starter system from hell - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 01-14-2016
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Icon8 starter system from hell

Okay so I'm at a complete loss. Ill dive right into the problem; the starter solenoid rapid fire clicks when i try to turn my key, the battery reads 12V with a volt meter, but the moment i turn my key my cab light dies, the dash lights die, hell the little blue led on my cell charger plugged into the cig lighter dies, and i get machine gun clicking from the starter solenoid. now for the strange part of the story, it first happened at the mall today, obviously i thought the batt was dead and got a boost and she fired right up, then i go home and park. go to start it about an hour later and the same thing happens, so again i get my buddy to try and jump me but this time it wont start, at all, just solenoid clicking even with the jumpers still hooked up. so i tried arcing the starter solenoid terminals which just produced sparks and smoke with no starter motor movement at all. Another strange thing to mention is that this has happened once before, a day after i hooked up my sub, so i disconnected the sub wire, and fiddled with everything for a day until it finally just decided to work, even though i did nothing really, fast forward to yesterday, i tried re attaching the sub power wire to the batt again and it ran fine until today when the same problem occurred. i don't know if the sub is just coincidence or not but it seems pretty suspect. so these are my theories, 1. Bad starter motor ground 2. A sewered battery that reads 12v but has no core charge. If anyone sees something i may be missing please let me know, im going to clean up the starter ground tomorrow after work, but until then im trying to build a list of possible solutions
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Old 01-15-2016
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Battery voltage should be 12.5 to 13volts, 12.0volts is a discharged or old battery.
Stater motor needs 150-200amps to turn engine fast enough to start, new batteries have about 550amps
You don't drain 200amps when starting so 550amp battery won't be dead after 3 tries, amps are used but it isn't just a straight subtraction.
As a battery gets used and older it can't hold it's full amps, so 550 new will go down to 400amps no matter how long you recharge it, and then down to 300amps and ect........until it simply can't hold enough amps to start engine, usually 5 to 7 years of use


New battery will be 12.8-13.2volts, full amps
3 year old battery 12.5volts, 3/4 amps

when you get down to 12.2 volts(1/2 amps) its time to shop for battery sale, below that and the "click, click, click" can start happening on colder days.
Cold is hard on batteries, it can't convert chemical charge to amps as fast, and the engine is harder to turn the colder it is so double whammy, a battery that was working fine in the summer can show it's age in the winter.

With engine running battery voltage should be 13.5 to 14.9volts, higher voltage just after starting, this is alternator recharging battery from being drain by starter motor.
Then voltage should drop to 13.5-13.8volts, this maintains battery's charge without causing it to "boil", loose fluid.
If alternator is not showing these types of voltages with engine running then battery is going to drain while driving.

If battery and alternator check out then your problem is the cables, without good connections full battery power can't get to where it needs to be.
Check each connection, loosen it it up and make sure there is bare metal contact, no corrosion.
Larger cables can corrode under the insulation, use a razor and slice insulation back a few inches to see bare metal, if you see corrosion replace that cable, tape it up if it looks OK.


Subwoofer shouldn't cause any problems except for when it hits low bass notes, this is a big power draw, they make capacitors for this.
A capacitor stores extra power so when sub hits a low bass note the extra power needed comes from capacitor not trucks power system, then when there are no low bass notes the capacitor is recharging, which is most of the time.

Last edited by RonD; 01-15-2016 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 01-15-2016
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So i took the battery to canadian tire today and a load test showed it at 535CCA and its rated for 610 so the battery should be fine :/ put jumper cables back on the leads and tried starting the truck again and same problem today. lights didnt dim today but i still have the solonoid clicking. busted out the volt meter again and put one lead on the positive terminal of the battery and the negitive lead on the bolt at my starter attaching 4 gauge ground wire running from my starter to the negitive terminal of my battery, still have 13.5 volts with the jumper car running and hooked up so i know the starters ground is good. Looking under the truck the power cable running to the starter looks fairly corroded, and theres also a small 14 gauge wire running to the starter, anyone know what that wire would be for if my starter solonoid with the ignition wire is fender mounted? im thinking its possibly a corroded power wire at this point but im getting worried cause im running out of things to check aha
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Old 01-16-2016
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Yellow/blue smaller wire at starter motor is from Starter Relay, it activates the solenoid, solenoid does two things, it pushes starter motor gear out to mesh with flywheel ring gear, and it closes contact that passes battery power(larger cable) to the starter motor internally, so it is a solenoid/relay.

While you still have fender mounted starter relay it doesn't work the same way as the older relays.
Older relays had full battery power on one terminal and then starter motor was hooked to other large terminal, when this relay was activated 200amps would pass thru it to starter motor.

Battery-----Fender Relay------------starter motor--Ground


Newer relay set up has battery hooked directly to the starter motor.
The fender mounted relay just activates the starter motors solenoid, so is only passing a couple of amps.

Battery----------------------------starter solenoid/relay/starter motor----ground
ignition switch-----fender relay-----/

And on some the fender mounted relay is not there any more, battery is connected directly to starter motor(like yours) and ignition switch passes the power directly to starter motor solenoid when key is turned to start.

Battery----------------------------starter solenoid/relay/starter motor----ground
ignition switch---------------------/


Disconnect battery wire at starter motor, protect its end so no short and hook battery back up.
Now try to start, if there is just the one click and no click, click, click then yes replace that cable, it is sucking too many amps out of the system causing solenoid/relays to close and open, the clicks

Could be starter motor solenoid/relay or fender mounted relay if it still clicks multiple times.

The clicking means the relays can't stay closed



And just a heads up, you shouldn't "jump" newer vehicles, 1995 and up, you can unhook your battery, "+" or "-", and then use another vehicle to charge your battery, then unhook jumper cables and hook battery back up.
It can damage your charging circuit and even other electrics, including computer, it can also damage "jump vehicles" electrics if it is newer.
Will it happen every time................of course not, can it happen yes.

Last edited by RonD; 01-16-2016 at 01:25 PM.
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