1983 Ford F150 - Engine Died On the Road Now Starts Intermittently - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums

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1983 Ford F150 - Engine Died On the Road Now Starts Intermittently

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Old 03-01-2018, 01:37 AM
Azazic
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1983 Ford F150 - Engine Died On the Road Now Starts Intermittently

Hey guys,

First post about really my first vehicle I've tried to work on. So my thought process on trying to solve this may seem silly but it's me trying to go off the knowledge that I have.

Model Info: 1983 Ford F150 Regular Cab Flareside Shortbed 4x4 A/T 351W

So I have the model in the title and I was driving it down the street and I had been driving for about an hour and already. The truck seemed to have lost power, slowed down and stopped, lost power steering, engine function, the works.
So then I take off the air filter and look at what the carb was doing during trying to start it. I would turn the key, the radiator fan would start up, I'd get a whine, and that would be it. I noticed white gas coming from the carb and figured maybe it wasn't getting enough fuel and was vaporizing what it was getting. Looked at the fuel filter and the fuel filter, one of the clear ones you can see into, was red. The gas was this dirty reddish color so I pulled it off the line and tried to empty it out and put it back on, to no avail. I also tried to turn the truck on with the filter off just to make sure it was pumping gas. It was.
Then I push the thing back to a friend's house, we put in an extra battery of his because mine seemed to have died trying to start this thing up. We put it in, it doesn't start, and that's that. I went inside to do some research. Even put a little gas in the bowl manually and it didn't help.
I checked all the fuses too and they're all in good shape. After that I tried to start it later on and... it started. I changed nothing and started it and it ran. I turned it off to figure out my game plan. Came back outside to try it again, ran again, it was night now so I turned on the headlights which works, interior dash lights all worked. Drove around the block, every turn got way harsher. The truck would grind and whine every time I tried to turn, but I had no resistance on my end. I drove about 300 feet and the engine died again, all lights went off immediately, no fading out or dimming. I tried to start it again, it started and died about 5 seconds later. Tried to start it again, nothing. And the transfer lever now popped out of its gear when turning as well, which is new. It grinded a lot, changing gears in general appeared stressful to the system out of nowhere.

Is this enough information to find something to start on?

The distributor, starter and relay, fuel filter, fluids, and carb were replaced a week ago.
This vehicle has been running okay, I drove it on the highway at 65 earlier and then it ended up dying in a 25.

I want to think this is electrical and there just some weird bad wire causing these shorts, because the car starts enough to make me think the starter is good, battery(s) has some issues dying, maybe a bad alternator? I'm not sure and this isn't my forte yet. I will continue to look into causes for this, and I appreciate and thoughts or help on this truck. I've had it for 3 days and I love it, excited to be back on the road again.
 

Last edited by Azazic; 03-01-2018 at 02:41 AM. Reason: Adding Truck Info
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:01 AM
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I do not like the red rusty fuel. The next time it quits on you, get a flashlight, climb up on the bumper, take the aircleaner off and look down the carb throat. If you have wet gas everywhere inside the carb and dripping down in the engine, your carb is flooding out.
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:59 AM
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Hello, and welcome to the forum. Hope we can be of help. However, I'm not sure we can work with the clear, well-presented details you have given us. And what's with the punctuation and proper paragraphs? We are much more accustomed to vague, run-on questions written in textese.

Sounds like you've got a lot going on with this poor truck. A little more history, please. You've only owned it for three days? Had it been the weekend driver of a retired Ford engineer who kept it in factory condition? Had it been been used in a salt mine, discarded in pieces, and then reassembled as a class project at a reform school? Something in between? Just trying to get a feel for how the truck had been behaving the last few months before you got it.

Is the problem mechanical? Electrical? Fuel-related? Could be anything, or a combination. Let's work one crisis at a time, though. The noises, grinding, and harshness? For the moment, I'm thinking that's caused by any bucking motion as the engine is dying.

Dave had a good suggestion about the fuel supply. I'm wondering about the lights completely going dead and then coming back. Makes me wonder about a battery cable problem, maybe combined with a charging problem. (Edit: This could cause the ignition to cut out.) Do the battery cables have those bolt-on cable ends like this?:




More later, gotta run.
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:11 AM
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Yeah, the lights instantly going completely dead seems to be the most interesting piece to this puzzle.....

I've only seen that when there is a major short in the system....

Didn't I read in another post that after some point these trucks have thermal circuit breaker that kicks in...and eventually kicks back out?

