Q: During ignition Taurus gagged for air, then backfired w/ smoke. Now engine light stays on & runs rough(timing off) 2005 Ford Taurus SE

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A couple of days ago when I started my 2005 Taurus SE (76300 miles) it gagged (hesitated, like it was gasping for air) then backfired w/ a puff of smoke. The engine light remained on and it ran rough (like the timing is off). I let it run for a while to see if it would correct the issue, but it did not. Subsequent starting of the engine did NOT result in the same startup experience (hesitation and backfire) but the engine light remains ON and it continues to run rough. I need to know what might be the issue and what steps I can take (or a mechanic) to correct the problem. I consider myself mechanically capable (a 6-7 out of 10 capability, but no special automotive tools) Thanks in advance for any advice offered, Carl

My car has 76300 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hello - the first task is to check for the problem codes which are setting the Check Engine light. This may be helpful in identifying the initial problem as well as the current problem(s). Usually, backfiring in the intake is the result of a lean fuel mixture (i.e.air leak, inadequate fuel and/or timing issues as you suggest). This could be a leaky hose connection, or cracking in a component of the intake, clogged fuel filter, worn fuel pump, etc. Backfiring can, of course, blow a hose off or cause further damage. It can also, as you suggest cause the engine to "jump time" although that should not be an issue with only 76K miles. I recommend a backfiring inspection performed by a mobile, professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, who will come to your location, diagnose this problem, give you an accurate assessment of damage and cost estimate for repairs.

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