Intermittent hard starting 1995 Mercury Sable 3.8L V6


Old 05-13-06, 07:48 AM
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Intermittent hard starting 1995 Mercury Sable 3.8L V6

Very occasionally (it has now happened three times over a period of four days) the engine cranks but will not start after overnight or at least 2 hour stop. It cranks vigorously for several minutes so the battery, starter, and charging system seem to be fine. It starts after several minutes of repeated cranking.

I have been unable to recreate the problem after a week of trying. There are no diagnostic codes and the fuel pressure measures ok. The hard starting occurred with less than 1/4 tank of gas and I tried to recreate the problem both with less gas in the tank and more - but since I can't recreate the problem, I can't check fuel pressure or spark when it isn't starting.

I suspect fuel pump, ignition module, or key/ignition switch. Any suggestions or experience with this sort of problem?
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Old 05-13-06, 04:15 PM
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After overnight...but you do end up getting it started, right? After many many cranks?

Have you had this car long and know how to start it? Many cars you just turn the key and don't push on the gas at all. Is that what you have always done?

Your symptoms are basically that of a cold car engine, is what you are saying. Starting cold engines is always harder with either a fuel OR electrical issue. And also a compression or timing issue. This is really a guessing game here. It could be anything from condensation developing causing moisture in the distribution, to bad plugs-rotor-distributor, to bad timing, to worn out engine, and everything in between.

Where should you look first? Well? See how nice and blue of a spark you get at the plugs. Then check to see if you are getting gas. You may want to spray some starting fluid down the carb (throttle body injection?) and see if this helps. If it does, this may be a clue. If it doesn't, this may ALSO be a clue (clue would be it's not a gas issue)
Old 05-14-06, 03:18 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4
After it starts does it run rough for a short while? Are there any strange odors or smoke coming from the exhaust pipe?

The 3.8 is notorious for blowing head gaskets in the 100-125K mileage range and yours may simply be telling you to run to the nearest donation center and get a tax writeoff!

When was the last time it got a good tune up? Wires, plugs, cap and rotor?

Get underneath, look and sniff around for a gas leak. A pinhole leak in a line, especially hidden under a clamp, will cause air to get in but oft times not show a visible leak.

The ignition module is right up front next to the distributor, check and clean all conections.

It could also be something as simple as an intermittent ignition switch, relay or fuse contact; a corroded fuse contact caused similar problems on my 95 Taurus some years ago.

And yes, have the codes checked as mentioned.

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