351 Windsor hard to start when hot.

westranchJune 2, 2005

I have a '77 T'Bird with a 351 Windsor engine. I just had about $800.00 worth of work to it. New radiator, valve cover gaskets, etc. Even before I had the work done, I've noticed that after the car has been driven, and the temp guage is in the normal range, it is hard to start after sitting for about 15 minutes or more. After the engine cools, the car starts without any problems.

I've thought about the automatic choke, vapor lock (car does not stall while being driven), and fuel pump. Which of these do you think is more likely? BTW, the engine still has excellent compression. 40k on rebuild.

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The first thing I would do is to remove the air cleaner lid & look down into the carb. Does it look "wet" with fuel? If so, the carb's float may be stuck or has "sunk". If its dry, try activating the throttle & see if fuel sprays down into the carb. If there is a spray of fuel, vapor lock has been eliminated - if not, the fuel filter could be clogged. Have you checked for spark when its hard to start? Pull a plug & see if you have a nice healthy blue/purple spark - if its yellow or appears weak, your ignition coil may be bad.

Lets start (excuse the pun) there. Let us know what you find & good luck!

Marty 8)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 2:29AM
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A possibility of starter motor trouble exists.
There is a amp measurer(I have one) that can check/measure the draw of the motor.
So check it cold, and then again when hot..
Starter motors do not like excessive heat.
The '89 Volvo was like that during the heat of the summer- after a stop, the engine would not restart until cooling off for an hour !! But the car was fine when the temperature was 65 or less..

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 8:54PM
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By hard to start do you mean the engine turns over slowly? If so, earthworm could be on the right track in suggesting starter, solinoid, or battery/cable issues.

If the starter spins the engine at normal speed and doesn't start, go to basics...spark and fuel. Some ford products of that day did have issues with vapor lock as marty suggests. Look down the carb like he says and open the throttle while looking down the throat. You should see a squirt of fuel. If not you may have a vapor lock condition or maybe a bad fuel pump. If you have lots of gas, check for spark like marty says. If no spark, common problems would be the ignition module or coil. BTW, how long has it been since the plugs have been replaced? If you have good spark, good plugs, and lots of fuel, I'd suspect a rich condition do to some kind of carb problem. If it is too rich you may be able to clear it by holding the accelerator to the floor while you crank.

Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 10:17PM
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I know that it sounds back yard here but if you dont have any test equipment you can cool down an overheated electronic item by pouring water on it ofter your hot soak, give the ignition coil, control module, distributor a cool bath and see if it starts up any easier or simply, right away. Of couse just cool down one item at a time and it may take several gallons to do just that, of course watch that the water does not get to the inners of the distributor cap or you will be drying that out afterwards. Like the others say, vapor lock is a good possibility. It should start with a good volitile carb cleaner. Good luck.

Duane in Japan

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 9:25AM
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The engine acts like it wants to turn over. I've jump started the car, and it was sort of hard to start that way as well. The sound is almost like a weak battery at first.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 3:09PM
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Or battery cables and grounds. These things must be tested/cleaned/serviced..

That is an interesting idea - the cooling of "hate the heat" electrical components via copious quantities of plain old water...
Trouble is, some of these things hate moisture as well, so a man must know what he is doing...He could also spray with a freezing agent to test...

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 4:35PM
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Good one earthworm, reminds me of my old electronics days at Sears repair center. Westranch, I think you can buy the can of freeze stuff at Radio Shack. After seeing more to this thread it looks more like a starter problem, cool it down with a water hose after your 15 minute hot soak. You can also do a search for a tutorial on how to perform a voltage drop test (with a digital volt meter) properly on your battery terminals and wire connections (battery cables and ignition start wire to the solenoid). Good luck

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 8:04AM
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Thanks everyone,
I'm beginning to think starter as well. Battery good, fuel pump good, carb already overhauled, ruled out vapor lock. Choke might be sticking a little bit, but not enough to cause a really hard starting problem.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 9:56AM
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When was the last time you changed the oil ? The 351 and 400 don't like " crap " oil that breaks down under heat.
Those motors run hot and don't use an after market thermostat in that engine. You'll have nothing but trouble
with that and cheap oil. That engine is designed that the
crank shaft gets the oil last after the valve train and the
valve springs are very strong. I've seen valve heads snap
off the valve stem. Very common problem. A 1000 C.C.A.
battery is recommended for that engine.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 3:39PM
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Oil was changed one month ago. I drive the car about 2k annually. I change the oil every four months regardless. Just had the valve cover gaskets and radiator replaced. I'll check the receipt again to make sure that included a new thermostat.
Kalining, I'm gonna have to check the battery for the C.C.A. That could be some of the problem.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 6:42PM
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Your not changing the oil enough. It's time or mileage.
Your way over on the time.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 9:00PM
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Posted by: kalining (My Page) on Wed, Jun 8, 05 at 21:00

Your not changing the oil enough. It's time or mileage.
Your way over on the time.

Earthworm : He can get away with this if the car is driven at least on 20 mile trips and sits when not being used, as mine does; otherwise ......
If this is a 3 month vs 4 month debate, the vehicle's use must be considered...

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 3:56PM
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A suspect is fuel flooding. But first, determine if this is indeed the cause.

Was the gas line to the carburetor removed, then put back in place? The big nut on the carburetor has the needle valve on the other end (inside the float bowl). If this nut was disturbed (turned), then the float level may be off.

This nut should never be turned after the float level has been set. It should be supported with a wrench while removing the gas line nut.

Another source of fuel flooding is a sinking float. Since your problem began before the service work was done, suspect the float.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 3:12AM
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There is a Ford TSB 97-24-22 published for this problem. Call your local ford dealer and ask about info on this TSB number.

If anyone has access to TSB please publish the details for everyone.

This is a persistent problem in windstars 2001 upto 2003 as well ( intermittent start in hot weather ).

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 9:22AM
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Earlier model Fords were Notorious for this. The problem wasn't with poor connections or Vapor locking or little Green men from Mars, it was the fact that the Starter motor would get hot after the Vehicle had been run for a while then when you shut it off and tried to re-start, after it had only sat for a brief time, it would act like the Battery was low. The cause of this was due to poor air circulation around the Starter and it would heat up to a point that the armature would slightly bind up while attempting to start. There are a couple of cures for this. First is to get a "starter Blanket" made from Asbestos that will help to shield the Starter from the Exhaust Manifold heat. Second is to buy an Aftermarket performance starter that can take the heat better that the factory one.

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 12:05AM
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A lazy, hot starter sounds like a good place to look since this has been identifed in service bulletins as a problem area.

One more thing:

Does this model have electronic ignition - one with a "cam position" sensor in the distributor? These sensors were notorious for misbehaving when hot, but would work again when its temperature was reduced.

The bowl of the distributor is elevated a distance from the engine block and sits atop the distributor housing. When you are moving down the road, there may be enough air flow under the hood and over the distrubtor to hold its temperature low enough to keep the cam position sensor operating. But sit at a light, or pull a hill at slow speed, or shut down a hot engine and park, and then the temperature of the bowl rises. It will not start or it may misfire until the bowl temperature reduces.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 2:22AM
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