1983 Town Car will not run - several repairs made, not sure where to go next

aza

New member
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Hello everyone,

First of all, I hope that this is an appropriate place to ask these types of questions and I want to thank in advance anyone who reads or has insight on this problem.

I purchased a 1983 Lincoln Town Car about a year and a half ago and although it appears to be in excellent condition, in reality it has been an ongoing issue keeping the car on the road. The car has been through three private mechanics as well as a professional shop specializing in antique and classic cars and nobody knows what the problem could be at this point. So I wanted to ask some enthusiasts to see if any advice might be available.

The car was a craigslist find and in immaculate condition with just ~41,000 miles on it. The story went that it was a man's wife's who had passed away, and the car sat in a garage for decades. Test drives and the first couple months of use were flawless. However, the car began struggling around three months after purchasing, with the engine feeling like it simply was not getting enough power. Once the first summer came around, the car began overheating and after a mechanic friend and I flushed the radiator, the car would no longer start.

Since then, several parts have been replaced but functionality is intermittent at best. For a while, the car would seem to not get enough power or gas for the engine to run and would stall out. Sometimes this would be immediately after starting, sometimes the car would run great for two or three days and then that would start happening. Then we'd get the car towed to the mechanic, a part would be replaced, and the cycle would restart. As of today, the car started up just fine, ran for five minutes, but after shutting off the engine and attempting to restart, it just cranks and cranks and nothing happens. Sometimes the engine starts - chugging at a very low rate, then stalling. This has been the ongoing scenario lately.

A list to the best of my knowledge of replaced parts:
-muffler
-crank sensor
-water pump
-radiator has been flushed
-fan clutch replaced
-thermostat replaced (twice) - the interior display still won't work
-vacuum pull-off
-throttle position sensor (twice)
-battery replaced
-spark plugs & wires replaced (twice)
-fuel filter replaced
-ECU computer replaced
-fuel pressure regulator
-MSD ignition box
-MAP sensor
-other improvements were made that I don't think could be related to the issue at hand (brakes, tires, etc.).

My mechanic friend theorizes that the fuel pump should be replaced, even though the shop we ended up taking the car to never made mention of it. Also, even when the car will crank but not start, there is the distinct hum of the fuel pump priming. I suppose it is possible the pump may be malfunctioning regardless.

I am hoping I included all the relevant information and I am hoping that someone has some insight on this problem. I will answer any questions to the best of my ability. I love this car and the panther platform very much (having previously owned an 89 Grand Marquis), and we are all at our wits end trying to figure out what to do next.

Thank again

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04TC

Junior Member
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Tampa, FL
I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that the fuel pump can be having problems even if it primes while you are trying to start the car. I don't know any more to be able to be of much help. Beautiful car by the way. Love the red-wall? tires. Never seen any before.
 

lshar1988

New member
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I would probably say its the fuel pump. The car overheating might be because the car leaned out on air fuel mixture and the engine was starving for fuel. Fuel keeps the engine cool. It could also be related to the carburetor not being adjusted properly, however, a dying fuel pump or wiring near the fuel pump would make more sense.
 

aza

New member
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3
Hey, and thanks for the replies. Today I attempted a start and decided to take a video to show some typical behavior.


This shows the behavior I mentioned in my original post, along with two other indicators that I haven't seen recently:
1) the engine idle growing higher and higher until I tapped the gas pedal, and 2) whitish smoke coming from the tailpipe. Perhaps this addition can help narrow things down more.

Thanks!
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1984TC

New member
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Have you tried cleaning the throttle body/carb, maybe fuel injector? If something is clogged up in there it would limit fuel, try checking your spark plugs to see what color they are. That way you can get a rough idea of the lean or rich condition
 

lshar1988

New member
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Still thinking fuel pump, the throttle is sticking for some reason so maybe there's also something related to the choke? As there are no fuel injectors because this is a carbureted car, that rules out that obviously. The carburator might need to be cleaned or refinished. Something regarding the air fuel mixture is broken and therefore causing an uncontrollable rev.
 

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
244
120
43
Northern Illinois
Still thinking fuel pump, the throttle is sticking for some reason so maybe there's also something related to the choke? As there are no fuel injectors because this is a carbureted car, that rules out that obviously. The carburator might need to be cleaned or refinished. Something regarding the air fuel mixture is broken and therefore causing an uncontrollable rev.
Unless your car was built for the Canadian market or retrofitted by a previous owner, it uses a throttle-body type fuel injection system. This is basically two (in the case of the 302cid/5.0l V8) injectors in place of the venturii of a actual carburetor.

In your original post, you stated that the car had "sat in the garage for decades." So, there's no question about the old ethanol fortified gasoline going sour in the tank. With the parts you've already replaced, my advice would be to "finish what you started," and clean or replace everything else with top-quality parts.

I would give the TBI unit its equivalent of a carburetor rebuild, including replacing both injectors. While a TBI system has injectors instead of venturii and float bowls, it is just as much a carburetor as it is a fuel injection system. So the same shaft bushings or seals that will cause air leaks in a carburetor will do the same thing in a TBI unit.

I would examine the inside of the fuel tank, and have it cleaned if it appears questionable in any way. I would replace all non-metalic fuel lines, and seriously consider filling the metalic ones with carberator cleaner, letting them soak overnight, and flushing them out.

I would replace the fuel pump "while I was in the neighborhood." You will have to pull the unit the fuel pump mounts to to examine the inside of the tank. This is a thirty-six year old electric fuel pump. It could still be in top condition, despite its age and having been marinated in sour gas. The odds are against that, though.

