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Old 07-29-2018, 12:42 PM   #1
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2001 E250 5.4 sudden loss of power

I've got a very intermittent (like twice in say 35 days of driving over a longish time) issue with my 2001 E250 5.4L.

Most recent occurrence was very hot day after climbing for say an hour to a town, then descending at about 25mph in traffic into town center. When I hit accelerator, nothing. Pulled over (can't remember if I restarted), tried some other gears and got some movement, so started out and after some initial hesitation and then surging it went fine. And did so since then over 800 miles of driving in similar heat.

No codes seen via Scangauge; all gauges at the time looked normal. I might have had a tank full of 85 octane fuel by mistake (with ethanol). A mechanic friend put his pro reader on it, zippo too. He did note a Ford service message for such instances in hot weather suggested the PCM needed to be reprogrammed if this occurs (can't remember if previous instance was in hot weather). He doubted it as bad gas, and we couldn't get a fuel filter to try that. And it did work fine after that; no issues.

I shoulda took a photo of the Ford note, but didn't. Ring any bells with anyone?

I'm thinking of rebuilding a bunch of stuff on the van (now at 115K) just to be on safe side, since it's more an age thing than mileage thing (2001 and all). Any ideas for likely culprit? I suspect something fuel-related, and I'd guess (hope?) it would throw a code if it were a sensor or smog bit.
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Old 07-29-2018, 02:39 PM   #2
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My 2001 5.4 has had only two problems in all the years I've owned it. I've lost a couple coils (that normally throws a code though) and fuel pumps. You can borrow a fuel pressure gauge at most autoparts stores to see if the pressure is up to specification. It only takes a minute to remove the doghouse and screw on the gauge. I've gotten to the point where I carry one all the time now as it's the only real way to know if there is a fuel pump problem. It's not a bad idea to change the filter too. 85 octane shouldn't cause a sudden loss of power that comes back. Let us know what you find.
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Old 07-29-2018, 02:44 PM   #3
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Thanks. I gotta take it to the mechanic for some other work so I was planning on suggesting that, and replacing filter as well (not there per miles, but van's been sitting a bunch in the last year so I figure worth a look).
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Old 07-29-2018, 10:15 PM   #4
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I'm guessing fuel pump. Honestly you couldn't go wrong just replacing it anywayat this age if you plan on having your van in for service. They don't typically go at opportune times. Ask me how I know!
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:26 AM   #5
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Random thoughts Re: fuel pressure..........

If you do have intermittent low pressure due the pump acting up you should get a "lean bank one" and/or "lean bank two" code (P0171, P0174), neither of which self-correct, have to manually cancel the codes. This isn't always the case but from your descriptions I'd expect a code or two. I would guess either of the scan tools used so far would indication the MIL status.

Generally its wise to never let the tank run below 1/4 full---it helps keep the fuel pump "cool", keeps any debris in the tank from being sucked into the pump inlet.

FWIW my own 2003 E250 with 5.4 motor suffered a fuel pump failure without a single warning @ about 255K miles. Best advice for replacing would be a Motorcraft PFS19 found online; eBay, Amazon etc. I had to pay just at $400 from Ford but needed it next day so that was my only real option. Also budget Ford tank straps too---about $50 each. Those tend to break upon removal. NAPA sells import aftermarket part for $40 each---the OEM parts the better option IMHO.

Filter too but you already know that.
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Old 07-30-2018, 09:17 AM   #6
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Good call JWA. Having done this a couple times I won't even try to remove used straps, just have new ones on hand and cut the old off. Saves lots of time and they are cheap. I've had good luck with much cheaper ones from Rock Auto, less than $20/set. I have no idea how they hold up long term but doesn't matter. I'd cut the next set off and replace too.
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Old 07-30-2018, 09:43 AM   #7
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Thanks guys. Yeah, no code. But maybe I'll do the fuel pump anyway. My attitude is to rebuild for the future rather than just waiting for stuff to fail. Since I'm committed to keeping the van, I figure it's like an investment, and the pump's gonna go anyway.

Any other things to rebuild while I'm at it?
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA View Post
Random thoughts Re: fuel pressure..........

If you do have intermittent low pressure due the pump acting up you should get a "lean bank one" and/or "lean bank two" code (P0171, P0174), neither of which self-correct, have to manually cancel the codes.

