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Old 10-12-2009, 21:05   #1 (permalink)
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confused Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Hello All,

I have a strange problem with my Mercury Sable 2003 LS V6 3L. It has about 85k on it, I brought it about a year ago and the previous owner has taken good care of it and so have I.

The issue is the car is not starting. It won't crank.

A brief history, this happened 2 weeks ago also.

One fine day, I took the car out to the grocery store, came back, everything was fine. 20 minutes later I had to go out for something else and the car wouldn't start, no crank.
The first time, I put in the key and try to start the car I hear one click, then next few times, i try to start there is no noise, no crank, nothing.
All the other electronics are working fine. The lights, radio, ac everything seem to turn on properly.
So, I figure the car has to be towed to the shop and called a tow truck guy. The guy showed up in couple of hours, tried starting the car, didn't work, he looked under the hood for loose contacts, anything obvious, the fuses, no issues found.
Then he tried locking/ unlocking the car with the keyless entry thing multiple times and again tried starting the car and voila, it started.
I asked him what the problem could be and he said he couldn't tell, and the car started somehow, as he didn't do anything, other than the usual checks.

Immediately, I went to autozone, got the battery checked and was told it was weak, probably few years old, so I replaced it with a new one. Started immediately, went home tried starting it few time worked fine.

Then the car started, everything worked fine no issues, for 3 days.
After that, I was out of town for a week and the car has been garaged. Today morning, it started immediately, drove me to work.
In the evening after work, it started fine, I drove to nearby store (about 5 miles), came out of the store in 15 mins, tried starting it and it won't start.

The same symptom as I had 2 weeks ago. no crank. All other electronics turned on. I looked under the hood, things looked fine. I tried locking and unlocking the car multiple times. No luck. No start, no crank .
I took a bus ride home, it is left at the mall parking lot, all the mechanic shops are closed.
First thing tomorrow morning, I am taking the bus to the mall. To look into it further and take it to the shop or something. It needs to be fixed, my only transport.
My question is, What are the the potential things I can look at.
From my initial (blogs and forum search, inexperienced) analysis,
It could be grounding issue or
something with the security, alarm system. or
my key has lost its programming and needs to be reprogrammed.

I have seen in some places where similar issue like mine were caused by improper grounding. If that is the case what are all the places I need to look at.

Any other ideas, fixes?? any help would be great.

Thanks in advance. :)
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Old 10-12-2009, 21:18   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Did you try it in Neutral? sometimes the neutral safety switch gets bad in that spot. It's actually called Digital Transmission Range Selector. You Can even hold the key in the start position and move the lever with your other hand to see if it can connect. See if that helps. The relay can also have a problem, but it usually is constant. Notice I said "usually".

Here's a wiring diagram for the system.
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Old 10-12-2009, 21:48   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtg143 View Post
Did you try it in Neutral? sometimes the neutral safety switch gets bad in that spot. It's actually called Digital Transmission Range Selector. You Can even hold the key in the start position and move the lever with your other hand to see if it can connect. See if that helps. The relay can also have a problem, but it usually is constant. Notice I said "usually".

Here's a wiring diagram for the system.
I can't shift the car out of park. I tried shifting it out of park but won't budge. I did not apply a lot of force though.
I thought it wouldn't move out of park since it did not start.
Should my transmission lever move freely as if it were started, even if it did not start?. ( I never tried changing the gears on my car when it was not on -only had it for about a year).
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Old 10-12-2009, 22:58   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Brake-shift interlock
This vehicle is equipped with a brake-shift interlock feature that prevents
the gearshift lever from being moved from P (Park) when the ignition is
in the ON position unless brake pedal is depressed.
If you cannot move the gearshift lever out of P (Park) with ignition in
the ON position and the brake pedal depressed:

1. Apply the parking brake, turn ignition key to LOCK, then remove the
key.
2. Insert the key and turn it to OFF. Apply the brake pedal and shift
to N (Neutral).
3. Start the vehicle.
If it is necessary to use the above procedure to move the gearshift lever,
it is possible that a fuse has blown or the vehicle’s brakelamps are not
operating properly. Refer to Fuses and relays in the Roadside
emergencies chapter.

