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GrannyGold 10-01-2012 04:12 PM

Focus on't start, but is fine 9 times out of 10
I have a 2002 Ford Focus LX (Basic Model with roll up windows and cassette). It usually starts just fine, and runs fine. But sometimes, I noticed when I sit in my car for a couple minutes after taking the key out, the car won't start when I try it again. It doesn't make any sound of the engine struggling. Sometimes the battery components come on like lights and air, but no engine sound. Sometimes not even the battery components come on. My mechanic found no problem with the starter, battery grounding, or anything. One friend guessed it was the anti theft system, because I was sitting in my car a few minutes, which would relate to the locks and all. But it happened one time when I had gotten right out of my car, locked the door, and entered again in 1 minute. I am so confused, if anyone can help me, that would be great, thanks. -Jen

whynotthinkwhynot 10-01-2012 05:05 PM

Usually when we see something like this- it's a loose battery terminal. Now you might think- oh the lights are on so the battery terminals are ok. Not always. It takes a lot of power to turn the starter, and if you have a loose connection it might not make up enough to be able to turn the starter but the lights are fine. The first thing you should do is to check these for corrosion, and if you find it- remove the terminals clean the lead posts, and the inside of the terminals, then re-install.

Now to make sure that your problem is not the PATS (passive anti-theft system) the next time the car doesn't start- look at the dash. If PATS is activated there is a yellow flashing yellow lock symbol. If you want to see that symbol follow this procedure to light up all your LEDs in the dash: Key off, press and hold odo reset button, turn key on, continue to hold odo reset button until the odometer reads [test] Now you're in test mode until you turn the key off again. Each time you press and release the odo reset button, you will scroll through one of 30 test functions. The second one makes the odometer read [leds], and all the dash lights will turn on. You'll be able to find that yellow lock symbol easily.

whynotthinkwhynot 10-01-2012 05:08 PM

If it is the PATS, you might want to consider using a second key if you have one. Unfortunately, if you only have one key- it is very expensive to get another key. A dealer will have to program the new key for you. Once you have 2 keys, it is easy to program a 3rd key yourself, and we can show you how to do that.

GrannyGold 10-01-2012 10:12 PM

Thank you so much! I will look out for that yellow symbol. The test your explaining sounds kind of complicated just to see the yellow light come on, and I don't understand what test mode is, will the car still run normally? I'll show this to my mechanic. Thank you so much! :D

sailor 10-02-2012 01:12 PM

Another "intermittent" can be the safety switches that prevent starting in gear.

Don't know what trans. you have, but there is a system for both automatics & manuals.

For example, my S-10 P/U JUST developed an intermittent start problem where it might not crank at all. After checking things out Sunday evening it was traced to the switch that allows starting when the clutch pedal is depressed.

Emergency fix that night was to bypass the switch so it works at any time - like an older vehicle without safety interlocks.


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