On my VW polo i has a similar problem, it turns out there was excessive wear on the key and it had to be twisted in an up right direction in order to start. took me a long time to work this out, try wiggling the key whilst held in the crank position. I know we are on about totally different cars but it is still worth a try
Sounds to me if you have an intermitant earth problem i would check all the main earth straps when it does it connect a heavy earth from the block to neg on your battery if it starts this will indicate you do have a earth problem had a similar problem on a clio i had .
I had this problem, exactly the same as you :D
turns out the battery wasnt installed correctly... have you replaced the battery in the last few months?
Check , all plugs in the fuse box , inside the car incase a passenger has knocked one of the connection blocks.
Broken earth this will be! Locate your battery and follow all the earth wires and check them as you follow them.
I dont think itll be the big earth going to the gearbox loose, unless its had a clutch at some point and a clown hasnt tightened it up.
Chances are itll be one of the smaller guage earths from the battery.
If these checks turn up a blank get to an auto electrician ASAP, dont go to ford unless your rich! Plus they know bugger all! DO NOT drive this car any distance until its fixed, its a potential fire and or safety issue
Need more info
The light you refer to is your immobiliser system kicking in could be a few reasons, as Kev says it could be a broken earth or it could be down to a faulty immobiliser chip in your key, (try driving with the spare) alternately it could be down to your battery dying (a silver calcide battery dies very strangely, it will work for a few hours, days or weeks then decide to stop) get a drop test done on it, answer is yes/no fine/faulty (need new battery) Buy a decent one but be warned you will be lucky to get 6 years from a silver calcide battery (and your car will NOT work with anything else) The other thing to look at would be your fuel pump but this is unlikely as it would not (normally) trigger your immobiliser circuit.
NOTE SOME MANUFACTURERS CALL THESE BATTERIES SILVER OXIDE BUT THEY ARE SAME.
Oh and Kev is correct DO NOT DRIVE your car till you have this checked out. I personally would take the battery off and get a mate to take me to an accessory shop/garage and get them to check it
I was initially thinking it could be battery Phil, but discounted it for the grounds that it will still start. The immobiliser has some ground tho, defo worth trying the spare keys.
But even so get it checked by a pro ASAP and do not drive it until its got a clean bill of health (except to get it to the garage of course)
i would have said EARTH too. my previous car had the same symptons as what you have said. just one loose connection was all it took to do this. the RAC man came out and identified is straight away. he said to add more earth points in future cars. my earth strap wasnt tight ebnough and allowed the cable to move a bit but that was enough to give me car problems.
Well I got the car back the other day.
The garage had to change the instrument cluster( is this the correct English name for all the instruments as speedo, rev counter and what is behind the instrument glass) to get the car working.
Not the cheapest of repairs but now the car seems to work fine again.
I can't see how the insrument cluster caused your problem, my car starts and runs without the cluster even in! I took it out to replace bulbs, discovered I did not have correct spares so drove to the parts shop to get them before refitting I know I didn't have a speedo officer but I thought less than a mile I would be ok :D
The only way I could see a problem coming from the cluster is if you had a short, but if that is what garage claim I guess it could be true.
Glad to hear you are back on the road