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  #1  
Old 08-01-2006
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Charging / Starting issues... (forget the morning paper)

Hey guys

Lately I have been having issues starting the truck. The BATT is an Optima Red Top 16-18 months old. The ALT is stock. Wiring is stock. Additions have been E-fan (maybe 2 yrs), pillar pod gages, CB, fog lights are the "Baja" (Wal-Mart... yeah yeah) rectangular lights, radar detector, OEM CD6, 2x 150W KC Slimlites (only 1 bulb is working), Warn xD8000i winch (hasn't been hooked up for a couple months... never drained it dead winching)

I was having an issue where it seemed the fan clutch on the A/C compressor wasn't turning on, it would keep clicking and it would drain the power from the truck... literally killing the power. I don't know if this killed the battery or the ALT or not but I took it to Pep Boys a couple months ago and they checked the starting system and everything checked out OK. They said to have someone look at the A/C. Well, since then I basically have used 3-75 cooling... 3 windows open doing 75...

Lately though (and it's been hot here) I've gone out and tried turning the key to START and nothing! Absolute silence. Strange thing is, it'll do that for 2 or 3 turns sometimes and then start on the next. Well it didnt do it for me Sunday and I was stuck at Home Depot. I tried having someone jump me but only had the cables on for a min or so b/c they were in a hurry and nothing... still silent. I only had about 12.2V (using cigarette lighter meter). When the cables were on it was up to 13.something. Still no start. So I got it towed. It went to the shop and I called them this morning and they said it was ready... ok... Hesitant since I hadn't talked to them yet, they just knew it wasn't starting. But I went in and it started. It was reading 13.9-14.0V. They said the checked all the GND connections and cleaned them and hooked it up and everything checked out OK. The BATT, ALT and STARTER. Ok. So I head down the road, still hesitant... tried the A/C and the compressor seemed to turn on ok but Volts dropped to 13.5 so i wasnt trying that... back to 3-75 for the time being. Well, I went to work, the truck sat for 7-8hrs and it started ok. I drove about 15 mins and stopped at my g/f's place and was there for 3hrs. Went out to start and nothing!! Twice!! And the third time it started...

I already have a 200A H.O. ALT from Mr Alternator on the way with some 2GA wire and connectors and also an inline 200A fuse to run the cable to the BATT from the ALT. I took a multimeter to the ALT and then checked to the BATT and they were the same. So I figure it's not a wiring issue between the two. The terminals have been cleaned as well.

I disconnected the (-) from the BATT while the truck was running and the meter in the cigarette lighter started to drop from about 13.5-13.6 where it was when at IDLE to about 13.3 and then 13.2 when I got in to look. Does this point to the ALT???

I also was thinking maybe the BATT isn't holding a charge. When I shut it off tonight it read 12.8-12.7V. I went out in a couple hours and it was down to 12.4V and it did actually start. I can only guess what it'll be tomorrow...

Here is also a list of readings I took the other day using the lighter meter:
(Dome light was ON for ALL readings) (ellipses represent only a short time frame i.e. 15-30 seconds)
IDLE - 13.6
OFF - 12.7
ACC - 12.3
START - 10.6
IDLE - 13.6
IDLE w/ holding both windows UP closed - 13.4
IDLE LIGHTS ON w/ FOGS - 13.4
IDLE / EFAN (initial) - 12.7
IDLE / EFAN - 13.4...13.3...13.4
IDLE / HIGH BEAM / EFAN - 13.3
IDLE / EFAN / HIGH BEAM w/ KC (1 bulb is out) (initial) - 12.8
IDLE / EFAN / HIGH BEAM w/ KC (1 bulb is out) - 13.3...13.2
IDLE / EFAN - 13.4
OFF - 12.8...12.7...12.6
ACC / EFAN - 12.0...11.9
START - 9.2
IDLE - 13.3
2000-2500 RPM - 13.4
OFF - 12.8...12.7...12.6

So can any conclusions be made from all of this? Two seperate tests are stating that the BATT, ALT & STARTER are OK. Yet, obviously there is a problem here! Will these tests reveal if a BATT can't hold a charge? Do my readings conclude it's the ALT? What should the Voltage reading be? Can I expect a change in Voltage readings with the larger ALT? Might it just be BOTH are on their way out?
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  #2  
Old 08-01-2006
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I'm saying thats 100% normal.. You might have a dead spot on the starter.
thats my guess..
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  #3  
Old 08-01-2006
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All your voltages are perfectly normal. Your alternator is working great. Your battery is charging and keeping it's charge just fine. There is nothing wrong with your alternator or your battery. This a good thing since neither are cheap. This is a bad thing because it means the actual problem may be a bit of a challenge.

These times where you turn the key and there is nothing... this is not a dead battery. Don't bother with jump starts, it is just wasting time. It is a fault somewhere else in the circuit and we need to find that fault. When this happens:

With the key off, do the headlights and dashlights work normally?

