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Intermittent Starting 2002 Ford Ranger Edge 4.0L V6

I’m Having trouble with my Ford Ranger starting. Here’s what I know:

The vehicle is a 2002 4.0L V6 Automatic.

It has 39,000 real miles on it, and when it does start it runs well.

The problem started on a VERY cold-windy day. I drove it to Wal-Mart from my home 3 miles away. I Spent about 1 hour in the store, and when I came out, it cranked fine (plenty of juice), but wouldn’t start. While cranking the engine a couple of times the instrument panel went crazy. The needles bounced around up and down. After about 1/2 hour it started, so I immediately drove it 3 blocks away to a Ford dealer to have it checked out. When I turned the truck off in their parking lot, I tried starting it a few times. Each time it started fine with no abnormalities to the instrument panel.

The Ford dealer serviced the vehicle, and claimed that the problem was a part of the fuel injection, and also cleaned the fuel injection system.

About 150 miles & 3 weeks later I again leave my home, drive about 1 1/2 miles away. Go to an appointment that lasted about 1 hour. This day is the coldest of the year now. I return to the truck to start it. Once again it cranks, but won’t start. The instrument panel did nothing abnormal this time.

I called the dealer again to explain the problem, spoke with the same guy, and it has now been in the shop for 9 (NINE) days now. They claim that they couldn’t get it started as well, but when they went back to it later it started fine, and they need to be able to re-create the problem to figure out what to do.

The vehicle has an aftermarket warranty and good service record. It was a previously leased vehicle.

At this point, I’m getting concerned that they aren’t going to fix the problem. I’ve not harassed them on time because I don’t use the truck very often at this time of year. Yet it needs to be done at some point and it needs to be right.

I thought it may be any of the following:

Fuel pump, coil?, Computer, relay, or timing belt/firing system.

Can anybody help me to help the dealer mechanic?

Thanks in advance!

We had an o3 windstar with a similar problem, not temp related but periodic no start after a short trip. It was towed to the dealer twice where it started right up. We found if it did not start, you could wait about an hour then it would start right up. I had the wife stop the Dealer every time she passed it to see if it would restart. One time it didn’t and they diagnosed it as a fuel pump, replaced it and it has been fine since. The dealer was aware we were doing this so was very cooperative about sending someone out to look at it right away. Too bad your dealer could not figure it out when they could not get it to start. We had a sticking brake light for a while and low battery situations caused craziness on the instrument panel.

Fuel pump was my first thought as well. I suggested this to the dealer, but I guess the eliminated that notion. I’m not sure how they made that decision.

I spoke again to the dealer today. They actually do believe that it is a Fuel Pump issue, but cannot re-create the problem to confirm it. This is important because of the aftermarket warranty.