2002 Taurus FFI Cold Starting Problems

Just recently my son has been having trouble cold-starting his 109K mile Taurus after it sits overnight. It takes multiple tries (5-8) if you only crank it for 2-4 seconds, or over 10-15 seconds for a
continue try (I told him not to do the latter). On the first try, it ALMOST starts (as if there is a little gas present). Then, when it does start and you put it in drive/reverse, the RPMs start going up/ down/up/down several times before stabilizing (seems like it is going to die but doesn't). The car afterwards is fully driveable; no problems accelerating, doing highway speeds, etc, and it starts up fine whether it is hot or warm. Gas mileage has not changed, and the plugs where changed 10K ago. This was not a gradual change -- he said one day he went out to start it and that is when it began.
We did check for vacuum leaks but none of the hoses that we could see appeared cracked (although I swear I hear something -- he says the noise is coming from the alternator).
Does anyone have any ideas what to check before he has to pay big $$$ to take it to the local dealer?
Thanks
Frank Michigan fm snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com
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fuel pressure?
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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On Nov 11, 6:13 pm, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

I would have thought that if the pump was bad, then any acceleration would also cause the car to sputter / die. But maybe I am wrong about that -- I worked on cars back in th 70s when they were mechanical, not computer driven :-). However, now I have one more bit of information -- on the way back to school he said the CHECK ENGINE light came on. Since he had just left he turned around and came home. I put my OBD II analyzer on it. The code was P0175 - rich fuel mixture bank 1 or something like that. He said it was not driving bad at all, and it strarted fine after stopping for gas. Furthermore, the analyzer did show (in snapshot mode) a fuel pressure of 3.0 psi at 26 mph. Is this low? High? Where it should be? Thanks again for everyone's help.
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wrote:

Are you sure it's 3.0 psi and not 30 psi? Fuel pressure on most fuel injected cars is usually 35-45 psi. Anything lower than 20 psi and the car just won't run.
Your rich fuel mixture might be due to a leaky fuel injector, which also might allow the pressure to drop overnight to zero. Try the following test, which was suggested on this board after replacing the fuel filter (which I assume you've already done): Before starting the car in the morning, turn the key to ON for a few seconds to allow the fuel pump to run and pressurize the system. Repeat 3 times, then try to start the car. If it starts right up, then you probably need to a new fuel pump. You should still check for leaky fuel inj's, and check the pressure regulator as well.
Bob
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