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Starting issue

The car is a 01 Ford Focus 2.0 spi with 139k.

Occasionally the car won’t start. Turn the key and absolutely nothing happens. No noise or anything.

About three months ago I was having the same issue and the alternator was replace with a rebuilt unit. That seemed to cure the problem until recently.

A few side notes. The day the alternator was replaced there was a sound under the hood that sounded like maybe there were wires or something hitting the radiator fan. After close inspection the noise appeared to be coming from the “new” alternator. I brought the car back to the repair shop but by then the noise had gone away. They tested it and said there was no issue. About a week ago the battery light came on while I was sitting in the car with it running while parked. I shut the car off and restarted it and that was the last of it.

Now, reading a post a few weeks ago, it sure seems like the issue may be the started solenoid. Occasionally I’ll hear a faint click just as the car starts. However, that doesn’t explain the charging light coming on, or why the issue seemed to clear up after the alternator was replaced.

So, defective alternator, solenoid or something else?


My guess is you have a bad ignition switch and you are just worried about the new alternator. I don’t see how the alternator could be involved. If you have a lot of keys or other doodads on your key ring, that could explain how the ignition switch was warn.

Thanks Joe.

I was just thinking that perhaps the alternator may have been replaced when it wasn’t the problem. Although I know a bad ignition switch wouldn’t cause the battery light to come on.

If it is the ignition switch, roughly how much would it cost to get that replaced? I’m taking it to the mechanic this morning.

Here’s something for your mechanic:
You can, also, take your car to an auto parts store and let them do a battery / alternator curbside check (for free).

Thanks, I’ll print it out and show him. I’m getting the oil changed anyway, that’s why I’m having him check it out.

The battery is only about a year old, but was tested last time. Regardless, I don’t have time for him to do anything aside from an oil change and take a quick look at the intermittent no start issue.

I will post back with the mechanics comments…

I took it to the mechanic this morning and a bad battery was diagnosed. He didn’t attempt to sell me a new battery but take it back to where I bought it because it was obviously fairly new.

If the battery is indeed bad, why does the car not have an issue first thing in the morning after sitting all night? This morning after driving for about 30 miles I stopped and got gas. After filling up it took a few attempts to start it. Again, when it fails to start there isn’t any noise, it does not even try to turn over. Wouldn’t the battery be somewhat charged up after all that driving? Usually wouldn’t a bad battery be more of a problem after the car has been sitting for a while?

If the dashboard warning lights come on and there is no “click” sound when you have a no-start condition this could point to a faulty neutral safety switch (auto trans), faulty clutch switch (manual trans), or faulty ignition switch (the electrical part).

If the car has an auto trans try shifting into neutral and seeing if it will start then. If it does, the neutral switch has probably failed.

Personally I believe OK is correct, but it could be an internal mechanical defect of the battery and would not always show up on a test.