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Old 07-19-2010
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Ranger refuses to start when engine is hot

Ranger experts: I have a 1997 2.3L 4-banger automatic w/AC with 126k miles that I've owned for over 10 years. Recently, as in last summer and this summer, the truck refuses to start after a drive and a short stop. Once started, it runs fine and never stalls. The problem is intermittent, but yesterday it left me stranded for 3 hours until the engine had cooled enough to start again (hot Texas day parked in full sun). I never have a problem starting when the engine is cold. The problem happens maybe one in 10 or 20 "hot" starts -- and when the problem happens, letting it sit for an hour (3 hours yesterday was the longest I had to wait) it will start like nothing was ever wrong. Check-engine light is not on, and never comes on except when the engine stalls when trying to start.

When trying to start the engine when this problem is happening, the starter turns the engine fine, sometimes the engine will fire for a second and then roughly stall out. Other times the starter turns the engine without it even trying to fire.

I changed out the idle-air-controller (IAC) last summer due to idling problems, which fixed that issue. But the intermittent refusing to start when hot still remains.

Plugs/wires/timing belt are 40k miles old. Fuel pump is maybe 60k miles old. Fuel filter was swapped at last oil change along with serpentine belt. I've been told that it is likely a bad ignition-module that is failing due to heak-soak.

Couple of questions: does this model/year ranger have a separate ignition module, or is it part of the PCM (the module in the engine compartment at the top of the firewall on the passenger side).

Is it 'vapor-lock', meaning gasoline that has vaporized in the fuel line? I run the cheap HEB gas available here, which is 10% ethanol, 87 octane -- plan on running a higher octane for now on. I've heard that vapor-lock is a myth.

Is there a way to diagnose the problem to be more specific on what needs to be fixed -- with the problem being so intermittent (but severe) I'm looking for a list of things to check when I'm stranded somewhere. I plan on carrying a can of starter fluid and screw-driver with me to see if it's a fuel starvation issue.

I expect the dealer won't spend much time/effort on it unless they can witness it for themselves, so I'm reluctant to take it there. I also plan on having the OBD codes checked at AutoZone, even though I don't have a check-engine light on.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!
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Old 07-19-2010
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with my 2.9 it was because ford ran the exhaust mani right near the starter so the starter would get so hot it wouldnt be able to work but letting sit 10- 30min max solved the problem, and i dont think ford did that with the 4 bangers.
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Old 07-19-2010
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I don't think it's a starter/battery problem, as the starter is turning the engine strongly. My problem is the engine won't fire until 'something else' cools down, but it's not the starter problem like you had.

Thanks for the thought though!
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Old 07-19-2010
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A bad relay? Do we have a main relay?

*I hate it when someone offers advice when they've had the same problem but on a different vehicle. Sorry that's all I got. My old honda wouldn't start sometimes when sitting in the HOT sun. Turned out to be the main relay was bad.
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Old 07-19-2010
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Originally Posted by Inspector View Post
A bad relay? Do we have a main relay?
Looking at my Haynes manual, there is a 'PCM Power Relay'. Looks like it feeds vBAT (pin #1) on the Ignition Control Module. I'll add a voltage-meter to my essential supplies to see if the module is even getting power due to that relay not working -- thanks for the tip!
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Old 07-19-2010
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It sounds like its the ICM, had that happen to my '88 ranger, and one of our GM car's..

And I guarantee thats the problem, its not too expensive to fix- fairly easy.. and it describes the problems exatcly - I bet you anythign when you pull it out, there is goign to be a hairline crack running down the side of it.. good luck!
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Old 07-19-2010
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Thanks for the suggestions. It just happened again -- this time at the fuel pumps at a gas station (hot as hell outside). I sprayed some starter fluid into the intake and it ran for 3 seconds -- did that twice. So, the problem is definitely fuel system related. I'm leaning heavily towards it being the Fuel Pump Relay, so I'm gonna go get that part in a few hours ($7 at Autozone).

Since it'll likely start anyhow when I get back to the truck (cause it'll have cooled down), I'm gonna run with the old one till it happens again -- and swap the new relay in at that time. Will report back my findings.

WowMike, I was thinking it was the ICM too, until I just figured out it runs on starter fluid -- thanks!
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Old 07-19-2010
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Was talking with a neighbor of mine, and he has a fuel pressure gauge. We ran up to the gas station real quick where my truck was stranded, put the guage on there (service port on the fuel rail), key in 'ON' position, no pressure -- truck wouldn't start (guess it hadn't been cooling long enough).

I mentioned the relay issue to my neighbor and he swapped the PCM Relay and the Fuel Pump Relay and we got 40+ PSI of fuel pressure immediately -- truck started great.

Drove it that way to Autozone and got a new fuel-pump relay (about $7) and a new set of plugs and cables too. I consider this problem solved! Thanks for all the help and advice here -- especially Inspector with the relay tip!
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Old 07-19-2010
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I'm not reading everything all of you have said.. but, my dad had that problem.. we'd go somewhere and he'd shut off the truck, and itd take hours to start up again. it was a diesel but still.. he took it to a ford dealership and they pressure tested something and it needed a new seal or something.. no clue, I just know they pressure tested something. I can confirm tomorrow (:
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Old 07-19-2010
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I had a similar problem with my 97 expo 4.0. It ended up being the fuel pump relay.
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Old 07-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c0reDump View Post
T... I sprayed some starter fluid into the intake and it ran for 3 seconds -- did that twice. So, the problem is definitely fuel system related. I'm leaning heavily towards it being the Fuel Pump Relay.....

WowMike, I was thinking it was the ICM too, until I just figured out it runs on starter fluid -- thanks!
Awesome job problem solving!!!

*also thanks for letting us know what it was.
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Old 08-25-2010
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same exact problem read my post.

i posted a thread lastnight describing the same problem exactly. did the relay work?

i am going to buy one today if it did

chuck
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Old 08-25-2010
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yes, the fuel-pump relay was my problem.
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Old 07-19-2017
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Re: your hot start problem with your Ranger, did you ever figure out what the problem was...(?). I've got the same issue, the truck (3.0L) starts fine. I can run a couple of errands and after it gets real hot (or it's hot / humid weather), once I shut it off, it cranks normally, but won't start no matter what. I have been stranded a couple of times now. Very frustrating. I checked the fuel pressure, it's within specs. I changed the fuel pump relay, the fuel filter, the coolant temp sensor and cleaned the idle air solenoid. I'd be VERY interested to know if you got your problem fixed and HOW(?). Thanks! -
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