strange engine shutoff

Anyone have some insight into this situation...?
95 Mercury Cougar, 3.8 V6, ~89,000 miles, the last ~13,000/6months of which are mine. Had the car (don't know much about the history) checked
out and various repairs done upon buying it. One morning, after driving for a few blocks, the engine shuts off while I am stopped at a red light. No warning, no noise, just a shut off of engine. Expected results (warning lights since key is turned, no power steering, brakes not effective, etc). I manage to drift to the side of the road, car starts up perfectly when I turn the key again. Hasn't happened again since (4 days ago), I've tried as many various driving conditions as I could to reproduce. Tried things like running all lights, window motors, defrosters, etc to see if the electrical system wasn't producing enough current, highway speeds, city speeds, slow speeds, quick accelerations, quick stops, etc. The day before this happened was a road trip with ~300 miles in one day. The car has a lot of "used car noise" (mild squeaks, groans and such) but nothing too unusual for an aging city car. Only other things I can think of are that the start occasionally takes a few tries (been doing that since I got it, worse when cold/not used recently), and the transmission seems to be taking *slightly* longer to shift into drive from park, reverse from drive, etc, but not bad at all.
At the very least, I'm tring to get enough information to have a chance at not getting ripped off at a mechanic's. I'm also not too worried if this is a problem only possible while stopped at a red light, I just dont want it to happen at street or highway speeds!
thanks, Dave
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Dave wrote:

it probably will never happen at highway speeds.. igot a 96 contour and it did this a few times when first starting it up... about twice in the past year.... i might be the Idle Air control valve??? or it might be a dirty air filter blocking air flow and is starving for air to mix with the gas.. at any rate the slow speed at braking and the slight miss will sometimes give you the engine kill thing... at higher RPM s it not gonna happen....
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This sounds like the usual bad ignition switch. Not the cylinder itself, but the actual electrical switch in the column.
Been all sorts of issues from overheating and bursting into flames to what you just described with the engine just dying.
See: http://www.flamingtowncars.com /
Not sure if it would apply to the Cougar, but at least it gives you an idea of what may be going on.
-Steve

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