With the key turned back in accessory, does the stereo and stuff work properly?

With the key in the on position before starting, does the blower motor work properly and all the usual ding dongs and blinking lights come on?

When you turn it to start, do you hear anything under the hood click or is it just total complete silence?

Answer these and we'll go from there. This is going to give us an idea of what is working properly to help narrow down what isn't working.
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Old 08-01-2006
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Thanks for the reply.

This is off memory so I will have to double check to confirm, but

Lights turn on with key OFF
Stereo works in ACC
Blower motor?? I have an EFAN installed. That will kick on if hot enough and in ACC.
If the key is in and the door is open it dings.

From in the cab, all I hear is SILENCE. No clicking.

Yeah, I noticed that about the jumping

This is from memory but am probably 90-95% certain about them. I will print this out as well and use it as a check list, but it's a good bet that this is what it's been doing. But like I said, it doesn't do this ALL the time.

This morning it started up even with 12.3 or 12.4V. And jumped to 14.1. I went around the corner, got gas and it started again (12.6V). idk if it got back to 14.1 though... But it was at least 13.9 early on. I tried the A/C and it quickly dropped so I turned that OFF. I tried again on the highway knowing I'd have more RPMs and it went down to about 13.5. Didn't want to drain it so turned it OFF.

Idk if i'm just paranoid at this point about the A/C or if there is an issue there. But hopefully this all helps.
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  #5  
Old 08-01-2006
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Ok so I printed this out now and went down. It started up fine twice. Drove around the parking lot with the A/C on and it was ok. Still think the issue could arise. What else?

By the way, YES headlights work with key OFF. Stereo works with ACC. All dings and dongs... still don't know which motor you mean. Blower motor I am guessing you are referring to heater/AC blower... I had it in OFF everytime I started... haha now I think you meant to put it to ON. And there has been dead silence when trying to start unsuccesfully. Other times it seems ok when starting.
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  #6  
Old 08-01-2006
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OK. Based on that, we know the ignition switch (key switch) is working properly. I would bet now that it is the starter relay (aka starter solenoid) that is defunt and intermitant.
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  #7  
Old 08-01-2006
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I will look into the Haynes manual and see what I can do about that

Something else to note:
Today was too dang hot so I went ahead and turned on the A/C. It seemed to turn on ok. But obviously dropped some voltage. In the hour ride home from work it probably dropped from 13.6 range down to about 13.0. When I was nearing home, making a turn (turn signal and braking) would drain it a couple more tenths and the dummy oil gage would start to flutter. I'd turn off the AC and it would stop fluttering. At this point the Voltage was 13 or less... maybe 12.8.
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  #8  
Old 08-02-2006
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I read two issues. One is easy. Go to an AC shop and have them check the air gap in your air conditioner compressor clutch. Sounds like yours is wide, causing high current draw AND compressor intermittent operation. This can be shimmed or replace the clutch, your option. Your oil gage fluttering is related to a low idle that isn't being compensated when the AC is commanded on. Your IAC may need cleaned or replaced.

I wouldn't be so sure that the ignition switch isn't bad despite the ACC and On position stuff working properly. There is another set of contacts that come into play when you crank it. True, you can't rule out the starter / solenoid being intermittent, but it's far more likely to be the ignition switch in my opinion. They have a poor track record. The only conclusive way to determine this is to check for power being present at the starter connection when it WON'T start/crank.

FWIW, when it won't crank, I'd wiggle the crap out of the ignition switch while in the "starter crank" position. If it cranks, you've nailed it. If that doesn't work I'd rap on the starter with something substantial (like a large screwdriver handle) and see if it cranks. Again, if it cranks, you've nailed it.
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  #9  
Old 08-02-2006
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I haven't had to mess with the starting circuit on a ranger in a long time now. Is the starter solenoid integrated into the motor now or is it seperate. If seperate, where is it now because I don't think I've ever seen it on mine.

Shaking the ignition cylinder while the key is in crank is a good idea. I never though of that.

That whole banging on it thing. It is amazing what that will fix. My electric transfer case was stuck in 4-Lo after some wheeling on the beach one day. Nothing would make it work again despite drying it and futzing with the connectors. I finally got so angry with it that I started beating on it with a tire iron. Click. Shifted back to 2wd.
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  #10  
Old 08-02-2006
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Where is the ignition switch or ignition cylinder? I can look later in the book but to get an idea of where i'm looking. I know where the starter motor is... is it around there or up in the dash?

I banged the heck out of the starter motor on Sunday with a rubber hammer and some channel locks but nothing turned over after that.

