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2004 Crown Vic (P71)-problems starting car in cold weather
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• Phoenix, AZ, USA
• Registered on 12/12/2012
• 9 posts
Posted:12/12/2012 19:23
Hello folks -

I'm a newby to this site-first I want to thank y'all for taking the time to post problems and solutions on this site. I've learned a great deal (and saved some serious $$$) as a result your willingness to share information and provide your automotive expertise and for that I'm very grateful. Hopefully, I can also provide some solutions or help y'all out in some way in the future. God bless America!

OK, I purchased a 2004 Crown Vic P71 (162K mi.) in Oct (2012) out of necessity. It was the only vehicle I could find that I could pay cash for AND be semi-enthusiastic about its potential (the cash purchase requirement put severe restrictions on my options). Nevertheless, while I was mildly content with the car in the beginning...I soon became a fan and am looking forward to turning it into a street rod some day. The car has had some minor electrical issues, but overall its run great and I've already put about 3K miles on it in roughly 45 days.

The issue I'm struggling to solve is that it absolutely does not want to start in cold weather ("cold" = approx. 40 deg or less) the car cranks (strong) forever but has much difficulty firing on a cold morning. When the weather was warmer the car NEVER had any problem starting and fired up instantly upon the turn of the key 100% of the time. Once it got colder outside, I began to notice on colder mornings the car would crank for an extended amount of time (20-30 sec) without firing, I would attempt this 3-4 times before the engine fired up. Now, temp's have consistently dipped into the 30's at night and in the morning it is a complete gamble whether it's going to start or not. Today I had to wait until almost noon before it was warm enough outside for the vehicle to start.

I fiddled with the fuel injector railing and gas squirted out so I feel confident in ruling out anything related to the cyclinders not receiving adequate fuel (fuel pressure, fuel pump...etc).

My next guess would be some sort of sensor or something electrical. At the suggestion of the clerk at O'Reilly's, I'm replacing the "cold" temperature sensor (or just temperature sensor) right now, but I'm not confident this will fix my problem (it was only $15 so I'm giving it a try).

If anyone has ideas toward how to fix my cold weather start problem I'd love to hear them...I'm moving from AZ to UT and it's going to get much colder very soon.

Thanks for taking the time to read this....any suggestions would be appreciated!

Phoenix, AZ
"light 'em up"

Phoenix, AZ
"light 'em up"
• Lafayette, LA, USA
• Registered on 1/5/2009
• 515 posts
1 Vehicle
Posted:12/13/2012 06:58
Welcome, and let me also direct you to a couple of other sites for help.

Also, you may want to search other Ford specific forums (Mustangs, trucks, and Taurus)
Also, you may want to do a Google search for "cold weather starting problems" and concentrate on the CV and GM.

Hopefully, you have a Haynes or Chilton manual for the car to help you see where parts go and procedures on removing/installing parts. There is also some troubleshooting guides in there.
If your "Check Engine" light came on, you will need the code. Code readers can be cheap or extremely expensive. I bought one at Autozone for around $100 that not only reads the codes, but also lets me clear any codes. It has been a great help. That way I could see if I solved the problem.

Cold weather starting problems usually are involved in Fuel, Electrical, or PCM sensors.
1)Fuel - although you "fiddled with the fuel injector railing and gas squirted out" merely lets you know there is fuel present, NOT if it is at an adequate pressure. For that, you need to connect a fuel pressure gauge to the end of the fuel rail. This involves adding a "t" connector and running the engine. Since the engine won't start, this will have to wait.
2) Electrical - The 4.6L with the COPs (coils-on-plugs) are notorious for misfiring when wet. Cold weather can also effect them. These COPs replaced the old separate coils and spark plug wires by making them extremely short. But from their location, water will collect around the spark plug, corroding the extension. Most of the time it is just this $5 extension that needs to be replaced.
3) PCM sensors - This is also electrical, but effects the PCM. A bad sensor, a bad connection at a sensor, or a broken wire will not tell the correct information to the PCM, so no start. Here is where you definitely need as manual with the circuits and troubleshooting routes. You can have one bad sensor that will effect 2 others.that are good. Or a shorting wire that only contacts during specific conditions (too cold or too hot).

You may want to talk to some mechanics to see what they have to say. With the older cars all you needed was to check for spark and fuel. No spark, usually bad points. No fuel, bad pump. Nowadays it don't work that way. You could have a shorting wire that gives bad signals to the PCM which will not send out a signal for the spark to fire. A lot more involved.

Keep us posted on what you have been able to find out.


It's just a SUPER-DUTY Mustang GT Sedan. 198K miles and still rolling HARD.

