Truck is dead and I'm out of ideas. - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 11-28-2015
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Truck is dead and I'm out of ideas.

1999 Ford Ranger 2.5L, 180k miles

The other day I got in the truck to go to work and it wouldn't start. Here are the symptoms:
Put the key in and turn it to the ACC position and all is good. Try to start it, you hear a single click of the starter and then all of the power to the truck goes out. Then engine doesn't turn or anything. Sometimes the power comes back on immediately after you turn the key back to the off position and then back on, sometimes not.
Sometimes when you have the key in the ACC position and turn on the lights or step on the brakes (brake lights) all the power to the truck goes out.

  • So, I figure it's the battery, which was 4 years old, buy a new one, no change.
  • I visually inspect all the fuses, in the cab and in the engine bay, all are good.
  • I remove and test and measure every relay, in the cab and in the engine bay, all were fine.
  • I pull the starter, test it and it engages but doesn't spin. Buy a new one and the truck does the same thing. (I didn't check it before installing it.)
  • I take apart the battery terminals and clean them good and no change.
  • I tried jumping it off and it does the same thing.
  • At some point my battery saver relay was clicking like crazy but it's unpredictable.
  • Measured the batter voltage, 12.4v. Monitor it during a crank attempt and it drops to around 11.75v and stays there.



So here I am with a big paper weight in my driveway. Please help me figure out whats going on. I'm running out of ideas and could really use the help.
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Old 11-28-2015
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It sounds like you may have either a bad cable or ground. You can narrow it down by conducting a volt drop test on the positive and the negative side of the starting circuit. Watch these videos to learn how. Click Link
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Old 11-28-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev View Post
It sounds like you may have either a bad cable or ground. You can narrow it down by conducting a volt drop test on the positive and the negative side of the starting circuit. Watch these videos to learn how. Click Link
Wow, that sounds exactly like my problem. I bet my problem is between the terminal and the terminal clamp. That would explain why my starter acted like it was not working, because I clipped on to the clank and not the terminal.
I'll test it out tomorrow.
Thanks
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Old 11-29-2015
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Voltage Drop Test Results (when starting):
Positive, Terminal to Starter: ~2v
Negative, Terminal to Starter: ~3.4v

Is this reasonable or should I rewire the Starter-battery connection?
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Old 11-29-2015
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I think you need to ignore Positive battery cable and remove the Negative terminal from battery and trace it to engine, usually it is on a starter motor bolt or close by.
remove it, have some electric tape handy, use razor knife to cut back cable coating and check wire for corrosion, also cut back coating on battery end.
tape up if no corrosion found.
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Old 11-29-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisroberts7577 View Post
Voltage Drop Test Results (when starting):
Positive, Terminal to Starter: ~2v
Negative, Terminal to Starter: ~3.4v

Is this reasonable or should I rewire the Starter-battery connection?


The Positive or Negative side should not have more than .2 - .3 Volts dropped per circuit under normal circumstances.

If your readings were taken correctly, you have a total of 5.4 volts dropped between both sides of the starting circuit. So 12v minus 5.4v leaves 6.6v working voltage. This is insufficient voltage to turn the starter.

Positive Side:
If you took the readings between the center of the battery positive post and the starters positive battery cable post and your reading 2 volts, this indicates high resistance somewhere along the positive cable and or its connections. Based on the above, you either have a bad connection or an internally corroded cable.

I'd start by cleaning the battery post and cable clamp with a wire brush. If the cable end is a bolt on clamp type (aftermarket replacements), and there is any signs of fuzz or blacken of the cable strands showing at the cable end, I'd cut the cable insulation back a few inches and see how far back up inside the corrosion or discoloration goes. If more than a half an inch, I'd replace the cable. If not, and you have enough slack, cut the end, clean and pack with dielectric and replace with new cable clamp. Also, ensure the positive connection at the starter is clean and tight.

Ground side:
If you took the readings between the center of the battery negative post and the starters metal housing (next to one of the mounting bolts but not on them) and your reading 3.4 volts, this indicates high resistance somewhere along the negative cable and or its connections. Based on the above, you either have grease/dirt between the starter housing and engine mating surface or a bad ground connection between the engine block and the battery negative post or the battery clamp/post as noted above.

I'd start by cleaning the battery post and cable clamp with a wire brush. Again, if the cable end is a bolt on clamp type (aftermarket replacements), and there is fuzz or discoloration showing at the cable end, I'd cut the cable insulation back a few inches and see how far back up inside the corrosion goes. If more than a half an inch, I'd replace the cable. If not, and you have enough slack, cut the end, pack with dielectric, and replace cable clamp with a new one.

Last edited by Rev; 11-29-2015 at 04:58 PM.
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