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1997 Sable Shakes but does not Stall while Starting


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I own a 1997 Sable GS with the 3.0L Vulcan. I bought the car used with 98k miles last year and have an unusual problem On occasion when I start the car, the engine will start to shake a few seconds but will not stall. I have replaced the coil, the alternator, the battery, fuel filter, IAC Valve, the spark plugs and wires, clean the MAF, and used Seafoam at one time, and then Techron Fuel System Cleaner. I also performed routine maintenance: oil change, transmission flush, radiator flush, and had to have the heater core flushed twice because of the infamous loss of heat problem that everyone talks about.

I cleaned the MAF sensor and replaced the Air Filter. I have also spray cleaned the throttle bottle a few times recently. The engine starts more smoothly.

A friend of mine suggested my problem was water in the gas or bad gas. I even tried a few bottles of dry gas.

Do you think that the TB probably needed some cleaning or do you have another idea?

Again the problem does not happen each and every time, and on a good note, the engine runs smoothly on the highway with good acceleration.

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Could possibly be vacuum leak. What brand IAC did you replace with? I has the exact issue until I changed my IAC to a brand new BWD part. 

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Tried BWD, and in mine it did not work, made idle worse. Replaced with generic Hitachi brand who makes the part for Ford. Other than the minute shake, idle for me while waiting at stop lights is rock smooth. RPM does not fluctuate.

When the car shakes on occasional start, I do notice the RPM fluctuate at very low RPM before I floor the accelerator while in Park and then the car smooths out.

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North Jersey.

No, I did not because my local Ford dealer suggested that it might be coolant leaking into a cylinder.

My Radiator guy who does the Heater Core flushing, and who does other auto repair work, suggested removing the TB for a thorough cleaning.

Do not want to throw money at unnecessary repairs, so I am trying spray cleaning the TB which seems, and the operative word is seems, to help so far but I am not sure yet. If it is a coolant or oil leak, that will be expensive. I am not losing coolant or oil due to any noticeable leaks.

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On both my '01 and current '04 I have the same problem. When cold they will start rough. Giving some gas seems to fix the issue. I have replaced parts and checked for vac leaks and everything is good... but the issue persists. The only thing I can figure is it has something to do with the PCV system. Whenever the throttle is closed (like at idle) the engine pulls a large portion of its air supply through the crankcase and PCV system. I'm starting to think that after sitting for a while any oxygen that is in the crankcase is displaced or reacts with fumes from the oil. When you attempt to start the engine it fires up on the air in the intake manifold, then quickly sucks in the "air" from the crankcase. Since it now has inadequate oxygen it starts to run rough until the IAC can adjust for the problem. Opening the throttle also solves the issue as it allows more air in.

Of course this is all just a guess based on my observations.

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I think you are into something. Since a lot of Vulcans do this.

 

OP, how does your oil look? Anything look like a chocolate milkshake? That would indicate coolant leaking into the cylinder  and past the rings. 

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Just checked my oil two days ago. A little dirty as it has 3k miles on it but no way close to looking thick like a milk shake. If this is true, thanks for the tip. Never knew to look for this. I guess the Ford guy expected me to jump at a coolant leak repair. Btw, I also changed the pcv and the hose connecting it to the engine, too.

So I guess the consensus so far is that the Vulcans tend to shake for a few seconds before smoothing out on starting after they have accumulated many miles. A design flaw?

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One more thing, I thought about replacing the TPS,and even bought one but could not remove the rear facing mounting screws because of the awkward position. Someone suggested removing the entire TB to access the TPS screws but I do not want to play with it. Anyway, I have no CEL lights.

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yeah. Vulcans are very very rare to have a head gasket leak so I highly doubt there's any coolant oil mixure. The oil on the dipstick would represent this. 

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Thanks for the clarification. So what I am getting here is that some high mileage Taurus Sable model years suffer from rough starting and heater core problems. Would you agree?

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30 minutes ago, searchlight said:

Thanks for the clarification. So what I am getting here is that some high mileage Taurus Sable model years suffer from rough starting and heater core problems. Would you agree?

I would agree. Heater core can be flushed with a garden hose. My heat works beautifully.

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Thanks for your input. Regarding the heater core, I have had my radiator guy flush it twice so far since last September. It works for awhile blowing warm to hot as I need it, then reverts back to cool. He offered to pour into the core flush chemical but at the risk of pin hole leaks. I know it would cost almost 1k to replace due to dashboard labor so I keep trying the flush. What do you think, try the flush again?

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maybe someone else on the site has a write up, but I disconnected the hose atop the water pump and the other side where it meets near the coolant temperature sensor. I plugged up the bypass hose with a pair of vise grips so all the garden hose water was forced throughout the heater core. Now I get 100% heat the whole time I drive. Enough to make you sweat. I had the intermittent heat issue before I flushed it. Lots and lots of brown rusty water came out. 

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  • 1 month later...

For anyone who is interested. I finally solved this shake and almost stall, stall problem.

Despite experiencing no codes, and reading on the internet potential items that could cause the problem that I described, I replaced the MAF sensor, and the EGR Solenoid Valve. Then I removed the battery terminal for 30 minutes, and reconnected to clear the computer.

For over a week now, the car does not shake or stall. Just to be safe, when I turn the ignition key, I hold the key in the on position for a second or two to prime the fuel pump. Don't really know if this makes a difference but it does not hurt and the engine starts fine.

It was a gamble but it paid off. Hope this may help someone else.

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