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Taurus reboots itself

My 2002 Ford Taurus’ electrical system has completely “rebooted” itself a couple of times in the last week. Once it simply failed to start for a few minutes (no turning over sound or evidence that power was getting to anything), then it started as if there were no issues (except that the car clock reset to 12:00). The second time I was at a stoplight and it died. Within a few seconds I was able to restart it again. The first time I turned off the AC and that is when it started up (don’t know if it was a coincidence). The second time it idled a bit rough while it was at the light before it died.

One further thing that I think eliminates the alternator or battery as the main culprit. When it died the first time the exact sequence of events was as follows.

1. Car won’t start in my work parking lot.

2. A friend/co-worker jumps the car and it starts.

3. As the friend drives away I turn on my AC (which I had turned off during the jump procedure). At this moment the car dies again.

4. While I sit there in disbelief, the car rolls forward with the slope of the parking lot as if I am in neutral (I was in park) until I hit my brakes. It rolled forward about the distance of a parking space.

5. I turn off the AC and start the car again. I drive it about fifty feet before attempting the AC again and don’t have any more issues with it that day.

I did have an issue with the car idling very rough about two years ago and so the coil and plugs and wires were replaced. That appeared to work for about a year, but the car has occasionally idled rough (though much less so than before) since.

Does anyone have thoughts as what could cause this? If it’s not the battery, alternator, coil, plugs, or wires, what’s left?

I’ve seen it before. It could be dirty battery terminals or an awful ground between engine and body. Yes, there is a ground wire / cable just for that. Find that little wire and disconnect it to clean the body end of it and you could be rolling again. Do not try to start the car with it disconnected or you could have really bad problems if you forget to reconnect it.

Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll try that tomorrow and provide an update.

Well, this is inconclusive at the moment. After discussing this at work I was encouraged to have the battery checked out at the local auto parts store. That checked out, but they believe that the alternator is going and that that is the issue. I don’t see how their test eliminates the ground as a possibility, though, so this is going to be a “To be continued” situation as I investigate further.

Thanks for the feedback, pleasedodgevan2!