Help please....serious electrical problem - 94 Ranger - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 09-27-2014
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Icon5 Help please....serious electrical problem - 94 Ranger

Hi....new to forum....my wife is a Ranger owner for 20 years now....to start I apologize for the length of this post but need to explain everything that has happened in the order that it happened.

Specs: 1994 Ranger 2WD, 4.0L V6, 4 Speed Standard, Options-Loaded Mileage - 246,000 kms

and now to the huge problem....and how it all started!

A "No Crank/No Start" issue was the beginning of my dilemma. Turning the key to the on position would generate a loud single click 'only' from the fender solenoid. The starter would not turn over or even make a sound. All lights, indicators, etc showed good power from the brand new 1 month old battery. Voltage tester confirmed 12.7V between posts and at solenoid.

The first test was to jumper the solenoid to eliminate an ignition switch issue and there was no change with a single click and still nothing from the starter. I had been suspecting a problem with the starter for a little while now so pulled the old starter and went to auto parts store to trade the core in for a new one. Put the new starter in and same problem. That was the first $180 spent this weekend on this thing.

Did a little net research and it seems others have had this same scenario and cured the problem with new battery cables. The Ford Man wanted $320 for a new set of cables....I said no thanks and headed to the local Napa man. No luck there other than universal kits for around $80....which is better but not exactly the same as the originals. So, I decided to pick the pieces required and build the cables myself. I ran new wires/cables (neg & pos) from the battery to solenoid to starter. New grounds to the frame/body/engine. All crimped, soldered, heat-shrink wrapped joints/connectors and I'm pretty proud of the job done. Reassembled everything and voila....the old girl cranked right up. I shut her down and restarted 4 or 5 times while up on the jack stands. So, I lowered her down, put away all the tools, cleaned up and took her out for a road test (a couple of mile loop) and came back home convinced the problem had been solved.

Next, I Sent my wife out to take it for a little drive....she get's in and nothing but a single 'Click' again. She tries four or five times and then I see a little wisp of smoke coming out of the hood. I pop the hood and see my new wires melting away. So I yanked the negative connection right away and let things cool down so I can investigate. Now I discovered what I did wrong....and it's a whole lot of embarrassing for me but....it turns out in my old age I screwed up..... I put the 8ga wire which runs down to the starter from the fender solenoid on the wrong post and the heavier direct power cable from the battery positive to the other wrong post on the solenoid....looks like I goofed and swapped the wires the wrong way round. Anyway, as the wife is trying to turn the truck on three or fours times...seems it was enough to overheat the smaller wire and it melted from one end to the other.

Back under I go, replaced all of the small gauge wire from top to bottom once again and got it all in place and climb inside to try, put the key into the ignition, turn the key to on and nothing.....I mean nothing.....there is no power anywhere, no lights, no dash indicators, no bells...nothing. At first I thought I cooked the battery but it's still reading 12.7volts and is rock solid. I've checked all fuses and everything looks fine.

So here is my question.....is there a fusible link located somewhere which could have been fried and would that kill all power completely and everywhere? Or have I killed my wife's truck or melted something else that's not as evident as this small melted wire. BTW, the heavy gauge wire looks fine but I guess looks doesn't mean anything.

Please help.....my life just got real miserable because my wife is really really miserable and I can't go through another day like today. I know I screwed up but need to get this lady mobile and out of what's left of my hair.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated and any comments accepted....good or bad because of the stupidity displayed here by me.

Thanks everyone

McMuddy
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Old 09-27-2014
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There should be a large cable from battery + to starter motor, and a slightly smaller wire from battery + to starter relay, on that same post(relay) there should be a wire to the alternator(it has a fusable link) and a wire to the Power Box(fuses).
This wire to the power box isn't fused, it is connected to the main power bus in the power box, so this wire powers all the fuses in that box AND, via these fuses, all the other fuses and circuits in the truck, so this would be the wire to check, first.
Then check wires coming out of the Power Box.

On the '94 the Starter solenoid is on the starter motor, so starter motor is connected directly to the battery +, the starter relay is basically just used for power distribution, but it still passes power to the starter solenoid when key is turned to START position, which is why there is just a small wire from starter relay to starter solenoid(on starter motor)

Last edited by RonD; 09-27-2014 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 09-27-2014
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Thank you Ron....I awoke this morning with a revelation and you have just confirmed it. I went back to the drawing board and retraced all of my wires and sure enough, I had the power leads to the alternator & power dist box on the wrong post on the fender relay. I had them attached to the lead running down to the starter which now makes perfect sense why I was not getting any power anywhere because it was on the open side of the switch.

Anyway, I switched things around as per your explanation and everything came back to life....including me. As for the melt down yesterday, I think I have reasoned why that occurred.....the new replacement lead that came with the new starter has a tab on the ring where it bolts up. In my haste, I stuck it on upside down and believe that when I stuck the starter back into the mounting position, that tab must have shorted out to the side of the engine block. Anyway, it's all rewired, the wires are cool to the touch when starting and everything seems to work fine now.

Thanks again for taking the time to straighten out my wiring dilemma...it really helped me to feel confident that I had things right once again.....and now I'm back to having a Happy Wife and finally a Happy life ...

Cheers

McMuddy
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Old 06-16-2015
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I am new here as well; and I know a little about my Ford Ranger.. it is a 3.2L inline 4.
I am having the same issues as McMuddy.
It started when it sat for my Christmas break from work. When I went to start it later; it would try to crank over but just wouldn't fire. My brother came over with his salamander to warm up the fuel lines. It was so cold though; that it just wore the battery down. Then it started with just the single click from the solenoid. I have checked the fuses in the distribution box and under the dash. There was one blown for the fuel tank; so I replaced that. We had the starter checked; and its working great; the alternator was not working consistently so we replaced that. Battery was not holding a charge so we replaced that. There is no power going anywhere; not to lights; or anything in the dash area. Where would I find a diagram of how to replace the cables??
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Old 06-17-2015
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Your Ground wire from battery is not connected or your Positive wire from battery is not connected.

If you have a fender relay then positive battery cable goes there, as does the alternator wire and Fuse box wire.

Ground cable should have 2 connections, larger wire goes to engine Block, often to Starter Motors mounting bolt, but engine block bolt is fine.
Smaller wire will go to Rad support, this is the Body ground for headlights
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