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2003 taurus 3.0 vulcan slow/no start sometimes


noclues
01-12-2008, 08:24 PM
i have a 2003 taurus 3.0 vulcan engine which worked fine. i got it with 32500 mi as a "certified pre-owned" from a dealer and owned it for a bit longer than 2 years - 55500 miles on it now.

a few days back when i stopped for gas (maybe 10 minutes) the car just wouldnt start (turn over) but all the dash lights and radio were working. it was not making ANY noise when turning the key to start it! jumpstart worked but even with the jumpstart car connected the starter was turning over very slowly and then faster until it started - but it took a long time - probably half a minute. the car had not moved for a day before that and on that day it was driven just a short distance to the grocery store (probably a mile or so) and then back to the gas station near my home (another mile) where the problem happened. it started fine earlier when leaving the grocery store. the weather was above freezing and humidity quite high.

today i got the same problem when leaving the grocery store (maybe 40-50 minutes after last being driven). the car did start on its own without jumpstart but it was barely turning over, then faster and finally started after about 30 seconds. the grocery store is less than a mile from home. the car was driven just a few hours before for about 12 miles at 50mph.

between the first and second problem i cleaned the battery contacts with soda and a brush. the alternator appears to be charging at 14.5volts and when the engine is off the charge goes to 12.5volts. however i could not measure the power when the car wouldnt start since i didnt have the Voltmeter with me.

i have not had any problems like this before and between the 2 events the car started normally every time - even after short trips less than a mile. i've never changed any parts so i'm assuming they're still original. the battery has the green dot visible in the window and it's maintenance free.

i know i have to get a new battery but i'm just wondering if this is a starter issue. as i said there was no noise the first time and both the first and the second time it barely started as if the battery was dead or the engine was stuck and the starter could not move it.

thanks for any help!

shorod
01-12-2008, 08:51 PM
You should probably remove the cables from the battery and clean the terminals and cables, then re-install making sure the cables are secured well to the battery posts.

The hydrometer green eye are not that reliable, so I wouldn't trust that just because it's green means the battery is fine. Your local auto parts store is probably able to perform a load test on the battery. You could also have an intermittant open circuit within the battery causing your problems too.

-Rod

noclues
01-12-2008, 09:31 PM
You should probably remove the cables from the battery and clean the terminals and cables, then re-install making sure the cables are secured well to the battery posts.

The hydrometer green eye are not that reliable, so I wouldn't trust that just because it's green means the battery is fine. Your local auto parts store is probably able to perform a load test on the battery. You could also have an intermittant open circuit within the battery causing your problems too.

-Rod

i'm planning to have it tested at autozone and probably buy a new battery there too. i hope it's just the battery with a shorted cell or smth since that's the cheapest one of the parts that could have a fault in this (alternator, starter). the battery connections are clean - just cleaned a few days ago.

tripletdaddy
01-13-2008, 12:14 AM
I put everything on your battery!

cj091184
01-13-2008, 12:26 AM
I'll take that bet,

The starter is fried, your battery is good because it aparently has power to turn the starter slow and faster and faster, if the battery was bad it would go slower and slower as the battery died. It could also be a bad ground, but if all the wiring looks good and tight and "clean" then I would say starter.

tripletdaddy
01-13-2008, 12:53 AM
Darn, that does sound familiar. What was I thinking?!?

noclues
01-13-2008, 10:18 AM
I'll take that bet,

The starter is fried, your battery is good because it aparently has power to turn the starter slow and faster and faster, if the battery was bad it would go slower and slower as the battery died. It could also be a bad ground, but if all the wiring looks good and tight and "clean" then I would say starter.

why would the starter work most of the times then not work twice within a a week? i'm somewhat confused... is that a typical way for starters to die or is it just an assumption?

i would also say that yesterday at the grocery store when the car barely started it did go slower and slower at first but i kept the key in the start position and after a short pause it started moving faster until it started. but it did take a very long time (probably because i was thinking of the alternatives if it wont start...)

