My 86 sable has low mileage. I have replaced the alternator, regulator, plugs, wires, rotor button, distributor cap, thermostat, etc. When I shift from park to reverse, for example, it often stalls...or when at a red light. When I am driving on the highway it's fairly smooth, it's the stopping and starting that are a problem.
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Get the number one cylinder to top dead center on the firing stroke. Insert the distributor so that the rotor is pointing to the #1 wire when it is in place. This should be enough to get it running again, if it will not start turn the distributor a bit one way or the other.....
Automobiles: 1996 Mercury Sable Something electrical corroded while it was parked.
connection between battery cable and (lead) battery connector - look for green corrosion of copper wire cable going from battery to starter motor corroded corroded ring terminal on starter motor threaded terminal ignition switch contact corroded at the "start" position Battery delivers 12 volts, but fails to deliver proper CCA/fails load test starter motor inoperative starter solenoid seized/immobile engine ground wire missing/broken/corroded terminal(s) - frame-to-engine starter relay failed/corroded terminal(s) wire from starter relay to starter corroded/missing/corroded terminal(s)
For completeness, here's the Troubleshooting Guide for 1996 Mercury Sable:
Priority Action Part Type Cause 1 Inspect Ignition Switch - Improperly Connected or Faulty Ignition Switch. 2 Inspect Battery - Battery Discharged or Faulty. 3 Inspect Battery Cable - Corroded, Broken, Shorted or Poorly Connected Battery Cable. 4 Inspect Starter Solenoid - Starter Solenoid Faulty. 5 Inspect Starter - Starter Motor Faulty. 6 Inspect Wireset - Worn or Damaged Spark Plug Wires. 7 Inspect Ignition Coil - Faulty Ignition Coil. 8 Inspect Distributor Cap - Loose, Cracked or Worn Distributor Cap. 9 Inspect Spark Plug - Incorrectly Gapped or Fouled Spark Plug(s). 10 Inspect Distributor Rotor - Loose, Cracked or Worn Distributor Rotor. 11 Inspect Fuel Tank - Fuel Tank Empty. 12 Inspect Carburetor - Worn, Faulty or Damaged Carburetor. 13 Inspect Fuel Pump - Faulty Fuel Pump. 14 Inspect Choke - Stuck or Improperly Functioning Choke. 15 Inspect Fuel Filter - Clogged or Dirty Fuel Filter. 16 Inspect Fuel Pump Relay - Faulty Fuel Pump Relay. 17 Inspect Fuel Injector Pressure Regulator - Faulty Fuel Injector Pressure Regulator. 18 Inspect Fuel Pump - Low Fuel Pressure. 19 Inspect Engine Control Computer - Incorrect Operating Information Being Delivered and Sent From The EEC. 20 Inspect Fuel Pump Strainer - Clogged or Dirty Fuel Pump Strainer.
Possible to have bought a bad alternator.... Try another one..Take advantage of the warranty the bad one came with....But have them check the voltage output on the new one so you KNOW for sure....Also consider issues with your voltage regulator and the possibility of needing a replacement. They are relatively inexpensive so that is the good news....More serious issue that could be addressed is a short somewhere in the harness. I would recommend a full electrical diagnostic to make sure there is not a bad ground....If you'd rather not spend a lot, just check all the wires you can visually.....But keep in mind that the voltage regulator is key and you do not want to spike the computer with inconsistent power levels and surges.