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Q: Random Problems with Starter on 2003 Ford Taurus

A few weeks ago my Taurus would sometimes take up to 5 seconds on cranking to turn over, while sometimes it would start immediately. The problem disappeared until now, and the symptoms reappeared. The next day I was able to start the engine and restart it a second time. Unfortunately after turning it off, it would not start at all anymore. When I tried, it made the briefly made the usual cranking sound, followed by continuous clicking.
I know the problem is NOT located in the battery or alternator because I do know how to diagnose those, and they are definitely not the problem.
Is it most likely the starter, a solenoid, spark plugs, or perhaps some other ignition problem? I really need to get an idea how much I'm looking at to get it fixed (this has been a very expensive month already).
Thanks so much!
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It sounds like your starter and solenoid is worn out. (assuming you load tested the battery and it stayed above 10.0 volts for at least 20 seconds after the second and third test).What do mean that your would 'sometimes take 5 seconds to turn over', do you mean the car would not even crank over or the car would crank over but not light off?

It is most likely the Starter Solenoid Contacts bouncing off each other because they are not getting enough current to properly energize the Starter.
Thanks for your help. What I meant by it would "crank" for 5 seconds before turning over is the that it would make the normal sounds a car makes before before starting, but the engine itself does not turn over. Perhaps this is the sound of the starter trying to start the engine, but failing? What is the cause of the clicking sound that the car is now making when the key is held in the ignition position?
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