the car and see if it starts and runs okay. By doing this, you are building up the fuel pressure before the car tries to start.

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