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55 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
(2000 Focus SE 83,000 miles)

I started having problems on December 18th. Everything was fine until I went to come home after driving 6 miles away.

What happened was so bizarre and unexpected, that I didn't really get a good idea of what happened.

I think the car started for a brief second and then maybe died? Dash lights had come on for a second, but then everything just went silent and turned off.

Now, I could have been imagining this part, but it also felt like I was rolling backwards and I don't even know what I did, if anything, to make it stop, but it felt like I had been moving and then wasn't. I turned the key again and nothing. It took 3 or 4 tries, but it reluctantly started.

Now it wasn't super cold that day. Maybe in the 30's, and my battery is 2 years old, so I didn't think that was it. However, over the next 7 weeks, I left home 8 or 9 times. Each of the times, it was between 10° and 25° give or take and each time, it would take 3-12 attempts to get the car to start. It was turning over, just not starting. It eventually start each time.

I chalked it up to the cold and figured it was just something I would have to deal with until things warmed up here in WNY.

But then I went 11 days without driving it. It almost started on the first try, but it just couldn't get there. I tried half a dozen times with no luck. After 6 additional days of trying to search online for fixes, I tried to start it again and the same thing happened. So close on the first try, and then nothing. I tried 6 more times and stopped for fear if making things worse.

Here are the things I have tried:

*Priming (?) Turning the key to the on position for 10 second intervals.

Pushing on the gas pedal quickly and *then priming it. (This helped a few times over the 7 weeks, then not.)

*A neighbor jumped my battery, just in case, but it didn't help. (He suggested a fuel pump issue.)

*I read that the fuel pump (or a part of it?) can settle in a groove and need to be whacked a bit to loosen it, so I tried whacking my fuel tank without success. At the area closest to the trunk, banging in that area made a sound as if something was rattling around in there. Something small and maybe metal?

*I listened at the opened gas cap while the car was turned to the on position and didn't hear the whirring sound of the pump being activated that I read I should hear.

*I checked the fuel inertia switch and it had not been tripped.

*I have no RPM'S when it is cranking/turning over.

So I am left wondering if there is anything else that could be a relatively simple fix that I haven't come across on my own. This is my only car, so I will need to order tools etc. online. I would like to exhaust all the purchase-free ideas first.

If not, then I am thinking of trying:

Dry Gas: Maybe the car sitting for 7 days at a time (and then 11) caused too much condensation? I'm wondering if maybe some dry gas would help? My dad always told me to use it but I didn't listen. Not sure if pouring it in will work if I can't start the thing. (Tank is 3/4 full btw.)

Spray carburator cleaner and/or "starter fluid" (?): These were suggested by a friend's husband.

Spark Plugs: To my knowledge, they have never been changed in the 17 years I have had the car, but it's possible my dad did it years ago without mentioning it to me. The cost of the plugs seems relatively low, but the tools are looking pricey and I'm concerned about my ability to do it properly.

Fuel Pump: My big fear because it will require a tow and money I don't have.

Crankshaft Sensor: Other fear that will require a tow and money I don't have.

So... I welcome any and all ideas and suggestions. I'm sorry for such a long story. I was worried about not giving enough information.

55 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
I ordered an OBD reader (meant to get a scanner 😟) and it says I don't have any codes...? I have no idea what I am doing. Those lights are on now but they weren't the last time it started.
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