Town car

Why won’t our 1999 town car start after sitting for several weeks. But if we tow it, then it will start, without doing any work to it. This has happened twice.

Please expand on will not start. ie the engine cranks but will not start, vs the engine does not even turn over.

It cranks fine, the battery has plenty of juice. It just cranks over and over, but will not start. We bought the car new in 1999, the first time this problem happened, the car was only about 6 months old. It cranked over fine but would not start. We had it towed to the dealer, and without doing anything to the car, it started right up for them. Then it didn’t do it again until last winter. Although this time we went to start it, and it started, but it started hard. We let it run in the driveway for about 20 minutes and then shut it off. When we went to start it back up, it would not start. We pushed it back into the garage, and a couple weeks later we had it towed to the car repair shop. We DID try to start it again before we towed it. When it got to the shop…it started right up. Now 2 weeks ago we went to start it, and it would not start. Just cranks over and over. I think if we tow it around the block, it may start, but who wants to be towing their Town Car around the block to start it all the time…anyway, any ideas? Thanks!

It could be a fuel pump problem, or it could be something else. Get a can of starting fluid, and spray it in the air intake while cranking the engine. If it starts briefly, then you have some sort of fuel problem. Get a fuel pressure gauge and check for fuel pressure. If you have none, then there’s a problem with the fuel pump or with the circuit that powers it.

How is it towed? Flatbed, or lifting one end? Jack it up and try it

either way it’s getting tilted as the flatbed angles to slide back on the truck after the car is loaded. I do suspect that either raising the front end, or the vibration from the tow is what’s making it start again.

Since I can’t see how tilting a car backwards would fix a fuel pump or get fuel somewhere that it’s somehow unable to get when the car is flat, I suspect it’s the vibration. And that means I suspect there’s a loose wire (battery cable maybe?) that, through jiggling around on a tow truck, makes contact again.

A weak fuel pump and or a clogged fuel filter…This technique works for many cars with a weak fuel pump, Crank it a few seconds and then let it rest for a few seconds. Repeat until it starts. For some, just turning the key on and off a couple of times before cranking works for some reason. Probably, this provides time for the pump to build up pressure…

flat bed. Will try jacking it up. Battery cables are good. But I have also wondered if it is some kind of contact problem that the movement from towing seems to correct. Or is it possible that something is grounding out? Also, when the security system is triggered, does it keep the car from starting, and if so, could the security system be faulty and not allowing the car to start?

I just tried your idea. I turned the key on without cranking, and I heard the fuel pump kick on, I kept the key on for a few seconds, then repeated the process.Although this time I did not hear the fuel pump kick on. Then I cranked it over, and this time it tried to fire, but would not start. I turned the key off and repeated the process, it did try to fire again, but still would not start. Then the next time I cranked it over, it didn’t want to fire at all again,although it still cranked over. So possibly clogged filter? Or do you think it sounds more like the pump? Either way, it sounds like it’s a start in the right direction to finding the problem. Because before it didn’t want to fire at all.

I still don’t get why towing it would allow it to start though.

Okay, you’ve got another clue (you didn’t hear the fuel pump the second time). Here’s another test suggestion for you to ignore or to try. Even though your battery is not low, try jump starting your car. The donor car needs to be running when you do this. The reason is that the higher voltage from the running car may be enough to get the fuel pump to run. If this works, then it makes the fuel pump a likely (but not completely certain) suspect.

Are you talking about the factory security system, or did you have an aftermarket alarm installed?

It looks like the factory security has both a starter kill and a fuel kill, that are slaved to a chipped key. Since it cranks, we know the key is registering with the car, which leaves only the fuel kill as a possibility, and it could certainly be a bad fuel kill switch, or bad wiring going to that switch. Unfortunately I don’t know the location of the security system’s “brain” so I can’t tell you where to look for the wires, but under the dash on the drivers side or behind the radio are two good places to look.

I suspect that Binky is wondering whether your vehicle has an inertail impact safety switch to shut the fuel pump power off in an accident. This could, if towed at a sufficient angle, disenable the fuel pump circuit.

However, you say it’s been towed on a flatbed? Twice? Perhaps if we knew what the problem was that was causing it to be towed it would provide a clue.

Lacking more inforation, my money is on the fuel pump.

We towed it because it wouldn’t start. Please read my original question for more information.

I will be trying your ideas tomorrow. I have a friend with a fuel pressure gauge coming over tomorrow, (per your first suggestion). We will also try the jump starting idea you suggested.