Dave_s
01-13-2008, 10:33 AM
Just the way it goes. To confirm its your starter, when it won't start try hitting the starter a couple times with a hammer. It is better to hit it while trying to start the car (takes two people) but it will sometimes work either way. Hitting the starter loosens it up and then will start up. Its a temp fix, but at least you will know for sure.

noclues
01-13-2008, 11:49 AM
just wondering. i received a "3 year limited powertrain warranty" from ford (not from the dealer) for this "certified pre-owned" car - included in the price. is the starter part of the "powertrain"?

thanks for all your help!

shorod
01-13-2008, 12:00 PM
Nope, the starter would be part of the "normal maintenance" item section.

-Rod

noclues
01-13-2008, 02:23 PM
Nope, the starter would be part of the "normal maintenance" item section.

-Rod


of course i was expecting that... even "bumper to bumper" warranties are just worthless paper ;)

but anyway i went to autozone and murray's and both said the battery is too low but alternator/starter appear to be fine. murray's was more throrough, i had to start/stop the AC, headlights, rev it up... so i replaced the battery and i guess it's wait and see. if it happens again i guess i'll take it to the mechanic - i dont think i'll replace the starter myself since i dont have a garage or advanced tools.

i'll post again if sh1t happens!

noclues
01-16-2008, 05:20 PM
Just the way it goes. To confirm its your starter, when it won't start try hitting the starter a couple times with a hammer. It is better to hit it while trying to start the car (takes two people) but it will sometimes work either way. Hitting the starter loosens it up and then will start up. Its a temp fix, but at least you will know for sure.

OK.. it happened again today. TWICE. driving around lunch time to several places. starts up instantly, then absolutely no noise when trying to start. had voltmeter with me, voltage is 12.47volts or so. still no cranking. took the hammer out and hit the starter and the solenoid gently... a few more tries and hits and it started. then it started normally a few times, then again no start, voltage OK, hammer out, a few hits - crank - hit - crank and it works again. there was NO slow cranking this time, it was either nothing or instant start.

questions:
1. can this be the anti theft (original ford) module? issue happened with 2 different keys. and the keys are in different places - so i'm assuming the keys are fine. it also started again after a few retries, each time the key being removed and inserted again. how can i test the anti theft? i know the slow cranking from last week could say it's the starter but considering the cost i'd like the make SURE it needs replacement...
2. if it's the starter how hard is it to replace it myself? 3 screws and 3 connectors in 30 minutes or does it need more than that (tuneup, testing, special tools, blabla)
3. how long can i drive like this using the good old big hammer method? i wouldnt want to be stranded somewhere.

appreciate your answers!

noclues
01-16-2008, 09:06 PM
... and a third one for the day at the gas station but this time it was the slow slow faster cranking and start thing. no hammer luckily :)

i guess it's the starter after all...

shorod
01-16-2008, 10:39 PM
If it's the starter and not cranking immediately after hitting the starter, I'd doubt you'll get by very long this way. Sounds like the brushes are pretty far gone.

Do you at least hear a click from under the hood when you try to start and get nothing? If you hear a firm click, but no crank, then I'd agree it's just about guaranteed to be the starter.

I thought the PATS system just prevented the injectors from opening, but I thought would still allow the engine to crank. However, your 2003 probably has SecuriLock which may disable the starter as well. If the anti-theft is the issue, you'll probably have a flashing or solid "THEFT" or "SECURITY" indicator in the instrument cluster when trying to start the engine. You could confirm this as possibly the issue if you have access to a professional scan tool that can access the anti-theft system. Have you snooped around under the dash to look for evidence that maybe an aftermarket remote start system was installed at one time, or possibly still installed?

-Rod

shorod
01-16-2008, 10:44 PM
According to the 2002 service manual, it sounds like the SecuriLock system will prevent the engine from cranking if activated. You don't happen to have two or more Ford transponder keys on the same key ring, do you? If so, try only the key for your car, removing it from the key ring and keeping the other keys away from the steering column.

-Rod

noclues
01-16-2008, 11:17 PM
According to the 2002 service manual, it sounds like the SecuriLock system will prevent the engine from cranking if activated. You don't happen to have two or more Ford transponder keys on the same key ring, do you? If so, try only the key for your car, removing it from the key ring and keeping the other keys away from the steering column.