It wouldnt start again today. I took it in for an oil change (too damn hot to do myself like i normally do) and after they pulled it out, it wouldnt start. I turned a few times and walked next door to the auto repair place and they were gonna push me over into their lot when i went back into the truck i turned a couple more times... one i didnt quite turn all the way but you could hear it start to crank i tried again and it started... this has been crazy... damn electrical bugs
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  #11  
Old 08-02-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sawred
Where is the ignition switch or ignition cylinder? I can look later in the book but to get an idea of where i'm looking. I know where the starter motor is... is it around there or up in the dash?
You know that thing you stick the key into?? :)

Sounds a lot more like the ignition cylinder is faulty on the start position.
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  #12  
Old 08-02-2006
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hahahaha oh that thingy??
ok but how am I supposed to fix that?

so when you guys were talking about shaking the swith you mean jiggle the key/switch while i'm turning it?

then what is the ignition cylinder?? (this ought to be good... haha)
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  #13  
Old 08-02-2006
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It's the thing you put the key into. It has like 5 different nams.
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  #14  
Old 08-02-2006
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Ok, so everything aformentioned regarding an ignition switch, ignition cylinder or thing you stick the key in are actually one in the same.

Ok, well I will try to get this to a shop to service the AC compressor ASAP. And then go from there with the ignition switch and starter.

Thanks.

FYI: Will post again after AC repairs. Hopefully only with good news... but we'll see.
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Old 08-02-2006
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I agree with the others who say that your problem is not in the alternator or battery. There were some good suggestions above and I would add one more:

The next time the starter refuses to turn, try wiggling the shift lever while you have the key turned to the crank position. Also try to start it in Neutral. By design, the starter can only work in Neutral or Park, so a problem with the Transmission Range Sensor could also cause a no crank condition.
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Old 08-02-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwenzing
I agree with the others who say that your problem is not in the alternator or battery. There were some good suggestions above and I would add one more:

The next time the starter refuses to turn, try wiggling the shift lever while you have the key turned to the crank position. Also try to start it in Neutral. By design, the starter can only work in Neutral or Park, so a problem with the Transmission Range Sensor could also cause a no crank condition.
I did try this one today... actually I'm not sure if i left it in N or just tried rolling it some and put it back in P before cranking again... hmm I'll try that again b/c i;m not sure now. But yeah it wouldnt start today (see above) and the mech told me to try that if it happened again.
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Old 08-02-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl43P
I read two issues. One is easy. Go to an AC shop and have them check the air gap in your air conditioner compressor clutch. Sounds like yours is wide, causing high current draw AND compressor intermittent operation.
Will this draw occur with the Fan OFF? I can't recall now if it's only after I've had the A/C on even briefly or if it has occured at some point when I didn't even turn it on. The belt is obviously always attached to the clutch so I wasn't sure if it could still be screwing something up.

But I should be taking it tomorrow morning to have the AC compressor look at.
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Old 08-03-2006
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hey Mike, you know how to fix that..........buy a Jeep!
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Old 08-03-2006
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Honestly it sounds like you have a grounding issue. Your battery voltage when attempting to crank is below 10 volts from the one chart you made. When you go into the crank position do you have voltage to the "S" terminal of the starter? You know how to perform a voltage drop test on circuits to check your battery cables?
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  #20  
Old 08-03-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckgnarly
hey Mike, you know how to fix that..........buy a Jeep!
haha and then deal with how many more issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by 04lvl2
Honestly it sounds like you have a grounding issue. Your battery voltage when attempting to crank is below 10 volts from the one chart you made. When you go into the crank position do you have voltage to the "S" terminal of the starter? You know how to perform a voltage drop test on circuits to check your battery cables?
Not really. Care to explain what you mean.
And do you mean to check the V at the "S" when it won't start or anytime at this point?


Latest Update:
Took it to another shop this morning. He looked at how the compressor kept kicking on and said it was due to a low charge on the A/C. He connected the recharge kit and in a bit the compressor stopped kicking on and off.

I explained the problem starting it. He then hooked up a load tester. Again everything tested OK. And of course the truck started everytime. He tested the battery itself on the load test and said it was better than good. He noted the ALT was putting out good amps but the voltage was a little low. He said he hasn't seen enough Optimas to know if they play a part in that. But he said he can't fix what isn't broke and right now everything appears to be ok.

So after the recharge on the refrigerant I was on my way. So far I've started it up a half dozen times and all ok.

From here I guess it's play by ear unless I just want to start checking all the connections. Maybe Carl had it pegged... might be time for a new ride...
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  #21  
Old 08-04-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sawred
haha and then deal with how many more issues
Yeah, you're right.....like what you will do with all the extra time you have now that you won't get stuck/break things, all the new places you can go, all the things you will be able to add to the Jeep instead of fabbing, and even all the women you'll get.......I gotta beat em off with a stick....shhh....don't tell demetra!
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  #22  
Old 08-04-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckgnarly
Yeah, you're right.....like what you will do with all the extra time you have now that you won't get stuck/break things, all the new places you can go, all the things you will be able to add to the Jeep instead of fabbing, and even all the women you'll get.......I gotta beat em off with a stick....shhh....don't tell demetra!
haha
right... isn't Rubicon French for "making up for my short comings"
Real trucks are made, not bought hahahaha
but yeah, i'd take one
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