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1998 Ford Contour starting problem

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Old 05-25-2009, 11:21 AM
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1998 Ford Contour starting problem

Hi, I know it's not a truck, but I like this forum, so here goes.

My girlfriend is driving a 1998 Ford Contour SE with the 2.5L (or is it 2.6?) V6. It has 118,000 miles on the odometer. Recently a friend and I did some much needed maintenance which included struts, springs, new MAF sensor, spark plugs, wires, and intake cleaning with ball joints, transmission fluid & filter change, and tie rod ends waiting 'till we have another chance to work on it.

This all started when my girlfriend said the car wasn't starting right anymore. Of course, it always started fine whenever myself or my friend took a look at it. Now after two months, the problem is back and this time I have had the chance to experience the problem.

The car just does not want to start. The motor is cranking over very strongly but it doesn't want to actually fire. It doesn't matter whether I depress the accelerator or not, it just doesn't want to start. Once it does fire, the RPMs will surge to 2000 or more, then drop all the way to 0. Try starting again, and it'll once again rev to 2000 RPM or more, and fall to an almost stall again, but will rebound back to 2000 again. It will do this cycle five or more times before finally keeping a steady idle. Once the car is running, it drives well, it has no problems with sitting idleing. Going from hard load to no load while stopped does not cause it any problems. It just doesn't want to start initially.

Any ideas?
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Old 05-25-2009, 02:23 PM
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If the Check engine light is on, get yourself a reader and see what codes its storing. If not, double check all your work and make sure electrical connectors are clean and tight, especially on the parts you swapped out. The first thing that comes to mind that causes the symptoms you are describing would be the Ilde air controller (IAC) Valve. Pop it off and try and clean it. However the best thing to do is replace it because i have never had luck with that, it either works or it dosent. How did the car run before you did all the work to it?

Hope this helps ya out!

PS: The IAC valve may or may not throw a code, so dont let that throw you off!
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:15 PM
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The CEL is always on. When we first scanned for codes we got 3 or 4 different ones. Two of them were solved by the new MAF, one we never identified, and the last had a TSB from Ford stating that that specific code did not mean there was an error; rather it was a problem in the ECU programming and would need a Ford reflash.

Next time I have the chance, I'll take the car back up to my buddy at MSU to put it on the college's reader. I'll see what codes are thrown other than the Ford ECU one.

Before all the work the car was running fairly well. She said there was a intermittent starting problem and a squealing noise every once in a while the latter of which we discovered was just moisture after line driving snow storms. The only real issue that clued us into a bad MAF were the two codes combined with sub 20 mpg (on the best of days). After our work on the car, it's been pushing the 30 mark, and everything else is running superbly. New struts and springs all around, alignment, and new brakes means it handles well, and the new MAF, wires, plugs, and air filter (the MAF was fouled because the air filter was too big for the air box creating leaks for dust to enter the intake after the filter) makes for a much "peppier" and stronger driving car along with better overall economy. Like I said, once it's running, it shows no signs at all that there's any problem. Usually it will also start fine once the car has idled for a few minutes, although this theory doesn't always hold true.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:35 PM
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Hopefully when you are able to read the codes, they may tell you somthing else. Maybe the reflash will help!
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:08 AM
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There is an excellent site for Contours/Mystiques Ford Contour Enthusiasts Group

There are several potential problems with your girlfriend's car, but knowing the CEL codes will certainly help. I just had the 'starting' problem with my 96 Mystique 2.5L V6, and it turned out to be bad wiring under the battery. See the thread here:

Mystique - starter cranks, no other electrical working - CEG Forums

Good luck with it. These cars are pretty twitchy, hardly any room to work on the engines, but they are worth keeping running. Lots of power, good handling, just a beeatch to work on.
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