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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My girlfriend's '06 focus zx4 se, 2.0 liter (~116k) just had a funky starting issue that I can't figure out. Came back from driving ~200 miles on rainy highways earlier this week, and the next time she tried to start it....there was nothing. Power to all lights...etc, but no crank whatsoever, not even a whir or a click.

We were out of town for a couple days, so didn't get around to fiddling with it until this afternoon. Got a multimeter.....battery is at 12.6, shouldn't be a problem. Checked start signal from ignition switch.....got 12 volts as the key was turned. Then went to simply check voltage drop (positive from battery to positive at starter) with the multimeter....and the car started immediately.

Can't figure out how or why. Turned it off, tried starting again....no symptoms. Cranked and started immediately. Tried a couple more times....no problems.

Worried now that she'll drive the car somewhere and it won't start randomly.

Any ideas? Only thing I can think is corrosion at the starter studs/terminals, and my poking with the multimeter did enough to fix it. If so....suggestions for de-corroding it and protecting it without taking out the starter or replacing it?

Attached picture of starter terminals.

Thanks!
 

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DTC P0606
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3,364 Posts
Just wanted to mention to ensure that the neutral safety switch contacts are clean (manual or auto). Also note what the PATS system light is doing when the car doesn't start to eliminate it as a possible source of problems. Starter relay OK? Cheap to replace. Battery cables are clean, corrosion-free and tight? Could be as simple as that.
Intermittent problems are the worst to track down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
PATS was normal. that was my first thought, that it got tripped or the key wore out or something......but it's doing it's routine regular flash.

replaced the starter relay before doing any of the other testing and it didn't change anything (wouldn't start at the time)

battery cables/terminals look fine to me.

i'll check the neutral safety switch (it's a manual). seemed like it was working before. when it wouldn't start.....i could have the key to the 'on' position and press/depress the clutch and hear a 'click' like it was making that connection.....but no click/movement at the starter.
 

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DTC P0606
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battery cables/terminals look fine to me.
I would encourage you to remove, clean and re-tighten them. Focus battery clamps are known for appearing tight but being loose. They should not twist sideways. Cleaning can do no harm. Check cables while you're at it; they can rub up against EGR pipes and the like and short to ground. I guess I'm saying don't assume, check everything thoroughly.

Having said that, if you get a strong click, power should be good up to the relay and the starter solenoid would be the next suspect. Cleaning might help, as you suggest, but I would think it would require removal to do a thorough job.

btw, if it's a manual, you should instruct your gf, if you haven't already, on how to bump start the car - you know, park on incline, ignition on, roll forward in second with clutch depressed, left off clutch, car starts - until the problem source is traced.

Finally, you can remove the neutral safety switch from the diagnostics completely by bridging the switch contacts (temporarily).
 

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Clutch safety switch is easy to bypass, as BC hinted (still thinking "auto" so it didn't read right).

It can give intermittent trouble, or more commonly the foot isn't QUITE well enough to the floor.

Paper clip bypass works, just insulate it from touching anything. (You can see what switch easily underneath the dash, the only one the clutch works when pressed fully down)
 

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That starter relay is for the PATS and safety switch. On automatics the problem is typically under the hood where the transmission cable connects to the transmission. That part contains the switch. I don't know of any way to bypass it, but you might be able to figure it out. Have you tried starting it in N instead of P?
 
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