When the key is in the ignition OFF position, the automatic
transmission shift lever can be moved from the P (Park) position
without the brake pedal depressed. To avoid unwanted vehicle
movement, always set the parking brake.
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:23   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Thanks for the tips. I was able to switch gears following your instructions.
Interesting thing: The car started this morning right away after being left standing overnight. I drove it to the parking lot by my office and turned it off. Tried to start it right away but it wouldn't, just like last night. I also tried switching gears, putting the car into Neutral and starting it again. Didn't help. The car doesn't crank, just wouldn't start. What can be a likely problem with it? Can it be an issue with ignition switch?
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Old 10-13-2009, 17:26   #6 (permalink)
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Question Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Ok, I have the symptom narrowed down.
The car starts without issues if left alone for few hours.
If I try to start back to back immediately or with in a few minutes. It does not do anything, no crank. I shifted the car in Neutral tried starting it, no luck.
This leads me to believe this is some sort of electrical problem, possibly a grounding issue.
Probably not a short, or blown fuse as it starts immediately after a few hours.

Any ideas??.

If it is a grounding issue, can you tell me where to look for. Where is it usually grounded. Is there more than one ground to look for.

Thanks :)
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Old 10-16-2009, 20:54   #7 (permalink)
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cool Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

OK. Sounds like you have a bad starter. Remove the aeroshield to start (the plastic shield that goes between the front of the subframe and the front fascia {bumper cover}). This will make access to the starter easier. First, check the solenoid trigger wire (the small wire going to the starter solenoid). Make sure there isn't any corrosion on the solenoid terminal or in the connector. Before removing the wire to check, the next time the condition is present have someone wiggle the wire when holding the key in the start position. If it starts there is an issue with this connection. Next, check the heavy red cable connection for heavy corrosion or looseness.

Next, when the condition is present, while holding the key in the start position have someone tap the starter with a hammer. If it now cranks then it's definetely a bad starter. What happens is there are contacts in the solenoid that complete a circuit to the motor portion on the starter. When power is applied to the solenoid trigger terminal an electromagnetic field pulls the contacts together (while pushing the drive gear into the ring gear on the flex plate). These contacts, now connected together takes the battery voltage from the heavy red cable and sends it to the drive motor portion, causing the motor to crank. After a while, the contacts start burning from the arcing of electricity, and you end up getting that no crank single click when starting, or in some cases no crank at all. You could do just the solenoid if still available, but you'd be better off just to replace the whole starter.
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Old 10-20-2009, 17:02   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Mercury Sable 2003 Not Starting - PLZ Help

Thanks so much for your advice. This turned out to be starter problem, just as you explained. I got the whole starter/solenoid piece replaced and no issues so far.
Thanks everybody for your help!


Quote:
Originally Posted by tbird100636 View Post
OK. Sounds like you have a bad starter. Remove the aeroshield to start (the plastic shield that goes between the front of the subframe and the front fascia {bumper cover}). This will make access to the starter easier. First, check the solenoid trigger wire (the small wire going to the starter solenoid). Make sure there isn't any corrosion on the solenoid terminal or in the connector. Before removing the wire to check, the next time the condition is present have someone wiggle the wire when holding the key in the start position. If it starts there is an issue with this connection. Next, check the heavy red cable connection for heavy corrosion or looseness.

Next, when the condition is present, while holding the key in the start position have someone tap the starter with a hammer. If it now cranks then it's definetely a bad starter. What happens is there are contacts in the solenoid that complete a circuit to the motor portion on the starter. When power is applied to the solenoid trigger terminal an electromagnetic field pulls the contacts together (while pushing the drive gear into the ring gear on the flex plate). These contacts, now connected together takes the battery voltage from the heavy red cable and sends it to the drive motor portion, causing the motor to crank. After a while, the contacts start burning from the arcing of electricity, and you end up getting that no crank single click when starting, or in some cases no crank at all. You could do just the solenoid if still available, but you'd be better off just to replace the whole starter.
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