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Discussion Starter #1
My girlfriend has a four door, automatic 2002 Focus hatchback. We went away on vacation for a week and half, leaving the car to sit. After returning, we got in the Focus, and it started easily and on the first crank. We drove it about 2.5 miles and parked it at my house, where it sat in the driveway while it rained moderately during the day.

7 hours later, we went to try and take it to the store and it wouldn't start. No clicking, not starter whine, nothing. The headlights and high beams also don't come on, although the other dash lights and the parking lights will. I thought dead battery caused by some kind of drain, so she called AAA and they came out with a battery jumper and battery tester. The guy tested the battery and said it registered fully charged (just replaced a year ago) and said that he thought it was the starter. However, even hooked up to the battery jumper, the headlights still wouldn't come on, although with the hood up we could hear a slight click sometimes when she turned the key. The AAA guy said its your starter and left.

That seems odd to me, because the lights won't turn on I presume it was an electrical issue. I checked the major fuses and didn't see anything blown, but I would have guessed it was a relay or fuse that took everything out. Has anybody had a similar problem? The only other piece of information that I can add that may be relevant is that about 2 weeks before this happened, we could periodically hear the doorlock solenoids clicking sometimes, both driving and while parked, although the door locks were never engaged during this sporadic clicking, and continued to function normally when pressed with the switch or the key fob.

Any advice or suggestions about what may be wrong is appreciated.
 

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Check your battery terminals for tightness. Check the cables for damage...these years of Focus were well-known for the battery cables melting inside the insulation. Then check the grounds for solid connections with no corrosion.

Since there isn't enough power getting through to light the headlamps, I'd expect it's one of those three things...or all three.
 

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Yeah, I agree, it isn't the Starter. Good advise from Leora above, so check those things. Especially the battery ground cable on the chassis @drivers side wheel well. Disconnect and clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for your response. Terminals and ground were all tight, (battery levels also normal). I'm going to disconnect and sand down all of the connections when I get home from work.

Still confused as to why, if this was the issue, it started no problems, drove 3 miles, and then started causing problems.

Still interested in any other suggestions (and thanks again Leora83 and Marde)
 

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Electrical stuff is weird. One moment it jumps the kink in the wire, and the next it doesn't. It rains and the problem goes away, or gets worse. Then when you go looking for the problem, it won't appear at all. Until you're stranded at the side of a deserted road in the middle of the night...with no cell reception...

The fact that the headlights didn't come on even when you boosted it says that the power isn't getting from the battery to the headlights...and also not to the starter or it would kick over. So I would say there are two potential problems:
1) the battery is just no good and won't put out enough juice to run high-drain things like headlights and starter, though there's enough to run the dash lights.
2) the battery is fine but there's a fault in either the wiring or the fuses/relays that prevents the juice from getting where it needs to be.

You had the battery tested and it was fine, which seems to rule out #1. You said the relevant fuses looked fine, so I'd be looking hard at the wiring. If you know how to use a multimeter, start at the battery and work out. If not, visual inspection might show a problem.

Your car is a 2002, and if it's lived in the Boston area most of its life, it's been exposed to slush, salt, rain, snow, and all kinds of nastiness. Grounds will corrode and wires rot, especially after 12-13 years of it.
 
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