Unnecessary $1000 Expense

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Dear Bob,
Hope you can help with my problem. I have a 1988 Ford Bronco II, Eddie Bauer series, automatic shift. It has a rebuilt motor in it with 7500 miles on it. For the past 6 months I've had an intermittent problem which my mechanic and his associates cannot seem to pinpoint. When I'm having this problem, the truck does not respond when the accelerator is pressed, it hesitates and waits to catch. It usually occurs around 2000 rpms, regardless of which gear it's in. Sometimes it pauses up to 3 - 5 seconds and actually feels as though it has stalled, other times when I have to take my foot off the accelerator to slow with traffic and then re-accelerate it acts as though it doesn't know the accelerator has been pressed. At a stop sign on occasions, the rpm needle will dip and rise and the idle revs and slips as if trying to find or right itself. The panic point occurs when it feels as though it will not respond to the accelerator at all and I am at its mercy.

Here's the really frustrating part, when I take it to the mechanic, he cannot notice it when he takes on a test drive…and it doesn't show up on the diagnostic! I've had it in on 4 separate occasions and yet it persists. The mechanic says they have done 3 diagnostic tests on it and all that they have found was the idle was off by 10%. But how can the idle be so far off, and have to be adjusted every two weeks or so? Could this be the fuel pump? If so how much should I be paying to replace it? If it's not the fuel pump, what is it? I've been concerned and frustrated to the point of wanting to sell the thing, I'd really appreciate it if you could figure this one out for me.

What exactly do you mean by not responding to the throttle? Do you mean that the engine revs up but no movement or do you mean that when you step on the throttle, nothing at all happens? If it is the first, then it is the tranny. If the second then hmmm... is it carbureated or is it fuel injected? If a carb, then check to make sure that the hold down studs are tight and that there are no air leaks between the carb and the intake. If a fuel injected engine, then either a sensor or the ecu or a loose connector is at fault. But I would think that your mechanic would be able to see this. The only time that I experienced this was with a loose carb and it was taking in air from the wrong place. Never seen something like this on a fuel injected model though.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

You were right on the money. It was a disconnected wire to the sensor. However, Ford did not find it and ended up charging me over a $1000 for work done to my vehicle the first day of service. They found it on the return trip in. I think its indicative of the kind of service I received at Ford that you diagnosed the problem just based on my description of the problem, and they received the exact same information and proceeded to do a thousand dollars worth or service on the car and NOT fix the problem. I appreciate your time. Thank you.
Michael S.

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