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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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  Jim Grant's Tech TipsJim Grant's Tech Tips
Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

96 Mercury Sable, Automatic Shut Down
Q: I was driving my ‘96 Mercury Sable, and noticed the temp gauge was fluctuating hot to normal. I stopped to look under the hood, and noticed a small amount a steam escaping from (what I thought was) the top radiator hose. Because the leak seemed very small, and I had a long way to go, I bought a new hose, in case it ruptured on the way, and continued my trip. While running with cruise control about 70mph, the Check Engine Soon light began flashing, and the RPM was high. I kicked off the cruise control, and slowed down. At this point, the engine stopped running. I didn't notice any unusual noises. After stopping, I raised the hood, and steam was coming from the radiator overflow tank, AND the air filter box. I opened the air cleaner box to let it dry, thinking maybe the steam escaping from the radiator hose may have choked the engine. After the engine cooled off, I replaced the hose (which didn't look bad), and refilled the radiator. It took almost two gallons to fill. Now, the engine will turn over, but will not start. Someone said it could be a safety feature that shuts down the engine before it can be damaged by excessive heat. If so, how do I reset this switch?

A: The shut down switch you’re describing would be a great money saving feature for the average vehicle owner. Unfortunately, there is no such switch for the condition you’re describing. From you’re description I’d say your engine may have suffered catastrophic damage from overheating. The result would be an engine that cranks over but doesn’t start. The indicators of this damaging failure is the overheating condition, steam coming out of the coolant reservoir and the air cleaner box, an engine that requires two gallons of coolant and a blinking computer warning light. You know three mile island had blinking lights too? By the way a blinking computer warning light on a ‘96 and newer vehicle is the, "I’m on my last leg pleading for help you got to save me light". I fear that at the best you have a bad head gasket. At the worst you’ve damaged a complete engine. Start with a compression check. This test will likely confirm the failure. Oh yeah that shut down switch your friend told you about is a fuel safety switch that in the event of an accident shuts the electrical power off to the fuel pump to reduce the chance of fire. All you have to do is push the button on the switch (which is located in the trunk of your vehicle) to turn the fuel pump back on. Sometimes towing a vehicle will require resetting this switch.

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