-Rod

Ford transponder keys? i only have the remote and the key linked with a ring, and that's the way they came from the dealer in 2005. but until 10 days ago never had this problem.
never had the key together with any other key on the same ring because i've heard of such interference.

noclues
01-16-2008, 11:26 PM
If it's the starter and not cranking immediately after hitting the starter, I'd doubt you'll get by very long this way. Sounds like the brushes are pretty far gone.

Do you at least hear a click from under the hood when you try to start and get nothing? If you hear a firm click, but no crank, then I'd agree it's just about guaranteed to be the starter.

I thought the PATS system just prevented the injectors from opening, but I thought would still allow the engine to crank. However, your 2003 probably has SecuriLock which may disable the starter as well. If the anti-theft is the issue, you'll probably have a flashing or solid "THEFT" or "SECURITY" indicator in the instrument cluster when trying to start the engine. You could confirm this as possibly the issue if you have access to a professional scan tool that can access the anti-theft system. Have you snooped around under the dash to look for evidence that maybe an aftermarket remote start system was installed at one time, or possibly still installed?

-Rod

the theft is flashing when no key is in the ingnition however it turns off when cranking... and as far as i remember it's also OFF when nothing happens (no cranking) or when slow cranking.

i hear NO click when the car doesnt start. of course i have the windows up but i'd say there's no click.

not sure how to look for an aftermarket remote start. the car was most likely leased and then returned to the dealer who sold it to me - so i highly doubt it there were any changes done to it. plus the infamous "certified pre-owned" aka "used car" program from ford prouds itself with its checks and tests to ensure the best quality and experience with the product ;) i'm assuming they checked for that before sending it to the dealer...

could anything else ignition related cause this? and it's just a coincidence that it's starting after a few hammers? i'm sure the people at the garage would be more than happy to change the starter for a few bills but if that's not the cause it will be unpleasant for my wallet...

tripletdaddy
01-17-2008, 04:21 AM
Starters can also have "dead" spots in it so that when the starter stops spinning at one of these spots, it will not be able to conduct electricity through the rotor to spin it. Bad or worn brushes will produce the same result where hammering on it might get enough contact to get it to move. Either way in that condition it needs to be repaired. If you are up for the challenge, you can have it bench tested for free at an auto parts store and they can conclusively prove its condition.

cj091184
01-17-2008, 01:13 PM
Starters can also have "dead" spots in it so that when the starter stops spinning at one of these spots, it will not be able to conduct electricity through the rotor to spin it. Bad or worn brushes will produce the same result where hammering on it might get enough contact to get it to move. Either way in that condition it needs to be repaired. If you are up for the challenge, you can have it bench tested for free at an auto parts store and they can conclusively prove its condition.


tripletdaddy is correct, when your starter starts to wear out it will start to get bad spots on the motor inside, when you start your car the starter will spin and if it stops on the bad spot it won't start again, so taping with a hammer causes it to move from the bad spot and will start.

however this wounld not make sense with the slow crank, because as soon as the bad spot was passed it should start, if when it wont start there is no click at the starter then the starter solinoid is probably bad wich I would replace the whole starter.

If you remove your starter you can take it to autozone or murrays and they can test it.

You could do this yourself with a general rachet set it may be a little difficult to get at but other than that its a fairly easy repair. Your starter is only held on with 2-3 bolts, and there are three wires on it that you should check and make sure they are tihgt and clean, the first is about an inch long and comes out of the starter body and goes to one of the bigger bolts onthe starter, the second is the positive wire from the battery, and the third is the smallest wire wich should just clip on, if that smallest wire is dirty or loose the car will not start. The small wire is from the ignition, when you turn the key it sends a small electrical charge to the starter wich closes the circut between the two large wires and the starter spins.


I would remove it and have it tested, if you go to autozone.com they have copied alot of chiltons manuals to there site, just select your car, then repair info, then engine electrical, go to starter and it will tell you exactly how to remove.

Also if you want to save some money you could see if your local junk yard has a starter, usually 25-40, better than over a 100, and usually come with a 3-6 month warranty

noclues
01-17-2008, 08:19 PM
well i had the starter replaced at a garage for 200 bucks (150 is the new part at autozone...)

hopefully this fixed the problem at a total cost of about $300 (battery + starter).

thanks all for your help!

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