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Posted: 6/15/2009 6:10:56 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/15/2009 6:11:33 PM EST by Greenfeet]
Vehicle is a 4 cyl 5 speed manual '01 Ford Ranger

About a month ago, I stopped in the middle of a 3 hour drive for gas. Pumped the gas, went to re-start the truck, and it wouldn't start. Wouldn't turn over, wouldn't make the repeated clicks or off-pitch whine of a dead battery, just two clicks; one when I turned the key forward and one when I let it back. Got it roll-started, popped the clutch, and it got home. Has started fine ever since then.

Until yesterday. Did the same thing, actually on the same drive, and today it won't start except by rolling it and popping the clutch.

I don't think it's a battery because I tried jumping it off, and it made no difference. Lights and radio come on strong and it doesn't sound like a dying battery does. Also, the battery is an 84 month that was purchased 11/06.

My future father-in-law to be suggested that it may not be recognizing that the clutch is in. I tested that theory and it's plausible; the truck did the exact same thing when my foot wasn't on the clutch. I don't know if this matters, but when I turn the key the light in the cabin goes out; the head lights and tail lights only dim a little.

Any ideas?

Starter? Ignition switch? Something to do with the clutch like he suggested?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. I know that I can take it to a mechanic but money is really tight right now so if it's something I can fix myself I'd prefer to do so.

Edited for clarity
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:25:45 PM EST
Sounds like the battery is shot. Take it back, and see if you can recoup the remainder of your 84 months.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:28:24 PM EST
Starter solenoid? If you can find it, you can jump across it with a screwdriver. That will isolate the starter. Should be on the fendersell coming off of the red wire on the battery and going to the starter.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:28:45 PM EST
Check the ECM Relay. There should be a few 1" cubic relays (usually grey or black) in the fuse panel under the hood. One of them energizes the ECM/ ignition module, failure of which can cause no-starts and/or cut-offs. The others can be for headlights, A/C clutch, cooling fan, etc... based on yr/ mod. Replace them all. Should be available at Autozone, Pep Boys, NAPA, or similar for about 7-10 bucks each.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:29:04 PM EST
Check your battery terminals. Take them off to check.

My Jeep did crazy things back in Feb. I had some corrosion between the terminal and the post. It looked clean.

Also, check your ground wires where they connect to the frame, as well as the end of the positive wire where it hooks on the starter.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:29:43 PM EST
Check your cables at the battery,just cause they are tight does not mean they are functional,then check the wires at the starter.A starter can be bad but still intermittently work.The problem is not in the ignition switch or the key switch if the car can be push started.My suggestion would be to take the battery terminal off the battery and clean them and inspect them thoroughly and re install them and see what happens.Also if they are after market terminals that are bolted to the cable take them off the cable clean them and put back together.Look for melted or burned lead at the ends,this would indicate that the ends were loose and current draw was high.If they are the factory thin steel ends look for cracks and replace with the lead type if you are capable.If all of that is found to be good take the starter off and take it to a discount or pepboys and have it bench tested,they may not find anything but it is worth a try.My guess with this type of problem is the cable connection or the starter.Good luck.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:31:21 PM EST
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:32:51 PM EST

Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.

This
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:35:34 PM EST
Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.


The starter is a little bit difficult to access but I think I can whack it. How complicated/expensive is it to replace the brushes?
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:37:02 PM EST

Originally Posted By Greenfeet:
Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.


The starter is a little bit difficult to access but I think I can whack it. How complicated/expensive is it to replace the brushes?

Pretty simple. But finding brushes? Might be a problem. And you need to turn the commutator.

Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:38:32 PM EST
Originally Posted By 2ridgebacks:
Starter solenoid? If you can find it, you can jump across it with a screwdriver. That will isolate the starter. Should be on the fendersell coming off of the red wire on the battery and going to the starter.


And if I don't get a spark when I complete the circuit then it is probably the solenoid?
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:39:25 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/15/2009 6:40:15 PM EST by FMJshooter]
I would check the starter relay in the distribution box as well.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:40:14 PM EST
Battery or starter. Sometimes the starter gets too hot and it won't crank. Or the solenoid sticks when it's hot.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:40:22 PM EST
Get a voltmeter or test light. Find out if you have power and ground to the starter when an assistant turns the key to the crank position. If you do––replace the starter. If you don't, get a schematic and work your way back. Shotgunning and guessing is a waste of time and money.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 6:56:26 PM EST
So a few replies ago, I went out to try a few of the thing suggested.

Couldn't get at the starter in the dark, but I did check all the fuses and make sure they were in tight, wiggled the battery terminals ever so slightly, and tried to start it one more time just for grins....... and it started without incident 3 times in a row. Bizarre.

So for now it works, but I'll probably be reviewing these replies first thing in the morning when I can't get it started to go to work.

Thank you all so much for the help.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 7:04:31 PM EST
I have had a few fords do this when the starter gets hot next time it does it let it set for awhile to cool off and then try to start it.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 7:15:25 PM EST
If you have a voltmeter, know how to use it, and want to properly diagnose this problem pm me.

SS
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 7:54:23 PM EST
Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.

May have to tap it a few times to get it to go. If this gets it going, it better to just replace the starter or at least get it rebuilt by a reputable rebuilder
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 8:06:30 PM EST

Originally Posted By SINGLE_SHOT:
If you have a voltmeter, know how to use it, and want to properly diagnose this problem pm me.

SS

Drive it here to Indiana and ill diagnose it for you
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 8:10:30 PM EST
Originally Posted By rangermonroe:
Check your battery terminals. Take them off to check.

My Jeep did crazy things back in Feb. I had some corrosion between the terminal and the post. It looked clean.

