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Kaspar7

Engine randomly won't start.

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Vehicle is a 2002 Mergcury Sagle GS wagon with 3.0L V6 OHV engine. There are approx. 180K miles on the car. It's not my daily driver, and I've only oput 5-6K miles on it in the 2 years I've owned it.

It randomly refuses to start and when this happens, it sounds like the battery is nearly dead (Engine barely turns over and after a couple of attempts, it won't turn over at all).  I've replaced the starter (last year) and the battery this year. Spark plugs were changed last March. When it's running, the system voltage is 13.8-14.2 V, so I don't suspect the alternator.

This happened most recently today and before I found someone to give me a jump-start, I tried the ignition once more and it started right up! I am puzzled!

Any ideas are welcome!

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My mom had  the problem of not driving it often enough. How often do you drive it?  The garage told her to drive it more often--nothing could be found wrong with it 

I put trickle chargers on cars I won't be driving for a month or more.  I think all my cars won't start after sitting for over a month  

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Thanks! I don't drive it every day. We use it mainly for hauling things that won't fit in the Corolla and for going fishing with a lot of gear.

It had been driven 2 days earlier, though. I guess I'll need to crank it up at least every other day and drive it around the block.

I do plan to have my mechanic replace the fuel filter; I've seen a partly-clogged fuel filter make a car misbehave.

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Could it be an electronic module that has become heat-sensitive? After it sat in the shade of my yard for a while, it started on the first try. I plugged in my battery tester and it showed that the battery had a full charge and that the battery voltage was 12.8V with the engine off. So that had not been the problem, nor had the alternator. I'd had the starter replaced a few thousand miles back. The new battery has those felt anti-corrosion insulators and red conductive grease on the terminals. The cables are very tight as well.

Edited by Kaspar7
Left out an important fact.

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Have you had the battery tested?  I would do that before I dug into other things.  Auto parts stores do it for free

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Yes, i had the battery tested and it's in top-notch condition. Only a couple of months old. 

The odd behavior i see when the car won't start mimics a weak or dead battery - but minutes later it will usually start up like a brand-new car.

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Maybe it's a bad connection due to rusted or loose battery cables, not at the battery, but at the other end

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Thanks. I'm going to have my mechanic check it out. It's probably something like that.

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