The history on the truck will help out.
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:40 AM
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While this is wild throw to you....The grinding...going into turns....where did the grinding come from?....I ask because I once had an issue with a diff that would only grind on when I was turning. Some guy had replaced the gears in the diff, but not the carrier and the carrier was sliding back and forth in the casing.
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Azazic View Post
I would turn the key, the radiator fan would start up, I'd get a whine, and that would be it.
I'm curious about the radiator fan. Is it electric or belt-driven? If belt-driven, the fan turns with the engine, so maybe you're just seeing the engine turn over and then die.



Originally Posted by Azazic View Post
Then I push the thing back to a friend's house, we put in an extra battery of his because mine seemed to have died trying to start this thing up. We put it in, it doesn't start, and that's that.
Save yourself some grief. Whichever battery you choose to use, put a charger on it overnight. Don't compound any problems by troubleshooting with a partially discharged battery. Don't skip over this step. The charging system, even if operating properly, really isn't designed to fully top off a discharged battery.

So here's where I'd suggest to begin troubleshooting:

1) First off, remember you may have more than one fault present, so don't go hogwild throwing parts at it, hoping and praying for a fix. When you do find a fault, correct it and then retest to make sure it's fixed. And then continue troubleshooting with an open mind, considering all possibilities and being aware that sometimes one fault can mask another. For example, let's say you had a bad distributor cap causing an ignition problem, but you also had a charging system problem causing the battery to run down. The low battery voltage can cause a weak ignition, so you fix the charging system thinking you should now be good, but it isn't. That was because the first problem (low voltage) masked the second problem (bad distributor cap).

2) Charge the battery fully, as mentioned above. If you don't have a battery charger, then you must beg, borrow, or steal one. Get an automatic model with an output of at least 10 amps. Don't use a trickle charger, they don't have enough power to resurrect a discharged battery.

3) If you have those bolt-on battery terminals, as previously mentioned, get rid of them. Those things cause so many problems, they should only be sold with a pair of good walking shoes.

4) With the engine off, read the battery voltage. You should see around 12.6V before start. Start the engine and check the voltage again. You should now see around 13.5V, which means the alternator is charging. The important thing is to see an increase over the prestart voltage.

There may still be other issues, such as bad fuel, carb problems, etc., but it's quick and easy to rule out problems caused by low voltage, so that's where I suggest beginning. One crisis at a time...
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 09:16 AM
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I think there are a few different things going on here.
That red (rust?) fuel is not normal. As posted when the motor stops do as said and check if the carb is getting fuel or flooding over.

The other is the motor just shutting down and no power to anything when driving.
If you do have that type of batt. cable end(s) or if the cables look crappie or if not just replace all the batt. cables.
It also may not be charging all the time because if the batt. was to become disconnected (DONT ever do that when motor is running) if the ALT was working it should stay running.
You may want to remove the batt. cable at the solenoid where all the smaller wires hook to and clean the eyelets before putting it back together. If the main power wire to the truck at that point was to not make connection the truck would stop running.
Dave ----
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 09:54 AM
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Here's a theory.....a short is causing the starter to get engaged <causing the grinding and whining?> and that in turn is eventually causing the Thermal Circuit Breaker to trip?
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Lord Vokk View Post
Here's a theory.....a short is causing the starter to get engaged <causing the grinding and whining?> and that in turn is eventually causing the Thermal Circuit Breaker to trip?
Please tell me where this would be?
The only thermal fuse that resets that I know of is the head light switch.
Dave ----
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Franklin2 View Post
I do not like the red rusty fuel. The next time it quits on you, get a flashlight, climb up on the bumper, take the aircleaner off and look down the carb throat. If you have wet gas everywhere inside the carb and dripping down in the engine, your carb is flooding out.
I haven't ran it yet today, but from what I saw yesterday, at no point did the gas leak down the engine onto the ground. I'm not saying the carb wasn't flooding, although from my understanding of a flooded carb it didn't APPEAR that way to me, but if it was, there were NO visible leaks on the ground, I was paying attention to that the whole time and there were no leaks of any kind during any of these events. Again, not sure if that's helpful on its own.