1997 Crown Victoria P71 SVT *** ex-US Marshall service (the CAR)
STOCK?? I bet it was modified.

13.26 @ 107.24 MPH 1/4 mi w/ me, tools, & full tank of 93 octane

I added CAI, NICHE 19 X 8.5 " wheels with 245/45ZR 19 rubbers, and completely rebuilt the front end with poly bushings, Kooks headers, 2 1/4inch exhaust, TCI 2200-2400 rpm Stall converter

.PLANS:: engine upgrade, 5.4L 2v stroker, rebuild interior in leather w/ buckets, thinking about turbos

edited 12/13/2012 06:59
• Phoenix, AZ, USA
• Registered on 12/12/2012
• 9 posts
Posted:12/18/2012 11:25
Hello again,

Thank you JDMEAUX for your reply and my apologies for the delayed response. I posted this just before relocating from PHX, AZ to SLC, UT and this is the first chance I've had to get online after settling in. Relocation is always a time-intensive and semi-stressful ordeal in and of itself, however, the stress level rises dramatically when you throw in a mild blizzard and a near-miss with "Bambi" while driving OTR which resulted in: a couple clockwise & counter-clockwise 180's & at least 1 full 360 spin (thanks to bald tires and over correction), a late-night call to AAA, an unscheduled layover at the Holiday Inn of Kanab, UT, and a necessary purchase of 2 new tires the following morning. But, I'm happy to report both myself and Bambi (and his friends) were unharmed, as was my Crown Vic, with the exception of 1 right-rear radial (may it RIP). Honestly, I likely could have avoided the stunt-driving exhibition if I'd had the foresight to replace bald tires with some treaded tires. The new tires also came in handy over the next 500 miles of road since it was snowing fairly heavily on/off from Kanab to SLC, UT....perhaps the deer episode was a blessing in disguise.

But, enough about my driving shenanigins, I actually do have some new and relevant information to share regarding the cold-weather starting issue that should allow us to get closer to identifying the problem:

I've discovered if I turn the key to "ON", but stop short of attempting to start the car, I always get 1 of 2 light sequences, which I'll define as L/S #1 & L/S #2 (see below for details). The car WILL NOT start if I get "L/S #1", the car WILL start if I get "L/S #2".

L/S #1 (car cranks indefinitely but WILL NOT start if the following lights up)
-Low-Fuel (briefly ON then turns OFF)
-Battery (ON-stays ON)
-Check Engine (ON-stays lit) **this light is ALWAYS on while driving and I believe it's likely an emissions system failure/issue and feel it's unrelated to the starting problem since the car has started without issues while this light has been on, with the only exception being an outside-ambient temperature of 40 def F or less. However, I could be wrong because I don't know the diagnostic code since I haven't had the chance to have it diagnosed.

L/S #2 (car WILL crank and fire almost immediately if the following lights up):
-Low-Fuel (briefly ON then OFF)
-Battery (On-stays ON)
-Check Engine (ON-stays ON)
-Check Fuel Cap (ON-stays ON)

Now that it's December and I'm in UT, ambient temperature is often below 40 and if I try to start the car in the morning or let it sit for 3-4 hours it will not start (ie: turn the key to "ON" and I get L/S #1). To get the car to go from L/S #1 to L/S #2, I go through the following steps. They've been 100% consistent in getting the car started over the last few days.
A) turn the key to "ON" and let it sit for 5-10 seconds
B) turn the key from "ON" to "START" and crank the engine for a few seconds
C) turn the key "OFF" and remove the key
D) re-insert the key and turn it back to "ON"
E) repeat this sequence 3 times and consistently the 3rd (or 4th) time I turn the key to "ON" I will get light sequence #2, then turn the key to "START" and the car cranks and fires almost immediately.

I'm not sure exactly what's happening when I go through this process. I believe it's some sort of relationship between the fuel system and an electrical sensor somewhere? I'd love to hear from anyone that has a solution for this puzzle...hopefully this information helps!

Thanks again for your help

PS: I got the idea to go through the cycle of turning the key to "ON", waiting, turning it "OFF" from other posts where they had problems with cold-weather starts so thank-you for that also. At least I can have confidence in getting the car started-it's not failed me a single time, but I'm nervous whatever the problem is it could grow worse.


Phoenix, AZ
"light 'em up"
Forums > SuperMotors Community Discussion > Engine and Drivetrain
2004 Crown Vic (P71)-problems starting car in cold weather
Thread Statistics:     Users to Post: 2   |   Total Posts: 3   |   Total Views: 2470
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