A Check Engine light that won't go off no matter how much money I've thrown at it.
!996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8 150,000 miles.
Ok, so about 8 months ago, the Check Engine light would illuminate and stay on until we got the code cleared (more on this later). Now, it's begun flashing at any given moment in neighborhood driving, or sometimes (very rarely) on the highway.
When the Check engine light is flashing, I can physically feel something wrong with the car. It's puttering and running pretty rough. That will only happen for about 30-60 secs, then it will recover. I can also put the car in neutral and rev the engine to recover it. Most times accelerating after a recovery is very sketchy. The gas pedal is pushed almost to the floor, but the car just won't get up and go.
We've taken it to AutoZone, Advanced Auto, and Tire Kingdom and their computers all have read the same thing, Misfires on Cylinder 1 and very rarely 4. There was also a new one "idle speed sensor" today on the first check.
I have replaced what seems like EVERYTHING to do with the ignition system. Plugs, Wires, Coil. Had the Fuel injection cleaned and the induction system (such as air plenum) cleaned. None of this has worked. It still flashes then goes on solid.
The Charging system light was on for a short time, I cleaned the battery contacts and it seemed to go away. We have had the alternator and battery tested more 3 than times, they both show fine under load.
I MADE SURE to gap EACH spark plug to .044 like the Ford Dealership told me when I purchased the plugs.
I did inspect everything that I could think of with the ignition system. The wires that go into the coil, the ignition wires and carefully looked at each plug as I was gapping it.
This was also the second set of plugs I have put on in less than 2 months.
The ABS light goes on at highway speeds.
That's about it.. I am not throwing any more money at this problem until I know exact what it is, or the car dies.
So, please throw me a bone, I need to figure this out, for my own knowledge and pride. I can't let this problem get the best of me. :)
If there was a wire bad to power the ignition coil, I would expect there to be more cylinders misfiring. But, it's ALWAYS 1 SOMETIMES 4.
Also, there is a distinct smell of gasoline once I leave the car from driving it from time to time.
EDIT: I was thinking about taking the intake plenum off to see if there is some gunk around the EGR ports. Maybe that is a problem or a gasket is cracked.. Either way, it's nice and cheap to do, if not free :)