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Old 05-22-2011
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I am: Joshua Bowman
Join Date: May 2011
Location: toledo, ohio
Vehicle: 1997 Ford Ranger
Posts: 1
Total Props: 0
1997 Ranger Starting Issues

Hello everyone,

I'm having a problem with my ranger so If anyone can help me I'd appreciate it. I have a 1997 Ranger with a 2.3, 5 speed manual.

As of late there have been electrical/starting issues. Just a bit of history... the alternator was replaced a while back by my father in law. The battery light would always come on, but he said the charging system was checked out, and the tech told him to ignore the light. High revs would make the light go out, but at idle and normal driving it would stay on for the most part. The actual voltage gauge would read in the normal range, but sometimes after starting the gauge would be low and creep up to normal.

These were not really issues, but to me they didn't seem right since they shouldn't be happening under normal conditions anyway. The next set of issues was the starter. My father in law also says he had this replaced at some point also. I've had issues when trying to start, the starter would do nothing. Sometimes it would click, sometimes not. I've always thought clicking was a bad starter. He is claiming there is a bad ground or something. On the starter there is a terminal where a wire coming off the harness connects to. He is telling me this is the ground and he says he had issues with the wire and would disconnect it, and try to reconnect it. From my research, this seems to the be the "s-terminal" which is a connection to the starter switch. Would this be correct? Also, this would have nothing to do with ground right?

I have the shop manual on DVD and I haven't been able to find anything really specifically saying what this terminal is/does and where it connects to. Doing some searching on google though is where I got the info on the starter switch.

Another thing that would happen is the battery would always have a slow drain, and I never could figure it out. There has got to be a short in something. At one point I noticed the battery cable connector to the starter relay had broken off, making no connection. I have since repaired it, and that seemed to solve some problems.

Now the main issue. I've let the truck sit for about 6+ months and I'm getting a starting issue. At first it seemed like there wasn't enough voltage since the gauge barley moved in the normal range when I would turn the key on. Turning the key would cut the power. I figured the battery needed charged so I charged it. Voltage seemed to be better but would barley crank the motor, if at all. Sometimes I would get a click, which again makes me think starter related.

Next I tried a different battery that I know is good, and get the same results. So I tried yet another battery from my van that I know is good, and the engine will crank but very slowly. After some attempted starts, both battery cables were very hot. Somewhere I'm getting resistance. My father in law thinks it's a bad ground...I'm thinking it's the starter. Upon google searching, from what I have found is that if both cables get hot, it's most likely a starter problem, vs. only one cable being hot and that is a ground issue.

What advice would you guys give me to diagnose this problem? Any help/info would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-22-2011
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I am: DJ Fillman
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: York, PA
Posts: 5,796
Total Props: -4
your problem sounds exactly like my moms saturn right before the starter went...it would crank slower than normal and the battery cables would get warm...sounds like the starter to me
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Old 03-12-2015
I am: Mike Portland
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Portland
Vehicle: 2015 Ford Ranger
Drive Type: 4x2
Engine: 2.3
Posts: 4
Total Props: -1
The solenoid wire to the starter is corroded, just above the connection at the starter. Cut out an inch or so and instal a new push on connector.
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