Intermittent problems are the most difficult to diagnose. You have to catch the car doing it. Unfortunately, by the time you get all of the tools gathered, the thing will start again. It's a real pain. Start with fuel. Get it to the point where it won't run, then use some starting fluid to see if you can get it to run for a second. If it will, but it dies when you stop spraying starter fluid, you probably have a fuel problem. Check the fuel filter. It could be plugged. If the filter is ok, it might be the fuel pump or the fuel pump relay. No, it's probably not the relay if it starts again when it's cold. So if you have fuel but it doesn't start anyway, start checking the ignition system. See if you have a spark. Pull one spark plug wire, plug in a spare sparkplug, crank the engine and have a helper watch the sparkplug to see if he/she can see a spark. If not, start checking electronic components, like the spark coil, pickup coil, igniton module and even the ignition switch. Many electrical components don't like heat after they get old. If one of the components have failed that might be the way that it has decided to let you know how important it is. (Sorry, that was an attempt at humor and I'm sure you aren't laughing if you can't get your car started.) ANYWAY... find out what IS working and what ISN'T working so that you can narrow it down to what's wrong. Good luck. If you have any questions just clarify what you've done and what you think might be going on. You can e-mail me at email@example.com Good luck.
Why are you disconnecting the battery with the engine running? Never mind, you've probably already figured this out by now, but there's a good chance your alternator is fried and your spark plugs are running on battery power. Get your alternator checked out. New ones aren't that expensive (approx. $50) and can be changed by anyone handy with tools.
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