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Have you tried to hold the gas pedal to the floor ? Ford's have clear flood mode strategy programmed into the PCM , if you hold pedal to the floor the engine computer disables the fuel injectors . If it is flooded holding to the floor will clear it out .
'pumping' a fuel injected engine is NOT like the old days (like with a carb)-if you hold the petal to the floor, it shuts off the injectors-NO petal, the injectors pulse (and dump fuel to an engine that is slow to start). If you are having hard starting, chances are good you have a flooding condition-leaking injectors, leaking O-rings, a damaged fuel pressure regulator could all be re3asons for your hard starting (and backfiring from a flooded engine). You should try to HOLD the petal to the floor and see if that helps-if it does, you should get the fuel regulator checked, replace the injector o-rings, check fuel pressure and might even need to consider replacing injectors themselves (or having them cleaned).
Holding the pedal to floor should not do anything because the car is fuel injected... You may check your fuel filter.. it sounds like its taking along time for fuel to start engine... The fuel filter is located on the cross member just forward of the fuel tank....
Sounds like you have a vacuum booster issue or a brake master cylinder going out. If you know of an independent mechanic the Vacuum Booster test is simple. It is recommended to replace both the booster and the master cylinder at the same time.
It will take two people, one to push clutch peddel, and one to open bleeder, same as bleeding breaks, the person pushing peddel pumps peddel a few times and the last time holds to floor, other person opens bleeder to let air out, and then closes bleeder while peedel is still depressed, do this process over and over untill you get clutch or a steady stream of fluid with no air , while keeping an eye on fluid level in resavor.
My car did (past tense) the same thing. The service engine light is flashing until you let off the gas because raw fuel is being dumped into the catalytic converter. The transmission won't shift because the converter is plugged. When you push the pedal to the floor the transmission computer holds the transmission in gear. Meanwhile the engine computer is raising the rpms. It will seem like a transmission problem but it is more likely a plugged catalytic converter. I had converter changed. The engine has A LOT more power, great acceleration and the transmission shifts perfectly.