, Salem, MA

March 1, 2014

Auto Scanner: Car starts, but directionals, defroster don’t work

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I have a problem with my 2000 Chrysler Concorde with 63,760 miles. When I go to start the car, the air bag light stays on (meaning the air bag is not operational), and the directionals, power windows and the heater defroster blower don’t operate. When it started doing this at first, I would flip the key on and off many times, and all of the above items would work. As it progressed, it didn’t matter how many times I flipped the key back and forth, they did not work. Can you please help? The car starts up, but the things described above do not come on.

A: I am familiar with this problem. The ignition switches were the culprit 90 percent of the time. Peeling back the steering column plastic and checking the wiring using a digital volt-ohm meter (DVOM) will confirm if that’s where the problem lies. Right now, you have a safety hazard due to having no turn signals and no defroster. The switch will cost around $35, and expect to spend around $100 in labor. Plan to have this work done to make your car safe to you and to others driving near you.

Q: Your Feb. 22 column caught my attention concerning an inquiry about an intermittent no-start problem on a 2001 Ford Taurus. About three years ago, I had a similar problem with my 2001 Ford Taurus. After a few tows to a Ford dealer and five replacement fuel pumps over a six-month period, the problem was finally resolved. Except for one instance, the problem always occurred in my garage when the car had not been driven for a few days. The first time it happened, and with the help of a neighbor, we correctly identified the problem as a fuel pump issue before contacting the Ford dealer. If the pump is working, there should be a brief audible pump hum heard at the gas tank fill opening as the key is turned to the engine run position. We were unable to hear anything. Now that I am more aware of it, I can hear the hum from the driver’s seat. This simple check could verify whether it’s a pump-related issue, and it should be done before the car is moved. On two occasions, the Ford dealer sent a technician to my home and both times confirmed it was a faulty fuel pump. He determined the pump was receiving electrical power but would not operate. This was done before the car was towed to eliminate any possible disruption of an intermittent ground or other electrical malfunction, which could make diagnostics at the Ford garage difficult. I would be curious to learn what the actual problem was on your inquirer’s Ford Taurus if you are notified.

A: The fuel pump issue you refer to is common on many makes and models, and although this may be the problem on the previous writer’s car, because it’s a Ford, the relay should also be considered. Thanks for your input; many with similar problems will learn from your experience.

Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to