'99 Continental, weird electrical problems

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, ALJune 22, 2011

Absolutely LOVE my car, bought it about 4 years ago. But it's had some weird problems. About 2 years ago, something inside the steering wheel connected to the security system went bad, preventing the engine from turning over. Then about a year ago, some sensor for driver door went bad, causing the rear suspension to stay all the way up.

The door lock/unlock buttons have never worked on the back doors. Any ideas?

And lately it thinks there's a door ajar sometimes. It's not the driver door because that would say "driver door ajar." This is just "door ajar." Ideas?

The guy who last worked on my car said this particular car is about the most electrically-complicated car ever and Ford used it to test a lot of new things. What are your thoughts? Is there a typical "next thing" I can expect to go wrong? Anything I should inspect to see if it's going bad? I want to drive this car unless/until they stop selling premium.

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If the rear door electrical lock operators will not work by the rear door switches, but will work from the driver door switch cluster, look for a child lockout feature on the door. Open the rear door and examine the rear edge of the door. You may find a small slot with a little protrusion (handle) in it. There may be identification stamped in the sheet metal around the slot - could be a label as well. It'll say something like "Off - On" or "safe" at one end of the slot. This safety switch enables/disables the electric unlocking feature.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 3:32AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Thanks for your input. Unfortunately, I've tried that with the child safety locks. I used to have both doors set to the lock position but now that my son is old enough to know not to open the door, I have set both doors back to where they can be opened from the inside. Since I've owned the car, the rear doors have never locked or unlocked with either of the key fobs or the button inside the driver door. The rear doors do not have an inside control button or lever for anything but the window.

This confuses me for this reason. It seems that the electrical connection is not working to the rear doors because of the door locks, but I get the 'door ajar' indicator sometimes. It's not that big of a deal to reach back and lock/unlock the back doors but it would be nice if they worked properly and it seems the 2 issues may be somehow connected...

Thanks again for taking time to answer. Much appreciated!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 9:42AM
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It's time for you to get a good repair manual and start looking. You'll need circuit diagrams and location of all the switches, sensors and controls - heaven help you if any of these functions are computer controlled.

I'm not familar with the door sensors for late model fords. I've seen (by discussion on forums) that some Ford models use some sort of proximity sensor instead of a mechanical switch for the doors, and these have given trouble.

Another trouble spot (for all cars) is a broken wire in the door boot, the one carrying all the wires to the driver's door. Particular broken wires here may mimic a bad switch when using standard diagnostic tests.

I'm assumming that you did check all the fuses inside the cabin and under the hood. Know that if you pull the fuse to the "keep-alive" circuit of the radio, you may loose your station and clock settings. (No big deal, just a nusiance.)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 3:56AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Oh brother. Everything about the car is computer controlled. I figured fixing this might require divine intervention.

Would the advice be the same if it's the passenger door doing this? Had an incident yesterday that puts that door in the mix, too.

Absolutely appreciate your advice! Will look into these things. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 8:59AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Hey, happened to remember this thread, so figured I'd report back... in case anyone else can use this info.

It turns out all that was needed was a little WD-40 in/on the door handles on the outside, on the back doors. Apparently they weren't going back to the "closed" position sometimes. Although after you opened the door, the handle would look like it had went back down into the right position, and the door was definitely closed, the handle was staying up just enough to communicate "door ajar" to the computer.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:04PM
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