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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter's 98 Taurus SE has been having intermittent starting problems lately, particularly when the car is warm. I replaced the neutral safety switch because the problem seemed related to the shifter. After replacing the neutral safety switch and aligning it to the "N" mark, it started right up the first time, then failed to start. I adjusted the linkage to several positions with no improvement. It will start once, then fail to start a few seconds later.

When the key is turned there is no clicking from the starter and the headlights do not dim, although I do hear a faint click in the starter relay, so some power is getting that far. I'm thinking a short in the ignition switch or the wiring, but radio, lights, windows all seem to work fine. When I turn the key the dashboard lights are all normal. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Baffled in Montana:(
 

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Where you're hearing the relay, it means power's getting at least to there. Where there's no dimming, it most likely means it's not a weak battery related thing.

Where you hear the clicking from the relay, it's probably either the starter (or solenoid), or the connection to the starter.

It's only a guess over the internet, but it's the first place to start looking.

Make sure the cable that goes to the starter is clean and tight first.

If you have a multimeter, you can see if there's power getting to the starter. If you don't, it might even be worth spending $20 on one before you go spending $150 for a new starter.

If there's power getting to the starter, it's most likely the starter that's the problem.
 

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Probably you have problems with the starter itself. Where the big, thick cable attaches to the starter, inside there is big solenoid with contacts for the starter. The clicking that you hear is a small relay that wants to energize the big solenoind. Sometimes that is stuck (a light hammer blow sometimes helps) or it has the contacts fryed - then it needs replacing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'll check to see if power is getting to the starter solenoid and the related wiring tomorrow. The starter itself seems sound, as the car either starts without a problem, or doesn't start at all, with only the faint click from the starter relay, and an equally faint electrical humming noise that lasts a few seconds.

My initial impression was that this was related to the neutral safety switch, as the car works fine until placing it in park and turning it off. Then it refuses to start immediately afterword. Could be the ignition also, except that power is obviously getting to the starter relay in some fashion.

Thanks for the suggestions.
 

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If the neutral/park switch on the transmission is bad or missaligned, the intermediar relay won't work.
 

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Next time it wont crank over, have a helper turn the key to start, and give the starter a good wack or 2 with a hammer. If it cranks after a good wack, the starter is bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks like its a starter problem. I followed Jeff K's advice and whacked it with a hammer, and the car started right up every time. Guess I'll be replacing a starter in a snowstorm. Thanks for the help.
 

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:( Hey, not fair, I said it first :
...Sometimes that is stuck (a light hammer blow sometimes helps)...
Anyway, looks like you find the culprit :thumb:
 

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I am having the same problem. I too replaced the starter, but it didnt work for me. What could i check for around the starter that may be effecting it.
 

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I am having the same problem. I too replaced the starter, but it didnt work for me. What could i check for around the starter that may be effecting it.

My buddies 98 sable with a duratech was doing this, and we looked and looked and looked.....fuel shut off inertia switch was going out sometimes
 
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