Will it start or not

My father in law has a 2002 Ford Taurus that is giving him trouble. It will start and run fine for awhile and then one day you can get in it to start it and it will turn over but won’t start. Then you can just leave it alone and not do anything to it and then try to start it 1 day, a month later, or longer and it will fire right up. When this happens it also does not read/show a code in the computer when you check it either. Does not seem to have a rhythm nor reason as to when it does it either. Any ideas? Thansk!

He needs to check the ignition system for spark when this trouble happens. Spraying some starter fluid into the intake may help also if there is a fuel delivery problem.

Cougar is exactly right. There are a number of components that can make this happen and the first easy way to narrow it down is to find out if it is fuel or spark.

You can either get a spare plug for the car, or a spark tester (easily available at auto parts stores). The next time it won’t start, hook it up and check the spark. If you don’t find it then you start trouble shooting the ignition system (spark plugs, wires, coil(s), distributor if it had one (though I don’t think the Taurus does).

If you find spark squirt some starter fluid (get that with the spark tester or spare plug) into the intake and if if fires - even if for a bit, then you start trouble shooting the fuel delivery.

In the meantime, if any basic maintenance is not up to date (plugs, wires, fuel filter…) then make it so.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could log on to your cars computer and read a message"I am not starting because…". Things don’t work like that. Your car has diagnostic capability primairly because the government mandated it as a way to detect emission system failures,we are starting to realize how helpful onboard diagnostics are with other stystems. Perhaps saying “starting” doesn’t give enough acknowledgement to existing onboard diagnostic capability.

Remember how PC’s were when we had to work with DOS manually? it was a job just to copy a file,now things are so much better. I want the same leap in user ease with automotive diagnostics.