Also, check your ground wires where they connect to the frame, as well as the end of the positive wire where it hooks on the starter.


THIS. My avalanche died cause I left the lights on and wouldnt jump. Turned out the terminals were gunked up even though they didnt look it.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 8:12:00 PM EST
It's the starter motor. As the engine heats up, its parts get tighter which require the starter to work harder to turn it over in that condition. After it cools down, everything loosens up a little bit and the starter has an easier job to do and can do it and it doesn't sound any different that it ever did.

Link Posted: 6/16/2009 3:16:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By Greenfeet:
So a few replies ago, I went out to try a few of the thing suggested.

Couldn't get at the starter in the dark, but I did check all the fuses and make sure they were in tight, wiggled the battery terminals ever so slightly, and tried to start it one more time just for grins....... and it started without incident 3 times in a row. Bizarre.

So for now it works, but I'll probably be reviewing these replies first thing in the morning when I can't get it started to go to work.

Thank you all so much for the help.
Well, there you have it.

Take both terminals off... completely loose... and clean the contact surface with something abrasive. If you have a round wire brush used for copper plumbing, great. 120 grit sand paper wrapped around a smooth cylinder of the appropriate diameter will also work. Scrub the inside of the post terminals out as well as the post. If it is a side mount terminal, just scrub both mating surfaces with a wire brush.

Chances are that you have corrosion (white powdery gook) between them. If this is the case, then your problem is solved.

Link Posted: 6/16/2009 3:54:18 AM EST
I had the same problem on my Chevy Luv I had in highschool. As the starter heats up from engine heat, it gets more resistance both due to the fact that things expand and get tighter and the fact that heat causes electrical resistance. The older the starter, the more electrical resistance is present. I see that it did finally start after wiggling the battery terminals. That might have just been because the truck sat for so long that it cooled. If cleaning the battery doesnt work (the same problem happens again after driving for a while and things get hot) replace the starter.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:09:41 AM EST
Originally Posted By Keith_J:

Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.

This


I had a Jetta that did this when I it got hot. I had to whack it with a tire iron to free it up. What an aggravating piece of junk that car was.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:12:11 AM EST
Check your ground wire to the frame / engine block . I had that problem once with the same issues.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:15:31 AM EST
I have a 95 Ranger, did the same thing, go wiggle the spade terminal on top of the starter next time it happens...you should have to lay down on passenger side and reach in there with your right hand.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:20:29 AM EST
Definately sounds like a loose, corroded or otherwise bad cable connection. Check cables at the battery, selenoid, frame ground, and starter.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:27:14 AM EST
If you want to make sure, pull the starter and take it to Autozone. They'll test it for free. Autozone's website has vehicle repair guides if you don't know the procedure.

If it turns out the starter is bad, buy one from the junkyards if you don't want to spend the money on a retail one. For my Escort, a remanufactured starter from Autozone would be $140, but a JY one was $35. Soon as I had it it my hand, I took it to Autozone and had them test it. The guy said he didn't know why more people didn't do that with JY parts. Cranks very strong.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:43:08 AM EST
Originally Posted By Keith_J:

Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.

This


not this...tap it, don't smack it...you can make matters worse.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:44:02 AM EST
Originally Posted By Keith_J:

Originally Posted By Greenfeet:
Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.


The starter is a little bit difficult to access but I think I can whack it. How complicated/expensive is it to replace the brushes?

Pretty simple. But finding brushes? Might be a problem. And you need to turn the commutator.



and a growler to check the windings.....just buy a new starter.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:54:16 AM EST
Originally Posted By Greenfeet:
So a few replies ago, I went out to try a few of the thing suggested.

Couldn't get at the starter in the dark, but I did check all the fuses and make sure they were in tight, wiggled the battery terminals ever so slightly, and tried to start it one more time just for grins....... and it started without incident 3 times in a row. Bizarre.

So for now it works, but I'll probably be reviewing these replies first thing in the morning when I can't get it started to go to work.

Thank you all so much for the help.


Stop screwing with the starter and clean and tighten them terminals!!!
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:55:55 AM EST
Originally Posted By 2ridgebacks:
Starter solenoid? If you can find it, you can jump across it with a screwdriver. That will isolate the starter. Should be on the fendersell coming off of the red wire on the battery and going to the starter.


This is the first thing I thought of. Possibly the starter, but most likely the solinoid. Only about $15
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 4:59:57 AM EST
Had the same problem once. Turned out to be corrosion between the battery post and the positive cable that I couldn't see externally. Had to replace the whole cable because it had corroded about 3 inches inward past the boot. Took the battery to a do-it-yourself car wash and pressure washed the whole thing clean since it still tested ok.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 5:13:14 AM EST
Clean and tighten all of the connections on the battery and starter as others have already said. That way you'll be ready to go when you have to replace the starter, because that's your problem.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 6:26:48 AM EST
Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.


I know Fords and I think this guys answer is right on the money. I had a 95 Windstar that did that. Some starters have replaceable brushes and some do NOT. It will save you a bundle if they are. Good luck.
Link Posted: 6/16/2009 6:37:35 AM EST
Originally Posted By 02Tbird:
Originally Posted By ScottsGT:
Usually you won't hear any clicks if it is the clutch pedal switch. Check the starter. Next time it happens, don't try the push start. Get a hammer or tire iron and give the starter a good, firm whack. If it then starts, your starter needs the brushes replaced. Old school check, but it works.


I know Fords and I think this guys answer is right on the money. I had a 95 Windstar that did that. Some starters have replaceable brushes and some do NOT. It will save you a bundle if they are. Good luck.


It's happened twice on my '98 Ranger, that's why I posted what I did.
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