Slow to start - cold weather?

Hi everyone -

In the past month or so, I have had 2 instances of my 04 Escape being stubborn on start up. Both times, the engine will crank when I turn the key, but won’t start up. After a 5 or so seconds of unsuccessfully trying, I turn the key to the off position, wait a second or so, then try it again - without fail, the car starts right up (well, almost - usually takes a turn or so longer than usual, but nothing too concerning) and runs normally. I am hoping that this is simply cold weather-related. Each time it has happened, we have been experiencing lower temperatures after a day or two of 30+ degree days. I have a job that allows me to carpool most days, so the car usually only gets driven once or twice a week (a little over 20 miles each day I drive it) - with the cold weather, and the fact that I just replaced the battery last month, I have been trying my best to start the car and let it warm up every few days to keep the battery somewhat charged. Again, this has only happened two times - both times have gone the exact same way. Is this related to the cold, or could I be seeing the beginnings of a more expensive issue?

You have a weak fuel pump. Cyling the key and it starting is the proof.

Thanks knfenimore - is this a fix that needs to be addressed immediately, or will it continue to be an annoyance for a while before it gets worse? As I said, once I am able to start the car, it gives me no problems for a while. I would ideally like to sit on the repair for a while - I just had to drop 1200$ to replace the water pump and several hoses 2 weeks ago, so it would be nice to let my bank account recover a bit before jumping in to what sounds like a pricey repair.

It is likely that knfenimore is right, but I would have the fuel pressure checked before condemning the fuel pump. You also could have a leaking injector or other problem that is causing the system to lose pressure when it sits.

Are there any other signs that could point to a weak fuel pump? Right now, I am only dealing with a car that doesn’t want to start on the first try in cold weather (as someone pointed out on the Escape forum, I haven’t been priming the system before cranking the engine - just turning right away to crank) - it always starts up on the second try, then seems to work just fine for another week or so until the temperature dips again. If I were to wait on this issue, will there be warning signs that the pump is about to fail? Will there be a check engine light, or will the part just suddenly fail without any other warning than being slow to start in cold weather?

Is a fuel pump/filter repair a complicated repair? My FIL is an engineer for Ford - ideally, if we could change out the parts in a few hours in the driveway once it starts warming up, that would work better for my wallet.

You can have the pressure tested during a cold day. This will prove or disprove the pump. If it is the pump, it can die at any time. No one can say when.