Thank you very much for your reply, I was concerned about the red rusty fuel too because I knew that there wasn't much fuel in it to begin with and it wasn't particularly new, and all of this happened AFTER added ten gallons of fuel to the tank, which seemed strange that after that happened this all started after maybe 5 miles of driving? There were only a couple gallons in prior. Now, I did fill it with 91, and I don't know if that's a problem, but thinking on it now, it seems worth mentioning, and I'm sorry I didn't think to sooner.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
Hello, and welcome to the forum. Hope we can be of help. However, I'm not sure we can work with the clear, well-presented details you have given us. And what's with the punctuation and proper paragraphs? We are much more accustomed to vague, run-on questions written in textese.
Haha, I'm troubleshooting as much as I'm trying to learn how to fix this and adjacent issues, so I figured an accurate recount of the day should help, because it seemed like a lot was happening and I'm positive I missed something critical anyway.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
Sounds like you've got a lot going on with this poor truck. A little more history, please. You've only owned it for three days? Had it been the weekend driver of a retired Ford engineer who kept it in factory condition? Had it been been used in a salt mine, discarded in pieces, and then reassembled as a class project at a reform school? Something in between? Just trying to get a feel for how the truck had been behaving the last few months before you got it.
So I bought it on Monday, the previous owner bought it about a year ago and not much was done with it for quite some time. I don't know what it was doing for the other thirty some-odd years of its life, but it has a little over 40,000 miles on the odometer so I figure it got rolled back some years ago and that's where it's sitting. Before I bought it the truck got a brand new distributor, new starter and relay (was an issue), new plugs, new lines, a new Edelbrock 4 barrel carb (which I mention because per VIN it came with a 2 barrel, and I know you should get a different intake if you want to put a 4 barrel on a Windsor, if I read correctly, and I do not know firsthand that the intake is different than stock, again, not sure if that matters, but it's information), and flushed and changed fluids. It sat a good amount of time and the previous owner worked on it a bit but most of it was done relatively recently.

When I bought the truck, it started, it drove, the brakes are spongey and the suspension seems very bouncy but it turned fine and stopped okay enough and it didn't mind any amount of gas it was given, it didn't buck or jerk around, it idled without complaint or stalling or shuddering at all.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
For the moment, I'm thinking that's caused by any bucking motion as the engine is dying.
Just to confirm, there was definitely lots of bucking, and if I stopped moving it seemed like the engine was slowing down and might die, so I would tap the gas pedal a bit and it came back to life for another 45 seconds.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
Do the battery cables have those bolt-on cable ends like this?
Yes, that's exactly what they have. Additionally, I have had issues every fourth or fifth start where the engine doesn't feel like starting, but the radiator fan turns off and WILL NOT turn off, even if I take out the key, until the power is disconnected. So I've been taking the positive cable off the battery whenever this happens, and once the fan dies, put it back on and start the truck up just fine. But as a result, the cable ends DEFINITELY are not on as tightly as they would be if I wasn't touching them regularly.

Thanks a ton for the reply, hope my answer was comprehensive enough to make this easier.

Originally Posted by Lord Vokk View Post
where did the grinding come from?
I wouldn't be able to reliably pinpoint it, but it happened directly after I was able to start it the first time after it died. We had pushed it home, which involved manually turning it a bunch, which I wouldn't think would cause an issue, but worth mentioning. So, chronologically:
-The engine died in motion
-Wouldn't start up
-Pushed it about a half mile
-Swapped batteries
-Did not start still
-Waited between 2 and 3 hours
-Started fine
-Immediately went to turn it and it was different than before, the entire truck drove and handled differently in a bad way

Thanks for the reply, maybe something got knocked loose?

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
I'm curious about the radiator fan. Is it electric or belt-driven? If belt-driven, the fan turns with the engine, so maybe you're just seeing the engine turn over and then die.
This is going to sound stupid. I don't know if it's electrical or belt-driven. Visually, when I start it, and the fan moves, it's moving because of a series of belts behind it while the engine stays quiet and non-firing. So I think belt-driven, but I don't know if there's an electrical starter motor that you would refer to as electrical in that case, if that makes sense.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
2) Charge the battery fully, as mentioned above. If you don't have a battery charger, then you must beg, borrow, or steal one. Get an automatic model with an output of at least 10 amps. Don't use a trickle charger, they don't have enough power to resurrect a discharged battery.
Done. The original battery I was driving on for hours is on the charger right now.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
3) If you have those bolt-on battery terminals, as previously mentioned, get rid of them. Those things cause so many problems, they should only be sold with a pair of good walking shoes.
Got it, I'll get replacements once I figure out what I'm going to get.

Originally Posted by kr98664 View Post
4) With the engine off, read the battery voltage. You should see around 12.6V before start. Start the engine and check the voltage again. You should now see around 13.5V, which means the alternator is charging. The important thing is to see an increase over the prestart voltage.
Okay, I'll do that once the battery finishes charging and I have the terminals replaced.

Thanks for the comprehensive response, I agree the tackling problems one by one is the good way to go about it. I don't expect there to be one quick fix that doctors will hate me for, I just want to find the problems correctly and fix them correctly as they come, because I know I don't have the knowledge to do it on my own without a fair amount of digging.

Originally Posted by FuzzFace2 View Post
I think there are a few different things going on here.
That red (rust?) fuel is not normal. As posted when the motor stops do as said and check if the carb is getting fuel or flooding over.

