Here's a story from a reader (MPMcCarthy) about his '85 F-150.

I have a 1985 Ford F-150 pick up truck that has been reliable through all of the abuse I have been able to hand out. I only use the truck occasionally and at times it sits too long without running but it never has failed to start no matter how long I leave it idle. Well, a few weeks ago I thought I had finally killed it. The wife and I were out for a ride to the pumpkin patch and on the way home the truck died. Fortunately, I was close to home. I walked home, got some tools and went back for my truck. I knew I wasn't out of gas because I have dual tanks and I was using the front tank which was full. Anyway, I pour a little gas down the throat of the carb and the old truck fires up and runs as usual. I drive it home and as I pull into the driveway it dies again.

Now the saga begins. I check the ignition and get the obligatory shot in the arm from the spark plug wire so I realize everything is OK there. I spray carb cleaner in the carb and the truck runs for a moment. It runs every time I use an external fuel source. So, I figure it can't be getting any gas. The fuel filter seems OK but I poke a hole through it just to be sure. Still won't start. I figure the next step is the fuel pump but it's Sunday and the stores are closed so I knock off for the day.

Monday - After work I pick up a new fuel pump and that evening I install it. Still won't start. For the next four days I try various things like taking apart the carburetor, reinstalling the fuel pump, rechecking the ignition, checking the fuel lines, etc. etc.. Still won't start.

On Saturday I try to buy I rebuilt carburetor but I have a California truck in New Jersey. No smog problem in New Jersey, I guess, because I can not get the carb anywhere. So, I buy the carburetor rebuild kit and clean and rebuild the carburetor. On Sunday I reinstalled the carb and the truck STILL WON'T START. Over the next several days I continue to do various things again and again and the truck does not respond to any treatment. I'm beginning to think that the gas in the tank may be bad because I let the truck sit too long this time but I have doubts so I decide it must be the Engine Control Module. You know, the little electronic brain that controls all of the ignition, fuel, and emission systems on California vehicles. I decide it's worth a shot and I call the Ford dealer to order the part. Problem. The part is $215.

On Thursday I decide that shot gunning with a $215 part is not a good idea so I have the truck towed to the local Ford dealer for repair. Within an hour the guy calls me and tells me that they put fuel (4 gallons) in the rear tank and the truck runs. Not good, but it runs. I tell him that he needs to run the truck on the front tank because that is the tank I was using when I had all the trouble. (Now I am beginning to believe in bad gas and not the Brussel Sprouts kind). I tell him to go ahead and tune up the truck as long as he has it there.

The next day I pick up the truck and the mechanic tells me that the gas in the front tank is fine. He told me that it appeared as if the fuel lines were air bound because it took a long time to get gas through the fuel pump. I ask how that could happen and he says it probably happened when I replaced the fuel pump. My mind is at ease. the fuel pump went bad and in the process of replacing it I got air in the fuel lines. Makes sense but I am still a little suspicious.

That afternoon, and evening, I drive the truck all over town and I realize that I must have really needed a tune up because I am getting great gas mileage. The gas gauge (front tank) hasn't moved at all. Man, am I happy. Not for long. I take the wife shopping and in the shopping mall parking lot the truck stops running again and it will not start. NOW I HAVE THE ANSWER!!!!! The valve that selects fuel tanks is stuck on the rear fuel tank. The gauge switches but the valve doesn't. I was actually out of gas all this time. I call AAA, put gas in the rear tank and off we go. I am considering leaving things as they are because I get great gas mileage on the front tank but on second thought tomorrow I will resolve the fuel tank valve situation. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

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