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1988 3.0 with 250K Increasing hesitation during the last month, In Drive. Mostly in the 40mph range, but stopped at lights, too.. Still gets me where I need to go but am worried it will just quit. (I work in a dangerous part of town) Seems to commence after a few blocks. Hoped it was just fuel filter, & changed it but the problem remains. Research suggests fuel pump or head gasket problem. How can I tell the difference? And what is outlook if I just ignore it for the time being. Head gasket is expensive repair and changing the fuel pump looks like a bear. Any thoughts? Prognosis? :(
 

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Perhaps a fuel pressure test with a mechanical gauge?
 

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A compression test, or better yet, a leakdown test should give you info on a possible head gasket problem, but I doubt that is it.

Have you ever cleaned the MAF? Checked fuel pressure as suggested above?

Starting after drived for several minutes leads me to believe it is happening at the open to closed loop transition as the car begins to warm up.
 

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250K is a lot of miles, but the 3.0 was a great engine. Have you done an ignition tune up(spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor) lately? I would also put some fuel injector cleaner in the gas tank.

I have a lot of experience with Fords of this vintage(yes including the 3.0 Taurus) and when I get hesitation an ignition tune up and fuel injector cleaner are first on the agenda.
 

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Hesitation is due to stretched timing chain. Change it and it will eliminate the problem.
 
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