In your original post, you mentioned that your temperature gauge doesn't work in spite of replacing the thermostat twice. The temperature gauge uses a temperature sending unit that is not part of the thermostat, and might not be that close to the thermostat. Check your service manual for location. If cleaning the contact to the wire doesn't get it working, the replacement sending unit should be less than $20 easily.

Good luck getting it running right. Even with the mechanical troubles you've had getting the car back in service and keeping it there, you have a wonderful car that with care and maintenance should give you many years of wonderful driving.

Thanks.
 

JackCisco

Member
57
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8
There's a pipe that comes out the top of the intake manifold that has the temperature sending unit screwed into it, it's just above the thermostat housing.

There's a wiring harness going into the front of the throttle body where there is a connector, next to where the TPS connector is, that's the connector for your fuel injectors which I could see in the video.

I'd agree with the others, it being sat for a long time not doing anything makes me wonder if maybe fuelling is malfunctioning. Perhaps the injectors could be getting stuck? Maybe they're a little stuck shut when you cold start (rough idle), until getting stuck open (uncontrollable high idle)? Particularly when you tried to start it again, it sounded like it was firing a little and got going more when you held your foot down on the throttle. As soon as you let up it just died again.

My guess for why the idle goes higher and higher until you tap the gas pedal, is the choke thermostat will be holding the throttle plates wide open which would allow for faulty injectors to just leak more and more fuel into the engine if they got stuck open? When you press the throttle the choke thermostat will disengage the idler cam and close the throttle plates. That would also explain the smoke coming out the exhaust if it is running lean. Then starting the engine again becomes difficult because the injectors are flooding the engine? Does it perhaps smell of fuel if you take the cap off the valve cover?


You say the crank sensor has been replaced, but these cars don't have one? The distributor handles all the timing and if it was a carb not TBI then there definitely wouldn't be a crank sensor. Just don't want someone getting scamazed!

(I was thinking as I typed so my thoughts are kind of spewed onto the page in the order I thought, hope it helps! 😅)
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Mafatone

Senior Member
128
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What a nice car!! If that car sat for 10 or 20 years, I doubt they drained the gas tank. Sometimes gas will turn into varnish after awhile and clog up. What I would do is get 2 bottles of Gumout's strongest fuel injector cleaner add it to a 1/4 tank of gas. If you have more fuel, it's fine but will take longer to work as it is not as concentrated. Over time if this did not help, at least now you have a clean fuel system for $10.00. I suspect the strainer on the fuel pump is bad and clogged. The other posters are correct in assuming the car is starving for gas. I would replace the fuel pump and strainer. If the engines lopes, RRRRrrrrr, RRRRrrrr, RRRRrrrr, (high to low) I would suspect a vacuum line leak. Check for vacuum lines not connected, cracked, frayed and hard. Even if none of the suggestions from the posters hasn't helped, at least you have a great looking car with many new parts so even when you find the problem, you won't be stuck on the side of the road because everything has been replaced
 

G-790533

Hey all,

Thanks for the continued discussion. I had some time the past week to work on a few things based on recommendations I've had and did the following:

- injector cleaner used
- new EGR valve
- new fuel injectors
- new fuel pump relay

As I previously mentioned, the car would run roughly and eventually die and upon trying to restart, it would just crank with no luck. Now after replacing the injectors, the car actually will start on subsequent attempts but simply die immediately after (previously it wouldn't start at all if I tried more than once - just crank). So it seems that an improvement has been made but the underlying issue still hasn't been addressed. Based on the suggestions here, the most likely scenario is going to be that fuel pump and the gas tank and I'm planning on switching them out as soon as I can.

I appreciate the words of encouragement so far and I will keep you all posted!

Thanks,
-aza
 

aza

New member
3
2
3
Hey all,

Thanks for the continued discussion. I had some time the past week to work on a few things based on recommendations I've had and did the following:

- injector cleaner used
- new EGR valve
- new fuel injectors
- new fuel pump relay

As I previously mentioned, the car would run roughly and eventually die and upon trying to restart, it would just crank with no luck. Now after replacing the injectors, the car actually will start on subsequent attempts but simply die immediately after (previously it wouldn't start at all if I tried more than once - just crank). So it seems that an improvement has been made but the underlying issue still hasn't been addressed. Based on the suggestions here, the most likely scenario is going to be that fuel pump and the gas tank and I'm planning on switching them out as soon as I can.

I appreciate the words of encouragement so far and I will keep you all posted!

Thanks,
-aza
 

pjmcardle

New member
1
0
1
Hey all,

Thanks for the continued discussion. I had some time the past week to work on a few things based on recommendations I've had and did the following:

- injector cleaner used
- new EGR valve
- new fuel injectors
- new fuel pump relay

As I previously mentioned, the car would run roughly and eventually die and upon trying to restart, it would just crank with no luck. Now after replacing the injectors, the car actually will start on subsequent attempts but simply die immediately after (previously it wouldn't start at all if I tried more than once - just crank). So it seems that an improvement has been made but the underlying issue still hasn't been addressed. Based on the suggestions here, the most likely scenario is going to be that fuel pump and the gas tank and I'm planning on switching them out as soon as I can.

I appreciate the words of encouragement so far and I will keep you all posted!

Thanks,
-aza
Just wondering if you were able to replace the fuel pump and get this sorted out?
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OldMarkIVGuy

New member
Yeah, it sounds like the gas tank should have been dropped out and cleaned before driving around with that very old gas. Like others above said, ethanol messes up the gas. The owner should have put stuff in the tank such as Stabil or other similar additives if the car was going to sit for so long. You found a gem with that low of mileage. Cars like that are a diamond in the rough!
 

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