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Old 03-22-2013, 07:45 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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My focus won't start :(

This has got to be one of the most frustrating things I have ever experienced with a car. The biggest problem is how random it is. I CANNOT recreate it and I never know when it will happen. Here is what I do know:

I get in my car. Insert key into ignition. Turn key to 1st position. I hear the fuel pump engage. I see ALL lights come on, dash registers and runs through normal start up. I turn key to start position and......NOTHING. No clicking, no humming. Absolute silence. I release key back into 1st position and all electronics work, radio, windows, locks, everything. I try to start again and NOTHING.

Here are the many different things I do to get my car to start. I try my spare key. Occasionally, that has worked. With key in aux position I press the brake and move gear selector up and down the positions slowly. That rarely has worked. I hold the key in the start position for an extended amount of time. A few times that has worked. Last but not least I disconnected the battery. I HATE doing that. I work in an office setting so I'm usually dressed fairly nice when this happens and the last thing I need is grease on my work clothes. Plain clothes, no biggy, dress clothes no bueno. More often than not if I disconnect the battery that works. The terminals on the battery are clean and the wires and cables all look to be intact. There is no fraying or corrosion going on there.

When does this happen you ask? When I drive 5 minutes to get my kids from school. After I've driven 18 hours to Tennessee. I commute 45 minutes one way to and from work. I get in my car at the end of the day, it starts up just fine. I drive 25 minutes stop at the gas station, start car after getting gas, it starts just fine. Drive 15-20 more minutes to get kids. Shut car off for 5 minutes and now it won't start. But that's not always the case. I went 6 months without this happening. But now it's happening about 3 times a week. Saying this is random is a total understatement. I've gone to the store for a couple of hours and come out and it won't start.

Ok so now that you've suffered through my book of problems, (hopefully you stayed with me thus far) I'm begging for suggestions to fix it. I took it to the local ford dealership to see if they could help me out and their option, leave my car (one and only vehicle for the family) with them for a week so they could try and recreate the problem and start with a minimum $200 bill. No thanks.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!!

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Old 03-23-2013, 12:18 PM   #2
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Range Sensor / Neutral Safety Switch being a bit wonky is my guess. It's on the bottom of the shift lever in the car and IIRC there is a slight adjustment you can do to it. I've not played with one though so I'm not 100% on that.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:36 PM   #3
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It is probably the neutral safety switch in the transmission, or the cable that connects the shifter to the transmission. It's the same thing that won't allow you to start a car unless it is in P or N.

If you had a manual transmission, I could tell you how to bypass the clutch position switch easily. Unfortunately, it's not that easy for the AT. You might be able to figure something out for yourself. If you want to get under the car and see where that cable connects to the transmission. I want to say it's underneath the transmission mount, so you'd be able to find it by removing the battery, tray, jacking the trans, and removing the mount and mount bracket. It sounds like a lot, but it's really not.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:07 AM   #4
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Please take a look at this link:

I see you have an '09. I had the same problem with my daughters '08. She let the problem go over a couple months and it got repeatedly worse until it would rarely start at all. If it did start she had to push in on the key while turning it to start to get it to click in. It got to where her right hand hurt all day from repeated trys to start the car.

I think your problem may be in the center of the steering column just behind the steering wheel. It can be repaired without removing the steering wheel but the top and bottom steering column covers and drivers knee pad under the dash must come off.

To diagnose remove the steering column covers when the car will not start. On the left side of the column is the starter switch, it is sort of round. Remove it but leave the wires plugged into it. On the right side of the column insert your key into the ignition cylinder and turn it to the "RUN" position.

Then insert a flat head screw driver into the slot in the starter switch and turn it all the way to the right as you would with the key. It is spring loaded so make sure you turn it all the way. If the engine now starts your problem is located in the center steering column linkage betweer the left side starter switch and the right side keyed ignition switch.

The link above explains the entire repair procedure.

Hope this helps!
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:32 AM   #5
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It is Monday morning and I just came back and re-read your posting. I KNOW your problem is as I described in my previous post. The part required will cost about $150 plus labor to fix it. (By the way, I am really impressed with your diagnostic procedures and ability to transfer the information into your post.)

The parts people working behind the counter at our local Ford dealer stated that they had never ordered this replacement part before and even asked to open the box to see what the part looked like. When I completed the repair on my daughters car I returned the failed part to the dealer for them to give it to their repair tech's because I think as these '08's and '09's age they will begin to see more problems in this area.

Good luck
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