I have a 1998 Mercury Sable with 120K miles. I have an ongoing issue that at times can be so very frustrating. I think the car is posessed. Really the car has a mind of its own. Friday it would not start all day. Saturday cranks and runs perfectly, only to not start again on Tuesday. Wednesday afternoon the car starts and is still running. Over the past few years this has reoccured. Luckily the last time it happened was about 2 years ago. I changed keys and it worked well for a long time…now here I am again.
Previously when it would not start I could wait about 30 minutes to an hour and it would start right up again.
I’ve had it sit with two different mechanics and no codes reflect the problem nor can they recreate this issue while the car is with them.
When it won’t start, does it have electric power (like, will the headlights come on)?
Will it crank and not start, or not crank at all?
Does it make any noise while trying to start?
Melott, thank you. It has electric power, cranks but won’t start. Noise not really other than “cranking” sound (starting engaging).
Just don’t make any appointments on Friday or Teusday ?
Gremlins like that on a car that age could be many things.
Worn out contacts or corrosion on electrical switches and plugs can be intermittent.
neutral safety switch.
fuel pump plug.
crank position sensor.
even the battery cables
can act up intermittently.
Try wiggling some of the suspects like the shift lever or ignition switch to coax the contacts.
If you know where the plug ins are for the coil and crank sensors, wiggle there too, or unplug and replug.
Be it touch with your shop so that they’ll be ready the next time it is dead.
You first need to determine if the trouble is with the ignition system or the fuel delivery system. More than likely it is an ignition prolem you are having with the car. To see if that is so carry a can of starter fluid with you so when the trouble happens again you can spray a small amount of the fluid into the air intake and see if the engine will respond to that. If it doesn’t fire up then the ignition is suspect. Making sure power is getting to it is the first check for that kind of problem.
We can eliminate the neutral safety switch and the ignition switch if the engine cranks. Those switches would prevent the engine from cranking at all if they were malfunctioning. Same goes for battery cables.
Thank you to all that have given advise…
An update. Worked well all weekend until Sunday afternoon…then it refused to start again.
I think it may be the anti-theft mechanism…theft light blinking.
Anyone know how to just turn that bad boy off?
I’d see next whether you have a spark. You can buy a tester to put inline between the spark plug wire and the spark plug, then someone cranks while you watch it. Or, you put a nail or piece of wire in the boot of the wire and dangle it near the spark plug. Someone cranks and you watch for a spark to jump across. You are NOT holding the wire.
If the car has one ignition coil, it could be bad. Or something in the ignition to cause this.
Otherwise, not getting fuel as posted above.
There is a little resistor in the key and it can keep the car from starting. A resistor can be added in to bypass this.
Major clue not revealed-“little theft light blinking”. Yes its the anti-theft system. Either bad keys or the system itself. If you can find a lock smith to work on it, otherwise probably going to have to go to the dealer. No point going into a lot of other diagnostic machinations with the theft light on. The car is telling you what is wrong.
Nobody likes car payments but everybody wants a car that works.