The other is the motor just shutting down and no power to anything when driving.
If you do have that type of batt. cable end(s) or if the cables look crappie or if not just replace all the batt. cables.
It also may not be charging all the time because if the batt. was to become disconnected (DONT ever do that when motor is running) if the ALT was working it should stay running.
You may want to remove the batt. cable at the solenoid where all the smaller wires hook to and clean the eyelets before putting it back together. If the main power wire to the truck at that point was to not make connection the truck would stop running.
Dave ----
Okay, I'll look at the eyelets and clean them out. Among other things, there may be an alternator problem, but I'm sure it isn't just one thing.

Thanks for the directive, hopefully I can kick something loose to go off of.



I ordered factory manuals for this truck and they came in today so I'm going to comb through that as well and see if there's something in there to help as well, as there are a lot of missing pieces to this for me and I'm just trying to learn more about the entire thing. Thanks a lot for the replies, everyone. I'm really glad I made a post about it.
 
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Old 03-01-2018, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by FuzzFace2 View Post
Please tell me where this would be?
The only thermal fuse that resets that I know of is the head light switch.
Dave ----
Honestly, Iím not familiar with it. Some bit ago someone replied in another thread about a thermal circuit breaker as the potential reason why the truck would suddenly die with no power then magically come back to life after sitting for a bit. The original poster also mentions specifically that the lights stop working.

Also thought I would mention it given that itís completely possible that the electrical system has been hacked up over time and a thermal breaker added at some point if not originally part of the vehicle.

For me, the fact the lights stop working seems to be the most burning clue to this problem....only a few things can cause that. (Understanding that this is probably just a side effect of something else)

LV

 
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Old 03-01-2018, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Lord Vokk View Post


Honestly, Iím not familiar with it. Some bit ago someone replied in another thread about a thermal circuit breaker as the potential reason why the truck would suddenly die with no power then magically come back to life after sitting for a bit. The original poster also mentions specifically that the lights stop working.

Also thought I would mention it given that itís completely possible that the electrical system has been hacked up over time and a thermal breaker added at some point if not originally part of the vehicle.

For me, the fact the lights stop working seems to be the most burning clue to this problem....only a few things can cause that. (Understanding that this is probably just a side effect of something else)

LV
Yea if someone added one then yes I can see that but from the factory only had that on the headlight switch.
Being the truck died and the lights too I was thinking bad connection at the solenoid & charging system but that is a guess.
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:21 PM
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Okay, so I've been going through the shop manuals for the truck, and based off of what I know, I think the fuel pump is fine. Didn't get a pressure gauge to it but it was coming out of the line without any trouble, and maybe the bad gas sullied the fuel filter and then the carb got flooded trying to rectify? Whiny steering could be caused by air in the power steering pump, which conveniently does not have a cap on it that locks, so maybe there's an issue there as well. It's also possible the alternator is bad because of the battery and the truck dying in a synchronous manner. I'm sure there's a bad connection somewhere or a short that sparked some or all of this happening at once to aid in the engine dying and losing power entirely.

Once the battery fully charges I'm going to hook it up with new terminal ends and load test it(it's a battery from January of this year but I'm just ruling things out with certainty), then test the alternator if it starts, then watch the fuel filter(will very likely flush out the gas tank entirely regardless). I could pressure test the fuel pump but I'm almost positive that the pressure isn't an issue because there's gas coming out of the line and the carb doesn't require more than 6-8 PSI anyway.

After I have that whole area tested, I want to see how it runs and for how long. Is there anything important to look for while it drives?

If it doesn't start, I'm going to be looking at a relay issue or a bad starter? They both just got replaced, but there could be a wiring problem or a bad ground somewhere that only affects the startup now and again? Or is there definitely no starter issue if the radiator fan starts kicks up?

Thanks for the help guys, there's no way I could figure this out on my own.

Also, I made a giant response quoting and answering everyone's questions, but I guess that's awaiting approval.
 

Last edited by Azazic; 03-01-2018 at 06:22 PM. Reason: Adding a line
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:54 PM
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Once the battery fully charges I'm going to hook it up with new terminal ends and load test it
If the ones you want to use are like the picture above dont waste your money or time just replace all the batt. cables (not the ends only) and be done with it.

So the solenoid was replaced? If so were the other wires put on the stud the batt. + is on?
And the batt. went dead?
Get it running so you can check if the ALT works.
Dave ----
 
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Old 03-02-2018, 09:43 AM
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Have we ever figure out what he means by "it won't start"?. Does that mean he turns the key and the engine goes round and round but wont fire off? Or does that mean he turns the key and it does nothing, or makes clicking sounds but does not turn the engine over?
 
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