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Will not start from time to time

I have a 2003 Ford Expedition with 37,000 miles. Recently it has developed a problem in that after a local run with 1 to 3 stops it will not start, it cranks fine but will not ‘catch’ feels like vapor lock or flooding. I have it serviced regularly by a mechanic of mine I have used for 8 years and he can not find anything wrong ( all elec fuel etc appear to be okay) because it runs fine when at his shop even after a towing and a computer check. At his suggestion I took it to the Ford dealer I bought it from and they too can not find anything because it runs and tested fine for two days hoping to spend some $$. Both need to have it NOT operating to see what is wrong but the car will not cooperate except on a weekend. My mechanic says it may be the alarm the dealer said no because it only a remote door opener,

Help!! This is my wife’s car and we need the space (we have 8 grown children and many grand children)she is a teacher and drives 7 miles each way to work, I can not have her stranded. What else could it be, I have made suggestion (smog, etc.) and told NO, yes I will pay to fix it because it is in great shape lo mileage and paid for.


Try a different key, it maybe a problem with the “chip” key and the “immobilizer” system. For some reason it may not “read” the key properly and therefore not allow the car to start.

It won’t start; yet, you keep driving it. How do you do that?
If you could do something to determine if the problem is fuel system, or spark system, you would be a long way toward your mechanic finding a solution. From the auto parts store, get a spray can of Starting Fluid, and a spark plug test light (IF it has spark plug wires) you clip onto a spark plug wire.
You can clip the spark plug test light onto a spark plug wire and leave it there.
Place the straw of the Starting Fluid into the engine air intake duct, and leave it there.
When the car doesn’t start, crank the engine and hold the gas pedal to the floor during cranking. Let up on the gas as/if it starts. Crank the engine and watch for the spark plug test light to flash about once every two or three seconds during cranking.
Connect the spray can of Starting Fluid to the straw, and give it a two second spray. Now, try to start the engine.
Tell your mechanic the results of your diagnoses.

Unc might be on the right track. I think the dealer is a dope. IIRC, the Expedition in that era were equipped with Securilock systems. Have an owner manual. If so, read up. If not, download one at or The Securilock systems I am familiar with have an led on the dash. If the transponder key is not matched, it will flash very quickly when trying to start it and the fuel pump will not engage.

all problems are in the afternoon after several stops and it starts. The first time it was on a weekday afternoon my wife had it jumped by aaa and it started, took to the mech right then and could not find anything wrong he even exch the bat as it was under 1 yr warantee and worked fine, the second time 1 week later ona Sunday it was in the d’way and would not start in the afternoon after 2 stop, church and market, but did start the next morning took to mech and again nothing, the 3rd time I was driving on a Sunday and after sev stops again in in the afternoon would not start , aaa towed it and said sound like fuel pump but worked the next am at mech and then drove to dlr and no prob after 2 days of all testing including elec keys etc.

I will check that, interesting my mech say it feels like the alarm sys, but when I asked the dealer while it was there he said no, this is not that kind of alarm my car has only a remote door opener cds 3000 and of course it always worked with either key by the way I bought it with the alarm in it.

thanks, I did read the manual and they say to be careful of other metal objects (keys or easy passes for gas and groceries) near the chip in the key which will prevent it from staring, I was never aware of and of course can not recall if this happened when I or my wife used them so I separated the keys etc. from the ford key on both key rings and we’ll see what happens.

You do want to help your mechanic find the problem, don’t you? You do want to be “pro-active” don’t you? If you do, have your mechanic install the inline spark plug tester, and the straw. Is this too much to suggest?

Nope and I will, thanks for the input

so far so good

I spoke with my mechanic re your suggestion and he said it is a good one, but that he had done it and could not find anything wrong at that time, I will wait until I have the problem again and will do it then, Thanks.