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Discussion Starter #1
New problem today. Went to the store car ran fine. Came out of the store, started the car and it had a very rough idle (anything under 1K RPM) and my service engine light began flashing. After I got home I noticed a burning smell and a small bit of smoke coming from the engine.

My service engine light has been on because my catalytic convertor is going so I haven't been able to notice if it came on soon at all, its been close to a year now.

Also I have to replace the thermostat, but cannot see how that could affect anything like this.

It has been very warm/cold and rainy here lately in Michigan, so could weather be playing a factor in this? It is too late to get the codes read now, just wondering if anyone had any experience with this.

BTW, 1997 Taurus GL, 135K miles.

Thanks in advance
 

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Flashing SES light means a misfire. Get the codes read now so you can start narrowing down the possible causes.

Judging by the fact that you say it's been very warm and rainy, my guess would be plug wires.

But it doesn't mean it is. It seems your car has a few problems that need to be taken care of. Get that T-Stat replaced, and get those codes read. If you have a cat that is going out then it doesn't help that you have a misfire now. Misfires will clog a cat pretty quick, so it'll be even quicker if it's already partially clogged.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ok, just got the error codes checked and here is what I come up with....

first, the obvious:

P0125 - Change the thermostat <----- this one I already knew

Now for the biggie

P0310 - Cylinder Misfire in cylinder number 10

I am about to replace the spark plugs and tonight I'll check for any arcing... but cylinder number 10??? What is that all about? I only have 6?
 

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My guess is it was p0301, which would be a misfire on #1.
 

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Well, misfire on #1 or #6, I don't care now.... I just changed the plugs (i changed the wires a few years ago) and she seems to be running great now. I was skeptical at first until I took the first plug off and saw that there was nothing there to create the spark... it was wore down to the porcelain or plastic or whatever houses the tip. I am surprised my car even went in the first place.

So, for the time being I am closing the case on P0310. Now onto that thermostat....
 

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Well, misfire on #1 or #6, I don't care now.... I just changed the plugs (i changed the wires a few years ago) and she seems to be running great now. I was skeptical at first until I took the first plug off and saw that there was nothing there to create the spark... it was wore down to the porcelain or plastic or whatever houses the tip. I am surprised my car even went in the first place.

So, for the time being I am closing the case on P0310. Now onto that thermostat....
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If that cats are bad or the car is throwing a code for the cats - replace them or take them completely off. That would probably be the source of your rough idle coupled with a bad spark plug.

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The cats went bad because you had a misfire.

Those spark plugs were bad a decent amount of time before you changed them, and your cats did a kickass job cleaning up the mess that was left over.

With t-stat stuck open, the coolant temp sensor is telling the computer your car is running cooler than it is at startup, adding more fuel. That extra fuel was too much and the bad spark plugs just couldn't burn it all, creating a partial misfire that wasn't noticeable before. Once in open loop the o2's were seeing more than normal levels of oxygen(from the unburnt air/fuel mixture) and were telling the computer to, again, add more fuel. The unburned fuel and air mixture went right into the cat making it overheat and melt down.

New t-stat
New spark plugs
New cats
Likely a new muffler(cat blows chunks back into that)
 
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