2001 Mercury Sable...will not start

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I have been placed in charge of getting our company car fixed and sold. I have only rudimentary knowledge of cars, so I will try my best to describe the problem. FYI, the most recent repair work (new tire and transmission leak fix) was done in December '04.

Since it was last in the shop, this car has been sitting inside level 3 of a parking garage all winter....a rather cold and snowy one for Richmond, VA. Now the car will not start. The battery seems to be charged (radio plays, lights work, etc.), but it the car will not turn over. When attempts are made, a series of clicking noises result. Even when hooked up to jumper cables, the same noise results. From what I have read on these forums, it could be a starter and/or alternator problem. Unfortunately, a tow truck would not be able to haul it out of the garage either so if anyone could possibly identify what could be happening, that would be great. Any leads or suggestions would be helpful as I know this feeble description is probably not enough to diagnose the exact problem. Thanks to all. I will try my best to answer any questions that may help lead to an answer for me.

posted by  ssjpg

I would say that sounds like the starter. I only know this because my dads car had the same ticking noise. I would have said the battery but, since the battery seems to work I would have to say that there is something rong with the starter. i dont know what is rong with it all I know is that all the symtomes point to it being the starter. I dont know much about cars either so If anyone else on these boards gives you information other than mine you should go with thiers.

Hope I helped a little.


posted by  Fgreco

just cuz lights and radio work DOES NOT mean the battery is working, either get a fresh battery and throw it in or take the chances and boost it with another car, i don't recommend boosting on newer cars, because
a. idiots almost always hook it up wrong and let the smoke out of things
2.large voltage spikes can damage solid state circuits.

your choice, but start with the battery. in rereading your post i missed the part that you already tried jumper cables, how did you boost it? other car running ? anyway, if it had a good battery and just clicks then you have a starting problem(with the starter or wiring or mechanical) is the motor siezed? youd be suprised how many people skip this step in their great knowledge and waste alot of time and money putting startes into motors that are frozen solid! if you can get at or see the starter, sometimes you can tap on the starter housing and get it to work, it'll probably only work once if you strike the starter like this though, permanent magnets don't take kindly to being hit so if you tap on it with a hammer while someone tries starting it(get yer damn fingers and body parts outa the way)and it fires up.. drive it to a shop cuz you'll need a new starter fo sure

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

The events I described in my original message occurred approx 3 weeks ago. I tried again today to boost the car with cables to another car running. Today, no clicking noise resulted...the battery seems drained as the light and radio no longer work either. There was no change during several attempts to jump the car. I have had success previously using the same cables and booster car, so I believe it was hooked up right.

I am unable to get at the starter or to determine if the engine has seized. Other than trying a new battery which probably should be next, are there any other steps that can be taking to help determine and solve the problem? Does the information from today change any of the replies or is there any other info I can provide that would help? Thanks for all attempts to assist.

posted by  ssjpg

how long did you let it charge with the jump? a lot of times you need to let it set with the booster car running to get enough in the battery for the car to turn over. it sounds let battery to me.

posted by  DONHUD

are the battery connection's clean not a dull shine also try shifting the transmission to neutral (keep brake pedal pressed) and try starting from neutral(safety neutral switch could be bad or out of adjustment)this switch seems to be missed in starter problem's as they do wear at the contact points with shifting over the year's this is a safety item that keeps the car from starting in gear also if the battery drained it's charge and froze it's likely dead

posted by  osborste

The first time, I let it run as many as 10 minutes; today I let it run only about 5, but nothing was changing

The dead car connections are clear...the booster car had a bit of white on the negative terminal, but I cleaned enough off to get through to the metal... it's been worse and worked well for charging

I will try starting the dead car (FYI <57,000mi) from neutral. Any other suggestions are appreciated. The battery may be mostly drained now, but not sure why so much change in a relatively short period.

posted by  ssjpg

disconnect your alternator.it could be pulling the voltage down.disconnect the battery ground first to reduce the chance of a short to ground by accident by the wrench.after the alternator is disconnected ,jump start using a good set of clamp cables.the ideal thing is to get another battery that is good and charged and try that.sometimes the voltage drop in jumper cables is a few volts.see if you can move the engine by turning the crankshaft pully or pulling on the serpentine belt.try jumping with a truck,because generally they run 600 amp plus batteries.ultimately the best thing is to clean up the battery connects with a wire brush,and put in a new battery.the battery is not alot more than a towing bill these days.....

posted by  the lobster

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