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Car Dies While Driving

Updated on August 11, 2010

Car Dies While Driving

This is reposted from my blog at Bear with me it's a little choppy.

This concerns a 2001 Ford Taurus SES 3.0 12 valve engine with 118,000 miles. All maintenance is done and up to date. The transmission flush and fuel system cleaner was just completed. Just a little overview from the earlier post. I was driving home after being on the road all day(had driven roughly 300 miles that day and that and more for the previous five days). I was driving up an incline which is fairly steep with road work occurring so I had slowed down somewhat when suddenly I feel like something dropped out from under my car and I managed to coast it to the left hand side of the road(I was in the left hand lane when it died). When I tried to restart it it started immediately but when I put in drive it flew backwards with my foot fully depressing the brake pedal. I attempted to get it to go twice with the same results. I was surprised that it took my holding both feet on the brake to keep it steady and even then it still rolled backwards. Of course at that point I called for roadside assistance and had it towed.
This is my story and so far the mechanics have no idea what caused this or if it will occur again. I'm sure it will, it just hasn't yet. I can't tell you how to deal with this type of situation as there are no pat answers but I can give a few tips.
Honestly, all you can really do is wait for it to happen again and hope they can figure it out the next time. Unless you have the money to sell the car or trade it then I can say I would probably advise to go that route and get rid of the headache before it becomes a bigger headache. What I can tell you to do is if the mechanics aren't sure what the problem is don't plunk one cent into throwing parts at the problem because that won't help you, it will only fatten the mechanics pocket. I know it's frustrating to hear the mechanic tell you he has no idea what the problem is so he can't fix it but know he is at least being honest and not going to just throw money at the problem. He's going to wait until the problem is more evident and he can get a handle on what's really causing the problem. This doesn't help in your time of frustration but patience is really the only avenue other than selling or trading.

As I stated in an earlier post my car died while driving down the interstate and in a busy area where road work was going on. Certainly not the best place to break down. Judging by the way the car behaved I thought it was the transmission and so did the mechanics at Ford but it quickly turned out that wasn't the case.
The next morning they go to start the car and it runs fine, no problem whatsoever. So after all day of them running tests, there were no error codes and driving it trying to get it to repeat the bad behavior they were at a loss as what to tell me was wrong. I was frustrated and angry and got my car and left. Fortunately, there have been no problems since but I haven't driven the car like I did.
Since it's not the transmission I'm convinced they were looking in the wrong place(not their fault, the car acted like there was a transmission problem) and it's something else. I'm told it could be some type of sensor that overheated and made the car act up and it will only do it again when the car is under alot of load.
I had been driving the car all day(had driven about 300 miles or so and had been driving it everyday for the previous several days like this, as a matter of fact the day before the car had been driven about 600 miles). Nevertheless a car is not supposed to stop in the road after being driven for several hundred miles. If this were the case every car would stop especially when being driven around town, those little stop/start trips are harder on a car than longer trips driving at a set speed.
I'm told I will more than likely have to drive it just as hard for as long a period of time before it does it again. Then eventually the problem will get worse and stop more frequently and will not restart automatically. I'm just guessing here, I'm not a mechanic but I do know that whatever caused the car to stop will not just go away and never return. That's not feasible.

I've had other problems with vehicles and sometimes it's very difficult for the mechanics to find the cause of a problem and sometimes the car behaves differently than what they've seen in the past making it close to impossible to figure the problem out. Unfortunately, it is pretty close to impossible when there are no error codes and the car runs fine after a little time has passed such as a few hours. For me it's very annoying. I've read about these types of problems occurring somewhat frequently in the Ford Focus's but not the Taurus's but of course any car can act up. After all, they are a machine loaded with computer chips that control virtually every aspect of the vehicle running and when even just one little thing goes awry it causes major problems and headaches for the owner of these cars and the mechanics trying to figure out the problem.
It's true what I'm told, I'll probably be nowhere near my local dealership when the problem reoccurs.
I travel frequently and am on the road alot and I rely on a vehicle that runs good and gives me no problems and other than an AC compressor that stalled me a few months back I've never been stranded in this Taurus or my other one which has even more miles but with 118,000 miles on this car it stands to reason I could have some problems but with my work it's unreasonable for me to buy a new one every couple of years. I can't afford it for one.

There are people out there who say this is what I get for buying Ford, there are those out there who subscribe to Ford being a piece of junk. I'm told that perhaps I should buy a Honda instead. Perhaps I should have but that's no guarantee of no problems. And of course there are the groups who've had problems with their Honda who complain about them being junk.
It's my way of thinking that you simply can't win period. You own a car, things will go wrong often times costly because let's face it all car repairs are costly and I don't care what kind of car you own and they are far more complicated than when our daddy's were working on their cars in the garage back when an auto manual told him pretty much everything he needed to know and he could do most of the work himself.
Those days are long gone and things are more complicated now. If you are lucky enough to find an automobile that runs with minimal problems and repairs consider yourself lucky and be happy you found a decent vehicle but don't ever think because it is a certain vehicle there will be no problems ever and expect it to be expensive. If you can't afford to own a vehicle my advice is to not own one. Those are tough words, yes, but not any you won't hear from other people.
WE live in a society that requires and automobile to get back and forth to work and every where else so I know living without a car is practically an impossibility.

One thing you can do which I didn't do as I usually do is pay attention to the details. Considering where I stalled it was a bit difficult. Paying attention to what the vehicle was doing when it stalled such as how fast you were driving, what conditions and anything you might think is not relevant can be very helpful to the mechanic who is trying to figure out the problem.


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    • sassygrrl32 profile image

      sassygrrl32 7 years ago from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

      There aren't too many complaints with Honda. I think the people complaining the loudest are those that don't buy warranties.

      I've had good luck with my Ford's. Every in a once awhile something goes wrong that's hard for the mechanics to figure out.

    • cmuckley profile image

      cmuckley 7 years ago

      Nothing worse than car trouble! I have had very good luck with the two Hondas that I owned.