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No Start Condition

New 01/22/2005

My car wouldn't start yesterday. It was about 18*F (-8*C) out. I thought the battery had STB, but it had plenty of juice. I think it may be the starter relay or something. The starter wouldn't even make noise or try to crank at all. I heard a single click (which sounded like it was on the other side of the firewall) each time I turned the key to START, but no straining or cranking noises came from the starter. The instrument lights stayed lit too (except for the radio) which tells me there wasn't a short or anything.

After turning the key about a dozen times, I popped the hood and pretended I knew what I was doing (wiggling wires, checking for loose connections, etc.) That didn't work. Then I flopped the back seat down and checked the battery connections. Everything seemed good. I tried the key again a few times, and eventually it just started right up like nothing was wrong. The starter didn't crank slow or show any signs of strain and the engine purred like a kitten instantly. I ran some errands and ate dinner, parking the car three or four times (twice for over an hour) and I never had any problems starting it right back up.

This morning, it was about 10*F (-12*C), and again the car wouldn't start. It behaved exactly the same as the first time I tried it yesterday--just a single click but no starter action. I did all the same things I did yesterday, and tried the key about a hundred times to no avail. I ended up taking the SLO to work.

Could this be a bad relay or something like that? Any ideas?

Dan Carman
'97 PG

Sounds like a battery. Keep It Simple...


It seems to defy all the symptoms of a bad battery, though. There was no slow cranking or even buzz from the starter solenoid at all and then after a few minutes of fooling around it just started right up with a normal fast crank for about 3 seconds, even though it was well below freezing. Seems more like a connection, sensor, or relay. I'm stumped.


Have you cleaned your terminal posts? My '93 used to do that. Everything
worked but not even a click from the started. Cleaned the post and voilas!

Paul L Fisher

Posts are squeaky clean, as are all the battery connection points (ground & positive cable to Mega Fuse).


Sounds like what stranded me a couple of weeks ago when I put in a new TRS
switch without following directions.

To test the starter get a piece of 1' long 14 ga wire, put a male spade
connector on it, and a spring clamp. Take the starter relay out in the
engine compartment fuse box. Insert the spade connector in the #87 terminal
of the relay socket and touch the megafuse terminal. This will directly
fire the starter bypassing everything. If it cranks then either a fuse is
bad or the TRS.


I'll try running a jumper from the 12V+ to the #87 slot on the starter relay socket and see if that makes it crank over. If it does, I'll replace the relay and see if that cures the problem. If the relay still doesn't do it, I'll try cleaning or replacing the TRS.

If the jumper wire doesn't do anything, I'll try replacing the battery first. If that doesn't do it, I'm doomed to dig into the starter area and check the wiring and the brushes.


The hotwire job to slot #87 only engaged the starter drive mechanism
(the loud knock/click sound when you first turn the key.) No actual
cranking occurred. My gut is telling me the brushes in the starter are
fried or there is a loose/corroded connection going to the starter
(power and/or ground.) With temperatures in the teens, I'm not going to
get around to figuring that out for a while. In the mean time, I'm
putting a battery on order (as a backup, if nothing else.)


I suffered with that issue on my 97, with only about 32k on it, for months,
finally, a good Ford mechanic (under warranty), replaced a ground cable (not
for sure which one, or might have been Pos. cable TO the starter, anyway,
that fixed mine....
James Jensen

Still waiting on the outcome. C'mon Dan, what was finally wrong??


See Also:

No Start Condition - Technical Discussion

The SHO Doesn't Start



Well, I used a 2ft x 1" x 2" board to reach down beside the WP to the
starter. I alternated whacking the board with a hammer and running the
jumper wire from the 12V+ at the Mega Fuse to slot #87 on the starter
relay receptacle in the fuse panel to see if the starter would crank.
The first two strikes with the hammer didn't change anything (the
starter still just clicked once without cranking.) I repositioned the
board on the starter and whacked it again, and the starter turned over
when I connected the jumper wire. I put the relay back in the fuse
panel and jumped in the car and turned the key and it started right up.
It has worked for me all week, but I have a new lifetime warranty
starter in the mail from AutoZone to keep the problem from reoccurring.
Not a bad deal... under $100 with free shipping to boot. Who knew? :-)


That's what I was looking for - Closure.

Thanks Dan


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