Is my diagnosis headed in the right direction?

I've got a 2002 Ford Taurus with about 47k miles on it.
I started the car up after work, got about 10 feet and it started running really rough, then stalled and wouldn't start back up.
This morning I put about 3 gallons of gas into the tank (it was nearly empty to begin with). The pump at the gas station was running really slow like .01 gallons / second (that's why I only put 3 gallons in it). The guy next to me at the gas station couldn't start his truck either... Is it possible that bad gas won't even allow the engine to run?
I want to put about 5 gallons of premium into the tank, but how do I flush out the bad gas in the line to let the good gas get to the engine to see if that's the problem? Does this sound like a bad gas problem? Is there anything else I should be checking? I'd like to avoid having it towed to the repair shop.
Oh, BTW, I drove the car about 500 miles on Sunday returning from my parents house in TN, and the car ran fine from the gas station to work this morning after filling up about 2 miles.
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Big Dope opined in



... I think I edited it to the right timeline
But yes.. you obviously got bad gas!
And no... Premium wont help. Why do you think it will?
A couple cans of dry-gas and cycling your ign on and off for about ten minutes so the pump distributes it through the system MIGHT help but probably not.
That station owes you... i hope to he!! you aint gonna say that was a corner "Econo-Go"
Get with the other guy and both of you call the district office of that brand..
The fuel filter needs changed AFTER you get it running
--
- Yes, I'm a crusty old geezer curmudgeon.. deal with it! -

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Thanks for the input. I'm going to disconnect the gas line to the engine and let the fuel pump pump out the crappy gas.

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Big Dope wrote:

You know the line is highly pressured... right?
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Besides not buying cheap gas you shouldnt run your tank down to the last drop, this sucks up all the water and dirt in the tank.
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... into the fuel pump and injectors.
But if you have the fuel rail disconnected at least the injectors will be safe. You'll take your chances with the fuel pump.
You better be routing that fuel safely to another container, or containers since you will probably wind up with 10 gallons or more.
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This reminds me of something that happened when I was a Tech for a large rental car company. A Town Car was towed in. Cranks but won't start. The customer filled the tank before returning the car. Made it about 500 feet when the car died. (I didn't hear that part until later). The car had fuel pressure, injector pulse, good spark, no fault codes, etc. The problem? About 11 gallons of water in the fuel tank! The station was nearby and many of our customers filled up there before returning their rentals. The manager had all of the tanks checked for water, the amount was negligible (all fuel storage tanks have some water in them). The customer had the receipt for the fill up. We never figured out where all of that water came from. It sure took a while to get it all out.
                Tom
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Ok, I drained about 2 1/2 - 3 gallons of water from the tank this evening using the fuel pump to pump it out. What a slow process with the pulsing of the pump!! Stopped draining the tank when I finally smelled gas from the line which left about 3 gallons of gas in the tank. I proceeded to put 5 gallons of gas into the tank.
Replaced the filter, and tried to start the engine. Sounds like it wants to start, but won't quite kick over. Any thoughts? Would the fuel pump create enough pressure in the fuel line to the engine to push out the bad stuff???

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By this point in time I would suspect wet spark plugs... oil and filter change probably wouldn't hurt, either.

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I got the car running tonight. I drained some more water out of the tank, and started to get alot of gas coming out, so I popped in 4 bottles of isopropanol (spelling) and fired it up. I drove it up to the gas station near work and filled the tank up with some good gas. I drove it home and set off 6 error codes. Mainly misfires. I think I'm going to swap the plugs out this weekend.
How many tanks of gas would you think I have to run through this engine before it's really clean?

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A lot depends on how far down you get with the fuel level before you fill again. Continuing to use the isopropyl alcohol (methanol alcohol is too corrosive for the injector pintles) which will help emulsify the water with the gas.
As an option, you could disconnnect the fuel line and get it so it will drain into an appropriate container, remove the fuel pump relay (IIRC, should be a mini relay in the underhood junction box... owners manual should show which one) and jumper the two large terminals. This will have the pump run continuously. This way you could run out of gas "conveniently".Once the tank is empty, a couple of gallons weel laced with your isopropyl, pump that out and fill the tank to cut down any remaining alcohol.

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I seriously doubt that this is your problem, but I'll mention it anyway. I live in the Washington DC area. There was a report a few months ago that in a certain shopping center in suburban MD there had been several occasions in which all the folks with RF security keys (like your Taurus and countless other cars now have) came out to their cars and discovered they wouldn't start. Sometimes this would last for 45 mins other times it would be 3-4 hours. It was discovered that there was a military/security installation nearby that was believed to be testing on around the same frequency that the keys use and swamping the rf based car security system. Of course the covert activities were denied, but once the problem was brought to their attention, the trouble ceased. It was suspected that they changed frequencies.
If you search the Washington Post, you should find the story back 4 or so months ago.
CJB

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