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Anthony, Ford Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 11808
Experience:  ASE Master Automobile Technician with over 20 years exp.
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97 Taurus: starts fine, idles fine..engine or reverse

Customer Question

97 Taurus, starts fine, idles fine. When cold, engine dies when put in drive or reverse. Wait 5 minutes for engine to heat up and it will drive fine all day.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Dan replied 8 years ago.

It sounds like your idle air control solenoid has failed. This is typical symptoms. Here is are troubleshooting steps and a component location. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with. Thaks


1. While the problem is occurring, keep the engine running by giving it just enough throttle to keep it from stalling. With the Idle Air Control (IAC) valve connected, monitor the voltage across the 2 wires at the IAC connector. The higher the voltage, the harder the PCM is trying to raise the idle. Expect more than 4 volts if the idle is lower than normal. Then, with the engine running at a low idle speed, unplug the connector, and if the RPM does not drop when the connector is unplugged, replace the IAC.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Already replaced the IAC. Now everyone says it is the transmission. Could it be the MAF or some other type of temp sensor?

The puzzling part is it will always die when cold (or when it has sat overnight) but will always go into gear after it is warmed up. How could it possibly be the transmission? It shifts and drives perfect after it is warm.
Expert:  Dan replied 8 years ago.

If your lukcy your problem could be a failting transmission range sensor "neutral safety switch". If that does not fix your problem you likely have a failed tourqe converter that is completly locking up when cold. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks.


Likely Causes:

Idle Air Control (IAC) Valve -A damaged or malfunctioning IAC valve can cause the vehicle to stall when shifted into drive or reverse.

Transmission - A malfunctioning or damaged transmission or torque converter can cause the vehicle to stall when shifted into drive or reverse.


Overlooked Causes

Wire Harness -A damaged wire harness that is shorting out when it moves can cause the vehicle to stall when shifted into drive or reverse.

Transmission Range (TR) Sensor - A damaged or malfunctioning TR sensor can cause the vehicle to stall when shifted into drive or reverse. NOTE: In some older books the TR sensor was called a neutral safety switch or manual level position (MLP) sensor.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't think I am explaining this well.

If any of your solutions were valid, then it would have trouble all of the time. Again, this only occurs when the engine is cold. Only.

After it warms up, I can start and stop it for the rest of the day and it will shift into gear just fine.

How could it be a neutral switch or bad converter if this only occurs when it is cold? What does being warmed up have to do with the torque converter? If it was bad wouldn't it do it all the time not only when cold?
Expert:  Dan replied 8 years ago.
I'll opt-out to see if another expert might have some different ideas. Thanks.
Expert:  Anthony replied 8 years ago.



When the engine dies, is there any way to keep it running when in gear, cold?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No, the engine will die immediately until it reaches warm-up (approximately 5 to 8 minutes) then it will run all day. I've been driving it this way for 12 days now.
Expert:  Anthony replied 8 years ago.
How old is the trans fluid?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
At least 50K or so I'm guessing.
Expert:  Anthony replied 8 years ago.
I would have the trans flushed with synthetic fluid other than that you may have an internal trans problem.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I can do that, but tell me why it works when it's warm? Does the engine heat the trans fluid as well?

It seems that if it works fine when warm, then it wouldn't matter? Just wondering.
Expert:  Anthony replied 8 years ago.
Dirty fluid or old fluid works different when cold. Cold dirty fluid can cause your problem. Synthetic fluid dosent thicken up as much when cold so it will definately help. Yes the engine heats the fluid as does the trans itself.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Something new to add:

On my way home yesterday, the check engine light came on for the first time since I've been having this problem (12 days)

Also, this morning, after it warmed up it went into reverse fine, but dies when in drive. Have to get the idle up and go into drive from neutral to get it to go. After that, it doesn't die at all even at stop lights.

Dropping car off this weekend for Trans fluid change to synthetic.
Expert:  Anthony replied 8 years ago.
Ok, before you do anything go to a store like autozone and have the engine codes read out. get them to me so I can give you a more accurate answer on this situation. Sound good?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Will do.
Expert:  Anthony replied 8 years ago.
Ok, because the outcome may have to change. Also Ill be here when you are ready.