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Start problems-infrequent

I have a 1997 Ford Explorer Sport, 155K miles, never any problems until recently; the truck won’t start-up 2-3 times a week. The battery was tested at the local dealer, and when asked if all the connections were checked, alternator, starter, I got a vague answer that the technicians were well trained. Since then the truck wouldn’t start in a parking lot; called AAA and by the time the AAA guy arrived in 15 minutes the truck started. He had jumped the battery and said the battery had juice in there; he said the battery was OK. I just didn’t run the car enough. I’m not sure what to do since this never happened before, just this summer, other than find an auto electric shop; paid about $105 at the dealer for the check-up so I thought all checks would be done. Any suggestions? Thanks!

If by not starting you mean the dashboard warning lamps illuminate when the key is on and you hear no sound at all, not even a starter solenoid click, when turning the key to the START position this often means a faulty neutral safety switch.

Next time it acts up try shifting the vehicle into NEUTRAL and attempt a start or shift into DRIVE, back into PARK, and then see what happens. If it starts after any of this the neutral switch is likely bad, although there is always the possibility of a faulty ignition switch. The latter is less likely than the former. Hope that helps.

By not starting I do mean the dashboard warning lamps illuminate when the key is on; the engine or starter will crank, sometimes for 3-5 seconds until ignition which used to take a second; sometimes no ignition at all such as today, just cranks.

Didn’t start early this morning, after a rain last night, just cranks. Checked three hours later, no start, just cranks. The vehicle will start eventually.

Don’t know why the diagnostic check didn’t find anything… or if all the contacts were checked; should’ve been according to the service manager. Any thoughts or more information needed?

The first thing to find out is whether or not you are lacking fuel or spark. From an auto parts store and buy a spark tester and a can of starting fluid. Hook up the spark tester & check for spark. You can skip the spark tester & just use a spare spark plug or one of your plugs if you want to remove one.

For fuel, first just turn the key to on without cranking it - listen for the fuel pump (2-3 second hum from behind you somewhere). If you don’t hear the fuel pump check fuses/relays. Blow some starter fluid into the intake and if that gets it to fire at all then troubleshoot fuel.

That at least cuts the problem in half.

We’re getting there now, may be the fuel pump since I no longer hear the sound (2-3 second hum); so do the fuses/relay check first. I’ll keep you all posted as this continues; started up today after the weekend; thanks!