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Old 07-11-2007, 15:07   #1 (permalink)
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3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

Hey Guys,

I've been having an extremely frustrating situation on my hands with my 1988 Taurus GL Wagon and was hoping you could help. The car is a 3.8L Essex with approximately 90K miles. Has treated me very well up until now.

For the past month or so, the car has had trouble accelerating after startup. It will hesitate like crazy when I press the accelerator right after I let the engine reach normal operating temps. I really have to mash the throttle to get it to go anymore... you can hear the engine going "chug chug chug" especially at low RPM's. But the weird thing is that after driving for a few minutes, the problem will go away completely and the car will run perfectly.

This problem wasn't a big deal at first but has gotten progressively worse, at at this point it drives so poorly I want to drive it off a cliff. I took it to the Ford Dealership to have it diagnosed and they didn't find anything. The check engine light does not come on. I have replaced the IAC valve, the EGR sensor, the MAP sensor, fuel filter, air filter, PCV valve, and checked the spark plugs, distributor and rotor. The spark plugs are less than a year old. Everything is fine in those areas. But $300 later I haven't progressed a bit - and I really hate to spend any more of my college money on a car that's hardly worth a grand anymore. And I really don't want to buy another car. Very frustrating.

Does anyone know what could possibly be wrong with it? Sorry for the long post.

-Sergei
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:30   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

You should have an exhaust backpressure test done to see if you have a restricted exhaust. That would cause all these problems
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Old 07-12-2007, 18:18   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

I agree with RickMN. I had that problem with my previous car (an old Mercedes). I did almost all parts replacement that might be involved, even Mercedes Benz Distributor Rotor and Spark Plugs but there was no progress. I even thought of just trading the car if only I got enough cash for a better one that time. Desperately, I took it to a mechanic and he suggested for backpressure test which actually helped.
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Old 07-12-2007, 21:02   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

I will have it checked out tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers that this is the problem. I'll let you guys know how it turns out. Thanks!
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Old 07-14-2007, 09:30   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

Alright... I got the backpressure test done. No backpressure, the exhaust system and catalytic converter are fine. Man...

I took it to a private repair shop. They will do diagnostics on it on Wednesday... they sounded a lot more confident than ford that they could find the problem. Anything else I should try before my appointment?
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Old 07-16-2007, 17:21   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

Hmmm... I guess there's no other way to know the cause of the problem.

Have it diagnosed. I hope you post us with the outcome. I'm curious of how it would be fixed.
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Old 07-18-2007, 13:35   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

So I just got a call from the mechanic diagnosing it. So far he has found two problems - There is a major vacuum leak in the engine block and the oxygen sensor is dead. I will have them repair the vacuum leak for me... but I will replace the O2 censor myself. So that should cost around $400 including diagnostics and taxes. Not too bad... yet. Hopefully I won't have to do more testing after this. The mechanic said there really is no point in testing it further until those two problems (which could very likely cause my problems) are resolved. So I'm crossing my fingers that those two will fix it.
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Old 07-18-2007, 17:08   #8 (permalink)
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cool Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sss18734
So I just got a call from the mechanic diagnosing it. So far he has found two problems - There is a major vacuum leak in the engine block and the oxygen sensor is dead. I will have them repair the vacuum leak for me... but I will replace the O2 censor myself. So that should cost around $400 including diagnostics and taxes. Not too bad... yet. Hopefully I won't have to do more testing after this. The mechanic said there really is no point in testing it further until those two problems (which could very likely cause my problems) are resolved. So I'm crossing my fingers that those two will fix it.
Normally on a 3.8L, you have 2 O2 sensors. One for each bank (set of cylinders). Don't exactly remember on your year. And your mechanic probably said a vacuum leak on the intake manifold. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
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Old 04-28-2008, 19:52   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 3.8L '88 poor acceleration PLEASE HELP!

I know it has been a while since I've posted to this thread but I figured I might as well resolve it in case anyone else ever has a similar problem.

I did have a back pressure test done - the exhaust was fine.

I had the shop fix the vacuum leak. That gave the car more power to get through the stalling, but didn't get rid of the problem. I replace the oxygen sensor (there was only one), and the car works pretty well. Basically, problem solved!

Thanks for everyone's help.
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