Ford Escape not starting

I’d like to get some feedback on whether this is most likely a fuel pump or starter or other issue. My 2003 Ford Escape has about 83,000 miles on it and I’ve had very little trouble with it. A couple times lately, though, I’ve gone to start the thing, turn the ignition and nothing happens. The engine doesn’t turn over, there’s no clicking sound, nothing happens. The first time this happened, I tried to start it about three or four times, waited a minute or two and then the thing fired up fine.

I noticed that the low light fuel indicator was on - it had not been previously – so I drove immediately to the gas station and put in 14.8 gallons. The thing has a 15 gallon tank. When restarting the vehicle, the ignition hesitated a couple seconds and then worked. Over the next couple days, the ignition would hesitate a bit – but less and less each time – and then kick in. After a couple days everything seemed back to normal.

So I thought that this was related to having the gas so low, although how the gas got that low without the warning light coming on is still a mystery.

Yesterday, the car started fine and I drove about 4 miles to my breakfast place. I was there about 45 minutes and the Escape started fine. I decided to stop for a newspaper about a mile down the road, came out and the car wouldn’t start. Again with the dead silence. This time there was about 3/4 of a tank of gas, so it’s not low fuel. Again I waited a minute or two, tried again, and after some hesitation the thing started.

Today it started fine.

I’m in a bit of hurt if this thing doesn’t start for me. So what should I expect the mechanic to tell me when I take it in? Or is there something else I should do first? I’m reasonably intelligent, but cars aren’t my strong point.


If you have an automatic transmission, the next time this happens, hold the key in the start position and wiggle the stick. It maybe the park/neutral safety switch. If it doesn’t kick in, then put the selector in neutral and try to start it again.

If its a manual transmission, work the clutch pedal while holding the key in the start position and see if it kicks in. That would be the clutch safety switch.

I agree with keith and something to keep in mind is that Ford refers to the neutral switch as a range selector switch. This is just in case you and the shop aren’t on the same page about the part.

A neutral switch is often cheap; a range selector switch has a fancier name and higher price tag… .-)

Didn’t You Guys Have A Feeling That CSA Would Hop On Here Spewing Forth Some Drivel About A Technical Service Bulletin Relating To This ?
Well, Here It Is.

Of course all the regular intermittent no-start stuff should be checked and Keith and OK4450 have give good ideas.

If nothing’s obviously amock then according to a Ford Technical Service Bulletin, written for their technicians who are working on intermittent electrical issues in 2001 - 2004 Ford Escapes, including, but not limited to - no crank, no start.

Just like déjà vu, all over again:
There have been owners of 2001 - 2004 posting starting problems on this Car Talk Community site. Try a search.

You can see a summary of the 4 page bulletin on this link. Note that the guy complains of cranks, but won’t start on his 2001, but also notice the bulletin itself says it can be intermittent no crank, no start.

I know it could be many other things that could cause this, but I thought you’d like something to consider if it doesn’t get resolved easily.