1999 Sable Intermittent Start Problem

I have a '99 Mercury Sable with the 3.0 24 Valve DOHC V6. The car occasionally will not start. It only happens after the car has been driven and warmed up, shut off, and then an attempted restart. This problem has occurred in all sorts of temps. Sometimes it will start within 30 minutes, sometimes it takes overnight. But it will start.

I have already replaced the fuel pump relay. Is the fuel pump needing to be replaced (b/c it is failing slowly), or is this problem located somewhere else?

This was also discussed without resolution here: http://community.cartalk.com/posts/list/2141221.page

When you experience the diffiulty in starting is it due to a weak sounding starter motor? DOes it turn over normally? Or does it have long crank times? Let us know…it affects the diagnosis greatly.

Ideally you would put a fuel pressure gauge on it and check out the pressure when it gets hot and under some load. You’d then want to watch what happens to the pressure on a hot shut down. This should tell you about the fuel pump. (Since as noted in the other post you do have a new fuel filter).

If the fuel pump is not healthy then you might not be getting enough fuel. However, you might also be flooded from a fuel pressure regulator or fuel injector leak. The next time it does this hold the accelerator to the floor (flood clear) while you turn the key. If that gets it to fire up then you need to check those things.

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The fuel pump looks like your best bet.

Hey Cigroller…I have seen many of your answers to other people…You definitely seem to know your stuff. What is your background?

Ha Ha!! You don’t want to know. And not all of my responses are good, as I’m sure plenty of people might want to point out.

I’m actually a sociologist at a middle-level state university.

One thing that means, contrary to many common assumptions, is that I am always broke. The $$ in universities is mostly in administration and business schools. Most of the rest of us are sort of like “priests” - casting off our worldly wants chasing some “higher calling.” Right now I might start hauling my own trash to the dump b/c I can’t pay my $200 trash service bill. I had to put my kids’ spring soccer fees on a credit card…

So I come by my car knowledge out of necessity - I buy older used cars and long ago ceased trusting anyone else to work on them. Too much wasted time & money. But I also love to get my hands dirty. So its for the same for everything else. I’ve now repaired my own septic system several times; do my own home renovations; clean my own gutters, cut my own firewood, etc. DIY actually runs in my family.

For cars I’ve learned what I know as I go from the ones I’ve had to keep rolling over the years (I always have repair manuals) and from internet discussion boards - like this one.

Starter works great. The car will always crank, but stalls after using up the fuel in the lines.

I will try the flood clear procedure next time it happens. Thanks.

Make sure the Theft light is not flashing when the car is not starting properly. Your car will disable the fuel pump if the ignition does not detect the chip in the key properly. Google Ford PATS system for more information.

How would you go about correcting that issue? Different key?

The problem could either be with the key or with the ignition switch where it reads the signal. If you have multiple keys, I would try using an alternate key. The dealer may be your best bet to fix this, as a Ford scan tool is required to cut a new key or work on the PATS system.

So there’s nothing that could be done at the point of breakdown to help the car detect the key, if that is, in fact, the problem?

I have the exact problem with the 1999 version of the Mercury Sable. I have replaced the EGR valve, EGR solenoid, fuel regulator, spark plugs and wires as well as the air filter. Still it happens.

Did anyone figure this one out?
I would really like to put this behind me.


In my case, it was the fuel pump. Replaced it and was fine after that. Sold it a year later.


I put a fuel pump pressure tester on it. It came out OK. a smidge on the low side but OK.