Generally its wise to never let the tank run below 1/4 full---it helps keep the fuel pump "cool", keeps any debris in the tank from being sucked into the pump inlet.
Interestingly, my 2001 has never thrown any codes relating to fuel pressure. The first pump simply failed all at once, crank but no start, tow truck time. The next one began failing intermittently, causing stumbling and short duration shutdowns. The last one was running fine, but the fuel pressure gauge indicated pressures below factory specs, so I had it replaced again. Each replacement has re-used the original tank straps, but since I only did the first one, I can't say how difficult removal was on the next ones. As for keeping the tank at least 1/4 full, I've heard that for years, but have also heard that since cold fuel is pulled through the pump, that should keep it cool. As for sucking up debris when the fuel level is low, since the pick-up in the tank is always in the same place, would that debris be more likely to make it's way to the suction filter with low fuel levels? With all the agitation the fuel gets from regular driving and rough roads, I wonder if it's different with low fuel levels? I also wonder if low voltage levels from bad connections might be overheating the pump?
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Old 08-01-2018, 05:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
Interestingly, my 2001 has never thrown any codes relating to fuel pressure. The first pump simply failed all at once, crank but no start, tow truck time. The next one began failing intermittently, causing stumbling and short duration shutdowns. The last one was running fine, but the fuel pressure gauge indicated pressures below factory specs, so I had it replaced again.
As I mention mine also failed without warning within an hour or so of shutting down after arriving at my destination. Since you're on your 3rd pump now does this seem to be issues with each pump or could something within the fuel system after the pump(s) causing problems?

I had the benefit of discovering a leak in the tank that was so well hidden it didn't present itself until one of the straps was being removed. Lucky for me the shop could and did weld the tank back closed saving quite a bit of money. Other than that single worn-through spot the tank was clean on the inside and outside too.

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Each replacement has re-used the original tank straps, but since I only did the first one, I can't say how difficult removal was on the next ones.
From the first time I replaced fuel tank straps (1957 Chevrolet sedan ) I've never successfully removed and re-used them. All broke during removal, most every one over 10 years old---the threaded fasteners being the problem As Scotty says they're relatively cheap, good idea to have replacements on hand (if time is an issue) and return them if the originals are reusable. Using anti-seize on the treads after installation might allow future removal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
As for keeping the tank at least 1/4 full, I've heard that for years, but have also heard that since cold fuel is pulled through the pump, that should keep it cool.
Not sure I'd agree with that however its as likely as the thought of never running below 1/4 tank. Since the actual pump portion of the fuel pump is separate from the motor the cooling effect might not be as effective as proposed? Can't say either way but its a good discussion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
As for sucking up debris when the fuel level is low, since the pick-up in the tank is always in the same place, would that debris be more likely to make it's way to the suction filter with low fuel levels? With all the agitation the fuel gets from regular driving and rough roads, I wonder if it's different with low fuel levels?
Another good thought and yes perhaps debris would be or is kept in motion while driving but what's the downside to keeping at least 1/4 in the tank? Honestly the size of the pump's intake surface area is so large it would take a lot of crap to cause significant restriction so maybe that's just another of those old wives tale we've all heard and repeated?

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I also wonder if low voltage levels from bad connections might be overheating the pump?
A very, very likely or possible scenario---great observation! One way to test that would be an in-line amp draw of the pump while in operation.
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Old 08-01-2018, 09:30 AM   #10
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Thanks guys. Yeah, no code. But maybe I'll do the fuel pump anyway. My attitude is to rebuild for the future rather than just waiting for stuff to fail. Since I'm committed to keeping the van, I figure it's like an investment, and the pump's gonna go anyway.

Any other things to rebuild while I'm at it?
On a 5.4l? Nothing. That's the beauty of a 5.4l. I would do the plugs if you haven't and replace the coil BOOTS, not the entire coil, when you do the plugs, unless you are having coil trouble. The boots are only about $2 apiece and that's what usually needs replacing. Otherwise, filters and regular maintenance. Remember to do the coolant and brake fluid at least every 100k or so. Hardly anyone does those and they should. Ever tow a trailer? If so do the rear diff fluid too.

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