My car just died while driving
If you had an otherwise normally* operating vehicle and while driving just decides to die on you then your problem will most likely be lack or inadequate spark/fuel, most likely fuel related in my experience.
*by normal I mean no overheating, starts fine every time
Tools that may be required - test light ($5), needle nose pliers ($5)
First check the basics such as fuses and spark plug wire connections. make sure all your plug wires are plugged in securely. If so check to make sure any ignition related fuses are not blown. You can do this either by removing and inspecting for any broken fuses or hooking a test light to a ground and probing both sides of the fuse (key must be in the "on" position for this).
Still nothing check for spark at the plugs. Do this by taking your test light and probing one of the plug wires near the plug. Have someone crank the engine, the light should be blinking as engine is turning over. Do this for all wires. If you get a signal each wire, disconnect one of the plug wires, remove the plug and reconnect wire. Have someone crank engine. You should see blue sparks coming from the plug as the engine rotates.
Repeat for all cylinders. (you could also skip the first step and just do this)
If you don't get a spark at a particular plug, then you will need to probe each connection (the wire at the plug, the wire coming out of distributor/coil, the wire coming out of the coil. By doing this you will be able to pinpoint where the damaged component is. If you have nothing into the coil than it is likely an ignition related fuse/relay (solenoid on Fords) is bad.
If you are getting spark to each plug then your problem is fuel related.
To test fuel you will need a fuel pressure gauge (rent for free at auto parts store or pick up a gauge for around $30)
Hookup the fuel pressure gauge at check point (hookup point will vary depending on the vehicle but will likely be on the fuel rail or the throttle body on injected vehicles). Also when you rent/buy the fuel gauge ask them to lookup the fuel pressure. Probably around 40psi and up for a functional fuel system (injected) about 4psi for carbureted (look up pressure at parts store or manual for specific application).
If your fuel pressure reads low, then your filter or pump is bad. Replace the filter and recheck, if still low, replace the pump.
If your pressure reads good than it is likely that your crank and/'or cam sensor(s) or injectors are malfunctioning. The crank/cam sensors are what tell the computer when to fire the injectors. Probe the injector connectors while cranking the engine (there are two wires, one should blink when cranking the engine. If you get a signal than the injectors are bad.
If you still are having issues, than you may have a wiring problem or bad ECU
on Feb 03, 2010 | Ford F-150 Cars & Trucks